A South Galway village has become the first in the country to unite against Israel’s military action in Gaza.
Kinvara’s business community agreed this week to operate a boycott of Israeli goods, in protest against the “ongoing bombardment” of Gaza.
According to the Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC), Kinvara is the first and only town in Ireland to take this collective action.
“As far as I know, this is the first town to do this. Maybe there are other towns that have done it and haven’t told us but it is likely they would. We salute and congratulate the people of Kinvara for taking this stand for justice for Palestinians. We hope other towns and villages around the country will emulate them and take a similar stand,” said Kevin Squires, co-ordinator of the IPSC.
Mr Squires also described boycotting Israeli products as “an effective and peaceful way to bring pressure to bear on the Israeli state to end its occupation of Palestine and persistent violations of international law”.
Vicky Donnelly is one of the people behind the Israeli boycott in Kinvara. She, along with John Griffin and Frank Naughton, approached business people in the village on Monday and, on Tuesday afternoon, they announced that they had received full support for the action.
“We were ashamed when Ireland abstained from the UN Human Rights Committee’s vote to investigate the Israeli army’s actions in Gaza, and ashamed that the Irish Government has not applied stronger diplomatic pressure to help end the slaughter of children, women and men, but we’re proud that Kinvara has chosen to support this international campaign,” Vicky said.
Seádhna Tobin of Kinvara Pharmacy was pleased to be approached for support in relation to the boycott. The pharmacy stocks one line of Israeli products called Dead Sea Magic. Mr Tobin said he “has no hesitation destocking it as an act of protest”.
“We are also looking at the origins of the medicines we are buying because we often have choices between companies. If we identify a particular line that has origins in Israel, we will look at destocking it and finding an alternative. This is not a clear-cut process because often companies own companies but we are looking at the initial origins of our pharmaceuticals,” he added.
Mr Tobin is not part of an organisation and considers himself apolitical.
“I am incensed at what is going on in Gaza. I see it akin to the British government surrounding the city of Dublin with gunships and them pounding the city, bombarding it and shelling it because of the IRA in the 1970s. I am incensed at the pulverising of the Gaza Strip and its people. Would the bombarding of Dublin be acceptable to the civilised world in the same way as the bombarding of Gaza and its people can be seen to be accepted by the EU and the United States at the moment?” he wondered.
Clare musician, Sharon Shannon has also agreed to act in support of Palestine by signing the Irish Artists’ Pledge to Boycott Israel. She is one of more than 350 artists to sign the pledge, originally launched by the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign in 2010.
Donal Lunny, Ger Ryan, Stephen Rea and Damien Dempsey, as well as many other heavyweights from the Irish musical and acting arena, have agreed not “to perform or exhibit in Israel, nor to accept any funding from any institution linked to the government of Israel, until such time as Israel complies with international law and universal principles of human rights”.
The area of the Gaza Strip is 360 km². It is a similar size to a triangle reaching from Ennis to Shannon to Kilkee but with a population of 1.8 million people. Half of those are under 18 years of age.
The Clare branch of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign held their third protest in two weeks in support of the people of Gaza in Ennis at the weekend. Organisers of the demonstration urged people to boycott Israel, saying it is vital for Israel to be treated in the same way South Africa was during the apartheid era.
The group’s spokesperson, Tomás MacConmara said, “What is happening in Gaza is not a war, it is a genocide. One of the largest, best-equipped armies in the world is bombarding civilians trapped in one of the most densely populated places on earth. They are bombing homes, hospitals, schools, UN buildings and even ambulances. They are killing men, women and children. World leaders are paying lip service to it but are doing nothing. The Irish Government acted shamefully when they abstained in a UN vote to investigate Israel for war crimes.
“Anyone with any morsel of human consciousness and humanity will stand with the people of Palestine. We want the people of Palestine to know that there are people around the world who stand with them, they are not alone. They won’t know it if they listen to our politicians,” he added.
Sinn Féin is holding a one-hour vigil at the entrance to Shannon Airport at 1pm this Friday, in support of the people of Gaza.
Separately, the Limerick branch of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign, supported by Gaza Action Ireland, Shannonwatch and the Irish Anti-War Movement, is holding a solidarity march at the bottom of Thomas Street, Limerick, from 2pm on Saturday.
By Nicola Corless