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Israeli-Palestinian conflict divides Belfast Parliamentarians.

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Just like in the US, the Christian Right in the UK & Northern Ireland is Israel’s greatest ally. (Photo: sluggerotoole.com)

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In Northern Ireland, the faraway Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a surprisingly contentious issue. Irish nationalists, mainly Catholics, who want to leave the UK tend to support Palestinians, while the mostly Protestant Unionists who are loyal to the crown, sympathize with Israel.

Irish Republicans have for many decades flown Palestinian flags in their neighborhoods, and Unionists put up the Israeli flag in solidarity with the Zionist state.

With only 66 Jews in the North, when you see Israel flags, it’s more likely to be by Protestant Unionists rather than Jews.  

Just like in the US, the Christian Right in the UK & Northern Ireland is Israel’s greatest ally. 

The different Unionist parties – DUP (Democratic Unionist party), UUP (Ulster Unionist Party) & TUV (Traditionalist Ulster Voice) may have differing views on several local and international issues, but they all have a very pro-UK and also, pro-Israel stance. 

Member of Parliament Carla Lockhart Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)

“Israel stands as a beacon of democracy in the Middle East. As a friend of Israel, I value this commitment to the democratic process and the positive role it plays in that region.”

Belfast Councillor Dale Pankhurst (DUP)                  

“Many Unionists feel a connection with Israel. Israel has faced a hostile threat from an array of terrorist groups and states since it’s creation. Northern Ireland has faced the same. From the creation of Northern Ireland in 1921, we have faced numerous terrorist campaigns from Irish republican terror gangs who are also pro-Palestinian.

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Unionists also stand in solidarity with Israel because we know the suffering and hardship of living through a constant threat of terrorism. Such similarities and other factors have fostered a common bond between Northern Ireland and Israel that continues to this very day.”

Dr. Steve Aiken UUP Party Leader

“There are many faceted reasons why we support Israel. Today, many in my party have served in armed forces and spent far too much time in the Middle East; namely places like Iraq and Afghanistan. And dealing with issues there and other places in the region like Yemen and Somalia etc. We have to look around and see who are the allies we have in that region, who are supportive of the UK – Now, Israel is a shining example of that. 

“We see Israelis as a beleaguered people because many Unionists feel that we are equally misunderstood – we see the comparison as a badge honor!”

“We also sympathize with antisemitism which Jews face everywhere. When Jews came to Ireland 100 – 130 years ago fleeing pogroms in the Russian empire, many got actively involved in our society. Many Jews in the North were unionists and wanted the UK to do well. We know Israeli. President Chaim Herzog was from the north and had an Irish accent. Some of us have even attended events commemorating his life and legacy. 

“Israel has been a successful start-up nation in many fields which we admire science, technology, agriculture, education and so forth, We would like to see such success replicated at home in Northern Ireland.” 

Ballymena Councillor Matt Armstrong (TUV)

“Northern Ireland feels something of an affinity with Israel. This predates the creation of the Irish state in 1921. The birthright of Northern Ireland was the Ulster Covenant, a document signed by half a million Ulstermen and women on 28th September 1912. 

“The idea of covenant was of course drawn from the Hebrew Scriptures. Additionally, the colour of God’s covenant with the Jewish people which to this day features on the Israeli national flag, blue, was adopted by Ulster Presbyterians and is used right up until the present day in many churches.

“TUV has always been pro-Israel.”

Russell Watton,  Progressive Unionist Party (PUP – formerly Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)

“I was in the UVF – a militant group in the troubles long ago, back in the 1960s when we saw the most bloodshed. So, I guess we always felt camaraderie with the group that’s in a sea of hostile enemies surrounded on all sides by people who seek its destruction and constantly facing violence. UVF is pretty inactive now you could say. 

We Unionists strongly support the Crown. Also, we faced constant violence from the IRA. And you have Hamas, Hezbollah, PLO and other groups in the Middle East which want to destroy Israel – and the IRA sympathizes with those groups. So naturally, we sympathize with Israel.”

Author’s conclusion: The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a polarizing matter that has been carried over to the Emerald Isle and we see that the pro-Crown unionists seem to have a pro-Israel stance out of a sense of shared experience, values and a common sense of feeling unfairly persecuted. Steven Jaffe is co-chair of the organisation that aims to build bridges between Northern Ireland and Israel – Northern Ireland Friends of Israel. This group is very active and has members of all parties and denominations.

Nevertheless, in UK parliament, the right wing parties – DUP and the Conservatives continue to be pro-Israel, with a huge amount of support from the other unionists in North of Ireland. And the flying of Israeli and Palestinian flags by both groups reflects that there are alliances between rivals in the Middle East conflict across the seas. 

Avi Kumar is a historian of Sri Lankan descent who lives in New York.

He has a unique spin on current affairs.

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

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