The Irish Senate has voted narrowly in favor of a bill that would make it a criminal offense for Irish persons and companies anywhere to import or sell items, or provide services, produced in West Bank “settlements,” as defined by the bill. The offense would be punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to €250,000.
Should the [ boycott ] bill become law, its economic impact on Israel’s economy would be negligible.
Should the bill become law, its economic impact on Israel’s economy would be negligible, since Israel’s total annual exports are over €51 billion while the value of settlement-made products imported into Ireland is estimated at less than €1 million (one five-hundredth of a percent). Yet its passage would constitute a damaging reversal for Israel’s international standing, particularly in Europe, as Ireland would become the first EU member-state to advance from labeling products made in Israeli settlements – pursuant to the EU’s guidelines issued in 2015 – to the criminalization of trade in such products.
Furthermore, as noted in an editorial published in the Irish Times a week after the bill was first tabled by Independent Senator Frances Black, the measure constitutes a “propaganda victory” for its instigators and would serve as a “confirmation” of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.
Despite Black’s assertion that her bill is necessary to uphold human rights and international law, BDS, to be sure, is concerned neither with rights nor with the law. Its founders and spokespeople openly admit that their aim is to eradicate any autonomous Jewish presence in the Middle East. Its activists speak with unvarnished racism and have on occasion taken to placing pig’s heads in kosher sections of supermarkets to register their support for human rights and international law. French President Emmanuel Macron has called BDS “antisemitic” as have numerous senior diplomats and political leaders, including Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley.
GIVEN THE toxicity of the BDS brand, it is not difficult to see why the initiators of the bill have avoided affirming that they are acting in line with the aims and tactics of BDS, and at the behest of its activists in groups like the Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
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