Nicky Larkin is a young Irish filmmaker who went to Israel to document the abuses of the fascist apartheid Jewish state, and thereby confirm the received wisdom back in Dublin about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
However, during his trip to Israel Mr. Larkin kept an open mind, and the facts on the ground changed it. His documentary film Forty Shades of Grey was the result, and his unwillingness to adopt an anti-Israel stance has caused controversy in Ireland.
This interview was recorded last night at the National Archives in Ottawa before the screening of Mr. Larkin’s film:
The article below by Nicky Larkin from The Ottawa Citizen also discusses the story behind his film:
How I Became an Irish Zionist
by Nicky Larkin
Summer 2012 — An Israeli flag proudly flies outside the front of a Dublin city centre pub. An insignificant event perhaps in other parts of the world — but not in Ireland. Six months previously Dublin city council allowed a day-long enactment of mock executions of “Israelis” by “Palestinians” on our main shopping thoroughfare, organized by the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
Being anti-Israel has somehow become part of our Irish national identity — the same way we are supposed to resent the English.
I was no different. My interest in the Israeli-Arab conflict had been sparked by Operation Cast Lead. I posed in the striped scarf of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation for an art show catalogue, in a gesture of solidarity. While I never had any notions of “Throwing The Jew Down The Well,” as Borat might have it, I had definite opinions on Israeli foreign policy. The Irish papers were full of stories of Israeli aggression every day that summer — between flotillas and bombings it didn’t look good. You can’t polish a turd.
But I wanted to go and see for myself. I wanted to see just how nasty these Israeli’s actually were. I wanted proof that I was right.
Several months later, I arrived in Ben Gurion Airport expecting all sorts of security checks. We were Irish, and we were filmmakers — therefore we were not to be trusted. Thankfully, we cleared security without the involvement of latex gloves or free prostate exams.
But suspicion followed us everywhere we went in that first week in Israel. Once we told people we were Irish it was harder to get interviews, and people were more reluctant to speak on camera. I understood why.
After that first week in Israel we crossed over into the West Bank. Being Irish wasn’t a problem on this side of the divide. Everyone was our friend. IRA graffiti adorned The Wall; tiny German flags affixed to car number-plates. Bethlehem was Las Vegas for Jesus-freaks, the neon crucifixes punctuated only by posters of martyrs.
I was confused by the constant Palestinian repetition of the mantra of “non-violent resistance.” Why put up all the posters of martyrs, if you advocate non-violent resistance? I was supposed to understand all this somehow because I’m Irish. But even the IRA didn’t blow themselves up … at least not on purpose.
I was also frustrated by the unquestioning attitude of the foreign activists. Anything seemed acceptable in the name of the Palestinian cause. No questions asked. But would these war-tourists apply this same liberal attitude if it was happening at home in their own country? If buses were exploding in their own home cities? If they weren’t out here on holidays in their summer playground?
My opinions didn’t change overnight. I spent seven weeks in the area, the time divided equally between Israel and the West Bank. Then I spent several months trawling through hundreds of hours of the interviews we’d filmed. I’d spoken to everyone from Ultra-Orthodox Settlers to Marxist Palestinians. Everybody had an opinion, and everybody was sure that their opinion was right.
But unlike the rockets from Gaza, not all the letters have been sent with spleen.
I expected hate mail. And I got it. But I didn’t expect the support from a largely silent group of people — Irish people. It seems there are true liberals out there. People prepared to listen to both sides of the story.
Since my initial article in March, a multitude of other Irish writers have been questioning our automatic anti-Israel bias in several national newspapers. For the first time ever Irish people are starting to think about the Israel issue in a rational light. There is a genuine sea-change taking place.
I opened a previously closed debate, and I would like to think that the Israeli flag now flying in Dublin city centre has more than a little bit to do with me.
Nicky Larkin will be presenting his film, Forty Shades of Grey, and answering questions Monday at Library & Archives at 7 p.m. (freethinkingfilms.com).
Hat tip: For the video, Vlad Tepes; for the article, JLH.