Tuesday, 1 November 2011

The Irish eyes not smiling on Israel: those of old anti-American warhorse Michael D. Higgins

Michael D. Higgins, veteran Irish leftist politician and poet, who's now, unexpectedly, President of Eire, could never be mistaken for a warm supporter Israel. (Be sure to look here, which is where I obtained this photo.) Known for his vehement criticism of the United States as well as of Israel, he first visited Gaza in the 1980s, and in 2004 paid a fulsome tribute to Arafat following the latter's death, attending a candlelit vigil organised by the Ireland-Palestine Soldarity Campaign. He objects to the description of Hamas as a "terrorist" organisation, and in 2007 shared a platform with Hezbollah.

Although his office is largely a ceremonial one, lacking real powers, he's obviously well-positioned to influence public opinion - in a country whose Palestine Solidarity movement is widely considered to be the most virulently anti-Israel in the entire British Isles.

The following speech that he delivered in the Irish Parliament in June 2010, in which he condemns Operation Cast Lead, asserts that he's "sick and tired" of hearing that supplies are getting into Gaza, abhors the proscription of Hamas, and rails against Israel's attack on the Mavi Marmara, captures something of his attitude - albeit in a deceptively low-key way. He is good enough (unlike some of Israel's leftist detractors) to denounce rocket attacks on Sderot - but his voice becomes unmistakably ever more indignant against Israel as the speech proceeds. [There were not 20 people to listen to him....]

Source: Daphne Anson

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