A disproportionate focus on Israel?

 

Sir, – Karl Martin (Letters, March 13th) quotes “NGO Monitor” figures alleging a disproportionate focus on Israel on Trócaire’s website. A keyword search on our website would dispel this myth.

As a social-justice organisation, Trócaire highlights the plight of dispossessed and targeted communities around the world. Last December, the month quoted by Mr Martin, Trócaire ran a national campaign highlighting the plight of civilians in Yemen and South Sudan. Our current Lenten campaign focuses on land rights in Guatemala, Uganda and Syria.

Our work in Israel and Palestine is grounded in the same human rights principles that guide our efforts across the globe.

Indeed, these are the same principles that have guided our work since 1973, leading us to take a range of positions deemed controversial in some quarters, including opposing apartheid and US support for military regimes in Central America.

“NGO Monitor” is an organisation that attempts to discredit anybody who questions the human rights impact of forcing millions of Palestinians to live under military occupation. It has been described in Dáil Éireann by Darragh O’Brien TD as “an Israeli government organisation”.

Michael Sfard, a leading Israeli human rights lawyer, has described it as “a militia of the Israeli government that works symbiotically with it to promote the same agenda: perpetuating the occupation by slandering and thwarting the funding of organizations that are working to end it”.

A report by the Policy Working Group, chaired by former Israeli ambassador to South Africa Ilan Baruch, last year noted, “NGO Monitor’s overarching objective is to defend and sustain government policies that help uphold Israel’s occupation of, and control over, the Palestinian territories”.

Lars Faaborg-Andersen, former EU ambassador to Israel, dismissed the organisation for its “tendentious research, intentional inaccuracies and downright EU-bashing propaganda”. – Yours, etc,

CAOIMHE de BARRA,

Chief Executive,

Trócaire,

Maynooth,

Co Kildare.

Sir, – Whataboutery is a rhetorical tactic often employed by those who wish to divert attention from Israel’s human rights abuses.

But to point elsewhere is to implicitly acknowledge that Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people is undeniable and indefensible. Karl Martin (Letters, March 13th) lists a litany of human rights abuses by Turkey, but this can never justify Israel’s grinding annexation of the West Bank, the cruel 12-year blockade of Gaza, or increasingly undemocratic developments within Israel.

Interestingly, apologists for white minority rule in the latter days of the South African apartheid regime favoured a similar rhetorical tactic. Scrambling to stall the momentum of the global solidarity movement, they pointed to dictatorships and atrocities in other African countries.

Their whataboutery echoes across the decades, and returns us to the initial topic.

Then, as now, a long-oppressed people called, as a last resort, for peaceful global solidarity. Then as now, people of goodwill throughout the world observed the inaction and complicity of their governments, and concluded that only through a grass-roots cultural and economic boycott campaign could the international community help to deliver peace, justice and equality. – Yours, etc,

BRIAN Ó ÉIGEARTAIGH,

Donnybrook,

Dublin 4.

Sir, – The recent calls for RTÉ to boycott the next Eurovision Song Contest in Israel is another example of the one-sided and very biased nature of protest so common in Ireland today.

These protesters have demanded that Ireland should not be represented lest we are seen to show support for a government that the protesters accuse of human rights breaches.

To take that position to its logical conclusion, Ireland should not have attended sporting events in Russia, nor should we have any contacts with China, Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan, the Palestinian Authority and a host of other states that by any measure do not meet international human rights standards.

Yet the anti-Israel protesters have not mentioned any of these states.

They equally ignore the brutal treatment of women, homosexuals and Christians in much of the Middle East and instead direct their ire at Israel.

Why are these brutal and repressive regimes ignored? Why are the people of these states not worthy of the protesters’ support?

And why are the Israelis focused on to the exclusion of others? – Yours, etc,

TREVOR TROY,

Baile Átha Buí,

Co na Mí.