The First Minister of Northern Ireland, Arlene Foster, has spoken out against the recent motion by Derry City and Strabane District Councillors after they supported a campaign to boycott Israeli goods.
She said, “I was alarmed to see the motion in relation to Israel that was put forward in that council as well, particularly at a time when Jews in Belfast — we are told by the rabbi — are feeling very intimidated and feeling under attack. And I think the council should reflect on that.
“We have heard a lot from other parties in this Assembly about equality and non-discrimination and about making sure everybody feels at home in Northern Ireland. Well what about the Jewish people? Have they not got a right to feel at home in Northern Ireland as well?
“And I said to them, they are very welcome and they are a very key part of the community here in Northern Ireland.”
The First Minister was responding to a question from DUP party colleague, Foyle MLA Gary Middleton who was seeking assurance her department would ensure that Londonderry and Strabane “are well represented even if the council is focused on other areas”.
Mr Middleton had previously expressed his views on the council’s decision by saying that if they were “serious about the boycott” then they should give up their council proscribed iPads.
“It is quite clear that there should have been more information sought before the motion was brought,” Mr Middleton said.
“I think we all realise the huge role that the research and development sector within Israel plays.
“The iPhone I’m using, the iPads the council use, they all use components that come out of Israel.
“The motion has raised the serious issue of discrimination”. He also said that the “divisive” boycott motions are making the local government authority an ever colder place for Unionists.
The motion was brought about by Sinn Fein Councillor Christopher Jackson who welcomed the decision by the council.
SDLP Councillor Martin Reilly said that freedom, justice and equality were the values that underpin the BDS Campaign, which is a completely misguided perspective of the divisive, discriminatory and hate filled BDS movement.