Why is Senator Frances Black behaving like an anti-Israel troll?

All of us who pay Senator Black's wages through our taxes need to ask if this is really the role that a senator is expected to fulfil.

Look at the map below and imagine that you saw it being tweeted by a UK politician. If you’re Irish, you will almost certainly find it offensive. Posting such a map on social media would represent a declaration that that tweeter believes that the entire Island of Ireland should be ruled by the UK and that – in effect – there should be no independent Irish state. 

Offensive map
There is only one word to describe anyone who would post such an image: an anti-Irish troll – someone whose sole motivation is to post subject matter on social media designed to attract attention to themselves by posting anti-Irish material. Trolls are not interested in debate, they don’t want to hear the opposing point of view: their sole motivation is to be outrageous, thereby making it more likely that their tweets and posts will be in the spotlight and will get more likes, retweets, and shares. If you challenge them too effectively, they’re likely to block you.

Imagine then the reaction of ordinary Israelis when they see an Irish senator posting the tweet below, wiping Israel off the map and depicting it as being entirely ruled by a Palestinian state. The theme is precisely the same: a political representative from outside the jurisdiction taking it upon themselves to adjudicate as to whether or not that jurisdiction has the right to exist as a nation state. 

Frances Black tweet

Senator Black is the author of the Occupied Territories Bill, a bill that she has defended as being not just about Israel – even though all the evidence points towards its being carefully crafted to being only about Israel and no other territorial dispute. She insists that it’s about “occupations anywhere in the world” and her supporters assert that her motivation is not in any way anti-Israeli. However, this rests very uneasily with her wild and unsubstantiated claims about Israelis – including her nonsensical story that an Israeli chicken farm is depriving Palestinians of water.

If her motivation is not anti-Israeli, why would she post an image like the one above which implies that all of Israel in any form – with millions of descendants of refugees from the Holocaust and refugees from Arab and Islamic countries  – should cease to exist? Where are 6.8 million Israeli Jews supposed to go?

Only she can explain her position. However, she refuses to do that.  All attempts to interact with her and put forward a more nuanced, less anti-Israeli view results in one being either ignored or blocked. This is precisely the behaviour of an online troll and all of us – who pay her wages through our taxes – need to ask if this really the role that a senator is expected to fulfil. 

By Ciarán Ó Raghallaigh

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