Did you know that Ireland was the first country to ban the sale of South African goods in our country’s shops? That was in 1987. Well, I was delighted to see Mary Manning on the News last night, she was the Dunne’s Stores worker who in 1984, refused to handle South African goods in protest at the Apartheid regime. She ended up staying on strike, along with a dozen or so others, for two and a half years – but that strike played a significant part in the eventual ending of Apartheid in South Africa.
Nelson Mandela was emotional when he met the Dunnes Stores strikers in Dublin in 1990. He said that their solidarity had given him strength in prison. (Unfortunately Mary Manning was no longer in Ireland at the time so she never met him)
So now, a quote from www.Broadsheet.ie : “ The strikers established a picket line outside the store entrance, attracting derision and abuse from shoppers. People called the strikers ‘nigger-lovers’ and even spat at them. Two of the strikers received a visit from the Special Branch. Public perceptions of the strike were to change, however. There was growing support for the movement, partly as a consequence of a meeting in London in December between the strikers and Archbishop Desmond Tutu while he was on his way to collect the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo.”
The painting above is an old one but I put it up there as a tribute to our brave girl, she was only 21 when she took this principled stand against a cruel and seemingly unstoppable regime. But now, coming up to Christmas I’m thinking about Bethlehem and it’s unfortunate inhabitants, living under another cruel regime.
I attended a lecture in Liberty Hall, Dublin last week. Hosted by Proinsias de Rossa, former MEP, the main presentation was given by Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi who talked about life in the West Bank. Did you know that vast amounts of Palestinian agricultural land has been destroyed in order to construct the illegal settlements and attendant infrastructure, roads and military bases etc, and for the 26ft tall concrete “security fence”, deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, between 2000 and 2007, more than half a million Palestinian olive trees were destroyed. Now six years later, Barghouthi told us that the figure is estimated at 1.4 million trees uprooted.
See the image below – this shows the systematic and continuing confiscation of Palestinian land since 1946. Does it remind you of South Africa? De Rossa mentioned his friend Ronnie Kasrils, a South African politician and prominent anti-apartheid activist who when asked to compare the situation in Israel with the Apartheid system – said that the conditions in Israel were far worse.
This map only covers up to the year 2000 and, as we know, there has been several more settlements since then. If you need more detailed information you could check out http://www.ifamericansknew.org/history/maps.html.
But actually I want to mention a more inspirational website, and that’s the Jewish Voice for Peace http://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/ They are now calling for the boycott of Israeli goods. As of course are the Palestinians. It worked eventually in South Africa. It will work here too. Make sure you check before you buy.
See also http://www.sadaka.ie/