What concentration camps, Mr.Horgan?

Fault-finders of Edward Horgan‘s ‘Standing up for Palestine’ in this week’s Ireland’s Sunday Independent newspaper (print, digital online) and Irish Examiner’s reader’s blog with slight changes in all three expect to be hit by the standard ‘Criticism of Israel isn’t antisemitism’ cliché.

Well here’s a message.  Lies aren’t criticism.
Here’s another message.  There are no concentration camps in Israel, Gaza or the Palestinian Authority.

Newspapers employ fact-checkers but nobody bothers when Israel is smeared.  Par for the course.

Standing up for PalestineIs there no filter at the Sunday Independent or the Irish Examiner for letters that stray so far from reality that they cease to be legitimate opinion?  ‘Standing up for Palestine’ by Edward Horgan is a ranting fantasy.  It should never have passed the subeditors.

Essentially Standing up for Palestine consists of three ideas.

Firstly that Israel’s actions in placing Palestinians in (nonexistent) concentration camps and allegedly in general are equally bad or worse than Nazis in the Holocaust, Britain during the Boer War, internment in Northern Ireland (Britain again – playing to a local audience I guess).

Secondly that Gaza is not simply a concentration camp but the world’s largest leading to the plea to Ireland and the European Union to take effective if unspecified action to end the suffering of the Palestinian people.

5MFI will deal with the Nazi equivalence, Gaza as world’s largest concentration camp and the world’s obligation in turn.

Edward Horgan’s letter equating Israel to Nazi, British or Apartheid South Africa is bunkum.  Five minutes of research should have been enough disqualify its publication in a responsible newspaper.

There are no concentration camps in Israel or in the Palestinian Authority.

None, nada, zilch, efes. The whole premise is a lie.

As to the Nazi equivalence.  There is no way a reasonable person could compare the Holocaust with Israel’s conflict.  The scale is completely different.  Depending on estimates between 50 million to more than 80 million people died in six years of World War II.  An estimated 70,000, on both sides, have died during Israel’s seventy year conflict.

Keeping things in perspective 400,000 probably (estimates vary) have died in six years of Syria’s Civil War which is still continuing.  Yet no one is demanding Ireland take any action.

By any accepted measure the quality of life for Arabs of the geographic region called Palestine has a much improved in the last seventy years.  There was a major jump forward in the territories recaptured in 1967 from Egypt and Jordan.  This is not just compared to where they were but also relative to citizens in surrounding countries who don’t have the excuse of occupation by nasty Israelis to hide behind.

Some examples

Life expectancy at birth for Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza in 1967 was 48. By 2017 it was 75.20 in the West Bank (110 in world of 224 countries) and 74.20 in Gaza (124). Neighbouring Jordan (74.8/119), Egypt (73.00/142). As 71.4 years was the average life expectancy at birth of the global population in 2015 the Palestinians are not doing badly. Israel’s Arabs are doing much better, of course, but they aren’t conducting an on−and−off war.

Education is even more impressive.  Before 1967 no universities existed in the West Bank and Gaza.  Now there are ten universities and twenty community colleges.  Palestine has the highest per capita rate of university graduates in the world.

Statistics can be boring but I would happily wager that Edward Horgan could not find even one indicator of quality of life to prove his claim of atrocities on a Nazi level or even close.

No doubt by paying pro forma recognition to the horrors of the Holocaust and never using the words Jews or Jewish Horgan thinks he has protected himself from the charge of antisemitism.

If I don’t deny the Holocaust I can’t be a Jew Hater.

Surely he has forgotten that Ireland together with thirty-one other nations is a full member of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).  This group produced a Working Definition of antisemitism which is already in use by the European Parliament, the UK College of Policing and the US Department of State and several countries.

The definition gives examples of contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere. It should surprise no one that

drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis

is considered antisemitism.

There are consequences to starting wars;  losing wars and continuing to fight them after they are lost.  Still there is nothing to justify the libels crammed into Standing up for Palestine.

The myth of Gaza as the world’s largest concentration camp.

Some myths about Gaza just keep repeating themselves, no matter how often debunked.  Gaza isn’t the most densely populated place on earth.  5MFI covered that in Just dense and Population games.

Israel doesn’t practise apartheid, neither in Israel proper nor the territories and certainly not in Gaza from which Israel unilaterally disengaged in 2005.

Palestinians have, in fact, long been treated as third-class citizens in most of the Arab countries, where they are denied not only basic rights such as employment and health care, but also citizenship.  You would have a strong argument that the apartheid conditions faced by Palestinian refugees in Arab countries are much closer to apartheid-era South Africa than anything involving Israel.  Still somehow I doubt that we’ll see a Lebanon Apartheid Week soon.

The largest concentration camp is a semantic variation on the common ‘biggest open air prison’ myth to suit Horgan’s agenda .

Is North Korea [Population: 24.9 million (2013) Area 120,540 km²] miffed by claims that Gaza [Population: 1,816,379 (2014) Area 360 km²] is the world’s largest open air prison.  Surely North Korea deserves that discredit?

No Nazi, Boer War, Mau Mau rebellion, apartheid-era concentration camp had universities, exclusive restaurants, five star hotels, shopping malls, swimming pools, libraries and public parks, etc.  Gaza has them all and more.

Today residents of Gaza have better health, lower infant mortality, greater longevity not only much better than they had when under Egyptian and Jordanian occupation but than most Arab states.  How much better would they live if they didn’t chose permanent war with Israel?

BTW Egypt controls one of Gaza’s entrance and exit points at Rafah. It is located on the Gaza–Egypt border, which was recognised by the 1979 Israel–Egypt Peace Treaty.  It opens for a few days every few months.

Check out the Most Beautiful Places in Gaza Facebook page for example after example of non concentration camp-like things in Gaza.

A new online campaign by Hamas to bring tourists to the Gaza concentration camp.
The hashtag reads #ShukranHamas (thank you Hamas).

Stand up for Palestine concludes

“It is now time that the international community, especially Ireland and the European Union, took effective action to end the suffering of the Palestinian people”.

Just what is that effective action is left unstated.

Attacking the second and third class situation of Palestinians in Arab countries?

Protesting the brutal Mafia running the Palestinian Authority?

Protesting the religious fanatics seeking to return Gaza to the 7th century?

Insisting Egypt open up its Gaza border?

Insisting the Palestinians negotiate a peaceful solution or even insisting they do anything?

It is doubtful Horgan is even aware of any of this.

Surely it is now time for international community, Ireland and the European Union to stand up and take five minutes to investigate the lies told on behalf of the Palestinians.

Originally posted at Five Minutes for Israel.
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8 comments

  1. Pardon my Gaelic but the Irish have a name for people like Horgan: gobshite.

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