Singapore orders Israeli embassy to remove Facebook post about Palestine, Koran

Singapore authorities have told the Israeli embassy to remove a post on its Facebook page that Minister for Law and Home Affairs K. Shanmugam called an “astonishing attempt to rewrite history”.

The post was “insensitive”, “inappropriate” and “completely unacceptable” as it carried the risk of undermining safety, security and harmony in Singapore, he said.

“I was very upset when I was told about it,” he told reporters on Monday. “And the Ministry of Home Affairs spoke with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday and said that the embassy has to take the post down immediately, and they have taken it down.”

A Muslim boy reads the Koran at a madrasa, or Islamic school. Photo: Reuters

The now-deleted posted on the Israeli embassy in Singapore Facebook page on Sunday stated: “Israel is mentioned 43 times in the Koran. On the other hand, Palestine is not mentioned even once.”

The post went on to say that archaeological evidence such as maps, documents and coins show that Jewish people are the indigenous people of Israel.

“This post is an astonishing attempt to rewrite history,” Shanmugam said. “The writer of the post should look at UN resolutions, see if Israel’s actions in the past few decades have been consistent with international law before trying to rewrite history.”

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Calling the post “wrong at many levels”, Shanmugam said it could have inflamed tensions as the anger from the post could spill over to the physical realm, and endanger the Jewish community in Singapore.

While he said his ministry does not usually intervene in online posts made by embassies out of respect for their sovereignty, it told the Israeli embassy to take down this post after discussions with the foreign affairs ministry because of “potential consequences” for communities in Singapore.

He added that the post had “selectively [pointed] to religious texts” to make a political point and it was “even worse” that the post made use of the Koran for this purpose.

“Often embassies say and put out post statements which we may disagree with but we generally don’t intervene because they represent sovereign countries they have autonomy but where it affects the safety and security of people in Singapore, the peace and harmony that we enjoy, we do and we will intervene,” he said.

Singapore Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam called the Israeli embassy’s Facebook post “wrong at many levels”. Photo: SCMP

Earlier on Monday, Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan similarly addressed the Israeli embassy’s post, stating: “It is highly inappropriate to refer to sacred texts to make political points. We have made this clear to the embassy which has taken the post down.”

He was speaking while making his way back from a trip to the Middle East, where he visited Israel and the Palestinian territories. He was accompanied by a delegation including five members of parliament: Alex Yam, Nadia Ahmad Samdin, Rachel Ong, Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim and Gerald Giam from the Workers’ Party.

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