No Israeli schoolkids or students on exchanges. Shun research because the author happens to be Israeli. Ban scientists, poets, writers and musicians on the ground of their nationality.
This week the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) has voted – unanimously – to request its members to “cease all cultural and academic collaboration with Israel, including the exchange of scientists, students and academic personalities, as well as all cooperation in research programmes”.
No motion at all about Syria, Iran or any other Middle Eastern country.
No doubt the Union believes it is in the vanguard of opposing discrimination on the grounds of nationality, ethnicity or faith.
For organisations like Trocaire (the official Catholic Irish development agency) this latest development – promoted by the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign – shows exactly what direction they have taken and how they have contributed to an environment of demonisation and marginalisation against Israel, quite unlike that regarding any other country in the world.
Trocaire employs IPSC staffers. It claims not to support Boycott Divestment and Sanctions against Israel yet calls for boycotting measures against certain Israeli companies in a way it does not advocate in respect of any other conflict zone on earth. It has had to remove material from its website because it was one-sided and extreme in its treatment of Israel.
Contributing to a one sided condemnation of Israel in a conflict which pits Israel on the one hand and the likes of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbolla, Iran and the Syrian regime on the other, is – in the opinion of this Jewish writer – profoundly unChristian, discriminatory – and counter productive. Boycotts distract Israelis and Palestinians from what can be the only path to peace – dialogue and negotiations, and negates what should be Ireland’s contribution – facilitating such dialogue and negotiation.
If the motion passed by the TUI does not open up Trocaire’s eyes to what they are contributing to, and encouraging, then we suggest nothing much will.
We repeat: No Israeli schoolkids or students on exchanges. Shun research because the author happens to be Israeli. Ban scientists, poets, writers and musicians on the ground of their nationality – the IPSC’s and TUI’s road to peace.
Steven Jaffe, co chair, Northern Ireland Friends of Israel
7 April 2013