as Conor Cruise O'Brien once pointed out, is a light
sleeper. Judging by recent events in Ireland, O'Brien
is right: the beast has only been dozing.
briefly raised its head and exposed itself in tooth
and claw last month when the Pat Kenny Show discussed
a suicide bomb that killed 11 schoolchildren in Israel.
Despite harrowing reports of young girls and boys
crying 'Mama! Mama!' from the bombed bus, no sympathy
was expressed by those who took the time to call into
Kenny's weekday radio show. Instead, he was met with
gales of 'whataboutery' as callers ignored the slaughter
on the bus, preferring to focus on the deaths of Palestinians
in the Occupied Territories at the hands of the Israeli
Defence Forces (IDF).
an experienced broadcaster such as Kenny was shocked
at the callers' lack of compassion for Israeli children.
Part of this, to be fair, is due to the Irish association
with the underdog; a by-product of our own colonial
past. But throughout Irish history in the 20th century
there has been a deep mistrust, at times hostility,
towards the Jews and later Israel. During and after
the Second World War official Irish policy was to
keep Jewish refugees out of the Free State. The reasoning
at the Department of Foreign Affairs was that anti-Semitism
was widespread and deep throughout the State.
you raise the question of anti-Semitism with the left
in Ireland you are immediately hit in the face with
this counter-argument. The Palestinian struggle, they
protest, is not directed at the Jewish people but
rather the pro-Imperialist Zionist oppressors. Arafat's
Palestinian Authority wants to create a paradise in
which Arab, Jew and Christian can live as equals.
conflict in the Occupied Territories has become a
totem for the conflicting factions in the North of
Ireland. On the Shankill Road the Star of David flies.
The flag was placed there by supporters of the besieged
loyalist Johnny Adair. The association is obvious
- Protestant settlers surrounded by indigenous enemies
in solidarity with the Jewish settlers on the West
Bank and Gaza. Conversely, in republican areas of
the North the Palestinian colours fly alongside the
Tricolour and the Starry Plough.
the heart of the apologias for Palestinian terror
or Israeli oppression is a denial of the facts. A
large section of the Palestinian populace back movements
that are murderously anti-Semitic. Hamas and Islamic
Jihad are dedicated to the total destruction of the
Israeli State, and consequently its people, from the
Jordan to the Mediterranean. Even Egypt - the only
Arab country that signed a peace treaty with Israel
- is currently broadcasting a soap opera which repeats
historically discredited Tsarist lies about the Jewish
plot to take over the world, the notorious 'Protocols
of the elders of Zion'.
Elon, the Israeli writer and proponent of a Palestinian
state, was deeply shocked during a tour of Arab capitals
in the mid 1990s by the extent of anti-Semitic propaganda
besmirching public discourse. Yet you will read none
of this in the journals, websites and newspapers of
the Irish far left. The Irish groupies who flock to
the West Bank and Gaza in the hope of becoming the
Florence Nightingales of Third World Liberation choose
to ignore these indisputable facts.
of the above by the way should exonerate the Israelis
of their role in destroying the Middle East peace
process. There are dark chauvinistic forces in Israel
dedicated to the so-called war of civilisation. They
drove a fanatic to gun down Yitzhak Rabin and a zealot
to machine-gun Muslim worshippers in a Hebron mosque.
Moreover, the IDF's cruel, ham-fisted approach to
civil disturbances in Palestinian towns and villages
has only exacerbated the conflict and fuelled the
flames of Islamic fanaticism in the region.
the less, the debate in Ireland about Israel and the
Occupied Territories is coloured by an historic anti-Semitism
embedded in the Irish psyche. Republicans, for instance,
try to compare the IDF to SS Stormtroopers, the otherwise
excellent The Blanket E-zine, using hyperbolic phrases
such as 'Hitler speaks Hebrew'.
Bryan Fleming will probably not thank me for saying
this, but his new book, Racism and social change in
the Republic of Ireland, proves that Irish anti-Semitism
is easily wakened from its slumber. Fleming points
out that even as late as the 1950s hatred of the Jews
was not uncommon in Irish society.
notes that republican icon Sean South, who died at
the legendary Brookeborough raid in 1957, was an anti-Semite.
South belonged to Maria Dulce, an organisation which
spread anti-Semitic filth from pulpit and pamphlet
across Ireland as the fires of Auchswitz and Belsen
people are entitled to express concern over what is
happening in places like the West Bank and Gaza. Much
of it is heartfelt and genuine. But those who do should
try to assemble all the facts. One of the irritating
things about foreigners spouting on about Northern
Ireland is how one-dimensional their view of our conflict
article was submitted by the author.
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