Trinity BDS condemns College’s invitation of former IDF service member

Evgeny Afineevsky spoke at an event on campus last week

Trinity Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction group (Trinity BDS) have condemned college’s invitation of former Israeli Defense Force (IDF) service member, Evgeny Afineevsky, to speak at an event last week.

Afineevsky spoke at a panel discussion on 1 March to commemorate the first anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine.  

In a press release issued yesterday Trinity BDS said: “Trinity BDS condemns Trinity College Dublin’s invitation of Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) veteran Evgeny Afineevsky for an event on campus held on the 1st of March to raise awareness of war crimes in Ukraine committed by Russia.” 

They noted that “the individual in question voluntarily became an Israeli citizen and served in the IDF for 3 years”. 

The group also said that the invitation “makes [College’s] hypocritical position on issues at the centre of human rights as a whole obvious,” and that it “perpetuates the idea that there is a hierarchy of victims”. 

“The IDF is an organisation complicit in apartheid and war crimes committed against Palestinians, murdering men, women and children and so we condemn not checking the previous association of the guest, presenting him to students as a moral authority to speak of real and grave war crimes committed by Russia against Ukranians,” they added.

Trinity BDS said that they brought their concerns to the Dean of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (AHSS) Faculty, but called the response “disappointing”. The group claims that they were told their concerns were “is not relevant to the topic of the event and that the background of the guest was not disclosed to the Dean”. The Dean has clarified to Trinity News that this was not a direct quote.

Though the challenge was raised by the chair of Trinity BDS, he did not identify himself as such at the event, and according to the Dean of AHSS the Trinity branch of BDS was not mentioned.

The panel discussion with Afineevsky also included Ukrainian Ambassador to Ireland Larysa Gerasko, Polish Ambassador to Ireland Anna Sochańska, Lithuanian Ambassador to Ireland Marijus Gudynas, and Trinity Professor of European Studies Dr Balazs Apor.

Russian born Afineevsky voluntarily became an Israeli citizen in the early 1990s and served in the IDF. He now resides in Los Angeles in the United States.

The film director came to international attention with his 2015 documentary Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom, which covered the Euromaidan protests in Ukraine from 2013 to 2014. His latest documentary, Freedom on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom explores the lives of ordinary Ukrainian people from 2014 up until the start of the invasion on the 24th of February 2022.  

This article was updated on March 11 to reflect comments made by the Dean of the AHSS Faculty. Trinity News apologises that the Dean was not contacted prior to the article’s publication.

Charlotte Kent

Charlotte Kent is the Co-News Editor at Trinity News and a Senior Freshman PPES Student.