Ireland’s Boycott-Israel Bill Hurts Israelis, Irish, and Palestinians

January 31, 2019 | Clifford May
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Last week, the lower house of the Irish parliament passed a bill making it a crime to do business with Israelis living in the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights. Clifford May comments:

You should know—as perhaps some Irish parliamentarians do not—that the Golan Heights came under Israeli control after Syrian attacks in the Six-Day War of 1967. No one who identifies as a Palestinian lived there then or lives there now. The implication that Israel should hand over the Golan—and the Druze population [that has lived there for centuries]—to Syria’s mass-murdering dictator Bashar al-Assad is ludicrous. . . .

Irish parliamentarians might want to play out the hand they are attempting to deal. Israel withdraws from the West Bank. Hamas takes over from Fatah. Missiles are launched at nearby Tel Aviv. Israelis defend themselves. Bloody battles take lives on both sides. Over time, the West Bank resembles Gaza—or Syria. Is this really the result Ireland wants to facilitate?

There is a chance that the legislation passed by the Irish parliament will fail to become law—though if so, probably not because the arguments I’ve made above have resonated. Ireland has attracted some of America’s largest companies, including Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Facebook. They pay lots of taxes and provide lots of jobs. Obeying the Irish law would likely mean violating existing U.S. federal law that prohibits American firms from participating in foreign boycotts not endorsed by Washington. More than two-dozen state laws also penalize firms that engage in such boycotts.

The United States in 2017 accounted for two-thirds of all foreign direct investment in Ireland. So, in the end, this law could have a greater impact on Ireland’s economy than on anything happening in the Middle East.

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