During the Northern Ireland “troubles,” two versions of a checkpoint joke were
circulating, the one humorous, the other foreboding: 1. Masked men stop a car
outside Belfast and ask: “Are you a Catholic or a Protestant?” Driver: “I’m a
Masked men: “Yes, but are you a Catholic Jew or a Protestant Jew?”
2. Same scenario, different punchline: the masked men answer the Jew with “and
I’m the Hezbollah liaison to the IRA.”
Ireland could end its EU
presidency, on 30 June, with a grand gesture in leading the move to register
Hezbollah on Europe’s terrorist list. Why then is this so unlikely? Following
the 1290 expulsion from England, a few hundred Jewish refugees found welcome in
Ireland. The tiny community prospered until a bloody pogrom in Limerick in 1904
led some to return to England. Sinn Fein (the “Self” party) was founded in 1906
by the openly anti- Semitic Arthur Griffith to fight the British yoke, but
Griffith’s prejudice was not to greatly influence the party.
Israel’s first chief rabbi, Isaac Herzog, had earlier served as chief rabbi of
Ireland. A close confident of Eamon De Valera, he was known as the “Sinn Fein
Yet, on the basis of “my enemy’s enemy is my friend,” many
Feiners opportunistically became pro-Axis. The Irish Nazi party was founded in
1939 by Adolf Mahr, an Austrian who had been invited to Dublin in 1927 to be
Keeper of Irish Antiquities at the National Museum.
Mahr spent the war in
Berlin, broadcasting to neutral Ireland and drawing up lists of Irish Jews for
deportation following an eventual German invasion, designated “Operation Green.”
In 1940, IRA chief of staff Sean Russell also arrived in Berlin, returning home
on a U-boat to overthrow the De Valera government.
Suffering a fatal
burst ulcer on the way, the plot was stillborn.
In 1950, a statue to his
honor was erected in Fairview Park, Dublin. It was destroyed in 2004 by
anti-Nazis and rebuilt by Sinn Fein in 2009.
Post-war Ireland was also
the focus of Nazi looted-art controversy. This author was involved in the 1980
investigation of Dutch SS murderer and art thief Pieter Menten, who housed his
collection of looted Jewish assets in his Waterford mansion.
Mary McAleese set the calendar by awarding it Ireland’s Museum of the Year
Prize. We urged that the Prize be suspended pending an independent investigation
into the collection’s provenance.
Certain Irish media hysterically
treated the Wiesenthal probe as akin to “a Mossad conspiracy to punish Ireland
for its Palestinian support.”
Our Shadow Report, compiled by the
respected Irish archaeologist Erin Gibbons, pointed to the Hunts’ ties with
Adolf Mahr and a string of dealers in looted art, as also their attempts to
reside in Foynes, the departure point for trans- Atlantic sea-planes, which
triggered the concern of both Irish and British intelligence.
Much of the
media trashed our argument for transparency to encourage younger generations to
study the implications of Irish neutrality in World War II, the Holocaust, the
establishment of Israel and the universal threat of terrorism.
inception in 1964, the PLO enjoyed generous support from the Irish government,
which turned a blind eye to the IRA’s growing relationship with Palestinian
terrorist groups. Ireland also played a major role in the UNIFIL peace-keeping
force on the Lebanon-Israel border, creating tensions between Dublin and
Jerusalem – especially when an Irish UNIFIL soldier on home leave reportedly
firebombed the tiny synagogue of Cork.
The 1998 Good Friday Agreement
bringing peace to Northern Ireland was viewed in Dublin as a model for the
Israel- Palestine conflict. When the Oslo Accords proved an illusion and that
Arafat was, sadly, no David Trimble, Ireland squarely blamed the
Another Irish president, Mary Robinson, as UN Human Rights
Commissioner and secretary-general of the 2001 anti- Jewish hatefest in Durban,
showed sympathy for the Jewish victims of the UN World Conference Against
Robinson, today, is an “Elder,” a member of the group of former
politicians and UN officials that includes Jimmy Carter and Desmond Tutu, and is
now chaired by Kofi Annan.
The Elders met last month in Dublin with
current Irish President Michael Higgins to launch an anti-Israel boycott
campaign, euphemized as “labelling produce of the settlements.”
record is unambiguous: mourned for Arafat; denied Hamas is a terrorist
organization; in 2007 shared a platform with Ibrahim Mussawi of Hezbollah’s Al
Manar TV; in 2008 spoke at a march surrounded by Hezbollah banners; and in 2010
proclaimed in Parliament his support for the Gaza flotilla.
Hezbollah’s threats to Israel. Its current participation in Assad’s mass murder
of Syrian Sunnis, or its seeding of terror- sleepers from Latin America to
Africa do not faze Dublin.
It is ironic that the “peace walls” in Belfast
keeping Catholic and Protestant apart are praised, while their Israeli
counterpart, the security barrier that has almost eliminated the influx of
suicide bombers, is reviled as “apartheid.”
There may be no longer
roadblocks on the Emerald Isle at which an Irish Jew may be asked his identity.
But it is no joke that Hezbollah has once again met the IRA at the EU’s Irish
This is great cause for concern, for, as a sincere friend of
Ireland, I am convinced that there is so much in common between the Irish and
Jewish natural liberation struggles to regain our sovereignty, that we should
stand united against the scourge of terror that threatens us all.
author is director for international relations of the Simon Wiesenthal Center,
based in Paris.