The number one priority of Irish aviation policy should be the well-being of Irish people and the Irish economy.
On November 7th last, the Israeli national carrier, El-Al announced that from March 2023, it would start operating direct flights between Dublin and Tel Aviv. There will be 3 flights per week and they will connect Israel’s and Ireland’s high-tech sectors as well as making it easier for Irish Christians to go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
El-Al’s CEO Dina Ben Tal Ganancia also added that there is a large Israeli community living in Dublin, mainly high-tech workers who work in international tech companies that are based in Dublin to serve Europe and the Middle East. The flights will make it easier for them to return home more often.
A win-win situation for everyone
What’s not to like? This is a win-win for Irish people and Israelis, causes no problems for anyone and the Irish embassy in Israel posted a short tweet welcoming the announcement. But, as with any news about Israel, common sense often takes a back seat and not everyone is happy with the news.
Amongst those complaining about the announcement was Dr Jilan Wahba, the Palestinian Ambassador in Dublin. Leaving aside the first sentence which is hard to interpret, Dr Wahba accused the Irish embassy in Israel of “[r]ewarding the Apartheid Colonial State over (sic) its violations to (sic) the freedom of movement of the Palestinians”. This accusation was followed by a series of exclamation marks.
Pointless gestures before prosperity?
Dr Wahba seems to expect that we Irish should sacrifice our economic prosperity and closer ties with an important trading partner just to make a pointless anti-Israel gesture by not having direct flights to the country. This is at a time when more and more Arab countries are opening their airspaces up to direct flights from Israel.
The Irish political class is very supportive of Palestinians and indeed, Ireland contributes 30 to 40 times more per capita to the UNRWA than Arab countries. Perhaps this generosity along with the very obvious pro-Palestinian bias amongst Irish politicians and media might have been a factor in Dr Wahba’s overstepping the mark but overstep the mark she most certainly did.
Zero-sum and zero-sense mindset
Direct flights between Ireland and Israel don’t harm Palestinians. However, for decades now, Palestinian political leaders have been stuck in a mindset that what’s good for Israel is bad for Palestinians. This writer would respectfully suggest that this is one of the reasons why the Palestinians are in the predicament they’re in today, with their leaders rejecting peace offers, not engaging constructively in negotiations and being deserted by more and more of their former Arab allies.
Of course, only the Palestinians themselves can change this situation and if they don’t wish to, that’s a matter for them. The number one priority of Irish aviation policy should be the well-being of Irish people and the Irish economy. To suggest that (because Palestine) Ireland should adopt a zero-sum game mindset which benefits no-one is not only presumptuous; it’s also preposterous.
By Ciarán Ó Raghallaigh