Israeli group accuses Irish Gaza investigator of anti-Semitism


A RIGHT-WING Israeli think tank has launched a scathing attack on retired Irish army colonel Desmond Travers, a member of the UN team that investigated the war in Gaza, accusing him of bias, possibly motivated by anti-Semitic prejudice.

The Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs (JCPA), headed by Israel’s former ambassador to the United Nations, Dore Gold, termed Col Travers “an individual who is not qualified to take part in any serious fact-finding mission” and urged the UN not to seek his services in the future.

Col Travers said the accusations of anti-Semitism were “derisory and nonsense”. He told The Irish Timesthat although a formal response must come from Justice Goldstone of the fact-finding mission, the JCPA accusations “are not new and fall into the sort of category of misrepresentation that they in turn have accused me of”.

Desmond Travers was one of four members of the panel headed by retired South African jurist Richard Goldstone, mandated by the UN to investigate last winter’s Israeli military operation in Gaza.

Israel refused to co-operate with the inquiry, although a number of Israeli human rights groups provided information. After visiting Gaza and questioning witnesses the team produced a report accusing both Israel and Palestinian militant groups of committing war crimes.

The most serious JCPA accusation concerns comments allegedly made by Col Travers in a recent interview in which he implied that British foreign policy interests in the Middle East seemed to be strongly influenced by Jewish lobbyists. According to the JCPA, this statement, “places Travers in a position in which his views are suspect of being motivated by anti-Semitic prejudices”.

The think tank accused Col Travers of fundamental anti-Israel bias and quoted him accusing Israeli troops of shooting Palestinian children in front of their parents, and in Lebanon deliberately shooting at members of the Irish peacekeeping force.