Ever since my column, “That unwitting indecency,” saw light two weeks ago, I’ve
needed to occasionally consult the mirror to make sure I hadn’t morphed into a
hideous monster that feeds on Irish tots.
The column recounted my
encounter in Cahersiveen, a tiny Irish township, with pupils hoisting “Save
Palestine” placards and soliciting funds for supposedly oppressed Palestinians –
all on a school-day morning, as part of an organized school event. Their
familiarity with Israel’s ongoing struggle to avoid annihilation can safely be
judged as less than minimal.
That column created quite a stir throughout
the Emerald Isle and generated discussions on national radio, as well as blaring
newspaper headlines, like “Principal hits back at writer who said pupils
anti-Jewish” (Irish Independent), “Kerry school denies anti-Semitism” (The Irish
Times) and “School shock at anti- Semitism allegations” (The
Apart from two later follow-ups which I initiated, the news
reporting was astoundingly uniform. Everywhere the principal of Cahersiveen’s
single secondary school was quoted at length and in full. He contended that the
motif of my piece was to accuse his school of anti- Semitism. That it wasn’t so
didn’t matter. Shooting the messenger proved expedient.
one-sided news accounts of what was presented as my attack on virtually the
entire Irish nation, bordered on the hysterical. The Kerryman ran the story –
without my comment – on its front page under ludicrously dramatic banner
Cerebrally, we understand that arguments can be skewed, that
they can be taken out of context to avoid dwelling on the real issue, that
attention can be diverted to trivial tangents, that our intentions can be
twisted out of all proportion by normally honorable people, perhaps to safeguard
their apparent interests.
But then the talkbacks – overwhelmingly from
Ireland and overwhelmingly pugnacious – started streaming in fast and furious.
They were emailed in droves to The Jerusalem Post website, to my own website, to
Irish papers and even to online forums like Politics.ie.
I highly doubt
that most responders ever bothered reading my original. Had they done so, they
would have noticed that that I referred to Cahersiveen’s residents as
“essentially very decent folks.”
The point I was making, and from which
my headline derived, was that “there’s sadly no remedy for that unwitting
indecency of essentially very decent folks. Its parades as high-minded but is
My tone wasn’t malicious, it was pained. My message was
aimed at Israelis, not Irishmen. I argued that “our image has exasperatingly
little to do with who we are,” which is why it’s time to quit our
For most talkbackers, though, my perspective was
irrelevant. Their preferred tactic was to posture as upright critics of Israel
who are nastily maligned as anti- Semitic. It’s what I discussed in my January
30 editorial on Gerald Scarfe’s recent Sunday Times cartoon. I wrote: “Most
anti-Semites nowadays are remarkably practiced in accompanying their invective
with instant disclaimers – by now an expected part of the pattern.
politically incorrect to even hint at their thinly disguised anti-Semitism. That
immediately turns them into the muzzled good-guys and the protesters into
loathsome Jews seeking to silence yet more righteous critics of Israel with
their doomsday weapon – charges of anti- Semitism. Moreover, any remote
reference to the Holocaust is sure to elicit howls of derision.
diabolical yet prevalent deformation of perceptions confers on all anti- Semites
the freedom to slander, while denying Jews the right to call a spade a
“It’s a foolproof arrangement. Jew-revulsion now masquerades behind
acutely inflammatory anti-Israel and pro- Arab propaganda, whose disseminators
inevitably deny anti-Semitism. Their favorite ploy is to present Israel-bashing
as just deserts for the Jewish state’s policies.
circumspection has bred cleverly camouflaged anti-Semitism – not less dangerous
or less in-your-face but more cunning and deceptive.”
I also noted Jewish
Agency chairman Natan Sharansky’s “3-D test.” It determines that Judeophobia
must be suspected when purported criticism slips into demonization,
delegitimization and double- standards. Judge for yourself whether the following
talkbacks, all from the Irish Independent (there are similar specimen on other
websites) pass the 3-D test:
• The State of Israel is the most racist state on
the planet.... The only way to peace is for the Israelis to stop trying to
exterminate the Palestinians. Many Israelis are gun-toting American Jews who
think they are in the Wild West and behave with impunity towards the
Palestinians because they can.
• Israel and Israelis need to comprehend
the simple fact that being Anti-Israeli does not mean being Anti-Semitic.
Furthermore they also need to realize that the Gaza strip is becoming
increasingly like the Warsaw Ghetto every day.
• It’s worse than the
Warsaw Ghetto and it’s going on longer too.
• That teacher should have
realized that ALL criticism, however mild, of Israel and its racist policies is
“anti-Semitic.” They have been playing the “anti-Semitic card” to justify their
greed for Lebensraum, water resources and their oppression of the Palestinians
and other crimes against humanity for many decades, and it still works, so who
are we in the West to criticize the Herrenrasse?
• Why do we listen to this
rubbish from a paranoid supplanted people who demonize the sovereign nation of
Palestine on a daily basis? Are we turning into the US where this tiny minority
rules the thoughts and minds of the majority into maintaining them on an illegal
• So as soon as anyone questions the foreign policy of Israel, they
are Anti- Semitic. Israel is an occupying force in Palestine = Fact. Israel
drives Palestinians from their land = Fact. Israel commits war crimes = Fact.
Israel breaks International law again and again = Fact. Wouldn’t you fight back
with anything you could put your hands on if you were a Palestinian? I suppose I
am now Anti-Semitic even though my gripe is with Israel and not Jews.
Typical Israeli overreaction to everything – play the Jewish card. Time to stand
up to these narrow-minded little racists.
• Screaming anti-Semitism is
the most powerful Israeli weapon used in their colonization of the Middle East.
People should understand this.
• Anyone that displays any solidarity with
a people that has lived under the jackboot of Israeli occupation, savagery and
barbarity are accused of being anti- Semitic.
• Honig was obviously sent
by her newspaper to find evidence of antisemitism in the most pro-Palestinian
country in Europe. Pro-Palestinian is NOT equivalent to antisemitism.
So all of Europe is wrong? I’m sure you would say it is not Israel’s appalling
policies, actions and strategies that revolt us.... More and more people
worldwide see Israel for the rogue state it is, so they better get used to being
• The Palestinians had their homeland wrenched from them during
their holocaust or, for those who consider only Jews are permitted to use the
word, “the Palestinian catastrophe.” The conquest of Palestine is
well-documented.... The Jews made good their invasion of somebody else’s
country.... A policy of ethnic cleansing was sanctioned by their leaders and
implemented violently.... There followed massacres and expulsions which continue
to this day.... If you want to call me a racist because I challenge Israeli
greed and injustice, go ahead.
• Israelis are very sensitive about any
kind criticism and go to great lengths to seek it out. Their attitude to the
rest of the world is obnoxious – ‘we know everyone hates us (except the
Americans, but we have them by the balls) but we don’t care’. They can’t
have it both ways – behave with impunity towards the Palestinians and give the 2
fingers to world opinion and then whinge and play the Jewish card when they are
• Israelis might have more friends in this world if they were
good neighbors and didn’t regularly attack and trash their neighbors’ houses. By
the way, it has nothing to do with their religion. It’s their actions people
find obnoxious. There is no excuse for it.
• In Israel, a Catholic (or
Muslim!) could never become a Minister. It is after all a Jewish state for
Jewish people. So Israel is an anti-Christian, anti-Muslim state.... It’s their
Constitution. Methinks Ms. Honig should investigate this sort of legalized
discrimination, and not set out on a mission to find antisemitism in
• The Jews (or am I to be censored as a racist for using the
term?) should realize that until they start treating their Muslim fellow
countrymen in Palestine fairly, whose land they began stealing by force in 1948
and continue stealing to this day, they will continue being reviled by the
• No reason why Ms. Honig should write untruths
about a bunch of Irish children? Not even if she’s paid to do so by the Israeli
Propaganda Ministry? That’s what propaganda is, lies.
aggression: From the savage aerial bombing of undefended refugee camps filled
with men, women and children and the rapes of the Muslim women, to the
Mohammedan graves which the Israeli troops dug up in their search for gold
It needs to be stressed that the above are a mere few
representative examples from among thousands. These are hardly the worst,
either. But who has the masochism or intestinal fortitude to read them all?
Moreover, these were talkbacks which site moderators permitted. The more
abhorrent material wasn’t – like the one that arrived last week at my own
website. For days, numerous aggressive responders tried over and over to
post hate messages. Below is one of them:
“You’re a bag of filth. Just
read about your recent escapades in Cahersiveen. I just wish the Nazis were
still around to deal with scum like you. I think you should concentrate more on
writing about your own sub-human species and leave the Irish out of it. Perhaps
you should go to concentration camp? F–k you, you’re a filthy Jewish
We checked the sender’s IP address. It was from the vicinity of
It’s absurd to claim that this rant typifies the Irish.
But it’s not too outlandish to argue that it and the above-cited sample may well
have been inspired or intensified by unfair and unbalanced media coverage,
doctrinaire and biased opinion-molding and the fostering of an atmosphere which
is hardly conducive to even-handedness and tolerance.