Israel's embassy in Dublin has been in the headlines many times over the last few years, not only because of the tense relations between Jerusalem and Dublin, but also because of embarrassing provocations by Israel's envoys at the mission, who try to think creatively when it comes to public relations (hasbara).
On Monday, ahead of the Christmas holiday, the embassy posted an image of the Virgin Mary to its Facebook page, accompanied by the following caption:
"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...."
The image was taken down within a few hours of being posted, following responses the embassy received, Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said. "Removing the post is of course the right thing to do, and as far as we are concerned that is the end of the story," he said.
"We will of course carry out an internal investigation to find out how such a post was published, but his is an internal matter, in order to make sure this won't happen again. Facebook is a very informal channel, which is essentially not diplomatic, and as such it is customary to post informal statements. Clearly, however, when anyone feels hurt it is important to apologize and remove the problematic post, and the embassy was right when it did this."
The embassy's apology, published on Facebook, read: "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!"
Aside from the simplistic and base claim accompanying the image, the use of an image of what is holy to Christians for political ends is damaging. If an image of something holy to Jews was used by a foreign embassy for similar ends, it would certainly cause anger – not only among Israelis but among Jews around the whole world, who would claim that it was anti-Semitic.
The person who leads this provocative line in the embassy in Dublin is not only Ambassador Boaz Modai, but also his wife, Nurit Tinari Modai, who serves as deputy head of mission.
Tinari Modai made it into the headlines when she carried out a provocation during a Holocaust Rememberance Day ceremony in Dublin last year.
A few months ago, Israel's Channel 10 published an email that Tinari Modai sent to senior Foreign Ministry officials in which she claimed that Israelis living in Ireland who criticize Israeli policy in the West Bank do it partly because of their sexual orientation.
Tinari Modai even suggested that the embassy should act against Israelis in Ireland who criticize Israel, targeting them personally by making sensitive information about them public.