[Opinion] Ireland’s anti-Israel Obsession

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Today, the Irish Seanad, one of the houses of Parliament, will vote on a proposal to criminalize business with Israeli “settlements”, including in Jerusalem. Actions which might be criminalized include the purchase of a souvenir by an Irish visitor in Jerusalem’s Old Jewish Quarter.

In all likelihood, and despite an apparently guaranteed majority in today’s vote, navigation of the boycott through the nine additional hurdles required for the legislation to become a bill is considered to be small. The Irish government opposes the measure on both technical and legal grounds. The dubious wording of the bill, its possible violation of EU law, and the expected political consequences would harm Ireland diplomatically and economically.

Rather, the authors and supporters understand that this is a political statement and a public relations stunt.

The proposal was introduced by Senator Frances Black, who has become obsessed with anti-Israel activism. Analysis of her social media posts over the past three months illustrate her extreme focus on the conflict, and on portraying Israel as solely responsible for any and all Palestinian suffering. Her tweets on the Arab-Israeli conflict outnumber her comments on domestic Irish social issues or music (she was an Irish folk singer before joining the Seanad) by a ratio of almost five to one.  Black also signed a public letter calling for the boycott of all Israeli products and called on Ireland to boycott the 2019 Eurovision song competition in Israel.

Senator David Norris is another sponsor, and has made highly prejudicial comments regarding immigrants in Israel, claiming that “…the Israel I knew more than 40 years was a left leaning, socially conscious, politically active and decent country, before the inrush of 1 million Soviet citizens…”

Revealing further hostility, Norris made malicious and uncorroborated claims in reference to the April-June violence along the Israel-Gaza border, including allegations that the IDF used “Dum-dum bullets, which expand in the wound and create appalling injuries, are being used against children in Gaza…” He previously made statements that would be classified as antisemitic under the working definition of the International Holocaust Remembrance Association, claiming that “[W]e in Europe resolved our consciences after the Holocaust by inflicting what the Palestinian people call the Nakba, the catastrophe or disaster, on third parties, the Palestinians…”