Ireland’s dangerous, shocking, antisemitic, anti-Israel boycott bill, entitled “Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018,” would impose huge criminal penalties against a large array of persons and entities who sell, import, assist, etc., numerous Israeli Jewish products and services, if the bill becomes law. NOTE: Although Ireland’s legislatures voted for the Bill, there are still several additional steps in the Irish legislative process before the Bill can become law. The Irish Bill is based on the Big Lies (1) that Israel illegally occupies her own land, and (2) that Jews living in the Jewish homelands of Judea/Samaria and eastern Jerusalem (including the Old City, which contains Judaism’s holiest sites) are “illegal settlers” whose simple presence violates the Fourth Geneva Convention. The horrific Irish BDS Bill underscores that the best – and perhaps only real way to combat anti-Israel antisemitic BDS – is to combat these Big Lies.
Under international law, Jews have the unquestionable legal right to live in all of Jerusalem and Judea/Samaria (renamed the “West Bank” by Jordan to attempt to de-Judaize it). Yet Jewish communities comprise less than 2% of Judea/Samaria. 99% of Palestinian-Arabs live in Gaza which Israel completely evacuated, and in the 40% of the West Bank in which Israel ceded control to the Palestinian Authority (the PA). In the PA, Palestinian-Arabs control every aspect of their own lives, except Israel has a security role (a role that would be unnecessary if Palestinian-Arab terrorists ever stopped murdering Israeli civilians). In the PA, the Palestinian Arabs run their own government, police, media, schools, businesses and mosques, etc. Further, the PA rejected repeated offers of statehood because the PA refuses to give up its goal of destroying all of Israel, by signing a clause accepting Israel and agreeing not to make further claims on Israel. Nor did the Palestinian-Arabs establish a state when Arabs (Jordan) seized and controlled the eastern portion of Jerusalem and Judea/Samaria for nineteen years (1948-1967).
Ireland’s “Occupied Territories” Bill was introduced by anti-Israel private members of the Irish opposition party (Fianna Fáil), and has now passed both houses (the Seanad and the Dáil) of the Irish Parliament (the Oireachtas). Fortunately, the Bill has not yet become law.
ZOA appreciates that the Irish government administration is opposed to the Bill becoming law. We appreciate that the Irish government will continue to oppose the Bill during the future legislative scrutiny steps of the Irish legislative process, in order to make the Bill a dead letter. ZOA has offered to assist the Irish government in this effort. The Irish government opposes the Bill for important, valid practical reasons, including the disastrous effect it would have on Irish businesses and Irish imports into the United States.
Worrisomely, however, the Irish government appears to agree with the Bill’s false premise that Israel is an “illegal occupier” of portions of her own land. ZOA strongly urges the Irish government to oppose the fundamentally false basis of the Bill, as well as the Bill’s deleterious practical effects. Addressing the false basis of BDS is ultimately the best way to defeat BDS.
ZOA further strongly urges the Irish government to discontinue its involvement in efforts to enact anti-Israel steps via the European Union.
ZOA also strongly urges the Irish government to end Ireland’s significant financial support, through Irish Aid and the EU, to anti-Israel BDS groups affiliated with designated terror organizations, including Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Through Irish Aid, Ireland gives funds to PFLP-affiliate Addameer, Al Haq (directed by PFLP terrorist Shawan Jabarin), the so-called Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR, run by Hamas and the PFLP operatives) and similar terrorist-affiliated anti-Israel BDS groups.
The new Israeli report entitled “Terrorists in Suits: The Ties Between NGOs promoting BDS and Terrorist Organizations” demonstrates that anti-Israel BDS groups are populated by convicted terrorist operatives and are intertwined with terrorist organizations, working together to eliminate the Jewish state. The report revealed over 100 specific links between BDS groups and terrorist operatives and groups, especially the PFLP, Hamas, and the Palestinian National and Islamic Forces (PNIF), which in turn is run by the PFLP, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). PNIF is the lead coalition member of the BDS National Committee – which coordinates and leads the international anti-Israel BDS movement. The Israeli government’s new report and the NGO Monitor report on Ireland both document Irish Aid’s funding to terrorist-run-and-affiliated NGOs.
The Jewish people have been there for the Irish people in Ireland’s hour of need, both in the past and recently. During Ireland’s devastating famine in the mid-1800s, the greatest giver to the famine relief efforts was a group of London Jews, led by London Member of Parliament Lionel de Rothschild, who raised a stunning $600,000 (the equivalent of $20 million today) – saving thousands of Irish lives, at a time when helping the Irish was widely opposed in London. The London Times wrote that helping the “savage Irish” was like throwing money away in an “Irish bog.” No one else gave even a fraction of what London’s Jews gave to help Ireland: Queen Victoria only gave 2,000 pounds to Irish famine relief. (See“The Forgotten Righteous Jew Who Saved Thousands of Irish Lives During the Famine,” by Niall O’Dowd, Irish Central, Apr. 16, 2018.)
In recent years, hundreds of Israeli Jewish scientists temporarily moved to Ireland to help set up Ireland’s high tech industry, at Intel and other companies with major Irish tech facilities. (See “Census Figures for Ireland’s Jewish Population in 2016 Not What They Seem,” by Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times, Nov. 14, 2017.)
For Ireland to repay the Jewish and Israeli people by enacting antisemitic, criminal BDS legislation – and to lead antisemitic BDS efforts at the EU – would be the epitome of ungratefulness and discrimination against a people who have a history of bringing blessings to the Irish people.
One of the blackest stains on Irish history is the 1904 pogrom and boycott of Jewish businesses in Limerick. Those events drove out from that city virtually all of Limerick’s Jews, who had been some of Limerick’s most industrious, hardworking, civic-minded citizens. Most of Limerick’s Jews left Ireland altogether. The 1904 Limerick anti-Jewish boycott was also based on lies against the Jewish people. Ireland should avoid another shameful, antisemitic, counter-productive anti-Jewish boycott.
Below is a discussion of the Irish BDS Bill’s false basis, followed by a description of the Bill’s draconian criminal and other provisions, and additional reasons to stop the Bill from becoming law.
The basis of the Irish BDS Bill is false. The Irish BDS Bill purports to “enforce” the Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 49. But, in fact, the presence of Jewish communities in Judea/Samaria and Jerusalem is not a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention or of any other international law. The Jewish nation has the legal right to these lands under binding international law (including San Remo, the League of Nations Mandate, UN Charter Article 80, and the well-established doctrine of uti posseditis juris – which entitles Israel to the full mandatory area including Jerusalem and Judea/Samaria). Israel moreover has the only valid historical and moral claim to Judea/Samaria and Jerusalem. In short, Israel is not an illegal occupier, and Jews are not “illegal settlers,” as the Irish BDS Bill falsely claims.
Moreover, the Fourth Geneva Convention concerns forcible transfers of populations into an occupied sovereign nation. The Convention was intended to stop future situations such as the Nazis’ forcible transfer of Jews to concentration camps in German-occupied Poland (a former sovereign nation). The Fourth Geneva Convention is wholly inapplicable to Jews living in Judea/Samaria, etc. because the Jewish people returned to these portions of the Jewish homeland of their own free will – they were not forcibly transferred.
The Fourth Geneva Convention is also inapplicable because Judea/Samaria, etc. was never part of a Palestinian sovereign nation. Jordan is the only sovereign nation that (temporarily) laid claim to the area – during the 19-year period (1948-1967) after Jordan invaded Israel and illegally occupied the area. Jordan formally relinquished its claims to eastern Jerusalem and Judea/Samaria in 1988, and confirmed this in the 1994 Israel-Jordan peace treaty.
The Fourth Geneva Convention is also inapplicable because there has never been a Palestinian-Arab sovereign state in Judea/Samaria and eastern Jerusalem. (See also“Mort Klein Op-Ed in Breitbart: There Is No Israeli ‘Occupation’- It’s Not Arab Land and 98 Percent of Palestinian-Arabs Live Under Arab Rule,” by Morton Klein, Breitbart, Nov. 13, 2018.)
Ministerial Determinations: Interestingly, the Irish BDS bill tries to skirt around the fact that Judea/Samaria and Jerusalem are not in fact “occupied territories” under international law, by attempting to leave the determination of occupied territory status up to an Irish Minister. The Bill states that “The Minister [of Foreign Affairs and Trade] may make regulations prescribing a territory as being a relevant occupied territory.”
The Horrific, Criminal Irish BDS Bill: It is important to understand how horrific the Irish BDS Bill is. The Irish Bill would impose severe criminal penalties for importing, attempting to import, assisting another to import, assisting another to attempt to import, selling, attempting to sell, assisting another to sell, or assisting another to attempt to sell “settlement goods” and “settlement services,” or extracting resources from “occupied territory.” The prohibitions on “assisting” could also ensnare any buyers of products and services of Jewish businesses.
Thus, under this draconian antisemitic law, buying or selling a mezuzah made in the Old City of Jerusalem, or bringing home a cup of mud from the Dead Sea, or buying an Achva Halva snack, or using an ATM machine at a bank that has a branch office over the 1949 Armistice line, could subject buyer, seller, importer and anyone who facilitated the transaction to up to five years in prison or a 250,000 Euro fine (U.S. $286,000.00) or both.
The Irish BDS Bill’s Purported Worldwide Application: Moreover, a transaction does not even have to occur in Ireland to be subject to the Irish BDS Bill’s huge criminal penalties! The Irish BDS Bill purports to have extra-territorial application: Irish citizens, residents, companies and “unincorporated bodies” would be guilty even if they sell “settlement goods and services” entirely outside of Ireland– for instance, even if the entire transaction occurs in Israel or the United States or another third country.
Irish opposition party members have thus come up with a boycott bill that is even worse than the 1933 Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses: Even the Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses – the first anti-Jewish Nazi action that ultimately led to the Holocaust – did not purport to apply to transactions that occurred wholly outside of Nazi territory.
Enforcement and Interference With Jewish Religious Practice: We also have to wonder, how would Ireland enforce its antisemitic Boycott Bill if it becomes law? Will Irish Jews and Christians returning from visits to Israel be interrogated and jailed if they bought a pizza in Jerusalem’s Old City or Efrat?
The Bill would also impede Irish Jews’ from practicing their Jewish faith. Many items needed for Jewish religious practices (Mezuzahs, Kiddish cups, Tallises, Jewish books) are produced in the Old City of Jerusalem, etc. To make the import of such items criminal is . . . well, criminal.
Corporate Personnel Will Also Be Guilty: To add to the outrageousness of Ireland’s BDS Bill, if a corporation sells or imports, etc., good and services from Jews or Jewish businesses beyond the 1949 Armistice lines, both the corporation itself and numerous corporate personnel– including corporate directors, managers, secretaries, other officers and persons “purporting to act in that capacity” would all be “guilty of an offense and may be proceeded against and punished.”
Irish Deputy Prime Minister’s Opposition to the Bill: Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney, opposed the Bill for practical reasons, in a statement dated January 23, 2019. Deputy Prime Minister Coveney’s statement makes some very good and astute points, which ZOA appreciates – including that: (1) the Bill asks Ireland to do something that is not within Ireland’s power as a member of the European Union single market: (2) the Bill conflicts with U.S. anti-boycott and anti-discrimination laws; (3) there are constitutional and legal difficulties with the Bill’s extra-territorial application, ministerial determinations, criminal penalties and enforcement; and (4) the Bill will create impossible conflicts and huge costs for Irish companies that wish to continue exporting billions of dollars of their products to the U.S., and American companies that wish to retain their offices and other facilities in Ireland.
Disappointingly, however, the Deputy Prime Minister’s statement omitted the fundamental flaw with the Irish BDS Bill – that it is based on the falsehoods that Israel is an “illegal occupier” and Jews living in the eastern portion of Jerusalem and Judea/Samaria in the Jewish homeland are “illegal settlers.” Even worse, the Deputy Prime Minister boasted in his statement about leading alternate “anti-occupation” labeling and similar BDS-related efforts at the EU.
Unfortunately, anti-Israel antisemitic propaganda is so prevalent that even good people believe anti-Israel “Big Lie” falsehoods. That is why it is vital to address these falsehood directly, if we wish to stamp out anti-Israel boycotts.
Ireland’s BDS Bill would also damage Irish companies, American companies doing business in Ireland and tourism: Currently, Irish companies (including Medtronic, Allied Irish Banks, Seagate Technology, Shire, CRH, Eaton, Accenture, Ingersoll-Rand, Ryanair, Smurfit Kappa Group) export over $36 billion dollars per year to the United States. The Bill would jeopardize these exports.
In addition, American companies would be affected – and may need to leave Ireland – including Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, PayPal, Ebay, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Airbnb. (Airbnb is already in legal and reputational trouble in the U.S. due to Airbnb’s discriminatory boycott against Jews in Judea/Samaria. See also“How Much Is Ireland Willing to Pay to Boycott Israel?,” by Eli Lake, Bloomberg, Jan. 23, 2019.
In addition, millions of Jewish and Christian pro-Israel American tourists may avoid traveling to Ireland, while Ireland subjects persons who buy Israeli-Jewish products and services to huge criminal fines and jail terms.
The Bill impedes peace efforts, and empowers Hamas and rejectionist Palestinian-Arab leaders: Prominent Irish-American U.S. Congressman Peter King, Ranking Member of a subcommittee of the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee, and a leading U.S. opponent of international terrorism, summed up another important reason for invalidating the Bill. In December, Congressman King told Irish opposition party Fianna Fáil that the Bill is “undercutting Palestinians truly interested in peace and empowering Hamas terrorists.”
Indeed, the new Israeli report demonstrates beyond any doubt that BDS groups are intertwined with designated terror groups Hamas, the PFLP, PIJ, and are run and populated by terror groups’ operatives, all working together to destroy Israel. Even prior to the latest report, others documented BDS’s extremist goals of destroying Israel, and that BDS organizations are fronts for the PFLP and other terror groups, as well as for Fatah (the Palestinian Authority’s major political faction). (See Dan Diker, “Unmasking BDS: Radical Roots, Extremist Ends,” by Dan Diker, JCPA.) U.S. Congressional testimony confirmed the financial and overlapping leadership connections between Hamas funders and BDS groups: American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) and the national Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP or NSJP). (See “Former Treasury Official: Hamas Group Funds BDS/SJP Groups,” May 3, 2016.)
BDS’s antisemitic goal is to eradicate Israel. BDS moreover violates the Oslo accords, which require the Palestinian Authority to cooperate economically with Israel.
BDS further causes Palestinian Arabs, as well as Jews, to lose their livelihoods.
Criminalizing Jewish products will not bring peace. The Palestinian-Arab leadership – which incites terror and pays terrorists $350 million per year to murder Jews, and has turned down repeated generous peace offers – is solely responsible for the lack of peace.
ZOA accordingly urges the Irish government to continue its laudable efforts to block the Bill from becoming Irish law, and expresses our heartfelt appreciation for those efforts. ZOA further requests that the Irish government discontinue efforts to enact alternate BDS measures via the European Union. ZOA stands ready to assist in these matters.