The Emerald Isle lost a lot of its luster this past week when Ireland’s Senate chose to adopt a bill that can best be described as obtuse but, more accurately, as profoundly antisemitic at its core.
Passed by a vote of 25 to 20, with 14 abstentions, the legislation would criminalize the import or sale of items produced by Jews, and only by Jews, in Judea and Samaria. It even goes so far as to impose a sentence of up to five years in prison, and fines of €250,000, on those who violate its terms.
While the Irish government opposed the statute, and it still faces various obstacles before becoming law, the decision by the upper body of the Irish parliament to give its stamp of approval to a discriminatory measure singling out Jews is morally obscene.
Consider the following. Under the terms of the bill, a product manufactured by a Palestinian-owned factory in Bethlehem would face no hurdle in being sold in shops throughout Dublin.
But if the exact same item were to be produced by a Jewish-owned factory just a few kilometers down the road in Gush Etzion, its import into the Irish Republic could land a person behind bars.
In other words, although cloaked in opposition to Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria, this legislation in fact boils down to a matter of discrimination based on a person’s religious beliefs.
This shameful and offensive bill must not be allowed to become law and Israel should make it clear to Irish officials that bilateral relations between the two countries hinge on it being scrapped forthwith.
Sadly, this is but the latest in a series of high-profile incidents in recent months in which Ireland has excelled at siding with Israel’s enemies.
Back in May, Dublin’s dim-witted mayor, Micheal Mac Donncha, called for a boycott of the Eurovision Song Contest slated to be held in Israel next year in order to highlight “the horrific ordeal of the Palestinian people.”
A month previously, the city council under his leadership passed two resolutions endorsing an anti-Israel boycott and calling on the Irish government to expel Israel’s Ambassador.
And on the eve of Yom Hashoah, Mac Donncha chose to attend an anti-Israel event in Ramallah and posed under a banner depicting Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Palestinian Grand Mufti who met with Adolf Hitler and enthusiastically supported his campaign to exterminate the Jewish people.
That such behavior is even tolerated by Ireland’s civil society speaks volumes about just how uncivil it is towards the Jewish state.
Indeed, even a casual follower of the Irish press, which makes the British media look like Zionist propaganda, can not help but be taken aback by its harsh and biased criticism of Israel. Occasionally, it even veers openly into antisemitism.
On July 30, 2017, Kevin Myers, a columnist for the Irish Sunday Times, published a column denouncing the idea that men and women deserve equal pay and bizarrely underlining the fact that two of the BBC’s highest-paid female anchormen are Jewish.
“Good for them,” Myers wrote, adding that, “Jews are not generally noted for their insistence on selling their talent for the lowest possible price, which is the most useful measure there is of inveterate, lost-with-all-hands stupidity.”
Fortunately, after his remarks caused an uproar, Myers was summarily dismissed.
That same month, however, Irish President Michael Higgins met with Omar Barghouti, one of the leaders of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, shook his hand and praised him in public remarks.
And in April 2017, an Irish university in the city of Cork hosted a conference on whether Israel has a right to exist.
Ireland’s long-standing distaste for Israel is particularly puzzling in light of the shared experiences that Jews and Irish have each endured. Both saw their land occupied for centuries by hostile forces, yet fought bravely to regain national sovereignty and independence.
For nearly a century, Ireland’s people have chafed since the British partitioned their island in May 1921 and grabbed Northern Ireland for itself.
One would think that with such historical memory would come a bit of sympathy and even understanding and that the Irish would better appreciate Israel’s attachment to Judea and Samaria and its unwillingness to see its own land carved up.
But Ireland has always seemed to find it difficult to accept the Jewish state. It was not until 1963, 15 years after the modern-day rebirth of Israel, that Dublin recognized the country de jure. And only in 1996 did Ireland open an embassy in Tel Aviv.
Sure, trade and tourism between the two countries have expanded, but so too has Irish hostility.
Back during the gold rush in 19th century America, many Irish settlers were among those who struck it rich, giving birth to the phrase, “the luck of the Irish.”
Regrettably, when it comes to Israel, that luck has turned to muck. It is time for Ireland to confront its dark obsession with the Jewish state and purge itself of the malice and enmity that have taken root.
Given Ireland’s reprehensible stance during World War II, when it insisted on remaining neutral even as the Nazis swept through Europe and slaughtered millions of Jews, Dublin needs to think long and hard about the morality of siding with Israel’s foes who seek her destruction.
Those who stood by silently during the greatest atrocity ever committed by mankind have no moral authority to lecture the Jewish people about their struggle for survival.
Whether Irish parliamentarians or mayors like it or not, Israel and its presence in Judea and Samaria are here to stay.
Reprinted with author’s permission from The Jerusalem Post