Last weekend Ireland again placed itself in the vanguard of anti-Israel activism in the European Union.

Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore announced that his country will embark on a campaign to impel fellow states to impose an EU-wide labeling of Israeli “settler” products.

Lest he be misunderstood, Gilmore stressed that the ultimate aim was “to encourage a boycott” and that identifying the offensive goods was “in effect” like boycotting them.

“Settlements on the West Bank are illegal and therefore the produce of those settlements should be treated as illegal throughout the European Union,” he explained. This has been Gilmore’s persistent theme, especially ever since Ireland assumed the EU’s presidency last January.

The pledge to single out “settlement” products was occasioned by the meeting in Dublin of a group dubbed “the Elders,” led by former US president Jimmy Carter. Also on hand were Irish ex-president and ex-UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson and former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso. All exuded enthusiasm for reviving Mideast peace negotiations, but all were also outspoken in their antagonism toward Israel.

Gilmore reported that preparations are underway to label Israeli settlement goods in Ireland, but argued that a European-wide initiative would be much more effective.

However, “we already have the process in train to do it ourselves unilaterally if necessary,” he noted.

Here we’re forced to wonder why no comparable Irish zeal exists to single out products from such occupied lands as Tibet, West Papua New Guinea, Western Sahara or Northern Cyprus, to name but a few. Their exports are still marketed in Ireland as Chinese, Moroccan, Indonesian and Turkish.

Of course we don’t compare ourselves to any of the aforementioned occupiers. Israel didn’t invade a foreign land. It fought a war of self-defense and was forced to reenter territories that – far from being alien – are the cradle of Jewish nationhood. Jewish roots in Hebron and Jerusalem go back over 3,000 years and Jewish presence in them was continuous.

Jews constituted a majority in Jerusalem already when the first census ever was conducted there in the early 19th century. Old City Jews were forcibly expelled by Jordan, and Jews were barred from their holiest sites for 19 years – during which Ireland saw no cause to protest. That leads us to suspect that what motivates given Irish politicians is hardly an impartial quest for justice.

Many of Israel’s harshest critics weren’t well-disposed to it before so-called “occupation” and the muchmaligned settlements. In their eyes, even pre-1967, Israel could do no right.

Mainstream Israelis know that when foreigners claim they’re merely castigating beyond-the-green line (aka the 1949 armistice line) settlements, they really disparage all of Israel. When they claim they only target the Jewish state’s perceived policies, foreigners may actually be giving voice to preexisting bias.

Anti-settler and anti-Israel ardor is, more often than not, the latterday politically correct guise of Judeophobia. It may be suspected when Israel-bashers fail the 3-D test: delegitimization, demonization and double standard.

Double standard is evinced in cases of obsessive focusing on Israel rather than on truly ruthless occupiers.

Never mentioned is the Arab/Muslim genocidal incitement against Israel; nor the Jewish state’s diminutive size, its acute vulnerability, its past withdrawal from most of the territories it held and its readiness to cede most of the remainder. Instead Israel continues to be tarnished.

Demonization becomes undeniable when spurious crimes are attributed to Israel and unhesitatingly disseminated as fact. Reporting on Gilmore’s latest quasi-boycott drive, at least two Irish newspapers – the Independent and the Examiner – informed their readers that Israel plans “to build another 3,000 settlements in the West Bank.” No less.

When seminal sites such as the Old City of Jerusalem are deemed “occupied,” Jewish roots and rights in this land are delegitimized. Indeed, Ireland was the last EEC member to recognize Israel and the lone EU member without an Israeli embassy until 1996.

Besides being baffled by Irish officialdom’s pugnacious antipathy, we can only envy Ireland’s evidently very happy lot. Although so geographically distant, it appears to have no greater worry than the Israeli bogeyman.

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