Following an article in last weeks Moyle edition of the Chronicle, Councillor Padraig McShane has angrily reacted with the following statement. A brief paragraph of the story from the newspaper can be read by clicking here.
Speaking to Causeway Coast Community, Councillior Padraig McShane said “In Israel’s own eyes the perceived wisdom throughout the globe was that Israel was, a violent country that violated international law. (That’s pretty true by most accounts) In response the Zionist government launched a major ‘Brand Israel’ initiative to reinvent the country’s image and showcase Israel – beyond conflict. One of the main thrusts of that movement was to send Israeli novelists, theatre companies and writers overseas to show this reinvented ‘prettier face’. Following the main cultural thrust, Israel wanted to present itself as a charitable country, enhancing contributions to overseas aid and supporting soldiers and former soldiers to participate in charitable acts overseas.
Israel coordinated efforts by ad agencies, P.R. consultants and huge amounts of funding were thrown at the programme that became a state sponsored cultural affairs strategy. Israelis engaged in such activities were made to sign secretive contracts to enhance the state’s message. The calculated political use of culture and charity for state propaganda may have presented itself in Ireland, ending up in Ballycastle last week.
The Israeli government, following advice from Reut, an institute engaged in strategic decision-making support to Israeli policymakers, called for an enhanced charm offensive working through diplomats and its diaspora throughout the globe. That offensive was to focus on personal relationships with political, financial, cultural, media and security elites. If goodwill and charitable actions are a deliberate Israeli strategy to conceal the violations of Palestinian human rights – are those actions still deemed Charitable?”
When Maysen, a 25 year old Canadian, walked 500 miles for Mental Health Charity we all wished her well. When she boosted of her recent past as an IDF soldier and a paratrooper, was her efforts less charitable and more – Brand Israel?
Exploring a little more it is not hard to learn that Maysen may indeed have endured significant trauma. To that end we would all wish her well and hope that her past impacts less and less on her future. It seems that trauma came while in the IDF.
Maysen travelled to Israel from her home in Canada. She actively took part in the armed illegal occupation of the Golan Heights after joining the Israeli Defence Force. She was no ordinary soldier and in March 2012 she was invited to personally meet with Benjamin Netanyahu.
Tweets from Maysen’s separate IDF twitter account boast of longing to welcome the Olim chadashim who are largely the new settlers brought to Israel – many housed in illegal settlements against international law. In other social media Maysen says of her occupation – It was this extraordinary feeling of home, of belonging, and no one can ever take that from us. The UN (and also specifically John Kerry) can go jump off a cliff. In further tweets Bombing raids on Gaza are welcomed by the young Canadian despite the innocent death toll in the Strip.
If the last paragraph gives an insight to Maysen, her influence and her ability to promote the IDF and the illegal occupation, it continued in her multiple social media outlets right up to this year. She has done numerous walks, all the while subtly promoting the illegal Israeli occupation and the IDF.
Médecins Sans Frontières mental health program in the Gaza Strip found – ‘A high number of accumulated traumatic life events, economic pressure, and elevated prevalence of depression, anxiety and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have been found among adults and children in the Gaza Strip.’ The results came on the back of the illegal blockade of Gaza by land air and sea. In addition the Israeli army offensive, Operation Cast Lead, both of which were carried out by Maysen’s comrades. It continues to this day. Maysen has shown only support for its continuance.
Mental Health is not a trivial matter nor should it be used for ‘calculated political gain’. The occupation of Palestine and the continued imprisonment of 1.8m people in the Gaza Strip cannot be forgot about while the IDF sends her good will ambassadors across the globe to shade us from the horrors of the apartheid regime.