The strange irony of Ireland’s passion for Palestine

Recent engagements on social media with Irish people (or at least, with people who have Irish names) as well as an incident in an Irish supermarket involving bull-horns and bullying, prompted me to consider the profound irony of this passionate pro-Palestine stance across Ireland.

Assuming the country and its citizens are not flat-out antisemites – and for the purposes of my thesis let’s assume that they’re not (though in a country where Catholicism has had such a tight grip for so long, I imagine a little Jew-hate may occasionally be in the mix) – the primary motivation for such zealous support for Palestinians across Ireland must be compassion for Palestinians they perceive as victims of Israel.

I think it is safe to assume that their perception and the resulting vehement hate for the Jewish state is due to misdirection through exposure over some four decades to a fraudulent Palestinian narrative in which Israel is consistently and relentlessly portrayed as a “brutal occupier.”  But what (apart, possibly, from the merest taint of unconscious antisemitism) fuels such profound empathy for Palestinians rather than for other persecuted people, say, the Muslims in China?

Could it be that Israel is seen by them as not just a “brutal  occupier” but as a “brutal imperialist occupier” and one which “rules” the Palestinians (and, as the Irish see it, “oppresses” them in “their own” land.)Do stop me if this scenario is ringing any bells. And is it perhaps because the fraudulent Palestinian narrative has been thoughtfully tailored  (probably by the KGB which was instrumental in creating it in the first place) to create parallells – or rather, the illusion of parallels – for nations engaged in “independence” struggles. For the Irish  – who have been fighting their own “occupation” for over 800 years – the apparent “parallel” between themselves and the British, and the Palestinians and Israel would provoke an almost Pavlovian response of hatred to Israel and to support the Palestinians with – to borrow Irish poet, William Butler Yeats’ resonant phrase –  “passionate intensity.”

But the huge irony is that if the Irish looked at the reality; at the geo-politics – or just the simple geography – they would realise that they have been deceived and that they much more in common with the Jews and Israel (as they were aware in the early days of the Jewish state when Ireland and Israel enjoyed a close relationship.)

And if they – and, indeed, most Israel-haters on the Left – stopped paying attention to the lies in the Palestinians narrative, and looked at the region’s actual history, they would also see that the Irish struggle for independence is far closer to that of tiny Israel (land area of 22,145 thousand square kms), fighting (originally for independence, now simply for survival) against the massive, immensely powerful, oil-rich Islamic empire (land area, 13.5 million square kms.) By paying attention to the geo-politics and history, they would realise that this reality has been carefully hidden to prevent them spotting that Israel is the real victim in this conflict and that Israel is the nation with whom they have a natural affinity.

That is not to say that the Palestinian people are not victims. They are. But Israel is not culpable as the Palestinian narrative claims. It is not Israel which has treated them with callous disregard or kept several thousand of them in poverty and destitution for political, PR and propaganda purposes, aided by UNRWA whose raison d’etre is pretty much Palestinian  refugees.

Depicting Israel as the “invader,” the “imperialist” and the “colonial” power, has been vital for “encouraging” Irish people to identify with “poor Palestinians” so let’s look at the veracity of just a few assertions –  and at some omissions  –  in that narrative which might be especially resonant in Ireland. The vital thing to know about this narrative is that it goes out of its way to try to refute Jewish legitimacy in “Palestine” – formerly Judea –  by deliberately obliterating the Jewish history, including the fact that Jews lived in Palestine continuously from Bible times (occasionally as a majority, especially in Jerusalem); that for centuries, Palestinian Jews held key roles in the government, administration and judiciary and that when, in 1947, the Jews were offered a sliver of Palestine as a “Jewish” state, they accepted while the Palestinians – or those pulling their strings – declined. While it is  indisputable that 750,00 Palestinian Arabs became “refugees” in 1948, the narrative fails to mention another indisputable fact, that at roughly the same time 900,000 Jews were expelled from Arab lands. But rather foolishly, in hindsight, Israel failed to exploit the plight of these Jewish refugees by making them fester in camps for PR value.

Since claims of “genocide” seem to have now slipped in to the narrative, it’s important to look at the numbers according to Palestinian sources. In 1948 there were 1.24 million “Palestinians.” In 2022, there were 14 million, which is an increase in population greater than 10-fold, while to this day, the Jewish population of Europe has not reached ita pre-WW2 levels. “Genocide” is yet another baseless libel.

All that said, Israel is undeniably a well-armed, powerful country, which it has had to be to avoid being crushed by its enemies. But Israel is not the imperialist here. The Jews – like the Irish (and the Scots) –  simply wanted an independent state (and were willing to settle for a tiny one in a slice of the homeland where they and their ancestors had lived for thousands of years.) But the Arab/Islamic states –  the real imperialists –  didn’t want the Jews. And when wars, military incursions and terror, failed to push the Jews out, Israel’s enemies –  possibly with KGB assistance – dreamt up a highly effective campaign aimed at altering perceptions and inverting reality to make Israel seem like the imperialists instead of – like the Irish – the victim of imperialism.

About the Author
Jan Shure held senior editorial roles at the Jewish Chronicle for three decades. and previously served as deputy editor of the Jewish Observer. She is an author and freelance writer and wrote regularly for the Huffington Post until 2018. In 2012 she took a break from journalism to be a web entrepreneur.
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