Israel embassy in S'pore deletes Facebook post slammed by S'pore ministers

The deleted post claimed that the Quran mentions Israel 43 times but did not mention Palestine.

Hannah Martens | March 25, 2024, 05:22 PM



Several ministers in Singapore have come out to slam a Facebook post put up by the Embassy of Israel in Singapore on its official page.

Uploaded on Mar. 24, the post claimed that Israel was mentioned 43 times in the Quran, the central religious text of Islam, while Palestine was not mentioned.

The post added that "each and every archeological evidence- maps, documents, coins, link the land of Israel to the Jewish as the indigenous people of the land".

The post was subsequently deleted that same day, according to CNA.

On Mar. 25, Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam told the media that he was "very upset" when he was made aware of the post.

He added that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), which told the Israeli embassy to take down the post immediately: "The post is wrong at many levels. First, it is insensitive and inappropriate. It carries the risk of undermining our safety, security and harmony in Singapore."

He was not the only Singaporean minister who responded to the posting.

Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said: "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."

Social and Family Development Minister and Minister-in-Charge of Muslim Affairs, Masagos Zulkifli, wrote in a Facebook post on Mar. 25 that it was "insensitive and disrespectful".

He said: "It was insensitive and disrespectful and goes against the spirit of mutual respect and understanding that we have worked so hard to build up in Singapore over the years."

Person who made post will face further disciplinary action

According to The Straits Times, a spokesperson from the Israel embassy said the person responsible for the post will face further disciplinary action.

"The Israel embassy respects religion and racial harmony in Singapore - we have already taken action against the relevant person," the spokesperson said.

For security reasons, the embassy will not share the person's name or role, but assured that the social media post was made without the "necessary approvals".

The spokesperson added that the person responsible has already been punished harshly and will face internal disciplinary measures.

Singapore government made its views "very clear" to Israeli embassy

Shanmugam said it was "wrong to selectively point to religious texts to make a political point", CNA reported.

"Even worse, in this current situation, for the Israeli embassy to make use of the Quran for this purpose."

Shanmugam also said the post was an "astonishing attempt to rewrite history": "The writer of the post should look at UN regulations, see if Israel's actions in the past few decades have been consistent with international law, before trying to rewrite history."

CNA reported that Shanmugam emphasised that the government intervened because of the potential consequences for the different communities in Singapore.

Shanmugam explained that while embassies may put out statements that the Singapore government disagrees with, they do not intervene as the embassies 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."

Urge everyone to remain calm and civil

In his Facebook post, Masagos wrote that no one should "make interpretations that are offensive to another people's faith, especially selectively using their sacred texts, to make political points".

"Whether one is a Singaporean or foreigner in Singapore, we must not do or say anything that disrupts the social harmony that is so precious to us in Singapore. Such insensitive and inappropriate messages can cause hurt, and sow distrust amongst different communities in Singapore," he said.

Masagos also added that he was "very upset" when he saw the post and understood that others in the community also felt "aggrieved".

He urged everyone to remain calm and civil and "continue to reserve the trust, peace and harmony between our communities".

Masagos concluded by advising people to continue to support the humanitarian aid efforts for the civilians in Gaza, while the government presses for a two-state solution supported by the United Nations.

Top photos via Google Maps & Israel in Singapore Facebook