Row over mayor's Israeli boycott letter

Published Monday, 28 July 2014
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A row has erupted after the Sinn Féin Mayor of Newry sent a letter to a number of local supermarkets asking them to boycott the sale of Israeli goods.

In the letter, Councillor Dáire Hughes wrote that "continuing to trade Israeli goods while unwarranted military action against Palestine is ongoing is arguably unethical".

His request was in reference to the ongoing conflict in Gaza, where over 1,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and nearly 50 Israelis have been killed.

Councillor Hughes went on to ask retailers for a list of all products from Israel or the occupied territories in order to provide customers with the ability to boycott Israeli products.

However unionist politicians are now calling for the mayor to resign over the move.

"The tone and wording of the letter is for want of a better word, actually sinister," UKIP Councillor Henry Reilly said.

"The fact that an elected mayor, the main leader in the area will send what is a very dictatorial letter to major employers asking them to disclose commercial facts.

"Now I don't think that's acceptable and I've been talking to people from all sections of the community who really do think that this has gone way over the top."

In a statement Councillor Hughes said: "My personal initiative as a Newry & Mourne Councillor, after being asked for this information by constituents was welcomed by most and in particular those many people who share the frustration and anger of the growing humanitarian disaster in Gaza.

"It is a reflection of the growing awareness of the people in Newry and Mourne who on a daily basis are reading of ever increasing civilian casualties including hundreds of children due to the ongoing Israeli military onslaught.

"We need to see an immediate and verifiable ceasefire in this conflict and an end to the blockade of Gaza by Israel. Pressure for this to happen is not just coming from Newry and Mourne but from around the globe."

On Saturday, a large demonstration took place outside the US consulate in Belfast against Israeli actions in the Gaza strip.

On Monday, Muslim and Jewish representatives will be among those attending an inter-denominational event organised by the Irish Friends of Palestine to remembers those who have died in Gaza.

© UTV News
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50 Comments
Ryan in An Dun wrote (45 days ago):
@jackie in Belfast, I totally agree with your comments. What I meant by mine and reading it again maybe I wasn't clear was that the Americans don't want to get into condemning their allies in the Middle East. If there's no oil in it for them, they will take a backseat. How long did the Americans wait before jumping to Kuwaits defence against Iraq? Israel was a Jewish state set up to get the Jews out of Europe. After defeating the Ottoman Empire in World War One, the British received Palestine, Jordan, and Iraq.The British announced in 1947 their intention to withdraw from Palestine in 1948. The United Nations General Assembly passed a plan to partition Palestine into two separate states—one Arab, and one Jewish. The Jews accepted, but the Arabs rejected the partition. The British officially left on May 14, 1948, without providing a resolution to the situation. These days Israel can take US support for granted far more than it could back in the time of Ariel Sharon's leadership. When Ariel Sharon wanted to send his military into Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank in 2002 he personally asked Bush to let him do so and give him enough time to finish the job. Now Israel don't need the political support or permission of the Americans (they just need their ammunition). It's a joke how there are no sanctions imposed in Israel. I for one will not be buying any products from Israel.
Neil in Belfast wrote (47 days ago):
Pressure has to be placed on both sides to stop the killing! Its not right that innocents get hurt in war, but Israel has the right to defend its people from daily attacks. What gives Hamas the right to say all Israelis should be slaughtered?? Should pressure not also be applied to the Arab states backing Palestine/Hamas?? To end their crusade to destroy Israel and live in peace ?
jackie in belfast wrote (47 days ago):
@Ryan in An Dun I think you will find that America is very much involved in this conflict, they supply Israel with most of it`s weapons to carry out their offensive, also massive amounts of financial aid and support ! There is only one country in the world that can stop Israel's offensive and that is the USA. Yep the same USA that bombed the life out of Iraq with their shock and awe operation for weeks before the land offensive began, the very same USA that has killed thousands of people in Afghanistan and further back Vietnam, but what the hell they love the Irish so lets forget about that and roll out the red carpet when their leaders come to grace us with their presence.
D in belfast wrote (47 days ago):
how anyone can say well done israel keep up the good work is absolutely abhorrent to me u presumably call urself a christian too surly u know this is wrong..? People we need to boycott israel and israeli goods for life please please dont be a silent collaborator start boycotting now show the world we reject israeli genocide! !
doirecormac in Derry wrote (47 days ago):
Always check the country of origin on produce. And, if they try to circumvent this by not putting the country of origin check the barcode. A barcode that starts with 729.......... means that it is from Israel.
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BRIAN ROWAN
The voice above the crowd didn't come from within that increasingly tense and angry political arena.
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