Richard Boyd Barrett has been accused of delivering a “disgraceful and historically ignorant antisemitic rant” by former Justice Minister Alan Shatter.
The People Before Profit TD was speaking at the 18th Annual Palestinian Festival in London last month when he said that Israel is “at its heart… a racist project.”
He also compared the treatment of Palestinians by Israel to the suffering Jews endured at the hands of Germany.
"The Jewish people suffered a horrendous crime at the hands of the Nazis and at the heart of that crime was a horrible, racist impulse,” he told attendees.
"But it is precisely because of the horrors of racism committed against Jewish people by the Nazis that anybody who opposes racism, anybody who opposes oppression, anybody who opposes discrimination must stand with the Palestinian people against the Israeli state.”
Mr Shatter, who for many years was the only Jewish member of Dáil Éireann, said that Mr Boyd Barrett’s remarks were a clear example of racism.
“Richard Boyd Barrett’s disgraceful and historically ignorant antisemitic rant in London has all the hallmarks of an ideologically confused panic-struck politician desperately seeking attention and resorting to centuries-old Jew-baiting and hate speech,” he told Newstalk.
“Boyd Barrett’s selective reference to crimes gives an interesting insight into his mindset. He is more interested in demonising the Israeli State and its Jewish population than truly helping Palestinians.
“Presenting as anti-racist, Boyd Barrett’s speech advocates the elimination of the only Jewish state on the planet and ludicrously depicts Jews, who are indigenous to Israel as colonisers of their own state.
“Calling for Palestinian self-determination while denying self-determination to Jewish people in their historic homeland to which they are indigenous is simply racist and antisemitic.”
Responding to Mr Shatter's criticism, Deputy Boyd Barrett said it was "very bizarre and utterly dishonest."
"My criticism of Israel is precisely that it operates a racist and apartheid system which denies the most basic rights to Palestinian people," he added.
“It’s not just me who has made such criticism; recently we have had a damning report from Amnesty International and the UN Special Rapporteur on Palestine all condemning the systematic racist and apartheid of the Israeli State.
“It is utterly disingenuous to equate criticism of the racism and apartheid of Israel with antisemitism.”
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance lists a number of examples of antisemitic thinking which include, “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis” and “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g. by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour.”
The definition is controversial among pro-Palestine activists who say that it limits their freedom of speech and unjustly labels their solidarity as racism.
Main image: Richard Boyd Barrett and Alan Shatter.