Many Irish Want Israel’s Dublin Embassy Shuttered. Why Doesn’t Israel Act First?

Is it time to end diplomatic relations with Europe’s most Israel-hating nation — from the Israeli side?

Israel has a poisoned diplomatic relationship with Ireland. Is it time for those of us in Israel to begin seriously asking if we can live without it? (Pixabay)

As an Irish-born Jew, I’m more familiar than many with the virulent rise of anti-Israelism in Ireland — a good deal of which I have always held has been motivated by bald anti-Semitism.

From the time I grew up in Ireland until the present it’s been an uncomfortable backdrop to my life. Alongside the pull factors — participating in the rebuilding of the Jewish state — it was one of the push factors that led me to leave Ireland.

There were times when it got worse than others. I can only imagine being in Ireland now and listening to the State broadcaster incite about Israel’s alleged “indiscriminate” bombing in Ireland. But like the grey clouds and the temperamental weather, it was something that periodically abated but never really went away.

A perplexing facet of growing up as a Jew in Ireland was discovering that many of my co-coreligionists appeared willfully oblivious to the extent of the anti-Israelism that surrounded them.

The product of gaslighting? Ignorance? Or was I spending too much time on the internet reading hateful comments?

I spent hours pondering these things but as I grew up and became more politically aware — and more unashamedly pro-Israel — I began to reach the conclusion that the hatred for Israel in Ireland was endemic. And that much of it was merely the product of poorly disguised anti-Semitism.

If one needed convincing that many of those flocking to anti-Israel demos in Cork, Dublin, and elsewhere have a problem with Jews and not just with the policies of the Jewish state then one could do any of the following:

  • Peruse any Twitter thread on the issue of Israel in Ireland and note the torrent of comments espousing classic anti-Semitic canards including comparisons between Israel and a German war-time regime; allegations that Jews “control” the media; and the baseless claims that Israel is “ethnically cleaning” Palestine.
  • Do the same thing on TheJournal.ie which is Ireland’s largest online news hub (roughly equivalent to The Times of Israel)
  • Ditto on Politics.ie.
  • Walk into a random bar in Ireland, pull up to a stranger, and affirm that what the Israelis are doing in Gaza is worse than what the Germans do to them. Then wait for the response(s).

One could also, of course, watch the video tweeted yesterday by an Irish tabloid in which “pro-Palestinian” protesters gathered outside the Israeli Embassy in Ballsbridge, Dublin to label Israelis “a bunch of rats.”

Or the others on the same day during which hundreds of Irish people ran amock through the country’s city centers while enthusiastically repeating a call for Israel’s annihilation (“Palestine will be free from the river to the sea.”)

You could also just send this link to your average pro-Palestinian supporter in Ireland. They’ll probably tell you that I’m pulling out the “race card.” They might even mention their Jewish friend.

The Irish Have Been Calling For The Expulsion Of Israel’s Embassy Since The Conflict Began

As a longtime observer of Irish anti-Israelism — and its anti-Semitic strand— I can affirm that pro-Palestinian Irish supporters have been calling for the expulsion of Israel’s Irish embassy and/or ambassador since the conflict began.

It was a recurrent call that arose whenever Israel launched a defensive war in Gaza. And the people that led the charge were often the same ones who leveled the canard that Israel was an “Apartheid regime” or any of the many other lies that comprise the pro-Palestinian playbook.

There are literally tens of thousands of tweets, petitions, and other online breadcrumbs that I could cite as examples. But these suffice to give the general flavor:

Now, the hypocritical Irish hatred of Israel has reached a new low. Alongside only Jordan, the country has decided to debate a motion calling for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador in its parliament. The motion is accompanied by a slew of canards including the (in my opinion) anti-Semitic lie that Israel is “ethnically cleansing” Palestinians.

An “Israeli diplomatic source,” according to the newspaper, chalked up the motion to the work of a “small number of extremists.” But perhaps like the Irish Jews I grew up with those monitoring events from Jerusalem are underestimating the extent of the support the motion might enjoy.

Busting The “No Anti-Semitism” Myth

Since modern Jewish history in Ireland began, many of that community’s leaders have been happily telling the world that there is “no anti-Semitism” in Ireland.

This is a claim that I always felt was flatly absurd. When I had the temerity to suggest that it might be nothing more than a convenient falsehood I was often told that I was imaginging things.

But I’m pretty sure that I wasn’t imaginging when my family received anonymous anti-Semitic phone calls whenever Israel launched a defensive air operation on Gaza.

Or when I sent a three minute report on Israel’s Green Pass app to an Irish television station only to receive dozens of tweet responses leveling the absurd and disgusting allegation that the Green Pass was somehow similar to the Jude badges that were used to distinguish those Jews being sent to concentration camps.

Or the countless other little incidents that convinced me — during more than 20 years of living in Ireland — that far more Irish people have issues with Jews than the world, or many Irish Jews, would like to think.

(Note: naturally not all anti-Israelism emanating from Ireland is rooted in anti-Semitism. A good deal of it is rooted in a simplistic and flawed equivalence many Irish see between their history of colonialism and what they believe Israel is doing in the Middle East. While I maintain that much anti-Israelism from Ireland is either motivated by or tinged with anti-Semitism it is of course unlikely to represent the totality of it.)

Can Israel Live Without Ireland — And Vice-Versa

Recently I decided to dig a little deeper into the Ireland-Israel relationship.

A few facts struck me as salient.

For one, Ireland enjoys a trade surplus with Israel.

In other words, Israel buys more from Ireland than Ireland buys from it.

If the trade relationship were to come crumbling down it would be Ireland — and not Israel — that would stand to loose the business. (On the flip side, we in Israel would probably need to re-jig a few supply chains).

Secondly the discriminatory Occupied Territories Bill that Ireland is seeking to push through its parliament — note: comparable legislation targeting other conflict zones of course hasn’t been forthcoming! — would cut out but a relatively small fraction of Israel’s total exports.

Against a backdrop of more than $50 billion per year in annual Israeli exports, what vendors in Judea and Samaria export to Ireland — about $1 million — is a mere rounding error.

A recent notable development that has caught the attention of the strong pro-Palestinian element (majority?) in Ireland: IDA Ireland, Ireland’s inward investment agency, is seeking the appointment of a business consultant in Israel.

The consultant would be responsible for encouraging Israeli businesses to consider Ireland as a base for expansion into Europe.

The signals that Ireland is sending to Israel on the political and economic fronts are decidedly mixed.

But perhaps they can be summarized as this:

“We really don’t like you and will use our seat on the UN Security Council to agitate against your country. But we like your money and would even be open to the idea of expanding our trade relationship so that more of your companies can create jobs for us in Ireland.”

The tumultuous bilateral relationship between Israel and Ireland is perhaps testament to the idea that bilateral trade ties can survive against an almost total vacuum of political goodwill. It’s an idea that I’m happy to see many begin to finally ask questions about.

The prevailing Irish attitude towards Israel — both at the official levels and through those raising their voices on Twitter — has mostly been one of unbridled hatred and criticism.

In Israel — somehow! — Ireland appears to be relatively well-respected. Israelis seem to view it as a haven of tranquility. The antithesis of the Middle East. But I can’t help but feel that many wouldn’t be so keen to dive into what the Irish really feel about them.

It’s time that those of us in Israel recognized Ireland’s approach to Israel for the hypocrisy that it is.

A country that goes to bat against Israel in every international forum and which — along with only Jordan — debates the expulsion of its diplomatic mission in parliament is not a friend.

The purpose of diplomatic relations — as I understand them — is the furthering of good relations and trade between governments. Increasingly, diplomatic missions operate both at the state-to-state and state-to-public levels (the latter is known as public diplomacy).

But when no amount of meetings and public diplomacy achieve any sort of dialogue — and when the very idea of a dialogue is taken off the table, as happens in the Irish discourse — perhaps it’s prudent to wonder whether breath is being wasted. Perhaps those efforts could be redirected towards more productive ends.

It’s time that those of us in Israel began seriously debating whether Israel could live without a diplomatic relationship with Ireland.

For those of us on the receiving end of the hate, the one-sided attacks are mentally exhausting and frustrating to listen to. I can’t help but feel like I’m the only one who likes the idea of going officially no contact.

Other countries have done so in the past. Israel, for its part, still has friends in the world.

Marketing communications consultant interested in tech, Linux, ADHD, beer, async, and remote work (in no particular order). RosehillMarcom.com