Boyd Barrett was speaking in Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the parliament of the Republic of Ireland, yesterday during questions to Taoiseach (prime minister) Enda Kenny about his visit to Paris earlier this year. Kenny had taken part in a staged photo opportunity with other heads of state and government following the killings at Charlie Hebdo.
“The world was of course utterly appalled by the killing of 12 innocent people, 10 of whom were journalists, at Charlie Hebdo earlier this year,” Boyd Barrett, a deputy for the People Before Profit Alliance, begins. “I have to ask the Taoiseach about the attendance of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the demonstration he joined in the aftermath of those killings.”
After he finishes reading out the statements, Boyd Barrett asks: “These are the official statements of several ministers of the current government of Israel. In one case, the genocide of all Palestinians, including children, has actually been advocated and they have been referred to as ‘snakes.’ Does the Taoiseach agree that if we are defining terrorism, that is the language and thinking of terrorists?”
In a rather muted response to the statements, Kenny says: “On the one hand, I suppose one might say they are all on-message. I find that message regrettable and most unhelpful. I do not agree with those statements. When I met Prime Minister Netanyahu briefly in Paris, I said to him that when I had an opportunity to go to Gaza a number of years ago … I found the situation completely intolerable. I told him that I am a strong supporter of the two-state solution and that peace is always possible.”
Treat Israel like South Africa
Later in the debate, Boyd Barrett slams the “double standards” which lead to Israeli leaders being treated “as if they were a normal government.” This is, Boyd Barrett adds, despite the fact that “Benjamin Netanyahu and his government are guilty of premeditated killing of Palestinians on the same scale and with the same vile ideology running behind it as we see from Islamic State.”
“At what point do we say [Israel] has gone over the line and that it cannot be treated like a normal state?” Boyd Barrett asks. “At a certain point the world said it would no longer deal with South Africa because apartheid was not acceptable anymore.”
The prime minister responds with boilerplate that the EU should do more to get “peace” back on track.
The transcript of Boyd Barrett’s full intervention and Kenny’s responses can be read in the official report of the debate.
The statements he read and many more are contained in a briefing document published by the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) last month: “Israel 2015: A government of extremists in charge of an out-of control military,” which calls for an immediate arms embargo and other sanctions.
In an emailed reaction today, IPSC “welcomed [Kenny’s] statement that shocking anti-Palestinian statements by members of the new Israeli cabinet are ‘not part of a philosophy of a democratic government working to bring about peace.’”
But the group said it “remains disappointed; despite this recognition of the true character of the Netanyahu administration, the Irish government continues to refuse to implement any meaningful sanctions on Israel thereby allowing it to continue acting with impunity towards Palestinians.”
Here are the statements Boyd Barrett read out, with sources. Where Boyd Barrett abridged the quotation, I have sometimes included more of the original. The words Boyd Barrett read out are in bold.
Israel is “going to hurt Lebanese civilians to include kids of the family. We went through a very long deep discussion…we did it then, we did it in [the] Gaza Strip, we are going to do it in any round of hostilities in the future.”
– Defense minister Moshe Yaalon (“Israeli defense minister promises to kill more civilians and threatens to nuke Iran,” The Electronic Intifada, 6 May 2015)
“Both in Gaza and in Lebanon, the enemy operates from within civilian populations. They turn entire villages into rocket launching sites. Their guest rooms are made into explosives warehouses. Don’t tell me it’s a kindergarten when I know it’s a rocket warehouse. Don’t tell me it’s a mosque when I know it’s a rocket warehouse. … I don’t know of one synagogue in Israel where terrorists meet, or rockets, missiles and munitions are stored. They don’t have swimming pools – they have missile pools.”
“Try to think back to when the rules of war were meant to impose limitations on the bad guys. Nowadays, those who break these laws don’t care. Those who are preoccupied with these laws are the ones who care. We will continue to follow them.”
“But the next round of violence will be worse and see this suffering increase, because while Israel has to constantly face moral dilemmas, it also has so defend itself.”
– Benny Gantz, chief of staff during last summer’s attack on Gaza (“Next round of violence will be harder on Gaza, ex-IDF chief says,” Israel Hayom, 5 May 2015)
“There are certain things that most of us understand will never happen: The Sopranos are not coming back for another season … and there will never be a peace plan with the Palestinians. I will do everything in my power to make sure they never get a state.”
“If you catch terrorists, you have to simply kill them … I’ve killed lots of Arabs in my life and there’s no problem with that.”
– Naftali Bennett (“Bennett under fire for comments about killing Arabs,” The Jerusalem Post, 30 July 2013)
They [Palestinians] are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.
– Justice minister Ayelet Shaked (“Israeli lawmaker’s call for genocide of Palestinians gets thousands of Facebook likes,” The Electronic Intifada, 7 July 2014)
“My position is that between the sea and the Jordan River, there needs to be one state only – the State of Israel, which has an Arab minority. There is no place for an agreement of any kind that discusses the concession of Israeli sovereignty over lands conquered in accordance with law and custom in the war of 1967”
– Deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely (“Deputy Foreign Minister Hotovely tells world: Don’t be afraid of me,” Ynet, 16 May 2015).
“[Palestinians] are beasts, they are not human.”
– Deputy defense minister Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan (“Next head of ‘Civil Administration’ said Palestinians are sub-human,” +972 Magazine, 8 May 2015)