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Last updated: 2002-10-04

The Board of Deputies is dismayed that Israeli journalist Arik Bender’s attempts to book holiday accommodation in Ireland were rejected on political grounds. Mr Bender had attempted to book the four star Lakeland Cottages in Killarney for 2 families next summer, but was told by Brian O’Shea, the owner of the cottages, that his booking was unacceptable because ‘of Mr Sharon’s treatment of the Palestinians’.

Subsequently Irish Ambassador to Israel, Pat Hennessy, has apologised personally to Mr Bender in Tel Aviv; a campaign of ‘a hundred thousand welcomes’ has been launched in Kerry; and Sandra McDonald, owner of Crutch’s Hillville Hotel in Castlegregory is asking that people send a signed postcard addressed to Mr Bender care of her hotel.

Fiona Macaulay, the Board’s Public Affairs Director, said “Mr O’Shea’s behaviour is inexcusable and reminiscent of a time when Nazi anti-Semitism forbade Jews to share facilities with gentiles during the 1930s and 40s.

“He also seems to have forgotten that innocent Israeli civilians have been the target of a bloody and sustained terrorist campaign since October 2000. If he is concerned about those who suffer as a result of violence he should have welcomed them with open arms.

“The religious bigotry he has displayed must be deeply embarrassing to the Irish government who actively promote Ireland to Israelis as being a desirable and open tourist destination. I applaud the actions of the many Irish citizens who have taken steps to make amends to Arik Bender and his family.”