My political compass

One would think the Jewish-Diaspora would open up their arms to an Irish-Zionist. Turns out they are among the harshest critics.

bethlehem walls 521 (photo credit: courtesy)
bethlehem walls 521
(photo credit: courtesy)
I don't consider myself left-wing. But I certainly don't consider myself to be a right-winger either. I do, however, consider myself a Zionist. Here in lies the problem.
This weekend I will arrive in Israel for the first time since shooting my documentary about the Arab-Israeli conflict, Forty Shades of Grey. Shot over a seven-week period in April and May of 2011, the result of this film has been my political compass being well and truly marked. But I wasn't the one holding the pencil.
You see, in Ireland, we don't particularly like Israel. In fact, apart from those Kiffya-loving Vikings in the colder regions of our continent, we are your biggest enemies in Europe. During the recent Gaza operation, a mob of apparent “pro-Palestine” campaigners joined forces with dissident Irish republican paramilitaries to protest outside the Israeli embassy in Dublin. They punched cops, they got arrested, and they exposed themselves as the uneducated idiots they are.
But as a nation, we Irish are very confused on this Israel issue. I don't think it's entirely our fault. We come from a land where occupation is already a very touchy subject. We had our own bloody war going on not long ago. Bombs and bullets dominated our news reports up until relatively recently. We didn't have time to properly educate ourselves about a very different, very distant conflict. Our newspapers were already full of murder and collusion; and local news always sells more papers anyway.
Then it all finished. The peace process began and after decades of violence there was finally a sort of calm in Northern Ireland. But unfortunately, as a result, there is now a whole new generation of young Irish people who feel they were born too late for their natural struggle. We are a fighting race; it's in our blood. But the war at home is over. So we have instead adopted a proxy-cause.
In Beit Jala, on the other side of the wall, there is IRA graffiti in support of the Palestinian cause, painted by the well-heeled war-tourists who go to the West Bank on holiday, filled with romantic notions of a leftwing struggle; bombs, and berets and all that baloney.
But if these naïve Irish idiots could see the grim reality of the separated pieces of a teenage suicide bomber, bones and flesh and internal organs all spread out in a thick pool of blood, perhaps those notions wouldn't be quite so romantic. The well-heeled war tourists would be on the first flight back home to their comfortable cappuccinos in Dublin and Belfast.
In Dublin city center, the streets are packed with elderly ultra-leftwingers. They stand out in the rain every weekend with placards and megaphones and hip-flasks of gin, ignoring the arthritis to fight for the rights of Transgender Palestinians, or whatever ridiculously obscure cause de jour it happens to be.
And as we all know, life is infinitely more interesting when you believe everything you hear. Sheep need shepherds. Up until recently, most of our information on the Arab-Israeli conflict has been propagated by the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign. This branch of bullies even have a webpage monitoring me, the “Zionist puppet filmmaker.” Ironically, these sheep-directors now seem to think they're the Mossad.
So therefore in “coming out” as a Zionist, I have automatically been labeled as a raving right-wing nut job. This confuses me greatly. Do the people holding those political compasses not realize that Israel's very foundation was as a socialist state? Interestingly, the only place I've found it generally acceptable to have the words “leftwing” and “Zionist” in the same sentence is in Israel itself. Everywhere else, being a Zionist is automatically equivalent to being a rightwing lunatic and a Fox News fan.
In fact, the reaction to Forty Shades of Grey has shown me that even the Jewish Diaspora around the world is confused on this issue.
2012 took me all over the place screening my film and taking part in Q&A sessions that followed from the audiences. With the general consensus in Ireland being that I was a Zionist puppet, pumped full of Jew gold, and more than likely a Mossad agent, I was interested to see how Forty Shades of Grey would go down elsewhere in the world.
When it comes to the Israel issue, your average Canadian is a lot less hostile than your average Paddy. Though in fairness, after a few valiums, a Pernod and Lucozade, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is probably a lot less hostile to Israel than your average Irishman.
But I was shocked to be attacked by the Jewish Diaspora in Canada. For some of the Jewish members in the audience, their rose-tinted glasses made their Canadian version of Israel into some form of Disneyland. It's a Jewish utopia; that is until a jumped-up filmmaker from Offaly came along with his film that said otherwise.
Israel is not perfect; no more than any other country. But it is a democracy, and a democracy people risk their lives to get to. In my experience, it is the only place you can be leftwing and Zionist.
So perhaps the largely rightwing Fox-News-loving Jewish Diaspora around the world might benefit from a visit to the homeland, and get in touch with the realities of contemporary Israel.
It's such a pity that constant criticism has forced hyphenated Jews around the world to adopt such a bunker mentality, that it now makes it difficult to recognize a friend from an enemy. But maybe a few Israeli hangovers might be the cure. I'm certainly looking forward to my Goldstars next week.