So I brought along a whole load of things to show you.
And my plan is to kind of negate Richard's entire political life,
and give the opposite side of the story.
And I just want to say it's wonderful that the Eblana Club
is hosting a debate,
because we never get to debate,
us pro-Israel people
and the anti-Israel people
- you mightn't categorise yourself
as anti-Israel - but anyway, we never get to debate.
Things flare up online. Nothing much happens.
But these debates are so rare, and it's great.
So I hope we have some time tonight to go through things.
Now there won't be any "Road to Damascus". I don't think you're going to agree with me [or] I'm going to agree with you.
That's not what debate's
It's about presenting
And neutrals can chip in.
So I think in a lot of the discourse on Israel,
what's missing for me is almost always the fundamentals.
For me, the fundamentals are this:
Israeli general elections since 1948.
From the Knesset.
This is a list of Israeli elections.
Since the beginning. The first one in 1949.
Now this is an extraordinary list because you think, well, doesn't every country have a list like this? Ireland does, for example.
No! Spain does not. Spain was not a democracy in the
40s, 50s, 60s.
Greece was not.
Eastern Europe was not, famously.
For half of this, Eastern Europe were not democracies.
China is not a democracy today. Iran is not.
Russia is not.
Half the world are not democracies.
This is very special in the world to have a list like this. And this is why I support Israel, fundamentally.
Everything else is secondary to the fact that it is a democracy, a free society, in a world, and in a region where free societies are
There are hardly any free societies in the Middle East.
And they have held on as one of the rarest free societies
in that entire region.
Now that's just a list of elections. And then we can go and we can look at how people rank Israel. So here is The Economist who have a thing called the Democracy Index:
And they try to rank states around the world by their level of democracy. And what's that country up at the top?
That's Israel. So, this is the Middle East.
It's not the best country in the world.
It's the best country in the Middle East. So if you're interested in the Middle East, this is kind of the last country you ought to be concerned with.
These countries down here, Syria, Iran, etc. These are the countries you ought to be furious about.
These are the countries whose people have no rights. Where minorities and women and so on have no rights.
Up here at the top, you have Israel, which has this fantastic democratic tradition.
I want to talk a bit more about that democratic tradition.
This is a chart from Freedom House who rank freedom in the world for different countries:
Israel is the freest country in the Middle East.
According to the
Freedom in the World
Just 1 country out of 13 (8 percent) is "Free" (green). It is Israel.
And in the Middle East, one country out of 13 is "Free".
Guess which country. It's Israel, of course.
And look at all this purple. These are the worst countries
in the world. This is the worst category in the world. And almost the entire Middle East is purple.
Now these are real things that Freedom House
and The Economist are talking about.
They're not just made up.
Again, this is freedom of the press.
Israel - top country in the Middle East, despite all the problems and all the issues and whatever.
It's nothing compared to these countries [at bottom of chart], where
freedom of the press does not exist.
In which the regimes do not believe in the entire concept of freedom of the press. So why are we even talking about Israel? We should spend all our time talking about Iran and Syria and Saudi Arabia and places like that.
So Israel has done an amazing job. And here's
a little map from Freedom House again:
Israel is an island of freedom in the Middle East.
Freedom in the World
And they rank countries as Free, Partly Free, and Not Free.
We don't have time to go into all the methodology.
But we can see here in Europe, as part of this great zone of liberal democracy where people can vote and give out about the government.
But that green zone is quite rare in the world. And if you expand the map you can see the other green countries.
This zone of purple is, for me,
that's just such a sad picture of the planet.
And it is a real picture of the planet,
where in country after country you have regimes where you don't have
the basic rights that we all have here in Ireland.
We're one of the greens of course.
And look at this tiny little green country here. Look at this tiny little green country in the middle.
It's an island. An absolute island of freedom.
So for me, this is not to be sniffed at.
To achieve that, to even be a green country, is an achievement, for any country.
To be a democracy, to be a democracy for decades is a great achievement and something Israel should be proud of.
So let us compare it to the Palestinian Authority:
Israeli elections and Palestinian "elections" since the setting up of the Palestinian Authority.
So here we have Israeli elections. This is a list of Israeli elections
since the setting up of the PA.
And as you can see here, in 1996 the PA had their first election.
Why no Palestinian elections?
And what happened?
What happened afterwards?
Did Yasser Arafat suddenly decide that he believed in democracy
and he better have an election, after 9 years?
No, you know what happened.
He died, right? That's why there was an election in 2005
- because the guy died. The dictator died in 2004.
He was never going to have an election if he lived to 150.
So 2005 and 2006, they had those two elections and Abbas wins one
and Hamas wins the other.
And then what happens?
Because what happens over here is you go into opposition, and you say that the government are doing things wrong, and you bide your chance for the next election.
The next election. Who are you kidding?
There will never be another election. I mean, Abbas is still alive. Why would there be an election? He's not going to have an election.
Palestinians do not believe in democracy
So these [on RHS] are,
at least for the powerful, these are people who do not believe in
democracy at all.
Arafat never believed in it.
Abbas does not believe in it.
Hamas do not believe in it.
None of these people believe in democracy.
These people on the left, they believe too much
in democracy! Look what they're doing.
They're having an election this week, aren't they?
There you go. So these people believe in democracy.
These people [on RHS] don't.
How about the people themselves? Even the belief of the people themselves in democracy is rather questionable.
When's the last time you heard
about the lack of a Leader of the Opposition
and a working Parliament?
There should be two of them really. There should be a Parliament in Gaza with a Leader of the Opposition,
and then the Parliament should be actually functioning
on the West Bank with a Leader of the Opposition
giving out about Fatah and giving out about Hamas.
I'm not even sure the people themselves particularly
believe in that, but that may be getting a bit harsh.
And certainly their Western supporters never talk about it.
When have you heard a pro-Palestinian person in the West
saying Hamas should have elections?
At least within Gaza. I mean, they've been there since 2006 with no elections.
So you never hear it. You don't hear it in Ireland.
You don't hear it from any of the anti-Israel people.
So why is there no call for elections? Well, from
the Palestinian point of view,
it's they don't believe in democracy. That's this weird Western idea that we believe in.
They don't believe in it. From the point of view of
their Western supporters, they don't seem to care if these people have the vote or not.
Arabs in Israel
So let me move on from voting to society.
Because what I need to consider is what Israeli society consists of.
Israeli society is a model of multi-ethnic, multicultural, multi-religious existence, where Jews, Christians, Muslims
can all worship freely, can change religion freely,
can criticise religion, can be secular.
Sure there are frictions, like in Ireland,
between secular and religious.
But fundamentally it's a Western type of society where the individual is free. It's also the most Muslim Western country in the world.
I regard it as a Western country, defining a Western country as a liberal democracy. It's 18 percent Muslim, which is a hell of a lot more Muslim than the USA, which is 1 percent, for example.
Percentage Muslim populations
of Western countries:
Israel is 18 percent Muslim.
Bulgaria - 13 percent.
France - 9 percent.
Austria - 8 percent.
Belgium - 8 percent.
Sweden - 8 percent.
Germany - 6.5 percent.
UK - 6 percent.
Greece - 6 percent.
Italy - 5 percent.
Netherlands - 5 percent.
Switzerland - 5 percent.
Denmark - 5 percent.
Spain - 3 percent.
Norway - 3 percent.
Canada- 3 percent.
Australia - 3 percent.
Finland- 2 percent.
Ireland - 1.4 percent.
USA - 1.1 percent.
Romania - 1.0 percent.
New Zealand - 0.9 percent.
Hungary - 0.6 percent.
Portugal - 0.4 percent.
Czech Republic - 0.2 percent.
Slovakia - 0.2 percent.
Poland - 0.02 percent.
Arabs in Israeli government
So what does this mean? Do all these Muslims,
do all these Arabs
- most of the Arabs are Muslim, but not all
- do they not have the vote?
Well, no, they do have the vote.
Not only do they have the vote.
At the moment they're in government.
There is an Arab Minister in the current government. Which could all change this week. And there is an Arab party, literally an Arab party for the first time in the Israeli government.
Now, what kind of Mickey Mouse apartheid state is that?
You're doing it completely wrong, this apartheid business,
having your Arabs in government and Arab political parties.
But that's how it is, because the government is like
a snapshot of Israel, where people coexist, all in freedom. All loving this kind of Western - if we call it Western, maybe it's
wrong to call it Western - but it's the free society.
So the Cabinet includes an Arab Muslim. And he's not in the Arab Party. He's in another party. He's in a mainstream party.
And he's Arab Muslim. He's not Arab Christian. So let's just have a look at a little chart showing the voting here:
Here's South Africa. Blacks did not have the vote in
South Africa. In Israel, Arabs have the vote, all of them.
Turnout: Well turnout is turnout, it varies up and down.
Arab seats: So blacks obviously have none in apartheid
in Israel are Arabs, and actually it went up to 14 percent.
And the number of Arabs is 20 percent, so 14 percent is pretty good.
You're nearly there. That's kind of normal.
So 14 percent of the Knesset being Arab politicians.
And Arabs don't even vote for Arab political parties.
There are these kind of sectarian,
you might call them if you're being uncharitable,
Arab political parties. But there's also mainstream
political parties, and a ton of Arabs vote for them.
Look at this.
That's the number of Arabs voting for what they're calling "Jewish parties". But I guess if enough Arabs are in them, they're just kind of general parties. They're mainstream parties, not just for Arabs.
an Arab Druze politician who is a hawkish member of the Likud party.
Minister of Communications 2017-2019.
Okay, so here's an Arab politician. And I don't know how this guy fits into the anti-Israel people that you talk to, who think Likud are something satanic or something.
(I'm not saying you think they're satanic, but you're probably against them.)
So this is an Arab member, a hawkish member, of the Likud Party. And he actually became a Minister not long ago.
So how does he fit into this whole model that
Arabs have a terrible time in Israel.
We've got other people. There's an Arab Muslim
who's an activist for Likud.
Now, I mean, what can we say with this one?
You know, Apartheid, you're doing it wrong.
You actually have an Arab President. So there was an Arab President. He was acting President in 2007 and he's Arab. And he was the President of Israel for a while,
a short period, acting President.
Okay, maybe that was a freak event, right,
[that] you get an Arab President.
Supreme Court judge anybody?
judge of the Supreme Court of Israel, 2003 to 2017.
Right, so here's an Arab Supreme Court judge.
Salim Joubran. And not just on a one-off basis.
For 14 years he was a judge of the Supreme Court. I mean, that's a serious position. That's a serious position of power
Jews and Arabs, all citizens. Okay. Well, that's interesting. How about this guy?
presiding judge at the trial of Israeli President Moshe Katsav for rape,
So an Arab judge who jailed an Israeli President, I mean, how many people in Ireland even know this happened.
You know, an Israeli President was convicted of sexual assault.
And the judge who jailed him was Arab.
So that's this fellow here, George Karra.
He jailed the Israeli President for rape. So you know, how can that happen? Well, that can happen in a society like ours, where everybody has equal rights. That's it. That's how that kind of thing can happen.
Now here's a great little tweet from somebody I follow. And he says:
Antisemites say Jews control the banks. We really messed up, guys, because the head of the biggest bank in Israel is an
Arab Muslim. And that's true. The head of Bank Leumi,
appointed in 2019, is an Arab Muslim.
So obviously, they're doing the international conspiracies wrong as well, and letting the
Arab Muslims in on those too.
Israel's Coronavirus Tzar
Helps shape the Coronavirus policy which affects every Jew in Israel.
He was also a Colonel in the IDF.
Jews served under him.
Here's another guy. He's not just a doctor. He's the Coronavirus
He's setting the rules for Coronavirus for every Jew in the country during the Coronavirus crisis. And he had a great career behind him, Salman Zarka, and then he was appointed.
I think he's still the Coronavirus
Tzar, at the moment, as we speak.
So he's Arab.
Masad Barhoum, an Arab Israeli,
is Director of
Western Galilee Hospital,
the second largest hospital in northern Israel.
Appointed 2007. Still Director as at 2022.
Jewish doctors work under him.
The hospital treats IDF soldiers.
Then we have an Arab hospital head. It goes on and on.
This guy treats IDF soldiers.
Jewish doctors - work under him.
So all of these powerful people -
Jewish people work underneath them.
They're their subordinates. And that's perfectly normal. And they're not getting paid less, I'd say, contrary to the apple pickers or whatever
[Arab farm workers of 1987 that Boyd Barrett mentioned].
These guys are getting paid serious money.
So they're not getting paid less than their subordinates.
So okay. So that's pretty amazing. And then you have cultural things as well. And there's some lovely things here.
I've an endless series of these.
The captain of the Israeli football team is
The current captain of the football team is Muslim. So how does that even happen, you know, that the captain of the football team is Muslim, but that is actually reality right now.
Israeli Arab opinions
65% of Israeli Arabs are "proud to be Israeli".
The next one is to say, given all of this, so are these just a tiny number of Arabs who are doing well,
and most Arabs are seething with resentment at the awful state they have to live in?
Well not really.
I mean, look at this poll.
of Israeli Arabs are proud to be Israeli.
So you know, again, how many people around the world would be absolutely shocked by that poll?
It's not 65% of Israeli Arabs want to destroy Israel or something. It's 65% are proud to be what, to be Israeli.
Even the word "Palestinian" is viewed as an insult by many of the Arab population of Israel. They say:
"No, I'm an Israeli Arab. I'm proud of this country that I was born in and has given me opportunities
and that I love."
42 percent of Jerusalem Arabs say they would try to move to Israel if their neighborhood became part of a new Palestinian state.
Arabs even try to move into Israel and escape the PA.
There's been thousands of them making sure they're going to live under Israeli rule.
Israeli Arab stats
Israeli Arabs Have Highest Life Expectancy in Arab-Muslim World.
Because Israeli rule gives them this.
This is life expectancy of
Arabs. And I think some other groups, but mainly Arabs.
And right at the top are Arab Israelis. The highest life expectancy in the Arab world.
Now, isn't that wonderful? And not only is that great, but to be honest, I mean, you know, isn't this something for
everyone to be proud of, everyone that's involved in this, you know.
can be proud of these numbers. That they're not treating the Arab population - there's nearly 2 million Arabs, by the way,
in Israel - they're not treating them as serfs or
slaves or something.
The ethnic cleansing of the Arab Muslims of Israel.
Look at the column for Muslims.
From 500,000 in 1980
to 1.6 million in 2019.
So now here's the ethnic cleansing -
put sarcastically of
course. But people talk about the ethnic cleansing of the Arabs. So here's the appalling ethnic cleansing of the Arab Muslims. So just look at the Muslim column. So we have 500,000 in 1980, and 1.6 million there [in 2019].
And the last I heard was 1.9 million. Oh, no, that's
[in the chart].
for all Arabs.
So it's 1.7 or whatever [for Muslims].
So what kind of ethnic cleansing is that?
What kind of country is that where the population of Arab Muslims
can absolutely explode over the decades?
It doesn't fit the narrative.
The ethnic cleansing of the Arabs of Jerusalem.
From 26% in 1967 to 38% in 2018.
Here's the ethnic cleansing of the Arabs of Jerusalem.
They've been driven from an appalling
tiny number of people, in the orange here [on LHS],
up to this huge amount here [on RHS]. So they've been, sadly, vastly increased
But I guess the ethnic cleansing will kick in
at some point and they'll start reducing.
leader of the Joint List
alliance of Arab parties.
He is saying Arabs in Israel are successful and should be proud.
Many Arabs are proud of what they've achieved. And actually they have achieved .. Arabs are really highly represented as undergrads
now in Israeli universities.
They're nearly at 20%.
Okay. Now I want to talk about Gaza.
So let's say Israeli Arabs are doing fine. And finally, the sort of promise of this liberal democracy has been achieved in Israel. And the Arabs who are lucky enough to be in Israel are having a great life. And they have all the possibilities of anybody in a rich
Well, isn't it still appalling in Gaza and the West Bank?
So, yeah. We've got to look at these things.
So Richard said that Gaza was in a condition of absolute
devastation, had been destroyed, that people were starving.
Well here's a picture of Gaza that I found at a site called
"Most Beautiful Places in Gaza".
And there are loads of pictures like this. Loads of swimming pools
and cafes and shops and hotels,
sitting around there
when there's no war on.
Absolutely, it's horrible
- any place is absolutely appalling -
when there's a war on. But when there's no war on,
places like this exist. It's a real photo. It didn't make it up.
There's a channel, an account on Twitter,
I follow called Imshin.
And what she does is
"The Gaza you don't see".
And she always goes looking at nice things in Gaza that you wouldn't think about, you wouldn't see in the media because they don't fit the narrative. And she discovered 640 holiday chalets
that families use in Gaza.
These are actual real places. They actually exist. And they could be on your newspaper.
At the shop in Gaza, June 2019.
kids channel in Gaza.
Now, again, if you don't believe me, go watch some of these videos. This is a kids channel in Gaza
and you can go watch it. I don't time to play it. But you can go watch this video. And there's one thing I'd say about this video. They're at the supermarket. It's kids. It's YouTube, right? You know, kids go round shops and chat and play games and do silly things.
This shop is nicer than any shop in my entire childhood.
My whole childhood in Ireland, 1970s and 1980s,
this shop is way nicer.
So if this is the Warsaw Ghetto, I grew up in something worse than
the Warsaw Ghetto in 1970s Ireland. This is not the Warsaw Ghetto.
This is a modern place. It's a modern supermarket. It doesn't fit the narrative.
Gaza is the simplest problem in the world
Gaza is the simplest problem in the world.
[Running out of time.]
I'm going to have to bail out on the West Bank, which is the most complex problem.
Gaza is the simplest problem in the world.
I actually have a solution to Gaza and my solution is just stop.
That if Hamas just stops, stops the war, stops the rockets,
just stops, then you can just live like that [previous slides]
all the time.
You can have your shops, you can have your cafes,
your swimming pools. There are no airstrikes,
no rockets coming over. There's no ground invasions.
I actually say this to people online. I say Gazans should abandon the struggle and pursue shopping and life.
And that drives people nuts. But honestly, it's my philosophy. My philosophy is I want everybody to live at peace
and be rich, or at least prosperous.
So I want all those Gazans to live in peace.
I want them to enjoy their shops and everything. And there's only one thing that's needed: Just abandon the struggle and start getting more selfish
and just make Gaza a good place.
The West Bank
Now the West Bank is more complex.
[Need more time.]
... Look, the West Bank is an absolute mess compared to Gaza. And the real reason it's a mess, from what I'm talking about here,
is that there's no obvious border.
So with Gaza, Israel, as you know, eventually gave up on the settlements, kicked 8,000 Jews out,
defined a border, that's it.
So that's the border, there's not going to be any other border. The West Bank is an absolute mess, and it's a mess on all sides. Right. I'm not saying it's a great situation.
I may not even speak for all pro-Israel people.
Don't get me wrong, there are different views on the pro-Israel side.
It's a mess that has evolved due to history and you can kind of see various reasons why it evolved, but it's a mess all the same.
So have a look at this. No Jews allowed past this sign.
So if you thought
I was going to show you
"No Palestinians allowed past this sign".
But there's also "No Jews allowed past this sign".
Because this is Area A, and if Jews go into Area A, they'll have to be rescued by the IDF, and the IDF may lose troops
rescuing them from being lynched.
So the IDF don't want any Jews to get into Area A and be
killed, lynched, held hostage, whatever it is.
So this is a sign. The reason I picked this sign is
it's outside Jericho.
Jericho, if you know your Bible at all ...
is an ancient city of what, of the Jews.
So Jericho is an ancient Jewish city and Jews aren't
So the area outside of Jericho,
look at this for an absolute mess:
The area around Jericho.
Purple: Jews can live here.
Palestinians can enter only under security checks.
Yellow and orange: Palestinians can live here.
Jews cannot enter.
From OCHA (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs).
Purple: Jews can live here in this area.
Jews lived here [central Jericho]
for 2,500 years or something, but they can't live here anymore. They can't even go in there anymore without an army escort.
Palestinians can't get in here [purple area]
without security checks.
Because of the fear of terrorism.
And they can't live there.
The whole thing is an absolute mess.
[Negotiations for extra time.]
All right. ... It's very hard to do the West Bank quickly. I'm talking about the current mess of a situation.
I'm not going to be somebody saying:
was all great. It was a great idea to end up in this position or whatever. All the decisions everybody made were right. I'm not going to say that. I'm going to say it's a mess. So what is the solution
We want West Bank Arabs to have a good life
Well, first of all, again, I want you to understand,
I think I do speak for most pro-Israel people that we want all these people here,
the Palestinians who get to live here, we want them to have a good life. And we want all the Jews who live here to have a good life. We don't want the Jews all expelled from here to solve something or other. We don't want the Palestinians all expelled. I'd say I speak for 90% of pro-Israel people. Nobody wants anybody expelled. Everybody wants everyone to have a good life. Is that possible?
Well, I'm actually here to say: No, it's not.
At least it's not without some fundamental changes. Which probably aren't going to happen.
Palestinian GDP per capita under occupation.
Stats from Angus Maddison.
The "brutal" Israeli occupation made the "oppressed" Palestinians 3 times richer.
So Richard visited Israel and the Territories in 1987 or something. So these by the way, they're not my stats. I just graphed this here.
The stats are totally independent. This is Palestinian
GDP per capita in 1990
Basically what was happening in 1987 was Palestinian GDP was tripling from the start of the occupation over here up until, you know what happened here, Arafat launches the intifada and
the whole economy goes to hell.
So that brutal Israeli occupation that you were complaining about, made the Palestinians three times richer over that period, up until
[I continue with my slides from the interrupted talk.]
Palestinian GDP per capita under occupation.
Stats from Angus Maddison.
Look basically, I love this [LHS of graph]. Your GDP increases 3 times. You've got a nice society. You've got shops. Maybe you've got tourism, if you don't kill the tourists.
That's the future. I hate this [RHS of graph]. This is Arafat
and suicide bombing buses.
As at 2018,
Israel was issuing 100,000 work permits to Palestinians.
Palestinian life expectancy
under the "brutal" Israeli occupation.
From Our World in Data.
Look at their life expectancy.
Mr. Boyd Barrett has this whole narrative about how brutal the whole thing has been for Palestinians.
Take a look at their life expectancy. This is "Our World in Data".
The data is out there. Their life expectancy
rockets ever since occupation began. It rockets up.
Gaza and the
West Bank have higher life expectancy than
Jordan, Syria, Egypt and Iraq.
Turkey (lower life expectancy) sends aid to Gaza.
Here is life expectancy.
Gaza and the West Bank have higher life expectancy than Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, and even Turkey,
which sends aid to Gaza, on ships full of jihadis.
So they have higher life expectancy.
How does that happen?
There is no solution
So is there any solution to the West Bank?
Solution to Gaza? There is.
Some of you don't like it, but the solution is to just stop,
and you "choose life", as they say.
The West Bank: I don't think there's any solution. The solutions that tend to be offered on that [anti-Israel] side are just:
Plan 1: End security
End security, so everybody can go everywhere.
1. End the checkpoints.
2. Demolish the wall.
Well, that just means suicide bombs everywhere. So:
End the checkpoints.
Demolish the wall.
The other thing [shows deportations].
Now, in fairness, Mr. Boyd Barrett doesn't seem to want
deportations or anything, which is great because some people do.
Which is: We're going to get everybody out from the 1967 borders,
deport all the settlers. There are loads of people who
We ethnically cleanse 0.6 million Jews.
And if you can live with that, then you get a bloodbath.
So you don't get any kind of reward for this ethnic cleansing,
which is a terrible crime to begin with, but it doesn't even achieve
anything. Absolute disaster.
Plan 3: One-state solution
The third option is a bit more like Mr. Boyd Barrett's, which is a one state solution.
It may or may not bring in back
the 7 million people,
95% of whom
never lived in Israel. So you bring them all back.
Again I believe that'd be a bloodbath. I'm just reporting what would happen. So I don't think there is any solution.
There is no solution
There is no solution.
There's no solution for this terrible mess here
Except there is one solution.
There's only one solution.
[Puts up slide saying: "The Palestinians need to stop the war."]
Blocked on Twitter by the regressive left and Islamists:
I love debate.
I love ideas.
But the Western left
and their friends the Islamic right
do not return the favour.
Their response to opposing ideas, whether expressed politely or robustly, is often to block.
See Who blocks me on Twitter.
Twitter is broken, 2016 to 2022:
I am on Twitter at
Twitter was a great place for debate before 2016.
You could meet everyone in the world, and argue about ideas.
Starting in 2016,
Twitter became increasingly broken.
It became full of reporting and bans and censorship.
In 2019, Twitter even started
for no reason that was ever explained, or could be appealed.
By 2022, everyone was looking for a better place to debate.
Twitter is saved, 2022:
bought Twitter and started to end the censorship.
It looks great so far.
Twitter seems to be saved.