Mayor of Dublin infuriates Israel by devious use of Irish


Sinn Fein’s Mayor of Dublin, Micheal Mac Donncha, has caused a furore over his attendance at a conference in Palestine after Israel failed to prevent him from attending and which the Israeli prime minister then denounced as anti-semitic.

Mr Mac Donncha was invited by the Palestinian ambassador to Ireland to attend the conference, which focused on the status of Jerusalem in the wake of its recognition by the US administration as Israel’s capital.

There had been Israeli outrage that the Mayor travelled to Ramallah for the conference via Israel, from which he is supposedly banned for his support for an international economic campaign against the state over its human rights violations.

There have been two recent votes by Dublin City Council to expel the Israeli ambassador and to support a boycott of Israel amid ongoing atrocities against the Palestinian population.

The Israeli authorities banned most participants from abroad attending the Ramallah event, but Mr Mac Donncha managed to pass through Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv on Tuesday night because Israeli officials misspelled his name on the warrant issued to prevent his entry to the country.

Minutes after Haaretz news agency reported about the ban, Mr Mac Donncha tweeted that he was already in Ramallah.

Later, the Interior Ministry admitted Mr Mac Donncha was able to enter Israel due to the fact the order spelled his name wrong, so it didn’t match the spelling in his passport. A spokesman for Interior Ministry Arye Dery admitted, “We made a mistake at the border crossing.”

There is a long history of British state agencies encountering difficulties with Irish names, but this time it was Israel who got it wrong. Some reports suggested that Israeli officials had thought the Mayor’s title in Irish, Ardmheara (Mayor), was his first name, or that ‘Mac’ was his middle name.

An Israeli government statement said the reason for the failed ban was Mr Mac Donncha’s ties with the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

The embarrassment caused Israeli prime minister to get involved directly and accuse Mr Mac Donncha of anti-semitism.

“I have one message for the mayor,” Binyamin Netanyahu, wrote on Facebook. “You should be ashamed of yourself.” The Israeli PM claimed a banner at the conference depicted a Palestinian cleric who he accused of having links to Nazis in the 1930s.

Mr Mac Donncha said that he was a friend of the Jewish community and had hosted the Dublin Holocaust Memorial ceremony. He said he had accepted the invitation because Dublin City Council supports the people of Palestine and was critical of Israel.

Recent events in Gaza with the shooting of protesters by Israeli soldiers were reminiscent of Bloody Sunday in Derry, but on a larger scale, he said.

The move by the Israeli government to declare Jerusalem the capital of the State of Israel was a backward step in the peace process, he added.

“It’s very difficult to see hope of a peace deal,” Mr Mac Donncha added.

“The criticism from Mr Netanyahu falls into the pattern of labelling as anti-Semitic anyone who criticises Israeli policies and, more importantly, of trying to prevent critics of Israel from travelling to the country.”

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