Recognition of a Palestinian state ‘an act of pure folly’, says Irish Jewish leader

Move amounts to ‘rewarding of a terrorist organisation’, says chairman of the Jewish Representative Council of Ireland

Recognition of a Palestinian state amounted to the “rewarding of a terrorist organisation for committing the single greatest atrocity on the Jewish people since the Shoah, the Holocaust”, and was “an act of pure folly”, the chairman of the Jewish Representative Council of Ireland has said.

Maurice Cohen was speaking at the installation of Ireland’s eighth Chief Rabbi, Yoni Wieder, at the Dublin Hebrew Synagogue in Terenure on Tuesday evening. The large attendance included Israel’s ambassador to Ireland, Dana Erlich.

Ireland, Norway and Spain today recognised the Palestinian state, prompting Israel to recall its ambassadors from Ireland and Norway.

During the installation ceremony on Tuesday, President of Israel Isaac Hertzog said Ireland was not immune to the growth in anti-Semitism since the October 7th Hamas massacre and kidnapping of hostages.


He recalled how his late grandfather, also Isaac Hertzog, “was the first chief rabbi of the Irish Free State” who was “known in those days as ‘the Sinn Féin Rabbi’” who “spoke Gaelic fluently and vocally supported Irish independence. He left a mark on Irish history”.

Mr Hertzog, who was speaking by video link during the installation ceremony, said the October 7th massacre had “left enormous grief in Israel and global Jewish communities and stirred the oldest form of Jew hatred under the cover of anti-Zionism throughout the world and in Europe in particular. Ireland has not been immune, as you know all too well. This resurgence of anti-Semitism demands our full attention and our vigilance,” he said.

He congratulated the new chief rabbi and said: “I further thank Ambassador Dana Erlich and the Israeli embassy for their wonderful work on the front lines for the state of Israel in Ireland across so many spheres in these very complicated moments.”

Mr Wieder [28], whose grandfather is a survivor of Auschwitz and Bergen Belsen, said he was “distressed by the ongoing pain since October 7th”.

Among Jews in Ireland there was “disappointment and isolation over the political response, the lack of willingness from Government and Opposition parties to acknowledge the threat that Hamas pose to Israel, to the Jewish people and to peace in the region. And it hurts the way Israel’s actions are portrayed in Irish media.”

Many Jews in Ireland had been made feel “explicitly and implicitly that our views and feelings about the war and the conflict are unacceptable and they have no place here and they will not be engaged with it”, Mr Wieder said.

Senior members of the Jewish community in Ireland, “once so proud in their Judaism and their place in Irish society”, had told him “that never before have they felt such a tension between those two identities, never before have they thought that their viewpoint as Jewish people to be so delegitimised”, he added.

The inauguration was presided over by Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregation of the Commonwealth Ephraim Mirvis, a former chief rabbi in Ireland, who said “we are proud to be Zionists and we are pained by what we have seen Israel suffering on the 7th of October and since then.”

He called on God to “bless Israel so that the evil intent of others to destroy her will be nullified” and prayed “for all innocent civilians because the suffering and the death of every innocent person regardless of who they are and where they might be, is a tragedy”.

Noting Mr Wieder’s grandfather was a survivor of the Holocaust, he said this showed “not only the triumph of Jewish people but also of Jewish faith and it announces to the world [that] the Jewish people will forever live and thrive”.

Guest of honour at the inauguration was Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghail. He referred to “these troubling times” and the “rise in anti-Semitism including here, unfortunately, in this country”. He said that “as Ceann Comhairle of Dáil Éireann, let me reaffirm my support for you as a valued community in Ireland and let me pledge to work with you to promote respect, tolerance and understanding in the time ahead”.

Mr Cohen also spoke about the growing “scourge of anti-Semitism” in Ireland. He recalled a personal experience he and his wife Bertha had at a Famine commemoration in Edgeworthstown, Co Longford, last weekend, when a Garda offered to accompany them as they passed a group with Palestinian flags. It brought home to him how “Ireland has changed for Jews”, he said.

He emphasised “there are, so far, no physical manifestations against the [Jewish] community or individuals, though threats have been made”.

“The demonisation of our spiritual homeland, Israel, knows no bounds in schools, on campus, in the workplace, in the Dáil and the Senate and, worst of all, in the media,” Mr Cohen said.

Among religious leaders in the large attendance were Rabbi Zalman Lent, who served at the Terenure synagogue until last year; Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Dermot Farrell; Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin and Glendalough Michael Jackson; chairman of the Irish Muslim Peace and Integration Council Shaykh Umar al Qadri; President of Dublin’s Hebrew Congregation Michael Stein; Holocaust survivor Tomi Reichental; Israeli ambassador Dana Erlich; and former ministers for justice Alan Shatter and Charlie Flanagan.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times