I will try. I welcome to the Gallery many of our most distinguished guests about whom we are speaking. I am very privileged to be a Member of the Upper House and to be an Independent one. As legislators, all of us in this House are tasked with upholding, creating and developing laws which value life, equality, freedom, peace and the expectation of hope, meaning and happiness. It is entirely right that a Bill such as this should come through the House. We either believe in democracy or we do not. There is something rotten in the way democracy is defined, lived and, most importantly, denied in the Israeli-Palestinian territories. Democracy among Palestinians is more akin to annihilation.
Since I came into this Seanad we have asked incessant and sincere questions daily about our own human rights in Ireland in respect of, for example, our sexuality, our partnerships, direct provision, the quality of educational opportunity, penal reform, our right to life and, this morning, the right to Traveller education within our culture. These issues all pale into privileged insignificance when compared with the issue of human rights in Palestine. All humans' rights are supposed to have the same value; at least that is where we are supposed to begin. However, that is not the case with the rights of one Israeli soldier and those of 500 Palestinian children. That is a war in which there are no rules. Israel occupies a place in Palestine in which it obeys no rules.
I have had the privilege of visiting Palestine. Throughout the years I have been in this House I have witnessed the greatest violation of human rights by one country over another, Israel over Palestine. Senator Norris has described it most eloquently. It is a living apartheid every day. The wall has been mentioned. It is higher and more evident now than it was when Senators from Fianna Fáil were there. It runs through people's homes, yards, farms, houses, business premises, olive groves and water, as was mentioned. If the Israelis decide to turn off the water, that is what happens. If they decide to turn off the electricity, that is what happens. The wall runs through their fields, hills, trees and lives. Whenever Israel wants to push it, pull it or further it, that will happen. It gets bigger, thicker and fatter every day as it is built. The Palestinians who are here with us today have to go around it because they cannot go over it. They have no access to cross. They have to cross at different places. They queue for hours to go to work and to leave. They queue to come home and to leave their homes if they have work. They cannot drive on Israeli motorways without a pass. They cannot live without a permit. Every Palestinian I met there was living normally in captivity.
This House is supposed to be about upholding freedom, peace, justice and equality. That is why I have the privilege of being here. The people I met were living normally in captivity. They live despite themselves. One of the greatest culprits in this matter is a toothless and very insular Europe. It is not the Minister, but a very toothless and insular Europe which only ever comes to the fore in here when we are talking about the great god called the euro. If we are talking in Europe about the god called the euro, everybody is to the front. God is the dollar and the dollar is god. We have such arguments for it. Somebody recently asked me who runs Europe. I said the European Central Bank. It does. We can do nothing else. That is also a dysfunction of the UN. There is philosophy and policy, but where is the action? There is also the United States of America. We get the finest combination of onlookers, ignorers and willful powerlessness.
What can the Seanad do? We can do something. Personally, I would like to see sanctions against Israel for crimes against humanity. Is this Bill the way to go? I took in all the arguments because I believe this is a House of listening as well as one of speaking. I do not know. What goods are we talking about? How will we guarantee that such goods will be illegal? Where is there such produce in our shops? What is the produce? What shops are involved? How would it move democracy on? How would it be implemented? We are talking about €250,000 and five years in jail if one violates the law.
I have two points. I come from a background in the arts. It was always the arts that elevated politics, death, destruction, denial and infraction into another area. An example is Daniel Barenboim's West–Eastern Divan Orchestra in which Israelis and Palestinians come together to use the arts to elevate people from destruction. However, I think in this instance Senator Black is correct. I understand the arguments on either side but I am going to support Senator Black because if we do not we will continue with policy and with speaking and we will continue doing nothing while thinking we are doing something because we are speaking about it in 15 different languages. I agree with the Senator and I am going to support her. I thank her for the bravery of her Bill.