The Israeli Embassy in Ireland sparked local and international protests on Monday when it posted on its Facebook page what was deemed a derogatory comment against Palestinians, invoking Christian biblical figures.
The post included a picture of Jesus and Mary accompanied by a message saying, “A thought for Christmas ... If Jesus and Mother Mary were alive today, they would, as Jews without security, probably end up being lynched in Bethlehem by hostile Palestinians. Just a thought ...”
The embassy removed the provocative message a few hours after it was posted and issued an apology, saying, "To whom it may concern, an image of Jesus and Mary with a derogatory comment about Palestinians was posted without the consent of the administrator of the Facebook page. We removed the post in question immediately. Apologies to anyone who may have been offended. Merry Christmas!”
Before its removal, the post drew heavy criticism from local and international Facebook users. According to The Irish Times, one user left a comment on the embassy's page saying, “Have you no regard for honesty whatsoever? If Jesus and Mary were alive today, they would be protesting against the Israeli occupation of Palestine, along with all the Palestinian Christians currently living in Bethlehem.”
Others posted similar comments criticizing the embassy and demanding the picture's removal.
A spokeswoman for the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign called the post “outrageous and extremely cynical, but not surprising," according to The Irish Times. "The fact that it was published on a site representing the Israeli state is particularly appalling. It is indicative of the racism that underpins the whole Zionist project.”
Ireland is considered one of the most pro-Palestinian countries in Europe.
Richard Boyd Barrett, chair of the Irish Anti-War Movement, was quoted by The Irish Times as saying that the post was further evidence that, “we should not treat Israel as a normal state. It is dysfunctional.”
The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem issued a statement saying, "We contacted the embassy staff in Ireland following the post, and they immediately apologized and removed it. This was, of course, the right thing to do, and as far as we're concerned, the incident is over. We will certainly conduct an internal investigation to determine how a post such as this was uploaded."