Irish coast, Ireland 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy Nathan Ginsbury)
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.
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
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
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
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-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
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
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.
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
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.