The Israeli Embassy in Ireland caused a storm of protest Monday when it posted on Facebook an image of Jesus and Mary and suggested that if the Biblical figures were alive today they would have likely been murdered by a mob of Palestinians.
The controversial post was removed a few hours after it first appeared and the embassy issued an apology, saying the image had been uploaded to the social network site by mistake.
On Monday afternoon, the following post appeared on the embassy’s official Facebook feed:
“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…….”
Many outraged surfers criticized the post as offensive and demanded the embassy remove it and apologize to Palestinians and Christians worldwide. Some people demanded the ambassador in Dublin be fired; others sarcastically commented that if Jesus and Mary were alive today, they would probably be harassed by the Israeli military while wandering the Holy Land.
After more and more critical comments reached the embassy in Dublin and the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, the image and the accompanying text were removed from Facebook and the following text was posted on the embassy’s profile site:
“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 have removed the post in question immediately. Apologies to anyone who may have been offended. Merry Christmas!”
A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem said the embassy in Dublin did the right thing in swiftly removing the controversial post.
“We will of course conduct an internal investigation to determine how such a post could have been uploaded,” a ministry spokesman told The Times of Israel. “But as I said, this is an internal matter to make sure something like this does not happen again.”
Facebook is a very informal and “essentially undiplomatic” platform where people often post informal statements, the spokesman added. “However, it is clear that when someone feels hurt, it is proper to apologize and erase the problematic post.”
Monday’s episode was not the first time the embassy in Dublin made negative headlines. In June, Channel 10 published a letter in which Deputy Head of Mission Nurit Tinari Modai suggested to fight the growing delegitimization of Israel by going after expatriate Israelis who are critical of the government in Jerusalem. In that letter, she also wrote that those Israelis dislike Israel partly because they are “sexually confused.”
The Foreign Ministry distanced itself from her letter at the time, saying her suggestions were the wrong way to fight delegitimization.