Dervla’s Delusions

The Island that dared: Journeys in Cuba

12 February 2012

This is not an Irish joke

Dervla Murphy is an 80 year old Irish touring cyclist and veteran author of adventure travel books. In truth, I had never heard of her until her open letter to the Republic of Ireland President, Michael Higgin, Michael, reject this invitation  began to circulate the Internet.

From what I have heard about the anti Israel and anti American delusions of the new Irish President I am far from sure I am all that unhappy if he takes Murphy’s advice and stays away. There is little doubt that Murphy is preaching to the choir, here. On the other hand, her letter contains so much of the delusions and obsessions of the Irish Destroy Israel Lobby that it really should be answered in detail.

I regret that the old Tibet was not there for me to travel through By the time you could go in as a tourist it had been so wrecked by the Chinese that I didn’t want to go; the whole culture had been fractured by the Chinese invasion.

Dervla Murphy, The Independent

An open letter to Michael Higgins as a more self-aware Murphy might have written it

Dear President Higgins,

It distresses me that you might consider an offer from Shimon Peres, a man whose politics and world view are far to the left of most Israelis and much closer to that which you and I profess than say a Mahmud Abbas or an Ismail Haniyah. Of course it’s possible that your “would be considered” is a diplomatic way of saying maybe when I really mean NO! but subtlety is not exactly my style.

I somehow managed to miss the brutality of China when I visited Tibet or Castro and the Communists when I visited Cuba. So I perhaps am not the best person to advice on what a truly vicious regime really does.

Even more surprisingly I failed to notice that in four visits to the area that my fellow travellers would call Palestine that the name Canaan had disappeared from history somewhere about the late Bronze Age. No wonder I had problems buying tickets! No surprise, then, that I missed Palestinian oppression of those who find love with others of the same sex; those who worship Jesus and not Allah, women who ‘shame’ the family by wearing the wrong clothes or journalists who make the mistake of pointing out the corruption of the Palestinian leadership. When they were screaming out death to the Jews, every tree and rock has the duty to help Muslims to kill Jews I must have been hiding behind the wall.

As this isn’t really an appeal to you but a screed justifying my obsession with Israel my next step was quoting a Jew who agreed with me.  I found it necessary to remind the readers that Tony Judt was Jewish. It is as if the religion he didn’t practise somehow gave him a credibility to criticise what the Jews in Israel do, as if his background as a lecturer in European history with a focus on France did not. If I constantly criticised Islam by quoting apostate Muslims or unemployed African immigrants by a black professor at Trinity College I might be labelled racist but Israel is judged by different rules. It shouldn’t be treated differently from Slovenia but somehow I couldn’t find one country out of the approximately 193 in the world to warn you from visiting.

You and I both know, President Higgins,  that if you had anywhere near the support among the Irish people that Israel has among the Jews you would be Prime Minister not President. This is why I have this obsession to find Jews to agree with me? They don’t represent more than a tiny section of Jews and barely a statistical blip of Israelis but they do provide me a degree of cover from the charge of antisemitism. In a region where 22 states openly declare themselves both Arab and Muslim I wouldn’t want my opposition to the existence of one Jewish state in the world to open me to that charge.

Still mostly I want to market boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS). The truly extraordinary thing is that I actually believe terrifying shop girls selling chocolates and bath salts will bring Israel to its knees. Chocolates and bath salts, not computer technology and software, cellular phone applications, CAT scanners or drip irrigation, nor any of the hundreds of  inventions and discoveries coming out of Israel in chemistry, physics, medicine, economics, biotechnology, computer sciences, agriculture and even games.

We believe that closing a small luxury chocolate manufacturer must force Israel to make the changes it considers suicidal where diplomacy, persuasion and dialogue will fail. By the same standards preventing the Irish cinema audience from attending a film festival must be devastating. The irony is that the film makers in Israel are among the small group of Israelis who fail to see BDS not a alternative to violence but as an adjunct to it.

As our intellectual inspiration Stalin is said to have said, “You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs”. If we can’t have BDS without hurting leftist film types or Arab farmers, so be it.

No public attack on Israel would be complete without bringing in supposed European guilt about Auschwitz, although why neutral Ireland should feel guilty is another question for another time. I don’t want it to be thought it antisemitic  that I expect Israel to behave with compassion to the Palestinians because of the Jews’ history or persecution but I excuse Palestinian misbehaviour because of their history of persecution. I just expect Europe to do so.

I t may seem strange to you to hear me saying truly neutrality is not an option, Mr. Higgins. Ireland’s traditional policy is military neutrality. Just remember that when you visit in your any of the countries with far worse human rights records that I have bicycled through with my eyes firmly closed to any injustice I don’t wish to see. Neutrality is shown not only by what you do but what you don’t do.

With all suitable greetings,
David Guy parodying Dervla Murphy

About David Guy

B.A./B.C.A. (Communication and Media Arts) University of Wollongong, AUSTRALIA M.A. in Government (Diplomacy and Conflict Studies) Inter Disciplinary Center, Herzliya, ISRAEL Twitter @5MFI
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