We received an email a few days ago asking that we read a letter to the editor in the Irish Independent written by members of the American Trade Union movement to their colleagues in Ireland. Our correspondent noted that the attorneys among the signatories are prominent US labor lawyers.
Here is the letter from March 1st:
Sir — We, members of the American Trade Union movement, have heard and read with disappointment and sadness that some of our Irish colleagues continue to lead a campaign in Ireland for a boycott of Israeli goods and services. It would seem that the appeal we made to them, during our visit to Ireland last November, to reconsider their boycott call has fallen on deaf ears.
We believe that such a campaign amounts to a form of prejudice and discrimination. In unfairly singling out one party to the conflict, it aims to punish and delegitimise Israel while ignoring the decades-long attacks against it by Palestinian terrorist organisations. Such a campaign can only serve to embolden these extreme elements and disempower moderates.
We believe that the boycott campaign is misguided and runs counter to efforts to promote dialogue and understanding. It contradicts the insistence, based on the experience of the Irish peace process, on the value of dialogue as a means of solving conflict.
We suggest that, rather than embracing the politics of rejectionism, trade unionists and other non-governmental organisations seeking a just and fair resolution should help to bridge the gaps between the two sides. In particular, the encouragement of trade and academic links has the potential to bring employment and prosperity, significant factors in the achievement of peace.
Jack Ahern, President,
New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO,
Atty Mike Carroll,
Robert Haynes, President, Massachusetts AFL-CIO,
Atty Cody McCone,
Atty Brian O’Dwyer,
Tom Wilkinson, President,
Fairfield County Labor Council, AFL-CIO
The letter intrigued me. I know there is anti-Semitism in Ireland, but I needed more detail about the boycott issue.
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It’s worse than I thought.
The first site I found, The Institute for Global Jewish Affairs, had a fairly recent (December 2008) summary of Trade Union and Other Boycotts of Israel in Great Britain and Ireland. It’s a dismal account:
- The United Kingdom more than any other country in the world has embraced the Palestinian call for academic, trade union, media, medical, architectural, and cultural boycotts of Israel. The driving force for this campaign is Britain’s trade union movement and its anti-Zionist activists on the far Left, such as the Socialist Workers Party (SWP).
- The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) actively works for a general boycott of Israeli goods as well as a cultural and sports boycott of Israel and has forged links with the far Left and the unions to publicize their cause. All the major UK trade unions are affiliated with the PSC and several of them actively promote PSC policies and literature.
- In Ireland as in Britain, the most prominent supporters of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) are the academics and the trade union movement. The call for a boycott of Israel has been endorsed by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU); IMPACT, the largest public-sector union in the Republic of Ireland; and the Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance (NIPSA), the largest public-sector union in Northern Ireland. Israel is a soft target in Ireland as there is very little organized opposition to the boycott calls.
- An agreement between the Histadrut and the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) may help ease the tension. It aims to protect the rights of Palestinians working for Israeli employers and to base future relations on negotiations and dialogue.
It goes on from there with a detailed history of the anti-Israel movement in Britain, including the fact that the main group, The Palestine Solidarity Campaign, “employ[s] a fulltime trade union organizer to forge links with the unions and publicize their cause”…
There is a section on Ireland specifically, and unfortunately, it does not include just Northern Ireland, but the Republic of Ireland to the south:
Irish attitudes toward Israel are not straightforward.
In Irish politics sympathies are very much with the Palestinians…. Yet Irish politicians are pragmatic. Many believe that Israel has much to offer their country in the economic field and thus think Ireland should not burn its bridges with it. Moreover, Irish politicians would not be willing to break ranks with the EU and adopt a tougher position on Israel than its European partners.
The Irish gave the English language the word boycott when in 1880 the Irish Land League successfully called on the Irish farmers to ostracize Captain Charles Boycott, an English land agent. Since that time boycotts have been used as a strategy to try and force change, and the British trade union movement was one of the main supporters of the boycott movement against South Africa in the 1980s.
In Ireland as in Britain, the most prominent supporters of the Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) are the academics and the trade union movement. The similarity does not end there; many of the activists in both the Republic and Northern Ireland are on the far Left with several involved with both the unions and the IPSC. The call to boycott Israel has been endorsed by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ITUC); IMPACT, the largest public-sector union in the Republic of Ireland; and the Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance (NIPSA), the largest public-sector union in Northern Ireland.
I asked our correspondent, Murphy, if there were any other sites that might have information on Ireland’s anti-Israel activities. Mark Humphrys’ name came up and I smiled: Humphrys is a pro-American, libertarian blogger with a wealth of information not just on Ireland but on the rest of the world, too. Besides, Mark Humphrys is my cousin, so he’s got to be brilliant, right?
All the information I needed was there on Mark’s blog, and it makes for sad reading. Here’s one example:
12-18 January 2009
We, the undersigned, are united in seeking the immediate expulsion of the Israeli ambassador to Ireland, Dr Zion Evrony. We believe the ambassador must leave Ireland until such time as there is a complete end to Israel’s war on Gaza and its continued slaughter of the Palestinian people.
Mairead Maguire (Nobel Peace Laureate)
Kathy Sinnott MEP
Margaret Conlon TD
Maggie Ronayne (NUI Galway)
Gerry Grehan (Chairman, Peace People)
Dr. Raymond Deane
Kieran Allen (Socialist Workers Party)
etc., ad nauseam, the signatures go on and on and on, down the page…
As Mark says: [all emphases in original]
Nobody defends Israel.
When you read these awful Israel-condemning debates in the Irish Senate, remember that Ireland is a country that was neutral during the Holocaust, that sent condolences to Germany on the death of Hitler, and that refused to allow almost any Jewish refugees in, either before, during or after the war. I don’t at all think the Irish politicians are anti-semitic. Rather, they have a range of trendy reasons for their views. But I think Ireland – like most of Europe – should shut up about Jews for a few hundred years.
Fortunately, there were many Irishmen who disagreed with the Irish President’s openly pro-Nazi stance in World War II. They voted with their feet, 39,000 of them enlisting in the Allied forces to fight Nazi Germany.
Mark quotes Churchill:
- I agree with Churchill on Ireland’s treachery. Ireland was a democracy, one of the only democracies in a world full of genocidal communist and fascist totalitarianism. And it should have stood with the other democracies in World War Two. As Churchill said:
“The sense of envelopment, which might at any moment turn to strangulation, lay heavy upon us. We had only the northwestern approach between Ulster and Scotland through which to bring in the means of life and to send out the forces of war. Owing to the action of Mr. de Valera, so much at variance with the temper and instinct of thousands of southern Irishmen, who hastened to the battlefront to prove their ancient valor, the approaches which the southern Irish ports and airfields could so easily have guarded were closed by the hostile aircraft and U-boats.
This was indeed a deadly moment in our life, and if it had not been for the loyalty and friendship of Northern Ireland we should have been forced to come to close quarters with Mr. de Valera or perish forever from the earth. However, with a restraint and poise to which, I say, history will find few parallels, we never laid a violent hand upon them, which at times would have been quite easy and quite natural, and left the de Valera Government to frolic with the German and later with the Japanese representatives to their heart’s content.
When I think of these days I think also of other episodes and personalities. I do not forget Lieutenant-Commander Esmonde, V.C., D.S.O., Lance-Corporal Keneally, V.C., Captain Fegen, V.C., and other Irish heroes that I could easily recite, and all bitterness by Britain for the Irish race dies in my heart. I can only pray that in years which I shall not see, the shame will be forgotten and the glories will endure, and that the peoples of the British Isles and of the British Commonwealth of Nations will walk together in mutual comprehension and forgiveness.”
- Britain would certainly have been entitled to invade my country, Ireland, if the alternative was losing the war. It was Ireland’s most shameful moment in all of its history.
- If Irish Catholicism could not stand unambiguously against Nazism, then WHAT IN THE NAME OF GOD DID IT STAND FOR?
So what chance do you think the American Trade Union’s letter to the editor has in an atmosphere like Ireland’s?
Mark is right that the Irish have acted shamefully and continue to do so. In keeping with his fighting Irish spirit, though, he has a link to a wiki which lists Israeli businesses you can support.
Obviously Ireland is on its way to hell in a handbasket. Anyone who supports Hamas needs an IQ exam at the very least.