Council challenged on boycott call by hate-crime victim rabbi

Newry and Mourne Council
Newry and Mourne Council

A Belfast rabbi who has been targeted with hate-crime abuse has challenged Newry and Mourne District Council over its support for a boycott of Israeli goods.

There was controversy earlier this month when Newry and Mourne mayor, Sinn Fein councillor Daire Hughes, wrote to traders in the district asking them not to stock Israeli goods, in light of the conflict in Gaza.

He also asked them to provide a list of products they stocked from Israel to assist the boycott.

At the council on Monday night the UUP pressed for an apology but the council backed the mayor 21 to three.

Rabbi David Singer of the synagogue in north Belfast told the News Letter last night: “I don’t think boycotts achieve anything. I am all for freedom of speech and votes but I think things are very one-sided in this debate.”

The analysis of the conflict which concludes there has been a “disproportionate” number of Palestinian deaths is “not the correct way to view it” he said.

“How much attention has been paid to the news that has been allowed to come out of Gaza? Various foreign correspondents that were in Gaza are only now saying that they could only film what they were allowed to show.”

There was a strong culture of Hamas shooting “willy nilly at civilian targets” he said.

“At least one rocket that hit a hospital in Gaza was a misfire by Hamas”.

He challenged the council: “Where do they want to go with this vote now? What do they want to do with it?”

The rabbi added that the PSNI are now treating recent abusive phone calls to him as hate crimes. A window in the synagogue was also smashed recently.

The PSNI responded that it was treating a report of abusive phone calls as a hate crime.