Willy Bach (NSW) writes to Moyle City Councillors (Ireland) re vote on whether to revoke proposed twinning with Gaza City 26Mar12 March 26, 2012

Willy Bach has written to the Moyle City Councillors and also Johnston Press which published the article reporting the bid to revoke Moyle’s twinning with Gaza City  See article here

Dear Councillors

I have known for most of my life that the Irish people have a great capacity for empathy and understanding the difficulties experienced by others. It is a special quality and a tradition to be honoured. Perhaps it arises from your difficult history.

I heard that the city of Moyle has a plan to twin with the city of Gaza in the Palestinian territories. I think this is an excellent plan. I hope that it will come to fruition and that the implementation is enthusiastically embraced on a bipartisan basis and will yield mutual benefits. The people of Gaza have been displaced and have been subjected to a siege and aerial attacks. Currently, they are experiencing difficulties with their economy, which is something that Irish people well understand. Yet they are warm, hospitable and resourceful people who come from an ancient culture. Their situation will not always be as it is today. They can lift themselves out of their immediate situation and deserve our kindness and understanding. The relationship that they can achieve with the people of Moyle will assist in the process of normalising their lives.

For this reason it is important that the Moyle Council should make its decision based on human considerations only and without the unwarranted pressure that you are experiencing from the state of Israel and its supporters. Please focus on these human values and the worthy aims of the Twin Towns programme. Do something that is distinctive and can make people proud of their town.

You may know that the nation of Costa Rica has no army and is an advocate of peace. I am also suggesting that the Municipality of Santa Elena and the Quaker community of Monteverde should make a similar arrangement and would welcome receiving the details from you as to how this twinning arrangement is done.


Dear friends at Johnson Press

I wish to fine tune the article:
Bid to ‘revoke’ Gaza twinning
Published on Thursday 22 March 2012 16:48

The journalist who wrote the article needs to be acquainted with the facts of the situation in Israel, the Palestinian Territories and Gaza in particular. The article begins by describing the local council according to their party affiliations, which is worryingly divisive for local citizens who pay these people to administer their town in the most efficient and effective manner. “MOYLE Ulster Unionist councillor Joan Baird is due to call for Moyle Council to ‘revoke and totally disassociate” itself from a proposed ‘Twinning Arrangement’ with Gaza.” If the council members insist on challenging every close decision they are setting a very unfortunate precedent and will never get any work done.

The article goes on to say that, “Supporters of the ‘twinning’ say it will bring humanitarian aid to the area and they deny it is a political move but opponents believe the move does make a political statement in an area which has parallels with the Northern Ireland situation.” I would agree that this twinning arrangement has great potential for assisting the healing process in Northern Ireland, which would be of great mutual benefit, including a benefit to the people of Moyle. Rather than challenging the Twinning decision on such flimsy and unexplained grounds, opponents should say what their real objections are.

Cllr Baird says in this article that, “The proposed ‘Twinning’ will not promote good relations in our community in Moyle.” This is a bald statement of what is surely a matter of opinion. She offers no evidence or alternatives, except a general support for the work of international NGOs. Cllr Baird then mischaracterises the situation in Gaza, whilst claiming to be objective. She says, “This (original) resolution came in a week when there was an escalation of deadly violence and terror in the Palestinian-Israel conflict. We should not take sides or lend support to one party in what is essentially a war zone”. Gaza is a city in which around 1.7 million people live and work, in which babies are born and children go to school. No one has declared Gaza to be a war zone and it is very dangerous and misguided to describe Gaza in this way.

Yes, there have been many incursions into Gaza by heavily-armed Israeli troops in which people were killed, injured or kidnapped. Yes, there have been numerous F-16, Apache helicopter and drone attacks in which the people are bombarded. Yes, there has been futile and ineffective resistance by some of the inhabitants of Gaza. However, the ‘war zone’ label can only make matters worse. Those international NGOs cannot operate in a ‘war zone’; their staff are risking their own lives. The ‘war zone’ label is a disingenuous attempt to air-brush over the asymmetry of the situation in an attempt to give the false appearance of objectivity.

I could suggest a course in Peace Journalism with Jake Lynch and Annabel McGoldrick which would also benefit the people of Moyle and the media that serves this community.

Willy Bach

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