The Irish and Israel

This is a cross-post by Michael Weiss.

The sons and daughters of Eire are not generally known for their fondness of Jewish statehood. And yet the exceptions to this ignoble rule are distinguished and vocal enough to merit citation when they occur. Lord David Trimble, who won a Nobel Peace Prize that actually mattered, has written learnedly on the false analogy between the Troubles and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Conor Cruise O’Brien produced one of the best and most prescient histories of Zionism — prescient in the sense that history, when done right, provides a useful guide to the present and future. His appetite for this strangely un-neglected subject was whetted, he claimed, whilst serving as an Irish delegate to the United Nations for many years. Because of an institutional caprice of seating diplomats in alphabetical order, the Cruiser found much to favor in the Israeli colleague seated to his right, especially when measured against the Iraqi one seated to his left — that is, until the day this poor man was hanged.

I’ve long been a keen observer of Hibernian sympathies for Zionism because my own heritage is as much Dedalus as it is Bloom. And so now to this esteemed company we can add the name Cliona Campbell, a 19 year-old girl from Cork who was so taken with the Jewish people and their plight that she went to Israel to volunteer with an international corps of the IDF. She returned home, wrote about the experience for the Evening Echo. The unsought reverberations of this article constitute one of the blackest campaigns of national obloquy ever heaped upon a writer in Ireland. According to Ben Cohen, “Grown men have walked to up to [Campbell] in the street and abused her. Browsing in a clothes store, the security guard recognized her and showered her with insults. Threats have been emailed to her.” To say that this has been done in the name of Palestinian solidarity would be an insult to Palestinians.

You can dial up Campbell’s original piece, which is more elegant than anything written against it, here.