Palestine Solidarity week has kicked off with an impressive and fervent display of solidarity. As we find ourselves living in an age in which student activism is too often cast down as fleeting and self-serving, organised protest is a rare sight in Trinity Arts Block- at least it was, until today.
A peaceful protest was organised by Students for Justice in Palestine condemning the reception of the Israeli Ambassador Ze’ev Boker in Trinity College Dublin. The event arranged to host Mr. Boker in the Thomas Davis Theatre at 7pm which was advertised as an opportunity to gain a “unique insight into a well-known delicate situation” on the Facebook event page, was first delayed and eventually cancelled due to the resonant chanting of the protesters outside the lecture hall on the basis that the provision of such a platform to the Ambassador was an imbalanced approach to the current regime of illegal settlement and discrimination in occupied Palestine.
“From the river to the sea, PALESTINE WILL BE FREE!“
Almost as soon as the chanting began, curious onlookers began to gather around the demonstration. Occupied by the energy emanating from the protesters, observers began adding their own voices to the chorus calling for Justice in Palestine. A small assemblage of high-vis jackets announced the arrival of Trinity security, who grouped on one periphery of the congregation, observing tersely. Unphased, if not more driven, the chanting demonstrators bolstered each other in a circle formation outside the door of the event.
“One, two, three four: APARTHEID NO MORE!”
The Students for Justice in Palestine campaign has called on the international community to take a non-violent Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) stance against Israel on human rights grounds. Trinity College Dublin continues to have research associations with Israeli institutions that whitewash and enable Israel’s persecution of the Palestinian people – despite the fact that the college has formally opposed the Apartheid regime in South Africa. Nelson Mandela himself has drawn parallels between the South African Apartheid regime and the current situation in Israel.
“Five, six, seven, eight, ISRAEL IS A TERRORIST STATE!“
Discrimination against Palestinians is a fundamental element in the maintenance of the Israeli regime, and many would argue that it is an illegitimate state. Zionists envisioned Israel as a ‘true’ democratic state, which was impossible while Palestinians still lived there. The result was mass expulsion and the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. Massacre and the threat of massacre drove the Palestinian people out of their land. Today there are roughly 5 million displaced Palestinian refugees (and their descendants) in the world.
“From Ireland to Palestine, BORDER WALLS ARE A CRIME!”
The planned event follows Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent meeting with President Trump, the legitimacy of whose administration, it could be argued, is similarly illegitimate. Just two days after Trump’s inauguration Israel announced plans to build almost 600 new settlement homes in occupied territory, which would suggest confidence in a more pro-Israeli policy stance, and persisting institutional backing of Israel.
As it became apparent that Mr. Boker would no longer be making an appearance, a small group of advocates for the event began to cry out “Freedom of Speech” in retaliation to the protest. The volume and gusto of the BDS chanting only increased in reaction to their presence; the protest gaining momentum in the face of contention. The event organisers were drowned out by the overwhelming calls of “Freedom for Palestine”. They eventually dispersed.
Calling for freedom of speech strikes me as an ironic argument, considering the powerful position that Israel occupies today was established and is maintained through the systematic silencing of Palestinian voices, and this is the very transgression that the solidarity succeeded in fighting tonight.
There’s a host more events organised for this Palestine Solidarity Week! Check out the Students for Justice in Palestine Facebook page:
By Lily McSweeney