The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Island Palestine

Anthony McIntyre • July 29, 2003

There are certainly more enjoyable ways to put in a Saturday afternoon than standing on the middle of the Falls Road at the bottom of the Whiterock inhaling the exhaust fumes from passing cars. But those other activities while enjoyable would not be anywhere near as rewarding as giving a few hours to highlighting the plight of Palestinians who live under Israeli occupation and who remain in desperate need of medical aid.

When it is not organising events, protests, lectures, guest visitors, holidays for Palestinian kids, the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign frequently sets up a little Palestinian island at the bottom of the Rock bedecked with flags and posters. Public receptivity is overwhelming. It is a rare event when some grunt would snarl something unintelligible from a speeding car. Most motorists, many of them former republican prisoners stop, exchange a few words, engage in a bit of banter, offer support and take a leaflet. What is often uplifting is the sight of a female driver taking the time to explain to her children in the car the purpose of the gathering.

The IPSC manages to draw an eclectic mix of people to participate in its activities. Whatever their views on other matters the ability of those involved to work together - and to bond as friends as colleagues - is one of the strengths of the body. All hands are very much on deck aboard this little vessel.

Last Saturday one of our foremost activists was unable to join us due to other pre-arranged commitments. Sean 'Johnboy' O Muireagain is now an instantly recognisable face in West Belfast courtesy of the Israeli state aided by British spooks. Standing on the Falls Road, tired and perspiring in the sunshine, my mind drifted to the words of Johnboy who in his recent bid to highlight the injustices being inflicted on the Palestinians has a different middle of the road experience. Out in the occupied territories working on education programmes and twinning schools while trying to organise a holiday exchange scheme for Palestinian kids to come to Belfast he had the misfortune to be stopped at a check point near Ramallah. Detained by the Israeli military on the false but malignant prompting of British intelligence, Johnboy was subjected to a more arduous ordeal than any mild discomfort we experienced on our Falls Road venture:

They blindfold you and cuff your feet. They took my clothes off in the middle of the road - they put them on again - when I was blindfolded and handcuffed. It is a bit humiliating when you know there is traffic driving past.

His ordeal didn't end there. He was to endure almost a week under interrogation in an Israeli cell somewhere near Tel Aviv. Most of this time the Israelis were aware that the British spook inspired security operation was guff. Yet they continued to hold him. Johnboy's explanation for this was as short as it was clear, 'the Israelis are trying to intimidate foreign nationals out of the place, to stop them witnessing what goes on to Palestinians.'

In some small way I hoped our efforts in Belfast would help continue to bear witness to Israeli carnage. An atrocity concealed is the gateway to yet another atrocity. And it is working. In the course of writing this article a local woman called to my home asking what she could do to help the Palestinians.

Protest over, I was off to the pub to meet a friend. Only then while quenching a parched throat did I realise that I was soaked through with sweat. Hot day, hard work - but at least we go home to our children and put them into pyjamas rather than shrouds. The persistent slaughter of Palestinian children is an aspect of Israeli murder policy - performed so efficiently by its Einstatzgruppen - that the government of Israel would prefer remains hidden. More people of the mettle of Sean O Muireagain are needed to uncover it.



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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



"As a rule, dictatorships guarantee safe streets and terror of the doorbell. In democracy the streets may be unsafe after dark, but the most likely visitor in the early hours will be the milkman."
- Adam Michnik

Index: Current Articles

29 July 2003


Other Articles From This Issue:


Our Places in the Great Wall
Seaghán Ó Murchú


Mr Michael McKevitt's Statement at the Special Criminal Court
Michael McKevitt


Crisis of Political Imagination

Liam O Ruairc


Childhood, - West Belfast, Race and 'Irishness'
Davy Carlin


Island Palestine
Anthony McIntyre


A Short History of the Global Economy Since 1880
M. Shahid Alam


Belfast's Big-headed Bully-boy
Margaret Quinn


20 July 2003


Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss
Anthony McIntyre


Sinn Fein Support for Prisoners' Demand
Mick Hall



Liam O Ruairc


Revenge of the Bureaucrats
Julie Brown


What It's Like to be Raided
Carrie Twomey


Raid on McIntyre Home



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