‘I Have Never Been an Antisemite,’ Dublin Mayor Insists as Irish Jews Condemn Attendance at Ramallah Conference Glorifying Nazi Collaborator
The Lord Mayor of Dublin has adamantly denied that he is antisemitic, despite being pictured this week at a conference in Ramallah that featured the image of the Arab world’s leading collaborator with the Nazi regime, Hajj Amin al-Husseini.
Mícheál Mac Donncha — who represents the Sinn Féin party, the former political wing of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) — told reporters after arriving back in the Irish capital on Friday that he was essentially unaware of al-Husseini, the grand mufti of Jerusalem who spearheaded anti-Jewish violence in British Mandatory Palestine during the 1920s and 1930s. Wanted by British authorities, al-Husseini escape from Palestine in 1937 and later visited Adolf Hitler in Berlin, assisting Nazi propaganda efforts in the Arab world and recruiting Muslims from Bosnia and Albania to serve in the Nazi SS.
“I didn’t know the image at the conference was of Hajj Amin al-Husseini. It was only brought to my attention afterwards,” Mac Donncha — a supporter of the BDS campaign against Israel — told The Irish Times. “I totally reject the accusation that I am or have ever been antisemitic.”
On the eve of #HolocaustRemembranceDay the Lord Mayor of #Dublin takes part in a #Ramallah conference, glorifying the #GrandMufti that met #Hitler.
Did Mícheál MacDonncha intentionally chose this timing? Either way, he is participating in a conference glorifying a war criminal. pic.twitter.com/vRtGgqZuGA
— COGAT (@cogat_israel) April 11, 2018
That claim is likely to be viewed with skepticism by Ireland’s Jewish community, which denounced Mac Donncha earlier this week.
Noting that Mac Donncha’s participation in the Ramallah conference had taken place on the eve of Yom HaShoah, Israel’s Holocaust remembrance day, Maurice Cohen — chair of the Jewish Representative Council of Ireland — remarked in a statement that it was “most distressing to the Irish Jewish Community to see Dublin’s Lord Mayor attending a conference that glorifies Nazi collaborator Haj Amin al-Husseini.”
“Al-Husseini, whose image dominates the backdrop behind the conference top table at which the Lord Mayor sat, was one of the most egregious antisemites of the twentieth century,” the statement continued.
“The unfortunate timing of the Lord Mayor’s attendance at this event can only be explained by either ignorance or antisemitism,” Cohen concluded. “If the Lord Mayor’s presence at the conference was not out of ignorance, then we can only conclude that we are witnessing our Lord Mayor displaying blatant antisemitism.”
Irish Ambassador to Israel Alison Kelly met with Israeli Foreign Ministry representatives on Friday morning to formally hear Israel’s objections regarding Mac Donncha’s visit. Kelly made clear the Irish government’s “firm opposition to a policy of BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) in relation to Israel.”
Despite his presence on a blacklist for entry to Israel, a clerical error led to Mac Donncha being admitting into the country at Ben-Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv, from where he traveled to the West Bank.