Stop the nonsense, Ireland!

I cannot help but think these Irish do-gooders are taking us straight back to the racist laws of the 1930s in Germany. Kauft nicht bei Juden! (Don’t buy Jewish!)

At the windows of Jewish shops, posters are issued by National Socialists with the request "Germans, resist, do not buy from Jews" April 1933 (photo credit: GEORG PAHL / GERMAN FEDERAL ARCHIVES / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
At the windows of Jewish shops, posters are issued by National Socialists with the request "Germans, resist, do not buy from Jews" April 1933
(photo credit: GEORG PAHL / GERMAN FEDERAL ARCHIVES / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
The bill now making its way through the Irish parliament that aims to criminalize the trading of goods from Israeli settlements could not be more scandalous! As a native German and citizen of the European Union, I find this proposed law totally misguided, extremely unfair, wholly counterproductive to peace, and – most of all – morally outrageous.
On its face, the bill would impose a fine of up to €250,000 or five years in jail on those found guilty of importing or selling any goods or services originating from “occupied territory.” But its sponsors have carefully and deliberately worded it in such a way as to only apply to the “Israeli settlements” in the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. Those pushing this law have been very clear about this and have proudly proclaimed that Ireland is leading Europe and the world out of the current impasse in negotiations and towards peace. Nothing could be further from the truth!
This bill is totally misguided because it offers a phony path to peace. The international community has always approached the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a dispute that ultimately must be resolved directly by the parties themselves. From Resolution 242 forward, every UN Security Council decision on this conflict has been taken under Article Six of the UN Charter, which is all about voluntary conflict resolution. Everything has been geared to offering the parties a suggested pathway to peace and encouraging the two sides to sort out their differences in face-to-face talks. This approach helped produce the Oslo accords, signed onto by the EU, which determined that the legal fate of the settlements would be left to a final-status agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
But the Republic of Ireland is now trying to force the issue unilaterally, as if Resolution 242 and its progeny were decided under Article Seven of the UN Charter, which are binding and can be enforced upon a nation. How is putting someone in an Irish dungeon for buying a bottle of international award-winning Shiraz from Psagot or a gold-medal winning bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from Tura going to bring us closer to peace? A housewife making a salad with olive oil from Shiloh or a dessert with strawberries or dates from the Jordan Valley could unknowingly bankrupt her family. Will some Jew-hating neighbor see such contraband in her kitchen and report the family to the Irish authorities? How can you ever fairly enforce such an absurd criminal law?
The bill is also counterproductive to peace, in that it rewards Palestinian intransigence. What incentive would they now have to make concessions, when all the pressure and blame is being placed on the Israeli side? Are the Jews who have returned to the heart of their ancient homeland any more a threat to world peace than those Palestinian and Arab neighbors who have been violently attacking them for decades?
This criminal law also would harm Palestinians the most. As the SodaStream episode made clear, many businesses and factories in the Israeli settlements employ Palestinian workers and pay them salaries four times higher on average than what ordinary Palestinians earn. These breadwinners often support large, extended families, so tens of thousands of Palestinians could be impacted if the Israeli businesses have to fire these workers and move elsewhere.
The bill is also flawed in that it contradicts the European Union’s trade understanding, which holds that international trade is defined by Brussels and not any one national government. Further, it would force American and Irish companies doing business in each other’s countries to chose between violating this law and anti-Israel boycott laws passed in recent years at both the US federal and state levels.
But this is the least troublesome facet of the law. The truly odious aspect of the Irish bill is its blatant antisemitism, as it viciously targets Jewish “occupiers” and not any other occupying force in the world. How can this truly be a righteous act, as the Irish sponsors claim, when it is so discriminatory? What about olive oil from the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus, fish from Russian-occupied Crimea, or dates from Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara? All these products are free to enter the Euro zone, while it is the Jews who must be taught a lesson again.
I cannot help but think these Irish do-gooders are taking us straight back to the racist laws of the 1930s in Germany. Kauft nicht bei Juden! (Don’t buy Jewish!) – that was the rule then and this is exactly what this law tells Irish citizens today – it is just dressed up in nicely polished legalese and lip service to promoting peace and “European values.”
On behalf of all our ICEJ national branches and members across Europe, I am calling on the European Union to condemn this racist law and take a firm stand against its passage. As I write, we are observing International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and if we have truly learned the lessons of the Nazi genocide against the Jews, Europe will reject this attempt to single out Jews for punishment.
I also would remind Irish lawmakers that if they are genuinely concerned about reaching a just and lasting peace in the Middle East, those Israeli companies operating in the West Bank that offer well-paying jobs to Palestinian workers are the best examples of co-existence and tolerance any European politician could hope for under the current circumstances. Here, Jews and Palestinians not only earn the same salaries but also often have the same educational opportunities. These are proven places of daily cooperation and peaceful coexistence, and thus they deserve European backing and investment, not strangulation.
So please stop the nonsense, Ireland!

The writer is president of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.