Columnist gets it wrong on Mideast

I READ with growing dismay Steven King’s analysis of the Arab Spring (Opinion, June 22).

Although much of it was just plainly wrong, two assumptions deserve particular attention. In his remarks on the blockade of Gaza, Dr King asserts that Ireland should have a special understanding of Israel’s policies because it, too, suffered from armed groups attempting to smuggle in weapons.

This is a false analogy, for at no time did the UK prevent Ireland from accessing its coastal waters or prevent its citizens from leaving and returning to its shores. Dr King finishes his piece by slurring the activists of the MV Saoirse with cowardice and anti-Semitism. Surely, in light of Israel’s attack on last year’s Freedom Flotilla the accusation of cowardice can scarcely hold water. As for anti-Semitism, it may interest readers to note that last September a Jewish boat to Gaza was intercepted by the Israeli navy and that this year another Jewish boat will also attempt to break the blockade. So, Dr King, this is not about anti-Semitism, but about challenging an illegal blockade and standing in solidarity with those whose basic human rights to travel freely and live a life of dignity are daily denied. Frankly, if this is the sort of analysis Dr King provides to the Ulster Unionist Party, no wonder it is in terminal decline.

Richard Irvine

Carrickfergus

Co Antrim

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