A social media poll of CUFI supporters shows that most believe the DUP’s partnership with the minority Conservative government will be good for Britain’s stance with Israel.
But how pro-Israel are the DUP?
There was no mention of Israel in its 2017 manifesto, however a report in 2014 explains that the party is “staunchly” pro-Israel.
In October 2014, parliamentarians in Northern Ireland voted overwhelmingly in favour of the motion to recognise “Palestine” alongside Israel, 12 voted against the motion, and of this dozen, five were from the late Ian Paisley’s DUP.
Also, the founding of the DUP Friends of Israel group at Stormont in 2014 was one of the veteran unionist’s last political acts before his death in the September of the same year. In terms of his long-standing support for the Jewish state, however, it was merely the latest.
The article says DUP pressed police authorities on the legality of anti-Israel protests, while two years earlier, it launched fierce criticism at the Co-operative Group for banning Israeli products from the so-called West Bank.
Steven Jaffe, co-chair of the Northern Ireland Friends of Israel, told Jewish News that it stems in part from faith. “Many DUP MPs come from a Bible-believing Protestant background,” he says. “They have a very sincere and positive attitude to the Biblical roots of the Jewish people’s connection to the land.”
As well as sharing a book, unionists in Northern Ireland say they also share common experiences with Israel, given that both have waged a war against terrorism. So in political terms, they can relate to Israel’s position, explains Jaffe. “They identify with Israel fighting for its survival, and they feel the international media is unfairly hostile to Israel just as they believe it was hostile to their own cause,” he says.
David McIlveen, the North Antrim Assembly Member who launched the DUP Friends of Israel group, says this translates into a willingness to defend the Jewish state when it is attacked. “Whenever we feel there is an unfair portrayal of Israel being presented in social or mainstream media, we do our part to try and argue against it,” he says.
Dr. William McCrea, a Free Presbyterian minister told Jewish News, “There’s a friendship there. We know what it’s like to be under attack for years on end. We fought terrorism here, from the republicans, so we know what it’s like to face these things.”