I would be a criminal under proposed Irish bill to boycott Israel

I enjoy kosher wine from the Golan Heights and the small candelabrum I use to light candles during the festival of Chanuka was purchased from a stall in the Jewish quarter of the old city of Jerusalem.

Thursday, 7th February 2019, 5:03 pm
Updated Monday, 11th February 2019, 10:02 am
The Dail passed a bill boycotting goods manufactured in the West Bank

That makes me a criminal twice over if this bill boycotting goods manufactured in the West Bank, which was passed by the Dáil, becomes law in the Republic of Ireland.

I would face up to five years in an Irish jail.

And with thousands of Irish citizens visiting Jerusalem each year as pilgrims and holiday makers, I suspect it would not just be me.

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Steven Jaffe, co chair Northern Ireland Friends of Israel

This bill treats the Jewish presence at the Western Wall in Jerusalem or at the burial place of the Patriarchs in Hebron, as illegal settlements and doing business with any Jews there is a criminal offence.

Those behind this bill have failed to impose an effective consumer-led boycott against Israel despite over ten years campaigning.

They are therefore turning to abusing the criminal law to impose a partisan anti-Israel point of view.

The Palestinian Authority is corrupt, hasn’t held a democratic election in over a decade, and rewards violence targeted against Israeli citizens by paying those convicted of terrorist crimes.

Hamas, perhaps the largest Palestinian political party, wants to impose a radical Islamist state in place of Israel from the river Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea.

These are not matters discussed in the Dail by those who propose this hopelessly one-sided bill.

Israel, and only Israel, is the source of injustice and conflict.

Moreover, the bill will harm Ireland more than it harms Israel.

Israel was recently classed the fifth most innovative economy in the world and many jobs in the Republic already depend on companies with close ties with Israel.

The bill would place the Republic in breach of European trading laws and Irish companies would face action under tough anti-boycott legislation in the United States.

So my guess is even if this bill does pass the Dail it will never be enforced.

Maybe I will continue lighting my Chanuka candles without being branded a criminal by the Irish state.

l Steven Jaffe is co chair of Northern Ireland Friends of Israel