Flanagan regrets student protest prevented Israeli ambassador talk at Trinity

Israel’s Foreign Ministry ‘horrified.’

Student group seeking boycott of Israeli Institutions by college ‘until rights of Palestinians are respected.’

Sligo News File Online. 

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan is unhappy that the Israeli Ambassador was prevented from addressing a meeting at Trinity College.

Charlie Flanagan, TD, Foreign Affairs

Party colleague John Paul Phelan asked him for his views on the action.

Stating that he did not know the precise details, Flanagan said he regretted that an ambassador accredited to Ireland was unable to speak at the event.

He said:

“I would hope that we can all respect the principle of free speech, including allowing a hearing to those we might disagree with.

“This goes in particular for Ambassadors in the performance of their representative duties.

“If we expect Irish Ambassadors to represent our interests and our values abroad, then we must extend the same courtesy and respect to other representatives here.”

Flanagan doesn’t seem to have referenced the Israeli Government’s

Ze’ev Boker, Israeli ambassador

appalling treatment of neighbouring Palestinian children, women and men. According to British historian Professor Perry Anderson, it is estimated that half of the population in the Palestinian territories are refugees and that they have collectively suffered approximately $300 billion in property losses due to Israeli confiscations, at 2008-9 prices.

Responding further to Phelan, Flanagan said it was possible “to make a protest, if that is desired, without obstructing or disrupting a legitimate meeting held by others.”

He appreciated fully “that the Middle East Peace Process is an issue of great interest to people in Ireland and one which ignites animated discussion.”

The “unfortunate” outcome of events such as this, he said, is “that Ireland’s reputation has suffered, those in Israel most sympathetic to our arguments have been dismayed, and those who are most resistant to our views have been strengthened.”

Students for Justice in Palestine objected to the planned appearance of the ambassador, arguing that the Israeli Embassy had set “the terms, security and topic” for the event. 

The group is also seeking a full boycott of Israeli institutions by Trinity “until the rights of Palestinian communities are respected, and Israel complies with international law.”

Israel’s Foreign Ministry said it was “horrified” by the cancellation of the talk by the ambassador.

Trinity Provost Patrick Prendergast is said to have told the Israeli news website Ynet that the incident was “most unfortunate” and represented the antithesis of what Trinity stands for. He looked forward to welcoming the ambassador to campus again, under better circumstances.