Israel and the Eurovision
Sir, – In his interview with Simon Carswell, the Israeli ambassador Ophir Kariv complains about extremists in Ireland crossing the line between being pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli (“Israeli ambassador says calls for Eurovision boycott cross a line”, News, May 9th). He then describes the Occupied Territories Bill, which aims to ban products from Israeli settlements deemed illegal under international law “as the most extreme anti-Israeli piece of legislation in the western world”.
So who are these extremists of whom he speaks? With the support of Sadaka the Bill was first presented by Senator Frances Black in the Seanad. There it was supported by a majority of senators, including all Opposition parties and a number of Independent senators, including Michael McDowell, former minister for justice and attorney general. In the Dáil the Bill was introduced by Niall Collins of Fianna Fáil and supported by all parties except Fine Gael. Both Brendan Howlin of Labour and Eamon Ryan of the Green Party made very considered speeches which in no way could be described as extreme. Even the Tánaiste, who opposes the Bill on technical grounds, is in sympathy with its objectives.
There is nothing extreme about this Bill. It simply sets out to make international law effective in Ireland. Trading with illegal settlements is itself illegal.
The ambassador warns that this Bill “touches upon history, national identity and very, very deep issues and one must be very careful when it deals with those”.
And what might these historical and identity issues be? Essentially that Israel believes that all the occupied territories are part of Israel and therefore the settlements are part of Israel and are not illegal. There is no need to be particularly careful about this at all. The settlements are a flagrant breach of international law.
The only extremists involved in this are the political parties that have made up recent Israeli governments and that will do so again. We should not let ourselves be cowed by them.
The Occupied Territories Bill is Ireland giving a lead to the western countries who for too long have failed to address the appalling abuse of the human rights of Palestinians. For example, on any given day an average of 270 Palestinian children, convicted in military courts, remain incarcerated in Israeli prisons.
In the face of this, and the many other egregious instances of human rights abuses being perpetrated daily by the Israeli government against the Palestinian people, boycotting the Eurovision Song Contest could only be regarded as a mild response. – Yours, etc,
Ireland Palestine Alliance,
Sir, – At the risk of being subject to excoriation by the battalions of “woke” virtue-signallers who seem to dominate political discourse, I must protest at the almost unchallenged anti-Israel polemics which frequently appear in your columns.
Israel remains the only democracy in the Middle East and one which is surrounded by states bent on its annihilation. No one ever seems to challenge the actions of Hamas, a fascistic and misogynistic terrorist organisation supported by the medievalists in Teheran.
Israel must defend itself. It has faced and faced down existential attacks on a number of occasions since 1948, so is it surprising that it is ruthless in its own defence? It is pointless in such a complex and awful conflict to question who is retaliating against what. The fact remains that if the Palestinians and their Iranian mercenaries ceased plotting and launching attacks on Israel the violence would end. – Yours, etc,