After once warning of Ireland’s downward spiral into the welcoming arms of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, I regret to report that this slump is only gaining speed as the hour goes by. What has transpired in recent days has not been a shift in policy; rather, what has occurred has been a radicalization of the grassroots. Just as “trickle-down economics” envisions the benefit of their policies reaching those further down the economic ladder, the intelligentsia of BDS foresee the cumulative effect of their rhetoric flowing down to their followers.
The Maynooth student union was the latest domino to fall, with more to certainly follow. Before the events in Maynooth are analyzed, we must look to what caused it to fall.
Following on from the endorsements of BDS by the USI and Trinity College student union, the pro-Palestinian movement became emboldened, and soon established a DCU Students for Justice in Palestine. Under the chairmanship of Stephanie O’Toole, this new society has already lobbied the university’s student union to implement BDS. What is worrying is the extremity of their ideology, as evident by O’Toole’s tweets, including “death to Israel” (Jan. 29); “we’re discussing Israel in this lecture I didn’t know we could be taught about things that don’t exist” (Feb. 28); “it’s 5 am has Israel ceased to exist yet” (April 21); “Israel is trending and it isn’t because it’s dead, disappointing” (May 16).
This lays bare the truth known to all who hold Israel dear: that BDS is a Trojan horse for the objective of destroying the Jewish state.
In a tweet about a professor who has stood almost completely alone among Irish academics in consistently defending Israel, O’Toole tweeted that it “makes me want to vomit that he could be on campus at the same time as me.” When opposition to the policies of the Israeli government transitions from just that to physical revulsion at those who defend Israel and wishing death to its people, it represents the transition that precedes pogroms and worse. Her wishing of death upon the Jews and Arabs of Israel is seemingly shared by members of the Trinity College SJP chapter.
Has the divide between Israeli and Palestinian become so great that a terrorist campaign against the other is wished? Did the Holocaust teach nothing? This tweet follows on from an earlier Algemeiner report about the targeting of a Jewish Trinity professor and the spreading of anti-Semitic graffiti on campus, including “Gas Gas Gas the Jews, I’m Gonna Step on the Gas,” “Stop Zionism” and “Israel Did 9/11.”
Jackie Goodall of the Ireland-Israel Alliance points out such anti-Semitism and the related calls for violence prevalent at IPSC/BDS rallies from leaders and grassroots members alike. Goodall mentioned how in an article published anonymously in recent weeks in a pro-Palestinian media outlet, she was slurred as a Christian extremist and her home address was published. Goodall states that “it was a nasty, underhanded thing to do, especially as the article was unnamed.” In a recent article on the undercurrent of anti-Semitism in Ireland, Goodall herself documented the definitive rise in anti-Semitism within pro-Palestinian circles.
So this brings us to the experience of the Maynooth Students for Israel Society, of which I serve as president. Several days ago, the Student Senate railroaded through a motion mandating the student union to support BDS — unopposed. We were not notified of this motion at any point and were offered no way to contest it. I was only notified afterward by a student who was at the meeting about another issue, but felt that it was unfair and so recorded as much as they could to pass onto us.
What we received should have hailed from times of hatred long thought dead. The motion was one thing, the debate was quite another.
The proponent of the motion, Aindriu DeBuitleir, who has supported the occupation of empty buildings in line with the “Take Back the City” campaign and who has pushed for the removal of all private businesses from Maynooth campus, began to speak. Having welcomed our guest speaker, Shai DeLuca-Tamasi, as part of the CAMERA on Campus tour, what ensued was not expected. DeBuitleir began by accusing our society of supporting “dangerous things” and attacked Israel continuously for the imbroglio in the Middle East with lie and myth. Another representative, Stephen McConnell, attacked the supposed proliferation of racist, Zionist propaganda. Then rhetoric graduated to action. DeBuitleir called for the investigation of the society, and the monitoring of our social media and correspondence with a view to shutting us — the nation’s only Zionist student group — down. This rhetoric was reciprocated by others before the motion was put to a vote with an end result of 28-0.
It was only then that we were notified of what happened. BDS had been brought onto campus without notifying a society diametrically opposed to its purpose. The depths to which this movement descends to suppress opposition is chilling. Is it really so unconscionable that a future Irish government replicate this precedent — with the BDS movement guiding them?
On the point of our society being shut down, upon contacting the vice president for Clubs & Societies, he stated to us that our society would not be shut down, and could only be shut down for breaking the Union’s constitution. Being pro-Israel does not yet meet this standard, and so we live to fight another day. Yet the storm clouds are darkening ever further, with the remaining pro-Israel institutions still standing strong but braced for impact. JN
Daniel O’Dowd is a LLB candidate at Maynooth University in Ireland, president of Maynooth Students for Israel, CAMERA Fellow 2018/2019 and a member of the U.S. Embassy Youth Council.