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Letter to Prime Minister Varadkar and the Government of Ireland

In becoming aware of the severely antisemitic BDS legislation, the Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill which was passed in both of Ireland’s Lower and Upper chambers, CAEF sent the following letter to the Head of Government, the Teaosich (equivalent to the Prime Minister), which includes a lengthy article by a Catholic, former US Army Officer, outlining some Jewish-Irish history for the benefit of the Irish. This Bill is most egregious, envisioning prison terms and high fines for Irish businesses that trade in goods originating in “Israeli settlements.” The Zionist Organization of America published the following statement on February 7, 2019: NOTE: Although Ireland’s legislatures voted for the Bill, there are still several additional steps in the Irish legislative process before the Bill can become law. The Irish Bill is based on the Big Lies (1) that Israel illegally occupies her own land, and (2) that Jews living in the Jewish homelands of Judea/Samaria and eastern Jerusalem (including the Old City, which contains Judaism’s holiest sites) are “illegal settlers” whose simple presence violates the Fourth Geneva Convention. The horrific Irish BDS Bill underscores that the best – and perhaps only real way to combat anti-Israel antisemitic BDS – is to combat these Big Lies. CAEF agrees wholly that the Big Lies contribute very significantly to advances by BDS groups and these need to be countered at every conceivable opportunity.

March 19, 2019

Dear Prime Minister Varadkar and the Government of Ireland;

I am eager to understand your vision, when the government of the day votes in favour of a BDS resolution against Israel that is destructive and divisive and a betrayal of democratic and inclusive values. I urge the entire government of Ireland to read what I share below, then revisit your antisemitic policy.

Here are quotes from the website of President Michael Higgins that you might consider:

“… it is necessary to move past the assumptions which have failed us and to work together for such a different set of values as will enable us to build a sustainable social economy and a society which is profoundly ethical and inclusive. A society and a state which will restore trust and confidence at home and act as a worthy symbol of Irishness abroad, inviting relationships“The demands and the rewards of building a real and inclusive Republic in its fullest sense remains as a challenge for us all, but it is one we should embrace together."

Given these noble sentiments, I as a Canadian Jew must ask, how it is possible that you see yourselves as “ethical and inclusive”, as contributing to “confidence at home and abroad, and building “a real and inclusive Republic”..that should “embrace (all) together,” when you vote for antisemitic legislation in your parliament?

Your recent conduct towards Israel as exemplified in The “Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018” defies comprehension, offends all Jews at the deepest level, demonstrates total ignorance of reality, and supports the most venal, hate mongering, demonizing anti-Semites on this planet, the Pro-Palestinian contingents that do Absolutely Nothing for Palestinian people and exist with only one purpose-- the destruction of the only democracy in the entire Middle East and North Africa. Maybe the legislators in Ireland should get their history correct and visit Israel instead of being persuaded by falsified stories and bigotry.

You must read the following to understand just how much you are deceived and are deceiving the people of Ireland by casting an antisemitic vote. (This article was written by Dr. Lawrence A. Franklin, a former US Army officer and a Catholic.  He also served as a Colonel in the Air Force Reservce.)

Why Only Israel?

What is most notable, of course, is that there is no commensurate hostility toward any other country, such as Turkey for its invasion and occupation of Cyprus in 1974 or northern Syria in 2018; China for its invasion and destruction of Tibet in 1950, or Pakistan for its continuing incursions into Kashmir. Ireland’s rancid vote also needs to be contrasted to its virtual silence regarding countries that are daily committing hair-raising crimes against humanity, such as Iran, China, Turkey, Syria, North Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Mauritania, Cuba, Venezuela or Sudan, for instance.

Why only Israel? What is now on display is a hypocritical condemnation by Ireland of the only democracy in in the Middle East with equal rights for all its citizens.

The country’s civil society institutions, such as the Union of Students in Ireland and or the Irish National Teachers Organization, issued a memo of concern over alleged human rights abuses against Palestinians while disregarding more than 70 years of human rights abuses by Palestinians. These abuses range from massacring athletes at the Munich Olympics, airline hijackings, to throwing an elderly, wheelchair-ridden Jew into the ocean to drown, or to firing hundreds of rockets last year into Israel.

Activists in Ireland have also been attempting to mobilize Ireland’s citizens to boycott the Eurovision song contest to be hosted by Israel this May. In addition, Irish citizens have also been busy in Northern Ireland, considering that the Irish Congress of Trade Unions in Belfast voted to endorse moves to choke Israel economically as early as 2007.

In addition, Ireland is home to organizations such as Trócaire and Christian Aid. Trócaire, in particular, has a record of anti-Israel activity, including lobbying to prevent the Jewish state from joining the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In November, 2017, Trócaire signed a statement, written by Cairo’s Institute for Human Rights Studies, highly critical of Israel’s putative human rights violations in the territories, when, unfortunately, the real violations against the Palestinians are by being inflicted on them by their own leaders: Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank and the terrorist organization Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

‘Pro-Palestinian’ activism doesn’t help the Palestinians

Sadly, there is no evidence that Ireland’s “pro-Palestinian” activities are in any way helping Palestinians, who continue to be arrested, tortured and deprived of any viable future by their own corrupt leaders. The activities seem to be more focused on trying to destroy Israel.

The false narrative image of Jewish settlers moving onto supposedly “Palestinian” lands — although the Jews have lived on that land continuously, despite non-stop efforts to dislodge them — for more than 3,000 years. There were no “Palestinians” — apart from the Biblical Philistines and everyone — Jews, Muslims and Christians — during the British Mandate (1923-1948), when the area was called “Palestine.” As noted by an Arab PLO faction leader, Zuheir Moshen, in the Dutch newspaper Trouw in 1977, the word “Palestinians” was made up:

“There is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. We are part of one nation, the Arab people. I myself have relatives with Palestinian, Lebanese, Jordanian and Syrian citizenship. We are one people. Just for political reasons we endorse our Palestinian identity. This is because it is in the national Arab interest to stimulate the existence of Palestinians as opposed to Zionism. Yes, the creation of a distinct Palestinian identity had only tactical reasons. The creation of a Palestinian state is a new means to continue the fight for Arab unity and against Israel.”

If one wants to hate, of course, any rationalization will do; it might be convenient for the Irish to imagine there is a similarity between the English in Ireland and the Jews in Israel, but it is reach, tailored in retrospect to fit the wished-for pretext.

There was a time when Irish sympathies were decidedly pro-Zionist. In the early 20th century, considerable commentary in Zionist circles and among Irish nationalists existed noting the similarity of the struggle both the Jews and the Irish underwent to achieving independent nation-states.

This historical romance between the Jews and the Irish dates back at least to the Ireland’s famine years (1845-1852) which killed about a million Irish citizens, with another million emigrating abroad. The greatest contributor to relieving the famine during the “Great Hunger” was the British Jewish financier Baron Lionel de Rothschild.

Some of New York City’s Jews, a number living in neighborhoods adjacent to Irish immigrants in lower Manhattan, were also generous. In 2010, then President of Ireland Mary McAleese paid tribute to that generosity by visiting the Congregation Shearith Israel synagogue, now located in uptown Manhattan, to thank the Jewish faithful for their kindnesses, 163 years prior.

Ties between Jews and Ireland date back to even earlier times, when in 1712 Sephardic Jews fleeing Catholic Portugal were given refuge, ironically, in Catholic Ireland. Similar refuge was extended to Jews fleeing pogroms in the Russian Empire in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Some of Ireland’s Jews also played significant roles in helping Ireland achieve independence from Britain.

Eamon de Valera, one of the political leaders of the 1916 Irish rebellion and later Prime Minister and President of an independent Ireland, had a close relationship with the “Sinn Fein Rebbe”, Rabbi Isaac HaLevi Herzog. Herzog became Chief Rabbi of Ireland, and his son Chaim served as the State of Israel’s sixth President (1983-1993). Another revered Irish Jew is the former twice-elected Mayor of Dublin, Robert Briscoe. He was the Irish Republican Army’s principal procurer of guns from America and Germany during Ireland’s War of Independence from Britain.

What can be done to restore goodwill?

Sons and daughters of St. Patrick who are of good will toward the sons and daughters of Abraham may ask: what can be done to restore amity between these two peoples? Substantial funding by friends of Ireland and Israel to buttress the efforts of several pro-Israel lobbies in Ireland might considerably assist this effort. These groups could include the Ireland Israel Solidarity Movement, the Irish Christian Friends of Israel, the Ireland Israel Alliance, and the Oireachtas (National Parliament) Friends of Israel.

Ireland would do well to stop its unjust assault on a fellow democracy and work to cleanse its own image, as well as that of a country that began 70 years ago with nothing but sand and malaria and, on a scale of countries, surely deserves a seat near the top.

Neither Israel nor Ireland is perfect country — what country is? — but Israel has brought much good to the world, as well as to its own Arab citizens. If you can find one Arab Israeli who would prefer to leave, no one is stopping him. Where is the exodus that some of the Irish might imagine should be taking place in a country supposedly so appalling?

Finally, who in Ireland is asking what is the source of financial aid flowing to those in Ireland who would like to destroy Israel? One possible source of funding might be the radical Muslim Brotherhood.

For those who might doubt the shared values Israel and Ireland, they might recall that the codename of former Jewish underground fighter in Mandatory Palestine, and later Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, was Michael Collins — after the great Irish military hero.

What is essential is that this double standard — one set of rules for Israel and a whole other set of rules for countries actually committing atrocities — must stop.



Andria Spindel, Executive Director Canadian  Antisemitism Education Foundation


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