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Neutral against who? The Lebanese conflict and the concept of Irish neutrality… October 29, 2006

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, Israel, Israeli - Lebanon Conflict, Lebanon.

Interesting that the Irish Anti War Movement is holding a meeting in the Royal Dublin Hotel on Saturday 4th October.

Speakers will be George Galloway MP of Respect and STWC, Ibrahim Mousawi of Al Manar the Lebanon TV Station and Ben Hayse, an international law expert. On posters around town the third speaker is indicated to be a member of the Peace and Neutrality Alliance and the event is free for members of PANA.

All good, and no doubt an interesting debate will ensue, however one has to ask what questions Mr. Galloway will be putting to Mr. Mousawi about Hezbollah’s vision for Israel. I’m not a fan of Mr. Galloway, but he gave an excellent account of himself on Sky TV where he made a passionate and evidently sincere plea for a credible two-state Palestine Israel with a joint capital in Jerusalem (a vision I entirely share – although I’d go further and look for an internationalised Jerusalem under UN auspices). I’m wondering if this will satisfy Mr. Mousawi in view of Hezbollahs contradictory objectives in relation to Israel which tilt between it’s elimination as a political entity and acceptance that it is to some degree up to Palestinians to decide. However, in either instance it is clear that Hezbollah is a participant in the conflict.

I’m also hoping that either PANA or Mr. Hayse will put a few questions forward about this report in the Guardian which notes that Human Rights Watch (an organisation not usually noted for being an Israeli partisan) has accused Hezbollah of firing cluster bombs into civilian areas in northern Israel.

The use of such weapons by either side is reprehensible. But it makes me wonder what PANA is doing on a platform with a representative of one of the combatants and particularly number 2 of it’s objectives: Ireland should pursue a positive neutrality and independent foreign policy and not join or form an association with any military alliance, such as the WEU or NATO.

I’m wondering how this sort of engagement with a partisan in the conflict falls under the heading of ‘positive’ neutrality?

By the by the non-appearance of this as an election issue is striking but not unexpected, despite the clear and understandable public sympathy expressed for the plight of Lebanon over the Summer. As has been seen many times in the past issues external to the state tend to have little traction on the public imagination and this appears to be yet another…

Eddie Holt had an interesting piece in the Irish Times yesterday (subscription required) about the treatment of a number of pro-Palestinian activists who entered Israel and the differing response to their treatment by our own Department of Foreign Affairs which was rather less interested in accounts of harrasment of Irish nationals when they were framed as occuring in Israel than when they were framed as occuring in Cuba. That might simply reflect an acceptance that it is easier – perhaps – to embarress the Castro regime than Israel, or it might not. But it is telling nonetheless. Having said that, any who have any experience of travelling by air to Israel will know that El Al takes exhaustive and understandable security measures to ensure the safety of their aircraft…


1. Mbari Hogun - October 30, 2006

Al-Manar is a viciously racist TV station. Where are the “no platform” types?


2. WorldbyStorm - October 30, 2006

Good point mbari. This is what I find so odd about PANA, they’ll accept any old stuff as long as it isn’t US/UK/RoI…


3. John Carroll - October 30, 2006

Why do you find it odd? It is illogical and inconsistent, but hardly odd.


4. WorldbyStorm - October 30, 2006

I know, I know, you’re right, but I guess I’d hope that those who take the view that neutrality is important, which is an entirely honourable principle although one I tend to think is also entirely aspirational, would understand what neutrality actually entails and the partisan projection of one side in a conflict is not that. Or – contrariwise – to be truly neutral they would have to allow a spokesperson from perhaps Galèi Tzáhal (Israeli Army Radio) to sit on the same panel as well as a pro-Israeli government spokesperson…


5. joemomma - October 30, 2006

I don’t think this is just business-as-usual for PANA, as John implies. I would usually credit them with a little more discernment.

However, it is of course bread and butter stuff for the SWP-dominated IAWM. I presume they’re the main organisers?


6. WorldbyStorm - October 30, 2006

Yep, you’re absolutely right, this is an IAWM shindig – again a fair dose of irony in that too. But there is the curious discrepancy between the posters in the streets which credit a PANA speaker and those on the website which have our legal expert friend. It is of course possible that they’re one and the same person.

What raises my ire somewhat is that Hezbollah were far from neutral players in the recent conflict (no more say than the Israeli govt) and for someone representative of a viewpoint which was less partisan I would have thought that someone from the Lebanese government or associated institutions would be more appropriate (although Hezbollah does have representation within that government but you get my drift).

I hope PANA might take a couple of steps away from this, I may not be in 100% agreement with them, but I do believe they’re better than this…


7. ryano - November 7, 2006

On this topic, Indymedia have an article on “the debate around the decision of the IAWM to invite a representative of Hezbollah to an anti-war public meeting in Dublin on Saturday 4th November”.


8. WorldbyStorm - November 7, 2006

That’s a very interesting thread on indymedia. To my mind the few to come out with any credit are the SP members…


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