Ireland’s Anti-Israel Bias
By Joseph Puder
Ireland was one of the European Union states that voted Yes on November 29, 2012 in support of Palestinian non-member observer state status at the UN. Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore stated “Ireland has long championed the cause of Palestinian statehood, as well as the vital importance for the entire Middle East region of a comprehensive peace settlement based on two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.” He added, that the vote “represents an important step for the Palestinian people on their path towards full statehood, as well as for all those who look forward to the day when Palestine can rightfully take its place as a full member of the United Nations.”
Earlier in November, Foreign Minister Gilmore had announced that Ireland would initiate a boycott of Israeli products made by Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. This move came in advance of Ireland assuming the presidency of the European Union in January 2013. Ireland, in recent years, has become one of the most anti-Israel countries in Europe; with regular boycott initiatives and harsh expressions of anti-Israel sentiment in the press, government, etc. that border on anti-Semitism.
In his book, Ireland and the Palestine Question (2005), Rory Miller presents Ireland’s consistent anti-Israel positions. A few examples of which include condemnation by the Irish government of Israel’s bombing of Iraq’s nuclear facility near Baghdad, in 1981. And, in 2003, Ireland’s strongly opposed Israel’s building of the security fence or, as Rory Miller called it, the life-saving Israeli wall.
According to Miller, the populist Fianna Fail (FF) party-led Irish governments were pro-Palestinian throughout the 1980s and have been since. The Fine Gael (FG) center-right governments were somewhat better in the treatment of Israel, while the center-left Labor party has been much worse.
Miller asserts that the Irish taxpayer has been forced to send money to the Palestinians through the UN since 1959, and directly since the 1980s, with that support continuing today. He states that some of the money given to the Palestinians has been used to pay for hate-filled textbooks that promote jihad and Islamic terror.
Ireland was the last EU country to grant permission (in 1993) for an Israeli embassy. And while Ireland invited PLO terrorist dictator leader Yasser Arafat for an official visit to Ireland in 1993, it did not invite the democratically elected Israeli prime minister until 1996. Ireland, while led by Prime Minister Jack Lynch of the FF party, secretly trained Egyptian Air Force pilots in 1978, a disgraceful breach of Irish neutrality. Foreign Minister Brian Lenihan, of the same FF party, claimed in 1980 that the PLO was no longer a terrorist organization, and described Arafat as a “moderate.”
In an Irish Times (August 15, 2006) article titled Arab Crimes Against Palestinians Overlooked, Rory Miller and Alan Shatter pointed out that while Irish criticism of and demonstration against Israel are endless, there is silence on a far greater reality of non-Israeli killers of Palestinians. We see not only a pro-Palestinian bias in the Irish government, but a harshly anti-Israel posture taken by the Irish media.
Writing for the Irish Independent in a story titled Israeli Voices Unheard in Irish Media (September 30, 2001), Eilis O’Hanlon asks why the pro-Palestinian Middle East commentator Robert Fisk “rarely asks why bombings happen, and, most of his published encounters with Israelis paint them in a less than glowing light. Like the kindly rabbi who suddenly compares Palestinians to ‘vermin’ and the young Israeli soldier who pauses while shooting at Palestinians to reveal that he came to the Holy Land from Brooklyn because it was more ‘fun.”
O’Hanlon continues, “The quarrel about Fisk’s ubiquity, though, is not ultimately a quarrel with him. The quarrel is with the Irish media. If he is, as even Emily O’Reilly conceded on The Sunday Show, “emotionally engaged “with the Palestinian cause, then time needs to be given to those who are equally “emotionally engaged” with the Israeli cause.
Declan McCormack in a piece published in the Independent under the title How Truth is the Second Casualty of War (April 7, 2002), argues that the Irish media’s coverage of the Israeli-Arab (Palestinian) conflict “has stirred the spectre of anti-Israel feelings.” He goes on to say that “You may be forgiven for believing that every Palestinian woman was either dead or left for dead while callous Israeli troops blocked Red Crescent ambulances. One may also be surprised to learn that Aisha (a Palestinian woman) received her kidney from an Israeli Jew, the late Zeev Vidor. And you might be a little taken aback to discover that Zeev Vidor was one of the 26 Jewish victims of the Passover Massacre in Netanya, the suicide bombing which was carried out to provoke the maximum retaliation from Israel.”
The anti-Israel institutions thus include the government, the media, and not to be undone, academia as well. On September 16, 2006, 61 Irish academics signed a petition from a wide variety of disciplines published in the Irish Times which called for a moratorium on EU support of Israeli academic institutions until Israel abides by UN resolutions and ends the occupation of Palestinian territories. The petition concludes with a call for a moratorium on any further support to Israeli academic institutions, at both national and European levels. “We urge our fellow academics to support this moratorium by refraining, where possible, from further joint collaborations with Israeli academic institutions. Such a moratorium should continue until Israel abides by UN resolutions and ends the occupation of Palestinian territories.”
Nicky Larkin, an Irish artist who produced a film on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict wrote on March 11, 2012 in the Independent, “An Irish artist is supposed to sign boycotts, wear a PLO scarf, and remonstrate loudly about The Occupation. But it’s not just artists who are supposed to hate Israel. Being anti-Israel is supposed to be part of our Irish identity, the same way we are supposed to resent the English. ”
A study by the Irish priest Michael McGreal, published one and a half years ago, found that approximately one fifth of the Irish population would be against Israelis becoming Irish citizens. Eleven percent would extend this objection to any Jews being awarded Irish citizenship, and not just Israelis. Forty six percent of the youth between the ages of 18-25 said that they would not want to see a Jew as a member of their family, and forty percent of the general population would prefer not to have a Jew as a family member.
In the past, the Irish shared with Israeli-Jews a common struggle for independence from Britain. In the last 25 years however, the Irish public has become increasingly more hostile to Israel. In the minds of the Irish public, if Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland were able to reach a settlement that appeared seemingly impossible, why can’t Israelis and Palestinians do the same? The Irish media has consistently blamed Israel for not making enough of an effort to reach an agreement, and moreover, that Israel has been an obstacle to reaching an agreement.
During WWII, Ireland refused to open its doors to Jewish refugees, and today the anti-Israel bias has transformed into growing anti-Semitism, particularly among the younger generation. The only conclusion one can draw is that the Irish have their mind made up and that they refuse to be burdened with the facts and the truth about the triumphalist and murderous nature of the Palestinian side.