Daniel Rosehill

16 facts about Ireland to get Israeli & Jewish tourists excited about visiting

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El Al announced this week that it would be cancelling its service to Dublin, which only began operating this March.

But just in case you were excited about the prospect of a trip to the Emerald Isle next year, here are some facts about the country which may be of interest to potential visitors from Israel.

1: Its Prime Minister Supports BDS

In case you missed this week’s hot-button issue in the always “colorful” world of Ireland-Israel relations, here’s the scoop:

Ireland’s women’s basketball team recently got themselves into a bit of political mud for deciding that they should boycott a fixture against Israel. The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) said that the Irish team would have to pay fines totaling more than €100,000 for the privilege of being… you know… racist.

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Ireland’s Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar (the same guy of Emily Hand “lost and found” fame, by the way) responded by saying that “it may well be appropriate” to “expel” Israel from sporting or music events like the Eurovision (or a basketball game). I think he just doesn’t want Ireland to have to pick up the tab for doing the expelling. Isn’t this essentially state-endorsed BDS? It sure sounds like it to me.

2: Its Eurovision Contestant Wants Israel Kicked Out Of The Context… As Do The Wolfe Tones

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It’s not just the thoughts of playing Israel in basketball that stirs up the enmity of the Irish, it seems.

The idea of competing against us in Eurovision is also a noxious prospect to many in Ireland. Joined by other noted European moralists the Swedish and the Finns, support for Ireland to boycott the song contest was extremely widespread with its contestant ‘Bambie Thug’ affirming that she didn’t believe it was fair for the EBU to have one rule for Russia and another for Israel.

Beloved (to some) trad group ‘The Wolfe Tones’ stated in January that they would be interested in representing their country. But only on the precondition that Israel were banned from competing. One gets the feeling it wasn’t a sincere offer.

3: A Member Of Its Parliament Has Openly And Repeatedly Called For Israel’s Destruction

Richard Boyd Barrett calling for an “intifada” to “bring Israel down” in Dublin. Photo: Daniel Rosehill (Via: X).

Just in case you needed a model for what fringe antisemitism in mainstream western politics looked like when it’s allowed to go unchallenged, Ireland’s Richard Boyd Barrett and the People Before Profit party he heads provide an excellent example.

Last December, Boyd Barrett called Israel a “filthy” “psychopathic” state adding that it had to be “brought down” through the process of “intifada.”

The remarks were shared at a public event in Dublin city centre. After I shared the remarks on Twitter, my video went viral accumulating more than one million likes.

The comments were brought to the attention of the country’s deputy prime minister who said that he would tend to see them as wrong.

Ireland, by the way, is busily debating the parameters of potential hate speech legislation.

But an unspoken exemption seems to be in place whenever Israelis or Jews are the targets.

4: Ireland Is Home To A Political Party Which Calls For Israel’s “Total Dismantlement”

People Before Profit also recently released a pamphlet calling for the “total dismantlement” of the State of Israel and its replacement with a state called .. you guessed it .. Palestine.

For clarification, the party added that calls of “From the river to the sea” are not antisemitic. The pamphlet was not condemned in Ireland’s parliament because that would require the presence of somebody who didn’t hate Israel.

5: You Might Bump Into A Self-Published Antisemitic Rag While You’re There

A conspiracy theorist freesheet newspaper – The Irish Light – is also published and circulated in Ireland. The publication frequently peddles in extreme antisemitism like this piece about how the Jews “conquered” Ireland. Screenshot: Daniel Rosehill.

An Irish conspiracy theorist and a business partner publish a freesheet “newspaper” entitled “The Irish Light” (the name might provide a chuckle for fans of irony, of course, as it does an exemplary job at spreading scientific illiteracy, racism, and all manner of general darkness on its often unwilling recipients).

The publication frequently engages in the kind of grotesque antisemitism that many of my age probably naively thought died out a generation or two ago.

A screed entitled “How The Jews Conquered Ireland” lashes out at “Jewish control” in Ireland including the age-old charge that Jews enslave societies through usury.

The piece also takes aim at two Irish Jews — Ronit Lentin and former justice minister Alan Shatter—highlighting them as “agents of destruction” intent on destroying Ireland.

Ironically, Lentin is an advocate for the Palestinian right of return. She is, however, Jewish.

6: In Ireland, There’s A Palestine Support Group For (Almost) Everyone!

In Ireland whether you’re a politician who hates Israel, an artist, a teacher, a psychologist, or anybody else .. the good news is that you can find cosy intellectual shelter in your nearest Palestine support group. You could fill up a phone directory with them!

A group of academics repeatedly write to newspapers arguing for an academic boycott of Israel.

In 2021 a pledge to boycott Israel circulated by the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) attracted more than 1,000 signatures.

A grouping of 250 psychologists wrote to the newspapers last week stating that they were “united in their horror” at the events unfolding in Gaza (on October 7th and other global conflicts, it seems, they are mute).

A group called “Irish Sport For Palestine” recently sprung up and began advocating for a boycott by the women’s basketball team. The Irish Palestine Mental Health Network is a real organisation and its top recommendation (filed under: “do no harm”) is “refrain from holding conferences in Israel.”

The Irish media does not need its own affiliate grouping. It’s simply the Irish media.

Irish Pets for Palestine and Galway Goldfish For Gaza have both as far as I know not been formulated although I thought it would be remiss to deprive this readership of these creative and alliterative possibilities.

There’s also the Cork Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Dublin Gaza, Gaza Action Ireland to name but a few more options.

7: Ireland’s Largest Local Government Body Recently Voted To Support BDS… Against Anyone Who “Supports” Israel

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Ireland’s largest county council (local government body) by territory governed, Cork County Council, recently passed a motion.

It stated that:

Cork County Council declares the country of Cork to be an apartheid free zone, a space of proactive solidarity with the Palestinian people. It commits to encourage and assist all efforts to show solidarity and fundraising for humanitarian efforts in Palestine.”

It added that:

Cork County Council declares its support for the BDS campaign and agrees not to purchase goods or services produced or provided in whole or in part as is practicable by Israeli companies or companies that support the Israeli state.”

So there you have it.

This might just be the world’s most far-reaching statement of endorsing BDS by a government body.

You don’t only get on the blacklist with Cork County Council for being Israeli. Supporting Israel is enough of an ideological crime to have you shunned.

Dublin City Council seems to pursue a similar policy. Last December it refused to meet with Israel’s ambassador to Ireland (before hosting—to the usual confetti-throwing—the Palestinian envoy). Two months ago Dublin concluded a treaty of friendship with Ramallah.

Ireland is also home to an initiative called the ‘Apartheid Free Zones’ (AFZs) designed to encourage companies and local government bodies to declare their territories Israelrein.

8: Ireland Wants To Cancel Israel’s Trade Agreement With The EU

After a brief period of condemnations of Hamas that felt extremely strained, Ireland’s reaction since October 7th has been one of increased solidarity with the Palestinians. The chorus of criticism from every part of Irish society is now, one feels, deafening.

In the wake of the tragedy, Ireland’s president backtracked from statements from the EU Commissioner stating that the “EU stands with Israel” reasoning – presumably – that such a wording was unacceptably supportive. Ireland tried but failed to interject moral equivalency into an EU resolution released shortly after the tragedy.

Not content with their legion efforts to harm Israel at the UN and through funding partisan anti-Israel NGOs, Ireland is now going for the jugular at the EU attempting to have the trade agreement between Israel and the EU nixed on account of a human rights clause.

Of course, Irish statesmen are wont to put it that bluntly. Instead Prime Minister Varadkar statement that his country and a few other states were “interested” in having the document “reviewed”. No prize if you can guess correctly the outcome he’s rooting for.

9: Ireland Is Considering Supporting South Africa At The ICJ

Irish lawyer Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh emerged as one of the “stars” of South Africa’s absurd intervention at the International Court of Justice. The Irish counsel was providing support to the South African side alleging that Israel was conducting a “genocide” in Gaza.

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It seems that Ireland’s legal eagles may soon find themselves with more opportunities to hurl lies towards Israel before the world.

Following the preliminary ruling, Irish Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Micheal Martin instructed lawyers to investigate the possibility of Ireland joining the ICJ case in support of South Africa. Israel, he said, needed to be “held to account” for their actions in Gaza.

Ireland’s justice minister – Helen McEntee – has already stated that she would be “in favour” of Irish intervention. Which begs the question of why the Irish feel the need to go through with the charade of supposedly “evaluating” the prospect. We await the decision with bated breath.

10: Despite Being Massively Anti-Israel, Ireland Somehow Sees Itself As Neutral

If mental gymnastics were a sport, Ireland might consider fielding a national team.

Perhaps more amusing than all the criticism is Ireland’s longstanding commitment to a “neutrality” that nobody else seems to really understand.

The definition is somehow considered to extend to Israel, too.

At a debate in its parliament shortly after October 7th, Irish politicians expressed concern that some of the statements emanating from their colleagues could be perceived as harming Ireland’s vaunted “neutrality.”

In other news, the sky is pink.

11: Ireland Invests In Anti-Israel NGOs

Non governmental organisations (NGOs) are great political proxies for governments who don’t want to openly declare their foreign policies. Ireland provides an excellent illustration of this point.

Ireland has provided state funding to organisations including Addameer and Al-Haq which Israel proscribed as terrorist organisations owing to documented affiliations with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

12: Ireland Is A Big UNRWA Funder And Decided To Continue Providing Money To The Organisation After The Recent Revelations

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In the wake of October 7th, Ireland decided to earmark €10M of its taxpayers’ money in emergency support to UNRWA to provide “emergency support” for the organisation.

In the wake of revelations showing that some UNRWA employees were active participants in October 7th, Ireland decided to double down on its commitment to the agency stating that the government in Dublin had no intentions of pulling funding.

13: The Palestinian Ambassador—Who Refuses To Condemn October 7th— Is Adulated By Sinn Fein

Shortly after the October 7th massacre, the Ambassador of Palestine to Ireland Dr Jilan Wahba Abdalmaji interviewed on Irish radio. She was repeatedly asked if she would condemn Hamas and the heinous atrocities which they had just committed. She repeatedly refused to do so. After three persistent attempts, the interviewer—with an air of sorrow—gave up the chase.

For being Palestinian, Ambassador Wahba Abdalmajid has become a sort of sudden star among the Irish left. Abdalmajid has become a regular fixture at Sinn Fein conferences where she is frequently afforded standing ovations.

Her October 7th denialism appears to be just another uncomfortable fact that the Irish do not want to get into.

14: Israel’s Ambassador To Ireland, However, Was Almost Voted Out Of The Country

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Israel’s many opponents in Ireland frequently demand, with bated breath, to “expel” the Israeli Ambassador from Ireland.

Lest you fall for the idea that this is a “Gaza War” thing, a previous resolution came before the Oireachtas in May, 2021. It alleged that “the Israeli ambassador’s presence in Ireland is untenable in these circumstances.” It failed.

Alongside other trending classics at Ireland pro-Palestine rallies like “from the river to the sea” and “globalise the intifada,” “Israeli Ambassador: out, out, out!” has become a favourite rallying-cry for the masses who protest Israel’s war in Gaza every weekend in cities across the country (a pro-Houthi slogan got an airing in Cork recently too).

Last November, the Social Democrats brought a motion before parliament which would have forced the expulsion of Dana Erlich, Israel’s ambassador to Dublin. The vote was defeated by 85 votes to 55.

I’m not sure what wrongs Erlich must have committed on previous forays to be condemned to a posting to Ireland, but I have heard high praise from those who know her. At the very least, she’s a few thousand measures more diplomatic than I am. I wish her better luck with her next posting.

15: Irish Jews Are Concerned By A Rise In Antisemitism

It should come as no surprise that in this climate of Israel-hatred anti-Semitism is also a growing concern.

Stickers describing Israeli-made products as being “contaminated” with Zionism were placed at supermarkets throughout Ireland last week. Screenshot: X / Daniel Rosehill.

Last week BDS activists placed stickers throughout supermarkets in Ireland stating that Israelis-made products were “contaminated” with “Zionism” and “apartheid.” I guess if you don’t have that many actual Jews to go after, these kind of theatrics are about the best that you can do.

Ireland’s Jewish population is small. Most Jews who were born there, like me, have since left. Those still in Ireland report concern about the rise in antisemitism including on university campuses.

Ireland is also home to an Israeli expat population many of whom moved to Ireland for employment. Israeli software company Wix set up an office in Dublin a few years ago and recently made the news when an employee there took to social media to label Israel a “terrorist state.” She was dismissed. Ireland’s Prime Minister advised her to seek legal recourse.

At a recent debate in University College Dublin, a Jewish student was screamed at by a Jihadi supporter who stated that Hamas will commit October 7th “again and again”. It is a troubling climate.

16: Ireland’s Government Could Become Even More Anti-Israel After The Next Election

Ireland took a full 15 years to offer de jure recognition of Israel, only doing so in 1963. It previously refused to recognise the Jewish state citing alleged violations of UN resolutions. In Irish-Israeli relations there is not much new under the sun, it seems.

If Ireland and Israel were two prospects on a dating website, you’d imagine that some newfangled algorithm might suggest them to be a match.

Both are small countries. Both have large diaspora populations that help to amplify their international reach. Both have transitioned rather rapidly from poor economies dominated by agriculture to export-oriented forward-looking economies with a strong affinity for technology.

There’s just one obvious spanner in the works and it probably doesn’t need to be stated.

Perhaps the most interesting question looming in Ireland-Israel ties is “how bad can things possibly get with a country in the EU?”

An accession to government by Sinn Fein after the next General Election would provide a datapoint on exactly that kind of scenario which may prove instructive for broader approaches to foreign relations.

Because for all the noise that they make, in the broader scheme of things, huffing and puffing at the EU and trying to rally up a few stragglers to form a “Western buddies of Hamas” type geopolitical alliance may be the most harm that they can do.

For now.

  • Dublin and other Irish cities can be reached through connections in Istanbul, Amsterdam, and more. Between connections and delays it takes about a day to get there and back. For Israelis purchasing comprehensive medical and travel insurance, and heeding the latest travel advice, is strongly advised. 
About the Author
Daniel Rosehill is a marketing communications consultant based in Jerusalem specializing in assisting technology and public sector clients with developing and executing thought leadership-based approaches to inbound marketing. To learn more, visit:
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