Guest post written by Jackie Goodall (Founder and Chairperson of the Ireland Israel Alliance)
“The Ireland Israel Alliance (IIA) is a non-profit organisation based in Ireland.
The aim of the IIA is to bring clarity and understanding to public perception of issues in the Middle East and to ensure such issues receive fair and impartial treatment within the Irish media.
In furtherance of such objectives, the IIA seeks to influence the Government of Ireland, the political parties, public interest groups and schools, colleges and other educational institutions.
We also use social media to engage with and inform the wider public about Israel.”
Almost a year ago, when the Ireland Israel Alliance was birthed and the organisation took on the task of publicly defending Israel in Ireland, little did we know that we would soon find ourselves defending Ireland against accusations of “hating the State of Israel” of “raw bigotry” and calls for Ireland to be boycotted – a somewhat unnerving and unexpected turn of events.
Many will say the accusations are justified, but as defenders of Israel know only too well, there are two sides to every story.
Undoubtly, the immoral and discriminatory Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018, which seeks to criminalise Jewish goods and services located beyond the 1949 armistice lines (the West Bank and East Jerusalem) has damaged Ireland’s reputation overseas.
However, judging by the outpouring of support we received during and following our Israel Action Day in Dublin’s City Centre two weeks ago, and from the messages of support we receive on a daily basis via our Facebook and Twitter accounts, there are many, many good friends of Israel here in Ireland – from university students to business people to senior politicians.
Not all are willing to put their heads above the parapet, but that’s OK. We are in the process of harnessing our individual strengths to become stronger and to beat the hateful Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) narrative, whose founders have openly declared their wish to see the demise of the Jewish State.
And so we were delighted that Nati Rom joined us all the way from Israel on a sunny Sunday afternoon on Dublin’s main shopping thoroughfare, Grafton Street. Nati is the Director of Lev HaOlam (Heart of the World), the only organisation that connects family-run companies from Judaea and Samaria (aka The West Bank) with Israel supporters who want to enjoy the best products Israel has to offer. These products include wine, olive oil, ceramics, jewellery and cosmetics.
Hundreds of Dubliners had an opportunity to sample these wonderful products together with details of how to purchase them online – an action that would incur a fine of up to €250,000 or a 5 year jail term, should the Bill be passed into law.
Literature explaining why BDS is not a peaceful movement and doesn’t encourage peaceful coexistence was handed out and we engaged numerous people in very productive conversations, explaining how BDS actually hurts the lives and livelihoods of thousands of Palestinians. Over the course of two hours, we received only one negative comment.
Later that evening Nati gave a very insightful and informative talk and video presentation, followed by a Q&A.
The next day, Nati was invited to speak on Spirit Radio, a station with Irish national coverage, where he spoke passionately about the toxic effects of BDS.
While there is a very vociferous and persistent minority here in Ireland who are anti-Israel, and who erroneously conflate the Israeli-Palestinian situation with Ireland’s long and often brutal occupation by the British, there is also a growing movement to push back against the hateful anti-Israel narrative. Ironically enough, this is due in part to the introduction of the “Occupied Territories” Bill, which, apart from it being immoral and discriminatory, is fundamentally illegal under EU trading laws and US anti-boycott legislation.
Watch this space!
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