MEP criticised for describing Israeli lobbyists as ‘like a rash’

Martina Anderson says phrase meant as metaphor after criticism from Jewish leader

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson: “We can give you a list of all the things we attempted to do, the Israelis are all over this place like a rash.” Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson: “We can give you a list of all the things we attempted to do, the Israelis are all over this place like a rash.” Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

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Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said that her recent description of Israeli lobbyists as being “like a rash” was “a metaphor” and the comment should not distract attention from problems faced in Gaza with water supply and energy.

At a parliament meeting in Brussels on May 25th during a discussion on health issues and sanitation in Gaza, Ms Anderson compared the lobbying efforts of different groups.

“We can give you a list of all the things we attempted to do, the Israelis are all over this place like a rash,” she said. “They are lobbying no end.”

“We know that the Palestinians do not have the same capacity or personnel as the Israelis do.”

Israeli media outlets reported that European Jewish Congress President Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor had called on European Parliament president Martin Schulz to punish Ms Anderson.

“Once again we hear deeply offensive statements about Jews from a European public figure and we demand action,” Mr Kantor said in a statement.

“The comparison of Israelis, or more precisely Jews, to a disease is incitement and has its roots in neo-Nazi and far-right discourse.

“Thus demonstrating once again that the far left and the far right too frequently speak the same language and use the same terminology when referring to Jews or the Jewish state.”

However, Ms Anderson told The Irish Times she has used the same “rash” metaphor to describe other types of lobbyists.

“I am an MEP who has been taking on lobbyists across the European Parliament from wherever they come from,” she said.

“And that is what I used to describe Israeli lobbyists as I have described the tobacco lobbyists and every other lobbyist that I have encountered. And unfortunately it has been used as a distraction to take away from the vital information that was exchanged at that conference,” she said.

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