Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Questions (51)

Richard Boyd Barrett


51. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has discussed the attempts by Israel to brand support for Palestine as anti-Semitic with his European counterparts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46487/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Ireland strongly condemns all manifestations of racism, xenophobia, and intolerance, including anti-Semitism, and we take the fight against anti-Semitism very seriously. Ireland is a signatory of the Stockholm Declaration of the International Forum on the Holocaust, and is a member of the Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. In December 2018, all 28 EU Member States adopted a Council Declaration on the fight against anti-Semitism, and the development of a common security approach to better protect Jewish communities and institutions in Europe.

Support for the Palestinian people, or criticism of the Israeli occupation, is not something that can or should be equated with anti-Semitism. Successive Governments in Ireland and globally, and public representatives, NGOs and individuals, have voiced strong criticisms of Israel’s policies in the occupied Palestinian territory. I have done so myself. It is to be expected that any country which is engaged in a military occupation of another people will be subject to a particularly high level of scrutiny. Criticisms of the occupation are not based on anti-Semitism or hostility to Israel, but on consistently applied values of respect for justice, human rights and the rule of law. There are of course many Israelis who criticise Israel’s occupation policies.

Criticism of Israeli Government policy is not in itself anti-Semitic, and to conflate these things is unjust, counter-productive, and potentially damaging. Conflating valid criticism of Israeli actions with anti-Semitic attitudes, risks unfairly stigmatising people who are motivated by a desire for justice for the Palestinians, and blunting the reflex of horror we should all have at real manifestations of anti-Semitism. Conversely, I also believe it is wrong when criticism of Israeli Government actions conflates the Jewish people – globally or in Ireland – with the Government of Israel.

EU leaders must be vigilant against anti-Semitism, given our continent’s history. We consider Israel a partner. That has never prevented us criticising actions by the Israeli Government, particularly in relation to the occupation, rooting our criticism in values which we pursue consistently and globally.