One of the major issues facing today’s world is the lack of support for Israel and the Jewish people. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing a group called Irish4Israel.
JD: May we open with a few basic facts about your group – what is the official name of your group, how long has it existed, and what is the main aim of the group?
I4I: The group was set up in 2010 – however prior to this there had been a group of us as individuals trying to speak out and defend Israel. In 2010, we decided to move forward and set up both Facebook and Twitter accounts which we called Irish4Israel. The aim of the group is simply to put Israel’s point of view across to the world. The media here in Ireland is generally hostile to Israel and we felt that by using social networking sites we could bypass traditional media. If we see bias in the media we contact the media outlets regarding same and we encourage politicians to speak out for Israel. We endeavour to keep the site content light at times with fun topics, sports, music and food. In reality, it was set up to stand against demonization of Israel by anyone, especially the various anti-Israel groups here. We believe the Irish and Israeli people have a lot in common.
JD: How have Ireland’s stances, opinions and reflections of Israel changed in the last 5 -10 years? And what do you think caused them?
I4I: From what I have read in history, there was a lot of sympathy in Ireland for Israel until after the 1967 war. Unfortunately, since then, it changed and has steadily got worse. The Irish Independence narrative was cleverly wrapped up with the ideas of Palestinian Nationalism and up until 2010 there were only individuals speaking out. In my opinion there is still a great amount of work to be done, even though I sense the atmosphere is somewhat different. I think the Irish foreign policy was hijacked by anti-Israel and anti-American activists who are a small but very vocal minority but I think things have changed slightly.
JD: So do you think things are better now?
I4I: Better no, improved certainly. There seems to be more openness to hearing both sides of the argument, which is what we all want. We don’t believe people have to be Pro-Israel; we simply want them to be able to hear both sides of the argument and from there, make better informed decisions. Sadly that has not been possible in Ireland, because of the strong Media and Government bias against Israel.
JD: In your work and experience, what do you think is the biggest misconception about Israel?
I4I: The biggest misconception is that Israel is an Apartheid state. I hear it so often, but when you ask the individual for facts to back this up, they wither away as in reality they can’t tell you of such. When you show them the reality, they are amazed. Others are so blind and filled with hate that they will never see any different. Second misconception is that Israel stole Palestine. Again Palestine as a Sovereign independent state has never existed, a fact of which people are not aware of. They don’t know very much about Hamas and its charter, which calls for genocide against Israelis. It’s clear a lot of people have fallen for the One Liner propaganda from the anti- Israel groups, but many of these lack substance and once challenged, they quickly realize that they do not have all the facts and things are not as black and white as they would like to make out. There also is little known knowledge of the 850,000 Jews who were expelled by Arab governments from across North Africa and the Middle East in the 1950′s simply because they were Jews.
JD: So, what can be done to change this situation? Do you think this is currently just a phase or is it an ongoing uphill eternal battle?
I4I: Those of us who support Israel, and there are many of us here in Ireland, need to start speaking out. We have previously organized online petitions, e-mail action alerts and rallies. We need to stand up and challenge the Media bias and demand Israel is treated fairly in our press. Ultimately, I think the most important thing to have is peace which is what everyone in the region longs for. Pushing Israel into a corner through boycotts and bullying will not bring peace. Both sides must sit down and talk, but presently all international pressure is on Israel to go to talks and no pressure on the Palestinian President, Abbas. Why should Abbas go to the negotiation table when he has the world doing his negotiations for him? I believe we can in time make Ireland less hostile to Israel but this will take time and resources.
JD: I know there are many pro-Israel sites not only in Ireland but throughout the World – Do you have any connection with them? Can you team up with any of them to fight the media etc.?
I4I: Yes there are many organizIranations and we have partnered up with BlueStar in the USA and they provided us with graphics and content for a poster campaign in Ireland. We have not officially partnered with any group but we are open to partnering with various groups across the globe to promote Israel and combat what is in reality the industry of lies.
JD: Have you any contact with the Catholic Church in Ireland?
JD: Is that your choice or theirs?
I4I: We have plenty of Catholic people on our page, but we don’t have connections to any one faith community in particular.
JD: What are your thoughts about Palestine and possible solutions?
I4I: I hope for a peaceful resolution to the situation, but I believe there will have to be a Two State solution. Israel’s security concerns HAVE to be recognized by the international community, with compromises on all sides as many Jews hold areas of the West Bank / Judea and Samaria sacred to them. It is a difficult question but in reality the only way to ensure Israel’s survival and the Palestinian demand for self-determination is a Two State for Two People’s solution.
JD: How worried are you about Iran in general and about them successfully developing a nuclear weapon?
I4I: I am concerned about the growing Iranian threat in general but Iran has been a threat to Israel for many years, especially through its funding of Hamas and Hezbollah. I think the Iranian threat is not being taken seriously enough by Europe or the U.S.A. and more needs to be done. It is not just Israel who does not want Iran to have nuclear weapons. Saudi Arabia and numerous other Gulf states are just as concerned. It would be better all-round if Iran could agree to international demands and allow proper inspections as if Iran does get a nuclear bomb, I don’t doubt for one second that they would use it.
JD: So do you believe Iran are the biggest threat to Israel?
I4I: Yes combined with their proxies Hezbollah and Hamas they certainly are the greatest threat to not only Israel but to the stability and peace for all in the region.
JD: The levels of anti-Semitic attacks have increased around the world – what are your thoughts on this? How bad is it in Ireland? Have you incurred any bad experiences personally?
I4I: I am not Jewish, so I can’t speak personally, though I have received some anti-Semitic comments via Twitter etc. Ireland’s Jewish community by and large live a happy peaceful existence in Ireland and I would imagine compared to France or other countries suffer little Anti-Semitism, though I know the constant instances of Israel bashing makes them feel uncomfortable. Anti-Semitism feeling is rising and it is of great concern that very little is being done to challenge it and in this we need more education.
JD: I am not sure if you are aware but in America there is a scandal of the IRS (Tax & Revenue body) targeting not only conservative but also pro-Israel groups for audits and thus delaying their tax exemption status – have you experienced anything similar from the Irish government?
I4I: No, but we are not a charity, so we have had no dealings with the Irish tax office. Of course the Department of Foreign Affairs has an ingrained bias against Israel, as does the Irish overseas development program “Irish Aid” but we have never had any direct hostility.
JD: Thank you. I really appreciate you taking the time to do this interview with YoungPatriots.com.
I4I: Thank you very much. I hope that this will give you and your readers a small bit more knowledge about our work.