News Round-up from Ireland Israel, Ambassador’s Message, 21 November 2014

“I condemn the horrific attack on the Har Nof synagogue in Jerusalem and express deepest sympathies to the Israeli victims” said the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Charlie Flanagan, in response to the attack earlier this week.  He added, “I call on all sides to avoid provocations in response to these brutal murders and to act with responsibility and restraint.”

Murder in a synagogue is both shocking and saddening.  Our hearts go out to the victims and their families.  Indeed, as headline succeeds headline about violent incidents that have left dead and injured in their wake, we must think always of all of the victims of violence and their relatives whose lives are forever blighted by loss and grief.  They are wounded just as society is by violence and this indeed must act as a spur to renew efforts to achieve peace and set out earnestly on the long road to reconciliation and the two state solution.  As Minister Flanagan said, “violence in East Jerusalem and the West Bank shows that political failure will leave a vacuum which militant voices will fill.”

How to make political progress on the MEPP was considered at a meeting of the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council on Monday.  The EU Foreign Ministers called “on political leaders from all sides to work together through visible actions to de-escalate the situation” and they affirmed the EU has a “strategic interest to see an end to the conflict and is willing to play a major role and actively contribute to a negotiated solution of all final status issues.” Their conclusions cover all the key issues, from settlements to the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza, and it is well worth a read here

In Northern Ireland, the talks to resolve the impasse on such issues as parades, dealing with the past and the budget are continuing, with the pace of talks picking up.  A good BBC News snapshot is here

Ireland continues to improve its debt situation with early repayment of IMF loans. According to the Irish Times: “Ireland plans to repay approximately €18.3 billion of IMF loans ahead of schedule. It is believed the Government is likely to follow the first repayment with a bond issue in January with a view to repaying a further €9 billion-€10 billion of the IMF debt early next year.”  Full report here

The publication of documents in Irish foreign policy is always a major event for academics and foreign policy aficionados.  Volume X covering 1948-51 was published this week and was launched at Iveagh House.  According to the publisher, the Royal Irish Academy ( ):  “It covers Ireland’s role as a founder member of the Council of Europe in 1949 and the state’s response to the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1950 – the origins of today’s EU. It details Ireland’s refusal to join NATO. The Korean War (1950-53) forms a large component of the volume which sees Ireland’s foreign relations take a wider perspective and its network of overseas missions grow.”

“A century after the start of World War I and 70 years since D Day, over 2,000 Jewish former servicemen marched through London on Sunday, as they have done almost without fail for more than eight decades.” So starts a Times of Israel report that is worth a read because the contribution of Jews as fighters in both world wars is sometimes forgotten or occluded by the Shoah

Speaking of great cities, there is a wonderful New York Times video and related article on 36 hours in Dublin.  If you haven’t been there in a while, or ever, it might well encourage you to book a flight soon

Did you know that a rebel from Cork was the first to use the term United States of America, at least according to the earliest record in a letter from 1776?

Finally, I tweeted Yeats’ famous lines: “Too long a sacrifice/ Can make a stone of the heart./ O when may it suffice?” In his iconography, the stone reoccurs, sometimes untroubled in the living stream or here as an emblem of the petrifying effects of conflict and violence on human sentiment.  It is both a warning and an apt plea for our times.


Eamonn McKee


Tel Aviv


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