Singapore leaders responded swiftly to Israeli embassy’s “unacceptable’’ Facebook post; Israeli embassy took down post upon Singapore’s intervention.    


The Singapore government made a strong stance and told the Israeli embassy to remove an offensive Facebook post on March 24 that selectively cited the Quran to claim Israelis are the indigenous people of Palestine. 

Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam called the post “an astonishing attempt to rewrite history” and said it risked undermining Singapore’s safety, security, and harmony. 

The post was deleted the same day. An Israeli embassy spokesperson said the person responsible for publishing the post without approval had been “harshly punished’’. 

Mr Shanmugam told the media on March 25 he was very upset when he was told about the post. The Home Affairs Ministry had notified the Foreign Affairs Ministry, which told the Israeli embassy to remove the post immediately.  

The Israeli embassy’s Facebook post stated that Israel is mentioned 43 times in the Quran while “Palestine is not mentioned even once.” It claimed archaeological evidence shows Jews are the indigenous people of the land. 

Calling the post “wrong at many levels”, Mr Shanmugam said it was “an astonishing attempt to rewrite history.”  

“The writer of the post should look at United Nations resolutions, see if Israel’s actions in the past few decades have been consistent with international law before trying to rewrite history.” 
Mr Shanmugam said Singapore protects the safety and security of everyone, including minorities like Muslims and Jews. He warned post like this can “inflame tensions and can put the Jewish community here at risk”. Ironically, the Jews in Singapore currently have little concern for their safety and security in Singapore. 

“The anger from the post can potentially spill over into the physical realm.” 

MHA usually does not intervene in embassies’ online posts out of respect for their sovereignty. But Mr. Shanmugam stressed that where it affects the safety and security of people in Singapore, the peace and harmony that we enjoy, we do, and we will intervene”.  
The post selectively cited religious texts to make a political point, and it was “even worse” that it used the Quran, he added. 
At an iftar session on March 25, Mr Shanmugam noted the Israeli embassy had said the post was unauthorised. “So, in a way, that is good because they accept that the post was wrong in the first place and should never have been put up.” 

Incident is a reminder to be careful of what one says: Vivian 

Speaking to reporters on March 25 upon returning from Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said the incident reminded us “to be careful of what one says” and that Singapore does things differently.  

“And with all due respect to foreign countries… on the management of race, language and religion, for what it’s worth, I think we’re a positive example.” In an earlier statement to the media, Dr. Balakrishnan said referring to religious texts to make political points is highly inappropriate. 

Preserve the trust, peace, and harmony among our communities: Masagos 

Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli said the embassy’s post was “insensitive and disrespectful” and could undermine trust among communities. 

“Nobody should make interpretations that are offensive to another people’s faith, especially selectively using their sacred texts, to make political points,” he wrote in a Facebook post, in English and Malay. 

He emphasised that whether citizens or foreigners in Singapore, they must avoid disrupting social harmony. “Such insensitive and inappropriate messages can cause hurt, and sow distrust amongst different communities in Singapore.” 

Masagos said he was upset by the post and understood others in the community felt aggrieved. 

“But I urge everyone to remain calm and civil and continue to preserve the trust, peace and harmony between our communities.”