Occupied Territories Bill and criticism of Israel’s colonization are not attacks on Jews
By Dr. Ronit Lentin | The Irish Times | Feb 4, 2019
Settlements, built on Palestinian (often privately owned) lands, impinge on Palestinian human rights
Israel’s response to the passing of the Occupied Territories Bill in the Dáil last week entailed, on the one hand, threatening to impose severe economic-political measures against Ireland, including taxing Irish imports and suspending bilateral economic and commercial agreements with Dublin. On the other hand, Israel accused Ireland of anti-Semitism, often weaponised against any criticism of the Israeli colonisation of Palestine and its ongoing infringements of international law.
There is no need for me to discuss the merits and effectiveness of the Bill here. It’s worth noting, however, that the settlements, from which products would be banned if the Bill becomes law, are considered illegal under international law. According to article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, “The occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own population into the territories it occupies”, making Israel’s building and transferring of its population to the occupied Palestinian territory illegal.
According to Israeli human rights NGO B’Tselem, more than 200 Israeli settlements have been established in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) since 1967; their current population is almost 620,000. Settlements, built on Palestinian (often privately owned) lands, impinge on Palestinian human rights as checkpoints that limit Palestinian movement are erected based on where there are settlements. Palestinians are denied access to farmland near settlements, and settlers regularly attack Palestinian schoolchildren and farmers in full view of the Israeli military.
Victimhood and supremacy
I am a Palestine-born Israeli Jew, indoctrinated with the dual message of Jewish victimhood and Jewish supremacy throughout my youth, and a citizen of Ireland for the past 50 years. Like increasing numbers of American and European Jews, I am an active supporter of Palestinian rights. I wish to discuss two central questions relating to the implications of the Occupied Territories Bill: first, is Ireland out of step with the rest of Europe as claimed by both Israel and the Fine Gael government? And second, is anti-Semitism the driving force behind the Bill and the broad societal support for Palestinian rights?