The Irish don’t mean it, because they can’t understand it

I’ll be blunt: I often wonder why so many Israelis I’ve met have such love for Ireland.

John Lalor 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
John Lalor 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
With a heavy heart, I read that Irish “peace” activists accused Israel of sabotaging the MV Saoirse while it was docked in Turkey, forcing the ship out of the “peace” flotilla to Gaza. Despite these times of economic collapse in Ireland, at least you can still find a few of us Paddies blazing the moral trail for the world’s weak and defenseless.
I’ll be blunt: I often wonder why so many Israelis I’ve met have such love for Ireland. Our West is indeed picturesque, but do Israelis not get a sense that the air has been sucked out of the room when they announce their nationality? Have they visited Galway City on a Saturday, for example? You can’t pass through the main streets without seeing at least one anti-Israel demonstration. Indeed, despite almost every Western nation having recognized Israel in 1949, the Irish felt it was morally appropriate to do so fully only in 1975.
Well, thanks to Israel, this “peace” flotilla aqua-theater has been a boon to the Irish media and intellectuals in recent weeks. It has enabled them to do what they do best when it comes to foreign conflicts. Pontificate. Posture. Preen. All without a shred of moral, intellectual or factual support.
Based on how vocal the Irish can be about foreign affairs, it’s painfully apparent that many of us don’t understand that words have meanings and consequences.
Perhaps being neutral (and being the first nationality with whom any foreigner wants to share a pint) has led us to a position of assumed authority beyond both our knowledge and our capabilities.
This way of thinking led former foreign minister Michael Martin to write in The New York Times: “I genuinely believe that the medieval siege conditions being imposed on the people of Gaza are unacceptable.”
Now, a siege is implemented to enable the attackers to eventually conquer a city or country. Moreover, never in recorded history has the attacker supplied the besieged with electricity, water or about a million and a half tons of aid a month, as Israel has foolishly done. From this, we see again how words have no meaning – even at the highest level of Irish diplomacy.
This same naïvete was demonstrated in our former prime minister Bertie Ahern’s handling of the capture of Irish aid worker Margaret Hassan in Iraq; his tactics showed our vacuous understanding of Islamic terrorism.
Irish Independent columnist Kevin Myers recently reported on a “debate” in which he participated at a Southeast Dublin book festival, calling it “surreal.” Not only did the chair – a journalist of almost 40 years’ experience at Ireland’s state broadcaster, RTE – become emotionally involved (guess which side!), but Myers was harangued by the crowd, too.
In an affluent, idyllic part of Dublin, Myers explained that “what was most striking about the audience’s contributions was the raw emotion; they seemed to loathe Israel.” From the very minds that would otherwise denounce extremism and violence came these primitive, emotion-laden responses and epithets.
Simply put, there was no debate, because there is no debate in Ireland about these issues. In short, Myers witnessed Ireland’s version of Orwell’s “Two- Minute Hate,” in which Israel was Emmanuel Goldstein.
So why do we do it? Our inherent desire to be “fair” prompts many of my compatriots to blindly accept the Palestinian narrative. Nowhere else will the Marxist dialectic be more assiduously followed, whereby the weaker party is right by virtue of its relative weakness, rather than anything inherently right about its position.
Regardless of Catholic anti-Semitism, history, anti-colonialism and so forth, the Palestinians have a natural ally in the Irish.
The reason behind Ireland’s duplicitous treatment of the Jewish state is simple. By failing to accept that we practice double standards, we show Israel that we expect more of it than of its neighbors. And in times of war, this becomes an unwanted compliment. Excluding Arabs from both cause of, and accountability for conflict implies a belief in differing levels of ability and morality.
Even through the Celtic Tiger years, we never lost our admiration of advanced cultures – an admiration transparently wrapped, as it always was, in a bitter smugness. Scratch the surface, and you often get a rather dim view of Arab societies.
Damascus and Amman and Tripoli murder tens of thousands of their own people – fellow Muslims, no less – and the Irish don’t bat an eye. This leads the logical mind to a serious conclusion: that the death of an Arab is less significant at the hands of another Arab than it is at the hands of a Jew.
Thus, the Irish tend to see Palestinians – and Arabs in general – as incapable of truly sentient thought. By considering all Palestinian actions to be the results of Israeli actions, we are demonstrating appalling condescension. Like molecules in a test-tube, Palestinians do not act; they merely react. As such, they are but puppets on strings, with the Israelis in control of their every move – curiously reminiscent of cartoons in Der Sturmer, or in many contemporary Arab papers.
As there are so few Irish debaters and journalists who will support Israel publicly, the holders of these dissonant views are never challenged in a neutral environment.
Debating, by its very nature, suits the Irish. We are like the dining partner who gorges on the finest meals, only to vanish when the bill comes. Alas, when there are no consequences for stupid beliefs, stupid beliefs tend to proliferate.
The writer is an Irish clinical psychologist living in Luzern, Switzerland.