Friday, February 6, 2009

Debating Gaza in Trinity

I tagged along to a debate last night at the Philosophical society in Trinity College Dublin. The motion in front of the house was that This house believes that Israeli actions in Gaza have been just and proportionate. It was good craic, I had a bit of a laugh, I met some interesting people and managed to scam two free beers out of the "Phil" by pretending to be a student but I left as sure as I ever have been that the Israel Palestine debate in this country is in dire straits.

Speaking in favor of the motion was the Jewish warrior himself, Fine Gael TD Alan Shatter who in my opinion played a blinder on the nations airwaves throughout the recent war in Gaza. He was joined by Tom Carew of the Ireland Israel Friendship League who also brought a bit of balance in recent weeks to this most contentious of discussions. Against the motion was Dr Hikmat Ajur, representative of the Palestinian Authority in Ireland. Dr Ajur is a Palestinian Christian from the west bank, He has no links to Hamas and is it must be said an extremely reasonable man. Both sides had a series of student speakers in their corners.

My problem is this. Here were three articulate well meaning and reasonable men, all of whom believe in a two state solution with a secure Israel and a viable Palestine. Surely such a debate should produce some enlightening conclusions. Unfortunately not. All three speakers were forced to rebut the previous student speaker's outlandish and amateurish assertions. I don't want to seem like an elitist that only wants to see experts discussing the issues, the Phil is after all a student organisation. I do however want to see a better quality debate on the issue in this country, in parliament, the media and on campus.

I don't blame the students last night. They have picked up from the main stream media what they think is the norm, hence the "Israel is committing genocide" rant and the "Islam is a religion of war" rave. I want the media to stop giving the morons the platform to present Ireland's stance as an irrational and even radical one. We must never be more Israeli than the Israelis or Palestinian than the Palestinians. Am I the only one who remembers how cringy it was when Irish Americans threw there lot in with the republican movement in the north. As a nation that overcame a conflict as intractable as that in the Middle East I think it is a must that Ireland's position reflects this and the primary message that we send out is, decades of conflict, it can come to an end.

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