David Norris, a member of Seanad Eireann (the Irish Senate), gave a powerful speech in which he condemns Israel’s latest attack on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. I had the pleasure of meeting Senator Norris in 2011 when he chaired the launch of the Trinity College Journal of Postgraduate Studies, which I had edited. His passion and energy are absolutely contagious. Below are some of the most important passages from his speech on Israel, which is also posted below.
On meeting Palestinians in Israel:
I remember being in Palestine some years ago in an area that was heavily controlled by the Israelis, and I said to my Palestinian hosts, you know, that there was nothing I could do … And they said, ‘But at least you will be a witness. You will be a record to our suffering. We will not go unnoticed.’
On the evolution of Israel:
I’m not anti-Israeli. I’m not anti-Semitic. I supported the state of Israel. In the 40 years I have known Israel, and sometimes I had a home there, I’ve seen it completely change. It changed from a left-wing socially directed country, to an extreme right-wing regime that is behaving in the most criminal fashion and defying the world, and using unscrupulously the Holocaust to justify what they are doing … It’s time that rag was torn away from them.
Israel is afraid of Palestinian unity. That’s what all of this is about. It has nothing to do with the murder, which is appalling, of those three Israeli kids, it has nothing to do with it. The Israeli police knew that Hamas had nothing to do with it before this war started. And with regard to Hamas, Israel created Hamas! in order to split Fatah.
On the role of Western governments:
I have to say that it is astonishing that the West praises about democracy. Every time an Islamic government pops up around the Mediterranean they refuse to deal with it. They subvert it! They destroy it! Where’s the democracy in that?! We may not like it. They may be antagonistic … But it does not make it correct to deny people the right to choose their own government. What … sane people will allow their enemies to choose their government for them? Can you imagine that happening in this country? I certainly can’t.
On the role of the US government:
America … has a shameful role to play in this. Israel could not get away with this disgraceful act of international piracy … if it wasn’t for the protecting shadow of the United States of America, and I condemn President Obama for his utter inaction.
On Israeli crimes:
There are no words to describe what happened yesterday … Six attacks on schools! and these are deliberate, I have no doubt … You had 3,000 people sheltering there. They were directed there by Israel! The coordinates were given 17 times! How can anybody claim that they didn’t know what they were doing? Israel shoots first and weeps after. ‘Oh, did we hit children? What a terrible tragedy.’ Nobody believes you anymore! You’re doing this to exert pressure on Hamas.
On the peace process:
But I’ll tell you this … You will not resolve this problem, as we did in this country, you involve both of the participants. There’s no point in having any kind of alleged truce that only has one side in it. It’s laughable the kind of rubbish the Israelis, Americans, and the Egyptians [give]. They didn’t consult Hamas. I mean that is just utter, absolute madness.
There were situations where entire families were obliterated. In one case, 20 members of one family slaughtered. And the disproportionate amount of women and children killed in this situation is a violation of all of the spiritual beauty that Judaism stands for, the respect for life, the fact that if you save one life you save the universe. All this blown out of the window!