Say no to Israeli apartheid

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Efforts by the Israeli state to reassert its international reputation in the wake of large-scale massacres of the Palestinian population are being opposed in Ireland through protests and boycotts.

As the Israeli national team prepared to play a Northern Ireland squad at Windsor Park on Tuesday night, rallies were organised at the International Wall in West Belfast and near the Broadway roundabout.

Almost 6,000 people signed a petition in protest over the fixture.

While the match was taking place, hundreds of pro-Palestinian campaigners demonstrated a short distance from the Windsor Park stadium, while a tiny counter-protest by Israeli supporters also took place.

Speaking at the rally at the International Wall, Sinn Fein West Belfast representative Pat Sheehan confirmed that his party supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against the Israeli state.

“We have called on the IFA to cancel this match in the same way that the Argentinian national team pulled out of a pre-World Cup game with the Israelis earlier this year,” he said.

“Israel is an apartheid state which is involved in the slaughter of Palestinian civilians and flagrant human rights abuse whilst also violating international law.”

He said apartheid has no place in sport and that fans should be leaving the stands empty when the Israeli team plays.

Meanwhile, Irish artists are joining in a campaign to boycott next year’s Eurovision Song Contest, which is hosted by Israel. An open letter is being backed by artists, activists and others calling for support for Palestinian artists.

“Until Palestinians can enjoy freedom, justice and equal rights, there should be no business-as-usual with the state that is denying them their basic rights,” the statement reads.

“On 14 May, days after Israel’s Eurovision win, the Israeli army killed 62 unarmed Palestinian protesters in Gaza, including six children, and injured hundreds, most with live ammunition.

“Amnesty International has condemned Israel’s shoot-to-kill-or-maim policy and Human Rights Watch described the killings as “unlawful and calculated”.

“Eurovision 2019 should be boycotted if it is hosted by Israel while it continues its grave, decades-old violations of Palestinian human rights.”

A large array of Irish personalities -- from politicians to former song contest winners and presenters -- have added their voices to calls for Ireland to stay away from the show next year.

Almost 8,000 Irish people have now signed an online petition backing the move.

Figures like Christy Moore, former song contest winner Charlie McGettigan and Senator David Norris staged a high-profile demonstration earlier this summer throwing their support behind the boycott - citing continued human rights abuses and breaches of international law.

Sinn Fein has also backed the campaign.

Sinead Ennis said this would be an opportunity to ‘shine the spotlight’ on the slaughter of the Palestinians.

“The arts, music and indeed sport have a key role to play in sending a strong message internationally in rejection of the brutality carried out against Palestinians by Israeli state forces,” she said.

“The Irish government have an opportunity shine the light on the murder of Palestinians by boycotting the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest in Israel.”

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