Anti-Apartheid Week At Trinity: What Did it Mean to 2 Diplomatic Missions?

BACKGROUND ABOUT THE CONTEXT SORROUNDDING ANTI-APARTHEID WEEK

No matter one’s stance on Israel-Palestine, it remains an an ongoing issue with no clear solution.   

Some favour a free Palestine, while others one nation under Israeli sovereignty. The most common ideal, however, is a two state solution with Palestine and Israel.

Even for me as a journalist and a neutral observer, it is a very tense topic to cover. I happen to be half Arab myself and grew up in Dubai. I have in laws who are Palestinian and the place I grew up in has neutralised relations with Israel. Before addressing the main contents of this article, I want to emphasise that these are not my personal opinions and that I am here to report. 

Over the past several months, The Republic of Ireland has been amongst one of the most outspoken Pro – Palestinian voices especially during the wake of the Ramadan attacks on Al Aqsa Mosque – The third Holiest Islamic Site by Israeli forces in May of 2021. 

TRINITY COLLEGE AND ANTI-APARTHEID WEEK

October 4 2021 marked the beginning of Trinity’s Student Union’s (SU) Anti – Apartheid week at Trinity with multiple events taking place to raise awareness on Palestinian Culture as well as protests demonstrating that Trinity should cut ties with Israel. 

The week started off with Palestinian Culture Night at the Pav. The night consisted of Debka (a traditional Levantine dance), Palestinian Music, as well as food. Tuesday featured a zoom seminar on climate change under the apartheid. The end of the week saw a protest in favour of the Boycott Divest Sanctions movement (BDS) in regards to boycotting Israeli products outside of Trinity’s dining hall. 

WORDS OF THE PALESTINIAN AMBASSADOR IN REGARDS TO ANTI-APARTHEID WEEK

The Palestinian Ambassador was reached out to. When asked about what she thought Trinity’s anti apartheid week symbolizes, she stated, “Trinity College is known as a beacon of learning worldwide, the fact that students here focus on injustice in other parts of the world is a testament to the open – mindedness and generous hearts of students and staff alike.” 

She added, “being part of this week and assigning some activities to address apartheid, this proves that the struggle for justcie, equality, and dignity around the globe is highly respected an valued. South African and Palestinian people have made sacrafices so great that it inspired people everywhere to do what they could on behalf of human rights progress. This was especially true here in Ireland, when principled Dunnes Stores workers sparked a global movement of peaceful solidarity with oppressed black South Africans. If participants in Trinity anti – apartheid week continue to vocally stand for justice and manage to raise the awareness of the suffering in the wider world and what the victims of apartheid experienced every day, this would be sending a big message that change is possible. Adding, “Nelson Mandela made it clear that we did not have to accept the world as it is – that we could do our part to seek the world as it should be. He said ‘To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. The true test of our devotion to freedom is just the beginning.’ Trinity’s anti – apartheid week allows Ireland’s next generation an opportunity to respect and demand freedom of others, including Palestinians.” 

The ambassador also concluded some of the most important things she wants people to know about Palestine, stating, Palestine and the Palestinians’ suffering reflect truly the most persuasive form of colonialism, apartheid, and racism. Ending the oppression and suffering of the Palestinian people is our main aim. The Palestinian aspiration for freedom and independence includes a sovereign State of Palestine on 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as our capital. We reaffirm our inalienable and collective rights to freedom, equality, a just solution for our cause based on International Law and UN resolutions. Our vision rests on unwavering support for Human Rights and Equality. Education for the Palestinians is an essential tool to survive. 99.5% of our population have completed primary education as of 2020, and we have one of the lowest illiteracy rates in the world.” 

“The core issues that we remain steadfast in our struggle for over the years are: Freedom and our right for self – determination. Refugees and the right of return. East Jerusalem as our Capital. Release our political prisoners who are the freedom fighters.” 

She went on to add, “The Israeli Occupation of Palestine managed over the years to permanently transform the international status, and demographic character through de jure or de facto annexation to become unlawfully prolonged. The international community should hold Israel accountable for its Occupation and allow concrete measures to halt its colonization policies.”

Lastly when asked if anti – apartheid week was a good initiative she stated, “Yes I do. Raising awareness of injustice and descriminaion among the younger generation opens a big window for change. If every young person who attended these events committed to ending apartheid and injustice, we could see a sea – change in the years to come in the attitudes of decision makers. This year’s students are tomorrow’s leaders.” 

WORDS OF THE ISRAELI AMBASSADOR IN REGARDS TO ANTI-APARTHEID WEEK

One of the main aims of anti – apartheid week is to cut ties with the Israeli ambassador. In light of this, the Israeli embassy in Dublin was reached out to for comment. 

The Israeli Ambassador went on to state, “Ties between Israeli and Irish academia have proven to be fruitful and beneficial for both sides. It is a shame that those who engage in activities aimed at equating the situation with Israel and apartheid-governed South Africa are less endowed with simple critical thinking and the ability to examine facts. To call a state, in which there is an equitable representation of its Arab population in parliament, and even government members from Arab parties – some of which are even aligned with the Muslim brotherhood – an apartheid state is ludicrous, to put it mildly.” 

The ambassador added, “As the representative of the Jewish State, I don’t ‘wish’ for Trinity college to ‘know’ more than what it deems necessary to remain one of the foremost institutions of higher learning in the world.”

She concluded, “My personal opinion on anti-apartheid week? If it is an honest attempt to battle global inequality, it is commendable; if it is yet another excuse for politically motivated agents to create a false narrative for their own personal gain, it is a shame that the college’s students must be exposed to this sham.” 

THE FUTURE? 

While it is one of the most well known current affairs of the Middle East, it is difficult to say where the future holds in regards to that of Israel-Palestine.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Trinity News: http://trinitynews.ie/2021/10/tcdsu-to-stage-protest-calling-for-trinity-to-cut-ties-with-israel/

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Gina Bagnulo

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