Note: The majority of this article was published by Northern Ireland Friends of Israel on their website on 30 September 2016 and can be found here. The bold bit at the bottom has been added to provide an update on the matter.
On the day that the Palestinian President Abbas visited Israel to pay tribute to Israel’s late president, Shimon Peres, and shook hands with the Israeli Prime Minister, Netanyahu, Derry City and Strabane District Council incites its people to shun Israeli Jews, their culture and learning.
Israel is the only state in the region where its safe to be Christian and which has a vigorous free press, independent courts and regular democratic elections.
How ironic that those who identify inclusivity, dialogue and parity of esteem as vital to secure peace in Northern Ireland, believe that the best contribution they can make towards peace in the Middle East is to unleash demonization against Israeli Jews, their culture and their learning.
If this is not an act of blatant discrimination against Jewish people from Israel, let Derry City and Strabane District Council announce its shunning the education and culture of a string of nations it has concerns about, and not pick on the world’s only homeland for the Jewish people for “special treatment”.
To be silent on the call of Hamas to kill every last Jew in hiding, and Iran’s frequently heard desire to wipe Israel off the map, is to show breath-taking hypocrisy and prejudice.
Local councils would do well to remember that just as some communities and political parties in Northern Ireland feel affinity to the Palestinians, there are others that feel affinity to the Israelis.
The lesson that all parties in Northern Ireland can bring to assist peace in the Middle East will not be enhanced by inciting people to shun the education or culture of others. That diminishes us all. There is no shortcut to ending the Arab-Israel conflict than direct peace talks and negotiations between the sides for a permanent and just peace.
Since Derry City and Strabane District Council passed the boycott motion a number of prominent Northern Irish MLAs and Cllrs have spoken out vociferously against the motion, including First Minister Arlene Foster MLA. DUP MLA, Gary Middleton, pointed out how Israel helps many in Northern Ireland and the discriminatory nature of boycotts of Israel saying:
“the iPhone I’m using, the iPads the council use, they all use components that come out of Israel. The motion has raised the serious issue of discrimination, I put the question to the first minister and she herself has been contacted by the Jewish community expressing her concerns.
You can read more about the matter here.