Wed, Oct 24, 2012 | DooleyBlog | Dr Mark Dooley
Another follow up by Dr Mark Dooley to his previous Trócaire articles (here and here). This article is about Trócaire’s controversial pro-Palestinian propaganda. Trócaire’s new campaign aims to poison the innocent minds of Irish children with unbalanced material and is nothing more than an attempt to paint Israel as a rogue apartheid state. Reprinted here with permission by the author.
Last week, I received an email from a lady in Jerusalem who had read my recent columns on Trócaire’s proposed boycott of Israeli goods. She had written to the charity enquiring about their funding of activities inside Israel. Without notice, Trócaire banned her from its Facebook page. ‘In my opinion,’ she observed, ‘that doesn’t reflect well on a human rights group.’
I consider it outrageous that a Catholic charity, one directly answerable to the Irish Hierarchy, should treat anyone in that manner. But what makes this incident particularly disgraceful is that it was done to a Jewish Israeli woman, who was merely asking why an Irish charity is demanding a boycott of her country. The fact that she, and a second person who contacted me as I was writing this article, were both banned from Trócaire’s site simply for defending Israel is sinister to say the least.
Then, on Monday, I received a document that Trócaire is currently sending to teachers in Irish postprimary schools. Entitled Give Peace A Chance, its stated aim is ‘to look at conflict through the lens of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict’, and can be ‘incorporated into citizenship education, religious education, geography, English or history classes’. It encourages teachers to divide classes into groups before discussing the ‘facts’ through ‘role play, a mime, a drawing, a cartoon or song’.
What follows might well be a propaganda leaflet on behalf of Palestinian extremists. After enumerating the UN Rules of War and the Universal Declaration of the Rights of the Child, it proceeds to give two ‘case studies’. Now, given the emphasis is on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, you might assume that the case studies would look at the conflict from opposing perspectives. But no, both are based on the lives of Palestinian children living in what Trócaire describes as areas ‘controlled by the Israeli military’ and ‘800 radical Israeli settlers’.
One young Palestinian girl is quoted as saying: ‘The settlers that live here are crazy. They hate us.’ Elsewhere she says: ‘The Israeli soldiers protect the settlers and not the children.’ A Palestinian boy reports seeing ‘the settler children on their school buses, but we are not allowed to mix’.
You get the message: occupation, segregation, discrimination. Looming behind it all is the spectre of the old apartheid regime in South Africa. And with not a single Israeli voice to provide balance, an Irish school child could be forgiven for thinking that Israel is a rogue state.
Indeed, that is precisely the impression that is conveyed further down the document. In ‘a short history of the conflict’, Trócaire writes: ‘Following World War II, the state of Israel was created in 1948.’ No mention of ‘why’ it was created, the Holocaust or of the fact that Israel was the historic homeland of the Jewish people. Neither does it mention that a Jewish state was not arbitrarily ‘created’, but was approved in November, 1947, by United Nations Resolution 181 (II).
There is silence also on the fact that while Jews are persecuted right across the Arab world, many Arabs have risen to positions of prominence in Israel. Not a word about the Iranian-armed Hamas terror squads which use Palestinian territory to fire deadly rockets at innocent Israeli citizens. And not a single acknowledgement that Israel is the only true democracy in a region where people are routinely executed for their political, religious and moral beliefs.
Moreover, if Trócaire wishes to educate Irish schoolchildren about conflict resolution, why not highlight the civil war in Syria? Why not discuss the long-running conflicts in Sudan or the Congo? Or, why not discuss ways to counter the global terror threat posed by Islamists? Surely that is more relevant to the lives of Irish children than the Israel-Palestine issue?
To do so, however, Trócaire would run the risk of having its blatant bias exposed. For it would then be forced to explain why such extremists are bound together by a common hatred of Israel in particular and the Jews in general. Trócaire would have to explain why it ignores the appalling human rights abuses of countries, such as Iran, whose president recently declared that Israel would be ‘eliminated’.
How, in all good conscience, can the Irish Catholic hierarchy permit such propaganda to be distributed by one of its agencies to our schools? Indeed, how can the Government justify using taxpayers’ money to subsidise a charity which, as one reader points out, ‘is not only spreading misinformation, but risks inciting hatred for a single community in the Middle East, and has the potential to poison relations with the Jewish community in Ireland’?
It is high time that Trócaire broke its silence on this issue. For if it continues to hide behind a wall of silence, it may find that parents will have their own questions to ask when Trócaire boxes arrive home next Lent. Trócaire may discover that what was once regarded as a noble Catholic charity is now dismissed as a mouthpiece for trendy political causes.
Meanwhile, I hope Trócaire has the good sense to cease banning people from its Facebook page. For isn’t it ironic that whereas Trócaire seeks to silence its critics, Israel enthusiastically encourages all manner of dissent?
Dr Mark Dooley is an Irish philosopher, author and broadcaster. Since 2006, he writes for the Irish Daily Mail, where his ‘Moral Matters’ column appears weekly. You can contact hem by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.