Guest Columnist: The Irish boycott: What a joke

Until Ireland sorts itself out and stops projecting its own neuroses onto the tiny Jewish state, you guys will just have to struggle on as best you can without those all-important Irish intellectuals and artists.

By JULIE BURCHILL
September 8, 2010 16:52
Julie BURCHILL

Julie BURCHILL-58p. (photo credit: Jpost)

 
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To start with, it goes without saying that people are free to boycott whoever they wish. For many years now, I have chosen not to visit any country which practices gender apartheid – i.e. Muslim states – as I will not contribute in any way to a vile belief system which results in females being treated in a way which appears to be a cross between the way czarist Russia treated the Jews and Scrooge treated money.

So of course the “Irish intellectuals and artists” who Haaretz recently reported as declaring Israel well and truly boycotted were totally within their rights to do so. The conceit that the Irish are telling the Jews that they won’t be sending them any more intellectuals does sound like the first line of an insulting stereotypical joke – but still, it’s their right.

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That the artists signed a statement pledging that they will refrain from engaging in cultural activity with Israel “until such time as Israel complies with international law and universal principles of human rights” also sounds like a joke, and a rather bad one at that, considering that the Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign has made no comment about the gender apartheid practiced by their pals.

Last year, Hamas security forces attempted to arrest a Palestinian woman for not wearing a head scarf, walking on a beach without a male escort and laughing out loud! O, these brazen hussies – they’ll be wanting the right to marry who they want next, and then it’ll be anarchy! Luckily the woman in question, Asma al-Ghul, was a journalist at the Palestinian daily Al-Ayam; she said that had she not phoned Hamas and appealed to it personally, she would have been arrested for showing her hair and laughing, as has happened to less media-savvy Palestinian women since then. Even so, she had her passport confiscated and claims that the men threatened her with violence if she complained.

And these people, these Hamas thugs, who treat even their own female journalists (goodness knows what they behave like to those women without a voice) like suspected streetwalkers, are the people who Western entertainers and academics are backing as a beacon of enlightenment against nasty Israel. It sort of makes sense concerning the recent Irish connection though; when you’ve grown up indoctrinated by a religion – Catholicism – which is almost as viciously gynophobic as Islamism, I guess you don’t notice much of a difference.

CATHOLICISM IN general and Ireland in particular have a long, problematic history of cozying up to Jew-haters. It’s open knowledge that the present pope was in the Hitler Youth – though even this isn’t enough for Mel Gibson’s arch- Catholic, Holocaust-denying dad, who says the pope is gay for not being tough enough on gayness.

And Papist Mel himself has shown his true Jew-baiting colors in vino veritas way back. And the prime minister of “neutral” Ireland during World War II, Eamonn de Valera, famously signed the book of condolences at the German Embassy in Dublin on the occasion of Hitler’s death.



Of course there are honorable exceptions to this shameful roll call. At ceremonies for the first Holocaust Memorial Day in Ireland, January 26, 2003, justice minister Michael McDowell openly apologized for an Irish wartime policy that was inspired by “a culture of muted anti-Semitism in Ireland,” which discouraged the immigration of thousands of Europe’s threatened Jews. He said that “at an official level the Irish state was at best coldly polite and behind closed doors antipathetic, hostile and unfeeling toward the Jews.”

And earlier this year, that great rock icon of Irish descent, John Rotten Lydon, defied his critics and defended his plans to play in Israel thus: “I really resent the presumption that I’m going there to play to right-wing Nazi Jews. If Elvisf* cking-Costello wants to pull out of a gig in Israel because he’s suddenly got this compassion for Palestinians, then good on him. But I have absolutely one rule, right? Until I see an Arab country, a Muslim country, with a democracy, I won’t understand how anyone can have a problem with how they’re treated.”

SAYS DR. David Hirsh, a lecturer in sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London, and an expert on anti-Semitism: “In Ireland, Green/Orange politics is largely now a thing of the past, but the Israel boycott allows those who are nostalgic for it to carry on playing the game.

In certain Irish imaginations, the Palestinians are drafted in to symbolize the Republicans and the Israelis are given the role of the Loyalists. The vulgar anti-imperialists bang on about their boycott of Israel, but none of this has anything to do with reality in the Middle East. It does, however, destroy the unity of the Irish Labor movement.

“All over the world, local issues are played out over the body of the Jewish state, in the language of the Israel boycott. In Britain the boycott is about colonial guilt. In South Africa it is about apartheid.

In Germany it is about the Holocaust. In the US it is about the Wild West. In Venezuela it is about the anti-imperialist rainbow. In Egypt and Iran it is about uniting people behind vile governments.”

UNTIL SO many crazy countries sort themselves out and stop projecting their own neuroses onto the battleground of the tiny Jewish state, I guess you guys will just have to struggle on as best you can without those all-important imported Irish intellectuals. And yes, again, it does sound like a joke, but I don’t hear anyone laughing. Especially not women who wish to walk alone on Arab beaches, daring to feel the breeze in their hair.

The writer has been a journalist since the age of 17 and an admirer of Israel since the age of 12. The television adaptation of her teenage novel Sugar Rush won an International Emmy in 2006.

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