Elliott Abrams

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Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

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Irish Teachers Teach Hatred of Israel

by Elliott Abrams
April 7, 2013


The Teachers Union of Ireland voted last week to commence a full boycott of Israel.

At its Annual Congress on Thursday 4th April 2013, the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) became the first academic union in Europe to endorse the Palestinian call for an academic boycott of Israel. The motion, which refers to Israel as an “apartheid state”, calls for “all members to cease all cultural and academic collaboration with Israel, including the exchange of scientists, students and academic personalities, as well as all cooperation in research programmes” was passed by a unanimous vote during today’s morning session.

Now, in the exchange of “scientists, students, and academic personalities” between Ireland and Israel it is perhaps not so difficult to guess who benefits. Israel is a world leader is science and high-tech, and any exchange must be entirely one-sided. So what the teachers have done is to cut themselves off from knowledge and advancement. Far worse, of course, they have deliberately tried to cut their students off.

The head of the Teachers Union, Jim Roche, added this comment:

Mr. Roche pointed to the desperate situation of Palestinian education under occupation saying that: “Palestinians are struggling for the right to education under extremely difficult conditions. They are eager for it, as shown by the large numbers of students in third level education inside and outside the occupied Palestinian territories. Education has always been a target of the Israeli occupation….”

A few facts. When Israel took over the West Bank in 1967 literacy was about 88 percent; now it is about 93 percent, according to the CIA Factbook. In Jordan, just across the river and with a large Palestinian population, it is almost exactly the same–which suggests that Israeli “targeting” of education isn’t working too well, or more likely that Mr. Roche is simply motivated by ignorance and hatred of Israel. It is also the case that according to UNICEF, the youth literacy rate in Jordan is 99 percent and in Gaza and the West Bank it is exactly the same, 99 percent. This is despite the fact that per capita income in Jordan is twice as high as it is in the West Bank and Gaza, suggesting again that Israeli “targeting” of education is a nonsensical accusation.

One could pile statistic upon statistic, but that would be a vain effort when it comes to minds like those of the members of  the Teachers Union of Ireland, who voted unanimously on the boycott; not one soul had the wit or independence of mind to object or to question. One can only pity the poor Irish student who might think for himself or for herself, might wish to spend a term in Israel at a place like the Technion, and might not share in the biases of the teachers. The message from teachers to students is pretty clearly “shut up.” And meanwhile, of course, no mention (much less boycott) by the Irish teachers of China, Saudi Arabia, Cuba or anyplace else where students are “struggling for the right to education under extremely difficult conditions” that include repressive governments, no academic freedom, political tests for admission to higher education–and in the Saudi case greatly restricted opportunities for girls. What a lesson to their students: ignorance, bias, bigotry, narrow-mindedness, and anti-Semitism wrapped in self-righteousness.

Post a Comment 24 Comments

  • Posted by EthanP

    Here in the US most teachers, their unions and support are far left. Check out whats been going on in Texas if you doubt it. Texas, conservative bastion. The far left is almost universally anti Israel. So why should Irish teachers be any different?

  • Posted by Fazary

    Mr Abrams : who are you exactly and where do you belong` Your concern with Israel and Israelis surpasses by far that of your supposedly native America. Does not this pose the question of dual loyalty on the table for discussion
    At least from the purely academic integrity and impartiality befitting a renowned and widely respected establishment you use as a forum !!!

  • Posted by Lily

    How many universities did the palestinians have in 1967, and how many do they have now?

    Jim Roche is a product of the fact that for decades, layer upon layer of lies have taken root, because they were not challenged. Some lies were deemed too fanciful to be believed; others were just ignored.

    Today, many of the lies are directed at severing the connection between Jews and the land of Israel. Unless confronted, every time, and whatever the source — today’s lies will become tomorrow’s facts.

  • Posted by Bonnie Prince Charlie

    Where will Israel’s academics turn to for inspiration if they are denied access to that hot-bed of technological innovation and development which is Ireland? Malta, perhaps?

    Ireland’s last contribution to the world of academia was – and remains – Guinness!!!!

  • Posted by Ishmael Whale

    Ireland’s anti-Semitic history is as long and deep as that of England. The Irish have been a foe of Israel since it’s founding. The IRA was strongly aligned with Arab radical groups going back to the 50s. There’s no surprise here. Having said all that, doesn’t mean that all Irish are anit-Semites or Israel haters but they do have a lot in common with the Lebanese, whose hatred of Jews is bred in the bone.

  • Posted by Lily

    Fazary, your rant is most unbecoming. Unless you were born yesterday, you will have observed that whatever is inflicted on Israel today will be inflicted on others (including you) tomorrow. It usually starts with Israel — but it never ends with Israel.
    If you still fail to see, just ask all those Iraqis and Syrians and Lebanese and Pakistanis and Yemenis and Libyans and Egyptians and Tunisians and Saudis etc, who celebrated each time fatah and hamas terrorists exploded themselves in Israel. Does even one day go by now without an islamist bomb or two elsewhere in the world?
    The Irish teachers’ action is unprincipled and bigoted, to put it mildly. Unprincipled and bigoted actions have a tendency to travel.

  • Posted by Nursecrd

    I thought teachers were suppose to be smart. I see that the Irish teachers are stupid. Instead of opening up the minds of their students, they force feed these students left wing trash and distortions of the truth. These teacher do everything to discourage thinking beyond the box they want their students to be in. We have the same nonsense here in the U.S., the same left wing brainlessness.

  • Posted by Kibbitzer

    The prime mover in this farce was; surprise, surprise, a left-wing Jew, David Landy from Dublin (wasn’t it ever thus?) Do not lump all Irish people together as ‘Jew-haters’ as there is a wonderful group of Irish people who call themselves ‘Irish 4 Israel’ and they are vociferous in their unqualified support for the Jewish State.

    There is also a pub in Dublin, “Foleys” that regularly flies the Degel which takes some guts! The Hard Left are Israel-haters everywhere just as are the Hard Right everywhere.

  • Posted by Gary Katz

    Many Irish favor the underdog, as they see themselves as underdogs. Unfortunately, they perceive the Palestinians as underdogs, when, in truth, Israelis are the underdogs of the Middle East. Israel controls one-thousandth the land of the Middle East, has no natural resources beyond the brains of its people, and yet has resisted the combined military might of Syria, Egypt, Jordan and other Arab armies arrayed at times against it. In 1948, Israel fought off 5 Arab armies! Somehow it has emerged as the most advanced country in the region, which exports life-saving technology in drip irrigation, medicine and computer tech to the world. The Palestinians are merely Arabs who happen to live in the disputed territories, or descendants of Arabs who once lived in Israel, maintaining a claim to land neither they nor their parents have ever seen. They are no more “refugees” than Hindus who left Pakistan in 1947 or Muslims who left India the same year. Yet the Irish don’t seem to identify with the latter two. Doesn’t seem logical.

  • Posted by Liam Cahill

    The Teachers’ Union of Ireland are a small, minority union. Their name is misleading. There are at least three other much bigger and more representative teacher unions. The TUI view should not be mis-represented as being that of all Irish teachers. Nor does their decision even mean that they are ‘teaching’ hatred of Israel. Your piece reeks of anti-Irish prejudice. I worked for Intel for six years. Our plant in Ireland consistently outperformed the Israeli plant at Kiryat Ghat and we constantly beat them to first to proliferating new manufacturing technologies. Furthermore, Ireland is the EMEA base for most leading high-tech companies.

  • Posted by PJ Hogan

    BPC says a lot about his attitude and disparaging view of Ireland as a nation. As a proud Zionist and equally proud Irish I can see that old bigotries still remain towards Ireland as well as Israel. Sometime the source of these unwelcome comments surprise me. There is dismay amongst ordinary people at the decision by Teachers Union of Ireland to announce an academic boycott of Israel. It doesn’t make any sense to the ordinary punter. FB page Irish4Israel.
    Ireland doesn’t hate the Jews or Israel. They just don’t know the Jews or Israel. We are doing our best to address this.
    These teachers are academic armchair rebels without a cause. The Northern Irish “troubles” are no longer a cause célèbre. So they’ve moved on to Israel/Palestine. Sad but true.

  • Posted by John R

    As others on here have said the far left in Ireland is for some reason anti Jewish. We should not be surprised by this as Europe has a long history of anti Semitism. One example in this country relates to the adoption of Jewish orphans after world war 2, the civil servant in charge of this was in later years exposed as an anti-Semite. It beggars belief that the one multicultural democratic state in the Middle East is labelled apartheid. Israel is not the issue in Gazza, Hamas is, a fundamental islamist regime who belong in the dark ages. The so called intellectual leftist elite have very strange bedfellows. Mr Roche certainly does not speak for me, as a member of the TUI I feel deeply ashamed and remain a supporter of Israel and its right to exist. By the way Mr Roche is not the head of the TUI.

  • Posted by David F

    I guess the Irish already forgot what it feels like for the IRA to indiscriminately blow up the Dubliners. Perhaps a string of “reminders” would make those Irish lads and lasses a bit more tolerant, a bit less hateful and bit less prejudice and a bit less THICK!!!!!!!

  • Posted by Andrew

    I’ve been reading Mr. Abrams’ blog for some time now. There are never many comments. My theory is that what Mr. Abrams says is so direct, so fact-based that there isn’t much room for comment. It’s the truth, presented clearly. So good job, Mr. Abrams! Keep up the good work.

  • Posted by MauiPete

    I would fire them all for bigotry, racism and refusing to see what the truth is – that Israel and Ireland were both underdogs. We are a passive aggressive nation; we’ll talk the talk and walk the walk as long it involves no pain on our end. This action typifies that.

  • Posted by SAS

    Does it ever occur to Israel’s diehard fans that if in country after country opposition and condemnation of Israeli apartheid and military occupation has become endemic, it may have something to do with people worldwide being disgusted at Israel’s awful treatment of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and Gaza ?

    Kudos to the Irish Teachers Union – the condemnation it has had to endure by the likes of the author of this piece prove why its decision was a courageous one.

  • Posted by Steven

    SAS, you are using flawed reasoning (appeal to authority of masses) that won’t work as the proIsrael community tend to be informed about history and less prone to false arguments. It as just been holocaust Remembrance Day. During and before the holocaust the world shit its borders to Jews desperate for life. It does occur to us that there is a reason for that, however the reason is due to who we are not what we do. The Palestinian Arabs have been blessed with having Israel as their for, most other nations would have lost patience a long time ago.

  • Posted by John

    As an Irishman but not a member of the TUI, I fully support their stand. Lets remember that Israel has intentionally disregarded international law for many years so well done to the teachers in Ireland for taking a principled stand against that State for its actions.

  • Posted by YB

    Bragging of Ireland
    This is a direct comparison of patent registrations Ireland v Israel.
    Ireland 30 37 38 74 31 50 51 65 68 75 74 75 78 76
    Israel 215 289 299 278 317 314 263 290 345 452 420 375 361 339
    Since 1996 Israel registers more than 4 times as many patents as ireland.
    That is when Israels GDP is 15% defense due to those lovely Arabs trying to kill us off. And when many many Israelis register in the States not as israelis, but as other nationalities

  • Posted by Peter

    Very interesting post, and certainly brought out the commentators. I concur with Andrew above. And what is it with teachers unions? Also, as usual one must ask, when will their consciences rise up against China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Malaysia, Egypt, et al – little issues like dictatorship, denial of religious freedom, gender apartheid, censorship, murderous homophobia, and much more. There used to be a saying that anti-Catholicism was was the anti-Semitism of intellectuals, but they have regressed and stuck with the old primitive bigotry as well.

  • Posted by Nyet Aryan

    Tough and direct criticism of Israeli policies towards the Palestinians is fine, and let’s assume it’s even accurate. Still, to claim that Israel is an “apartheid” state is ludicrous. It is also a huge insult to the Africans who endured genuine apartheid. As for these supporters of the TUI action, I am curious if they would accept any version of a Jewish state. Do they even accept the 1967 borders? Or any Jewish state whatever on what is currently Israel?

    In any case, it is sad to see what purports to be intelligent and humane people siding with the apologists for suicide bombing and terror and begrudge a nation state from taking the steps it needs to secure its borders.

    And where were these great defenders of the poor oppressed Palestinians whilst Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon had them herded into camps and never took a single step to establish a Palestinian state. What hypocrites.

  • Posted by Conormel

    The following comment was posted by ‘Dermot’ on Harry’s Place in response to this issue, and is worth reading in full:

    “A few facts would not go amiss in establishing some kind of
    context here for this Irish teacher union boycott-Israel resolution. First, the Teachers’ Union of Ireland, with 15,000 members, ranks third in importance among teacher trade unions in the Republic of Ireland, after the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) with 32,000 and the Association of Secondary Teachers (ASTI) with 18,000. So TUI represents 23% of the country’s teachers.

    Second, having been a member of both TUI and ASTI, I can report that the mass of the membership contains about the same spectrum of attitudes to Israel and the Middle East as the Irish population as a whole, i.e. a tiny fringe of active defenders of Israel, a slightly less tiny fringe of ‘pro-Palestinian’ activists who are more concerned with vilifying Israel than with the welfare of Palestinian Arabs, and a vast uninformed centre ground with no particular animus against Israel but a vague sympathy for Palestinians as the perceived underdog in the conflict.

    Third, the vast majority of teachers normally take little interest in union affairs; when they do, as in the present climate of alarm about the public service austerity programme, it is in connection with urgent matters of pay and conditions. They have
    even less interest in having their trade union take up positions on controversial issues of international politics. This applies almost to the same extent to the delegates elected to represent the members at the annual conference. However, when a dedicated group with a political agenda seeks to hijack the conference, such apathy does not translate into active opposition, particularly on a ‘right-on’ issue like the Palestinians.

    Fourth, the anti-Israel motion passed by the TUI is the result of classical Trotskyite ‘entryist’ tactics by a tiny group of far left college lecturers who seek to use the union as a vehicle for their private political obsessions. This motion is the pet
    project of Jim Roche, a lecturer in architecture who is a veritable one-man band of far left causes, being a member of Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, a veteran of Irish Ship to Gaza and the public face of the minuscule Irish Anti-War Movement (America’s and Israel’s wars, that is).

    Fifth, we are told the motion was passed ‘unanimously’. The conference began on Tuesday 2 April and ended on Thursday 4 April. Its major public business, heavily reported by the national media, was finished by Wednesday evening. The anti-Israel motion was passed on Thursday morning, the conference’s third and final morning. Anyone with experience of such events knows that heroic quantities of liquid refreshment are consumed in the evenings, and the final morning, when delegates are still in bed nursing away the excesses of previous nights, is the ideal time to slip through a motion of
    the ‘boycott Israel’ type, getting it passed ‘unanimously’ by the couple of dozen of the hard core who have dragged themselves out of bed.”

  • Posted by GSR

    Israel is in the wrong and it is obvious to anyone who is not a zionist nutter. Even tutu said apartheid in Israel is worst than South Africa, he should know.

    Worse, is how pro-Israel Judeo-Christian psychopaths always crawl behind the the anti-semite banner, rather than taking responsibility for their actions. Pathetic!

  • Posted by John Ireland

    It is a shame that the TUI found it necessary to support a boycott of the only democracy in the Middle East. It pains me to think that the TUI considers Israel to be on a par with South Africa under apartheid. Surely open dialogue and contact through culture can only help bring different groups together. The TUI is imposing their own version of apartheid on Israel.

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