To be frank, anti-Semitism is not a political issue in Ireland. It’s not that it is not an issue. Rather, it’s that there is no political cost to being anti-Semitic in this country.
There is a small and dwindling Jewish community in this country which may make a marginal difference in a Council Election in a large Dublin constituency. Opponents of anti-Semitism and pro-Israel figures are few and far between, constantly under threat of character assassination or misrepresentation. The media is only interested in the issue in so much as it sells newspapers and boosts readership figures. In the Dáil and Seanad, the consensus is overwhelmingly anti-Israel, anti-Zionist and opposed to accepting any charge of anti-Semitism. In other words, there is no incentive, need or obligation to tackle anti-Semitism. With no check and no balance, hardline, anti-Zionist parties like People Before Profit and Sinn Féin can act as recklessly, as boldly and as offensively as they wish on Israel and the Jewish people – with no fear of reproach.
This has borne out time and time again, with no sign of things changing.
Martin Browne is a Sinn Féin TD (Teachta Dála) for the Tipperary constituency. In the past few days, he has made robust comments on the Provisional IRA to say the least. However, shockingly this is only the tip of the iceberg and the least shocking of remarks. He also has posted that NATO are Nazis, Israel created ISIS, 9/11 was a hoax and a hologram, and to “destroy the Israeli Zionists” in Arabic. Of course, there was an uproar rightly so over his 9/11 conspiracy remarks, which he quickly apologized for (no doubt to control the damage to Sinn Féin’s American donor base) (It is also worth noting a Second SF TD Patricia Ryan also called 9/11 a hoax). However, there was no apology for spreading the anti-Semitic theory that the Jewish State of Israel created the Islamic State or that he in fact called for the destruction of the people of Israel. In fact, no issue was raised with those libels or conspiracy theories insofar as I can see, only an apology specifically referencing the 9/11 post. Again, as we shall see, there is no political cost to Sinn Féin’s anti-Semitism.
Sinn Féin Senator and BDS Disciple, Lynn Boylan, has continuously sought to push the debunked and libelous theory that Israel is blocking Covid-19 vaccines reaching the Palestinian people. She says Israel is acting illegally by saying responsibility for Covid-19 vaccines lies with the Palestinian leadership but that Israel shall help as much as it can. Once again pushing false and bigoted lies against the Jewish State comes at no political cost. Her statements have been lauded and supported by the Anti-Israel cabal in Irish politics. This is notwithstanding the fact Israel are preparing to transfer 3-to-4 million Covid-19 vaccines to the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank, and has been working with the UAE to import Russian vaccines approved by the PA, but not by Israel. Confirmation of this support and cooperation is coming directly from the Palestinians, but of course don’t let facts get in the way of lying about the Jewish State and her people.
In a sitting of the Committee on Foreign Affairs & Defence last week, Sinn Féin’s habitual hostility to the existence of anti-Semitism reared its ugly head. Questioning Israel’s Ambassador to Ireland, Ophir Kariv, Sinn Féin TDs John Brady and Sorcha Clarke lectured the Israeli Ambassador on how awful the Jewish State was according to Sinn Féin. In fact, the Ambassador Kariv had to remind them to “Talk to us, not about us” if they were genuine about peace. When Fianna Fáil Senator Diarmuid Wilson referred to the worrying rise of anti-Semitism across Europe, and whether he found certain lines of questioning such as that at the Committee anti-Semitic? Sinn Féin TD for Palestine, sorry Wicklow, John Brady started shouting how disgraceful a question that was and later kept ranting on Twitter. It is telling that Deputy Brady’s instinct was that a charge of anti-Semitism referred to him. The question was inviting the Ambassador to comment on the rise in Anti-Semitism and the line between criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism (a line Brady and his party frequently ignore). The anti-Israel movement in Europe has been one of the biggest drivers of the spike in anti-Semitism, but of course in Ireland this comes at no political cost. Furthermore, shouting down a Senator for daring to raise the question of anti-Semitism comes at no political cost in this country.
In the Election of Change February just gone, Sinn Féin thumped the two Civil War parties of years’ past and must have been kicking themselves to not have run more candidates. The likes of Browne, Brady, and Ryan were of course elected – but they were also joined by Reada Cronin TD for Kildare North. A woman elected in my own constituency and hometown, whom I assure you I did not vote for. It was then that Irish Media Outlet Gript Media and Sunday Times broke the news story of her vile social media record which was of a grossly anti-Semitic nature. She commented on a image of monkeys, that she thought it was depicting Israeli Embassy staff. Cronin further accused the Mossad of interfering in the British General Election to stop Jeremy Corbyn winning. Watching the Israeli football team in a match against Argentina, she claimed Israel had taken Nazism to a “whole new level.” This is on top of retweeting a tweet that Hitler was pawn of Jewish Rothschild banks. (For a initial report on her remarks/tweets, check out the initial report from Gript’s Gary Kavanagh).
It took for a Sinn Féin TD to say Hitler was a pawn of the Rothschild Jewish banks for anti-Semitism to become a political issue in this country. Cronin apologized for her “glib, off-the-cuff remarks.” Not her anti-Semitism, not what she actually said, but that she should have said the Jewish State is a Nazi State better or Hitler was a Jewish pawn better. She stated that she had apologized wholeheartedly for her comments. How can she have apologized wholeheartedly if she believes her anti-Semitism was “glib” and “off the cuff“? Her own party continued to defend her saying everything was ok now she had withdrawn the tweets and apologized for the off-hand nature of her anti-Semitic remarks. I can remember speaking to one Sinn Féin party member who told me quite confidently the issue would blow over in a day or so, and Cronin would be in the clear. That is exactly how it went on. Sinn Féin masterfully buried her anti-Semitism, whilst stating they were determined to represent the Irish people on the issues that matter. She neither received nor faced any disciplinary action from the party, and never will do.
Her anti-Semitism was of such a vile nature and the defense of it so reprehensible, that it elicited a rebuke from the Jewish Representative Council of Ireland. Chair of the Council, Maurice Cohen put it best:
“It is disappointing that her offensive comments have neither been criticised nor condemned by Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald. Unfortunately too many people in Ireland have an opinion on everything, whether or not they have any knowledge of the particular subject on which they are commenting. Due to this lack of knowledge the term Nazism is bandied around in Ireland without knowing that it was, amongst other things, the premeditated, industrialised slaughter of six million Jews and many others that didn’t suit the Nazi Regime. A little education on what constitutes antisemitism would go a long way to correcting this problem.”
Notwithstanding her anti-Semitism, there has been no political cost to her actions.
You might remember when Jeremy Corbyn laid a wreath commemorating the perpetrators of the Munich Massacre? Well, at the very same conference Corbyn attended prior to laying that wreath in Tunisia, Sinn Féin MP Francie Molloy was also in attendance. He attended the conference which included several of the Senior Hamas leadership, including its co-founder, emissary to Lebanon, Second-in-Command, and a Hamas terrorist who called the murder of Jewish children legitimate. Molloy was bullish declaring that he was quite content to attend the conference, and offered no apology or regret over his attendance. This story received negligible coverage in Irish media circles. It nearly goes without saying, that there was no political cost to his actions.
To recount one more particularly infamous example, is the anti-Semitism of Aengus Ó’Snodaigh directed towards the Dáil’s only Jewish TD Alan Shatter and the Israeli Ambassador to Ireland Zion Evrony. Immediately, after National Holocaust Memorial Day, Aengus Ó’Snodaigh calculated a particularly racist slur to level at Shatter and Evrony. In a Committee discussing the Israeli response to Hamas terrorism and Hamas indiscriminate rocket attacks on civilians, Ó’Snodaigh told Shatter and Evrony that Goebbels would be proud of them for the alleged lies and half-truths they told – comparing it to Nazi justifications of the Holocaust. Fine Gael Leader Enda Kenny demanded the retraction of remarks. Ó’Snodaigh refused, saying he would stand over the remarks and saying he had absolutely nothing to apologize for. I suppose all I can say is that Reada Cronin must feel hard done by her that she was even made apologize for her racism.
Year on year, deputy by deputy, there is a pattern here of systemic anti-Semitism within Sinn Féin as a political party. It is practiced by their elected representatives and their members, and defended wholeheartedly by the Sinn Féin political machine. The conclusion of an EHRC report into systematic anti-Semitism within Sinn Féin aided and abetted by their leadership would make Jeremy Corbyn look like Moses. He must be disappointed he never joined Sinn Féin – he certainly has the right political positions anyways…
I write this, sadly, not in the hope of accountability for Sinn Féin or for the political/media climate in Ireland to all of a sudden change. To write in that hope, would be naive of me and divorced from my knowledge of the beast that is Sinn Féin. There is no political or electoral cost to their bigotry, there is no societal pressure to abandon their anti-Semitism, and the corollary response to any anti-Semitic overreach on their part is the apathy of the majority of the Irish people. Rather, I write to document the unacceptable state of affairs in my country of Ireland whereby Sinn Féin go unchecked in the vitriol directed against the Jewish State and the Jewish people. The great Liberator & friend of the Jewish people, Daniel O’Connell once said “there is nothing politically right, which is morally wrong.” Sinn Féin’s anti-Semitism is neither morally right or politically right, but unacceptably comes at no political cost.