NEWS — 06 August 2014
Smyths is one of leading Irish/UK toy stores

Smyths is one of leading Irish/UK toy stores

 

Shelley Marsden

IRISH TOY RETAIL giant Smyths Toys Superstores has denied reports that they took Israeli products off their shelves.

It was widely reported that the toystore, a leading provider of children’s toys with thirty stores in Ireland and forty across the UK, had removed all Israeli products from its Jervis Street Store in Dublin.

The story was based on a photograph of a sign that seemed to appear in the window of the Jervis Street store. In it, the name of the toy brand was misspelt as ‘Smythys’ and the sign claimed that the shop had “removed Amav products and other products made in Israel from our shelves.”

Smyths Toys said they “do not engage in national or international political affairs”, confirming that one store of its thirty in Ireland had taken products from “one country” off its shelves, but that this decision had now been reversed.

Meanwhile, businessmen and consumers in the Galway fishing village of Kinvara have joined together to boycott produce or companies who utilise Israeli products or labour.

Kinvara village

Kinvara village

The idea came out of conversations among local residents about what they could do to help the people of Gaza and, according to the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign it is the first example they are aware of, of a whole village taking such united action.

One such resident, John Griffin told local paper the Clare Champion that, like most people, he was sickened by the carnage on his screens and felt helpless to do anything. He said: “The fact that we’ve had such a positive response sends out a strong message of solidarity.”

Meanwhile former MP Lord Kilclooney has argued that the ‘issue of recognition’is imperative in finding a peaceful solution to the current Middle East crisis.

Lord  Kilclooney

Lord Kilclooney

Lord Kilclooney, former deputy leader of the Ulster Unionist Party who now sits on the House of Lords called the Gaza conflict “one of the worst tragedies playing out in the world today”, adding: “It is the slaughter of the innocents in Gaza. It is dreadful what Israel is doing.”

Speaking to BBC Radio Ulster, he also urged Palestinian militant group Hamas to recognise Israel’s legitimate right to exist, arguing that this part of the world had two major problems.

“One is that Hamas refuses to recognise the right of Israel to exist” he said.  “The other is, and I’ve seen it with my own eyes, that Israel is planning Jewish settlements illegally in land that it is seizing from Palestinian families. Hamas are gaining support because of the actions of Israel, sadly. That is the problem.”

Using the example of Northern Ireland, Lord Kilclooney said the issue of recognition is often key, the Republic of Ireland for decades refusing to recognise Northern Ireland’s right to exist, meaning there was no cooperation.

“Then with the Belfast Agreement, it meant that Dublin had to recognise this state of Northern Ireland. The reality is now we have great co-operation between Belfast and Dublin.

“The same would happen in the Middle East. If Hamas would agree with the Palestinians who live in the West Bank that they recognise the right of Israel to exist, we could begin to get a settlement moving in that part of the world,” he said.

He added that he believed Israel had every right to exist, and that it’s security should be guaranteed, but at the same time that Hamas would “score diplomatically” if they would agree that Israel had that right.”That would begin the negotiations that would lead to a lasting peace.”

Canon Patrick Comerford denounced the actions of Israel in a strongly-worded sermon Dublin’s Christ Church Cathedral on Sunday.

He said that whoever argued against criticising Israel “has never read the Old Testament prophets and their condemnations of Israel and its political leaders”, and that such “Old Testament prophets can hardly be labelled dismissively as anti-Israeli or anti-Semitic”.

As for himself, he said he was “shameless in my accusations of war crimes” against Israel “and when I describe Gaza as a wasteland and a wilderness. The crowds cannot flee in fear from the tyrant, for they are hemmed in and under siege, barraged by flares at night and bombarded by missiles by day, irrespective of whether they support Hamas or not, children or adults, fighters or civilians.

“Like the crowd in our Gospel reading, they are being told to go away. But there is nowhere for them to go, not even the sea.”

So far 1,800 Palestinians and 67 Israelis have died in the violence. Palestinian health officials have said the majority of those killed in Gaza have been civilians, while on the Israeli side 64 soldiers and three civilians have lost their lives.

Over 9,000 have been injured since the conflict began some four weeks ago.

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