President’s remarks on anti-Semitism

President Higgins dismisses the real and lived experiences of many Jews in Ireland

Letters to the Editor. Illustration: Paul Scott

A chara, – President Michael D Higgins’s denouncement of the Israeli ambassador’s statements on anti-Semitism in Ireland raises several concerns that need to be addressed (News, May 26th). President Higgins appears to misinterpret the Israeli ambassador’s primary message, which highlights the growing concern over anti-Semitism in Ireland. The ambassador’s intention is not to install fear but to bring attention to an issue that is supported by data. The claim that the ambassador suggested “all people of Jewish belief are now at risk” is a significant distortion. Instead, the ambassador was drawing attention to a worrying pattern of anti-Semitic behaviour and rhetoric in Ireland, which is corroborated by reports, such as the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) report for 2022, which indicates that a significant proportion of Jews in Ireland have experienced harassment due to their Jewish identity. Some 38 per cent of Jews in Ireland reported feeling harassed in the past five years, demonstrating the palpable sense of threat within the community.

Similarly, the Community Security Trust (CST) Report recorded a 40 per cent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in Ireland in 2022 compared to 2021. This uptick in anti-Semitic acts includes verbal abuse, vandalism, and online hate speech, reflecting a tangible escalation in hostility towards Jews in Ireland. A 2021 survey by the Anti-Defamation League found that one in four Irish adults holds anti-Semitic views, a figure notably higher than the European average. This highlights a broader societal issue that cannot be dismissed as isolated occurrences.

President Higgins’s statement that “there is no evidence” of increased anti-Semitism runs contrary to these documented findings, which underscore the ambassador’s legitimate concerns. By characterising the ambassador’s remarks as a mere “PR exercise”, President Higgins dismisses the real and lived experiences of many Jews in Ireland. Anti-Semitism is not only about physical attacks; it also includes verbal harassment, discrimination, and the proliferation of hate speech, all of which contribute to a climate of fear and exclusion for the Jewish community. – Yours, etc,

GAVIN REDDIN,

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Swords,

Co Dublin.