Eimear McBride in the West Bank


Sir, – “We’d live with them,” they say, “but they won’t live with us.” Attention grabbing as this extract from Eimear McBride’s report may be (“All that is human in me recoils from this”, Weekend News Review, April 14th), it ignores the 19-year period between the foundation of the State of Israel in 1948 and the end of the six day war in 1967 when East Jerusalem was controlled by Jordan. During this time Jewish residents of the Old City were expelled and their holy sites and cemeteries were systematically desecrated.

Compare this to the situation today – since 1967 Israel has guaranteed the right of free access to worshippers of each of the three monotheistic religions, and allowed people of Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith to reside in the city. While it would be disingenuous for anyone to suggest that life is easy for Palestinians living in East Jerusalem or on the West Bank, the underlying implication in Eimear McBride’s text that the policies of Israel’s government have been the root cause of all their problems is both incorrect and misleading.

As always, there are two sides to this conflict, and telling only half of the story does nobody any favours.

For example, she describes the anguish of the parents of the young Palestinian boy from East Jerusalem who was kidnapped, tortured and murdered by a group of Jewish extremists in the most brutal manner. However, although she makes passing reference to the maximum jail sentences imposed on the culprits who were quickly apprehended by the Israeli police force, she neglects to mention the background to this most heinous revenge crime—the kidnapping and murder of three Jewish teenagers just a few days earlier. Nowhere in her article does she deign to mention the grief and anguish felt by their families.

In relation to the Palestinians’ cynical call for BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), Eimear McBride describes how some people are afraid of the repercussions if they are seen talking to outsiders. What she fails to mention is how the only people suffering from this movement are the Palestinians themselves, many of whom lost their livelihoods when firms such as Soda Stream pulled out of the West Bank.

If anything positive is to be learnt from the recent troubles in the North of Ireland, surely it must be the importance of encouraging both sides to sit down and talk. Unfortunately articles such as this which apportion blame on only one party are unlikely to do anything positive to promote the prospect of peace in the region. – Yours, etc,


Glenageary, Co Dublin.

Sir, – Prompted by Eimear McBride’s anguished article on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Eleanor Thornton asks “What are Ireland and the rest of Europe doing by way of censuring Israel for its inhumanity to fellow human beings?” (April 18th).

Eimear McBride has already diplomatically answered this by referring to “the wilful passivity of the West”.

I would put it more strongly: “Ireland and the rest of Europe” are complicit in Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians.

The EU wilfully turns a blind eye to that state’s violations of international law, international humanitarian law, and the supposedly mandatory human rights stipulations of the Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement that concedes Israel trading privileges comparable to those of an EU country.

Furthermore, the EU happily provides Israel with many of the weapons it uses to crush Palestinian rights and destroy Palestinian lives, while seeking to criminalise civil society criticism of Israel and Zionism with an assault on free speech unparalleled since the days of McCarthyism in the US. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 1.