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Ireland’s History Explains Its Hostility Towards Israel and Jews

Demonstrators hold Israeli and British flags outside the Law Courts, during a march against antisemitism, after an increase in the UK, during a temporary truce between the Palestinian Islamist terrorists Hamas and Israel, in London, Britain November 26, 2023. Photos: REUTERS/Susannah Ireland

Why is Ireland one of the most antisemitic countries in Europe?

The answer lies in its history. In Ulysses, by James Joyce, the antisemitic character Deasy says that the reason there was no antisemitism in Ireland was because they never let the Jews in, in the first place.

That’s not true of course, because there were significant Jewish communities both in Dublin and Cork. Indeed, my paternal grandparents were buried in Dublin. And in Ulysses itself, Joyce, who understood the Jewish problem in Europe, constantly makes references to Jewish and Zionist themes. There was always a divide in Catholic Ireland between the county priests, endemically antisemitic, and the urban academic Catholics, who were in the past much more understanding and sympathetic. But Irish history is a complex and controversial one.

“The Irish problem” was a subject that I was taught at school as part of the British history curriculum. It started when William the Conqueror came over from France and moved into Ireland, which up to that point had been a purely Gaelic country and culture.

The Irish fought back, but in 1650, Oliver Cromwell brutally suppressed the Gaelic resistance and sent in English settlers to keep the country controlled. English suppression only made matters worse. The Irish kept on fighting the English. And to this day the battle of the Boyne in 1690 is still either celebrated or mourned as the victory of the Protestant King William over the Catholic James.

The great potato famine of 1845, exacerbated by English neglect, caused the deaths of a million, and the emigration of a million more. The battle for Irish home rule dominated parliamentary life throughout the 19th century. The Irish Parliamentary Party tried to solve the Irish problem through negotiation, but failed. Resistance in Ireland grew, spearheaded by the Irish Republican Army and its socialist political party the Sinn Fein.

The British Parliament conceded the right of Ireland to have home rule in 1914, although this still meant it would be under the control of Britain, which was unacceptable to the Republican opposition. Famous Irish poet (and politician) W.B. Yeats wrote his Easter 1916 poem to commemorate the Easter Rising, when the center of Dublin was occupied by several hundred Republicans. After five days they were brutally overcome by British forces and 16 of the leaders were court-martialed and executed. The harsh British reaction helped to win wider support for independence.

During the First World War, many in Ireland supported Germany and refused to serve in the British Army. Ireland was divided not just between Catholics and Protestants, but between those Irishmen who were willing to accept home rule under British authority and those who opposed it and opposed it violently. The moderates were led by Michael Collins who was ready to accept Home Rule, while Eamon de Valera insisted on an independent republic. Both sides ended up fighting each other as well as battling the British.

After the war, Britain sent ex-army volunteers to bolster the Irish Police Force, known as the Black and Tans. They made things worse because they were notoriously brutal and used murder as a tool of suppression, which only infuriated the Irish and hardened their position. Not unlike the British police during its Palestine Mandate.

In 1922, after what was called the War of Irish Independence, most of Ireland seceded from the United Kingdom to become the independent Irish Free State and then simply Ireland, although the six northeastern counties of Northern Ireland remained in the United Kingdom. But the battle for Irish independence against the British, as well as the internal divisions, echoed the conflict between the Jews of Palestine and the British Mandate.

Hatred of England was such that in the Second World War, Ireland refused to join the fight against the Nazis. In the North, the battle between Catholics (led by the Provisional IRA) and Protestants continued violently on both sides of the Irish Sea until John Major signed a peace treaty within Northern Ireland in 1994. Meanwhile, the political divisions in Ireland continued between the IRA’s political wing, Fianna Fail, and Fianna Gael, the more right-wing until relatively recently.

However, the terror tactics of the IRA meant that generations trained with and supported other national rebellions around the world. Their hatred of British imperialism clouded their judgment, as did their friendships with other terrorists. And recent generations have sympathized with Palestinian aspirations, which they mistakenly believe mirrored their struggle. Even so, one might have thought that Ireland would feel some sympathy for Israel in its present plight but no such luck.

The Irish years of struggle and violence have been well dramatized in the excellent Netflix series called Rebellion. And the similarities should have allowed for a more objective stance. As elsewhere, the Irish ignore the nuances of history which have been reinforced by layers of antisemitism and religious conflict. Football is often a thermometer of old rivalries too which erupt on the field, with Catholics supporting the Palestinians and Protestants supporting Israel. In one way the conflict continues. Ireland still aspires to take full control of the North too.

The impossibility of finding a peaceful solution to the division of Ireland still challenges. And the Catholics still dream of getting it all back. No comparisons are ever absolute. And as long as the Palestinians dream of ruling from the river to the sea, and Israel hopes the problem will go away, there is, sadly, not a cat’s chance in hell of peace. But that’s politics for you.

The author is a rabbi and writer, currently based in new York.

The post Ireland’s History Explains Its Hostility Towards Israel and Jews first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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French Government Will Hold Commemoration for Victims of Hamas Pogrom Amid Disquiet Over Far Left Party’s Participation

Posters in Paris broadcasting the plight of Israeli hostages in Gaza covered over with pro-Palestinian messages. Photo: Reuters/Magali Cohen

French President Emmanuel Macron will preside over a special ceremony on Wednesday to commemorate the French victims of the Oct. 7, 2023 Hamas pogrom in Israel as a row over the potential presence of far left parliamentarians continues to fester.

A statement from the Elysée Palace on Monday confirmed Macron’s presence at Wednesday’s event, which will take place at Les Invalides in Paris, where the French National Assembly and other leading national institutions are based.

A spokeswoman for Macron’s office pointed out that 42 French citizens were among the more than 1,200 people murdered during the Hamas assault, with a further three still being held hostage in Gaza.

Answering a question from a reporter about whether a similar event would be held for French citizens killed during the IDF bombing of Gaza that followed the assault, she added that a separate memorial ceremony would be held at a date yet to be determined. “It is obvious that we owe the same emotion and the same dignity to the French victims of the bombings in Gaza, and this tribute will be paid to them at another time,” she said. It is not clear how many French passport holders have actually been killed since the French government announced the deaths of two Palestinian children who were French citizens on Oct. 31.

Wednesday’s ceremony will unfold “under the universal sign of the fight against anti-Semitism and through it, all forms of hatred, racism and oppression against minorities,” the official statement from the presidency declared. Each of the murdered victims will be commemorated through the display of a photograph with their name attached. Families of the victims will be present, many of them being flown in from Israel on a special flight chartered by the French government.

The event is already mired in controversy due the announcement of parliamentarians from the far left La France Insoumise  (LFI -“France Rising”) that they plan to attend. LFI has been vocal in its support of Palestinians in Gaza, frequently drawing accusations of antisemitism because of its harsh rhetoric. Earlier this month, the daughter of two LFI MPs was arrested for allegedly antisemitic social media posts in the weeks following the Hamas attack, while another LFI MP faced condemnation over a posting on social media that invoked a popular Japanese manga meme appropriated by antisemites.

In a letter to Macron, members of five of the victims families demanded a ban on the participation of LFI MPs.

“We, families of victims of Hamas terrorists, solemnly demand that any presence of LFI at the national tribute that will be paid to the 42 Franco-Israeli victims of 7/10 be prohibited,” the letter stated.

However, that request is unlikely to be granted. Pointing out that parliamentarians are automatically invited to state-organized ceremonies, Macron’s office stated that “It is up to everyone to assess the appropriateness or not of their presence since the families spoke out and expressed strong emotion,” but notably did not accede to the ban request.

Mathilde Panot, the head of the LFI deputies in the National Assembly, said last week that she planned to attend the ceremony.

“I will be present and I have asked that a tribute be paid to all the French victims of this war in the Middle East, including the Franco-Palestinians killed in Gaza by the Israeli army,” she said.

 

 

The post French Government Will Hold Commemoration for Victims of Hamas Pogrom Amid Disquiet Over Far Left Party’s Participation first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Montana Tucker “Bring Them Home” Grammy Tribute for Israeli Hostages Turns Heads

Feb 4, 2024; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Montana Tucker at the 66th Annual Grammy Awards at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024. Photo: Dan MacMedan / USA TODAY NETWORK via Reuters Connect

Jewish singer and songwriter Montana Tucker showed her support for Israelis still being held hostage by Hamas in Gaza at Sunday night’s 66th Annual Grammy Awards, an annual ceremony held to honor the record industry’s most critically acclaimed artists.

Posing for photographers, Tucker walked the red carpet clad in a beige, diaphanous corset gown ornamented with a yellow ribbon that said, “Bring Them Home.” She also wore a Star of David necklace.

136 Israeli hostages remain imprisoned by Hamas in Gaza. They have been there since Oct. 7, when the terrorist organization committed a massacre of Jews across the southern region of Israel, the deadliest mass killing of Jews since the Holocaust. Hamas’ fighters brutally murdered and rape hundreds, and according to numerous reports, more are being sexually abused in captivity.

Tucker’s wasn’t the only statement made about the Israel-Hamas war. Ann Lennox, Scottish vocalist of the popular 1980s band Eurythmics — most known for its No. 1 song “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” — called for a ceasefire in Gaza in a speech delivered after she performed a tribute to Sinéad O’Connor.

Raising a “Black Power” fist before a much larger audience than Tucker was accorded, Lennox proclaimed, “Artists for a ceasefire. Peace in the world.”

Lennox was alluding to “Artists4Ceasefire,” a small group of entertainers who issued a letter calling on President Joe Biden to “end the bombing of Gaza” that did not mention that Hamas started the war or condemn rising antisemitism. The letter’s signatories include, among other B-list celebrities, Adam Lambert — who in 2009 won second place in the now-discontinued television series American Idol — Jennifer Lopez, Rosie O’Donnell, and Alyssa Milano.

The Algemeiner honored Montana Tucker in 2022 for being one of 100 people recognized for positively influencing Jewish life. A granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, Tucker was dogged all her life by assertions that she does not “look Jewish.” Undeterred by the remarks, she committed to proudly representing the Jewish community, and in 2022 produced “How To: Never Forget,” a ten-part docuseries about her grandparents lives in Poland before the Nazi invasion.

“This has been my responsibility to do this, for me and my grandparents and everyone else,” Tucker said at the time, during an interview. “People are used to seeing my very light-hearted, fun dance videos and me collaborating with a lot of different people…It’s rare for me and my content, and rare for the platform in general, to have a docuseries on the Holocaust.”

Other pro-Israel activists wore apparel to the Grammy awards to show. Orthodox Rabbi-Rapper Moshe Reuven, whose song “You Are Not Alone” has amassed over one million streams on Spotify, sported a “Never Is Now” shirt distributed through partnership between civil rights nonprofit StandWithUs and Perspective Fitwear. The shirt’s designer is Karen Margolis.

Taylor Swift’s 2022 record, titled Midnights, won “Album of the Year,” and rapper Jay-Z implied during a speech for accepting the Dr. Dre Global Impact Award that his wife, multi-platinum artists and most-winning Grammy award winner ever Beyoncé, has never won “Album of the Year” because she is a Black woman. The moment was reminiscent of a 2009 incident in which Kanye West stormed the stage of the MTV Awards to denounce Swift’s winning “Best Video by a Female Artist.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

The post Montana Tucker “Bring Them Home” Grammy Tribute for Israeli Hostages Turns Heads first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Israeli Bank Shutter Accounts of Settlers Sanctioned By Biden

A woman uses an automated teller machine (ATM), outside a Bank Hapoalim branch in Tel Aviv, Israel, May 30, 2013. Photo: Reuters / Nir Elias / File.

The Israeli bank accounts of two of the Israelis sanctioned by the United States government last week were closed on Sunday and Monday. Israel’s Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich spoke out against the action, saying “I will take action as the finance minister and do what I must. If need be, we’ll advance legislation on the matter.” He further called the instance “unthinkable” that it occurred.

The two Israelis, Yinon Levi and David Chai Chasdai, had their personal and business accounts closed by Bank Leumi and Bank Hadoar, respectively. The other two settlers listed bank with Bank Hapoalim, who also said they would close the accounts, saying “Bank Hapoalim respects the international sanctions and will comply with any legal order.”

The Bank of Israel announced their support for the move, saying “Banking corporations, by necessity of their international activities, are required to establish policies and procedures for the use of international sanctions lists and national sanctions lists of foreign countries and for entering into or carrying out operations with parties declared on such lists. Circumvention of sanctions regimes as mentioned, has the effect of exposing the banking corporations to significant risks, among them, compliance risks, money laundering and terrorist financing risks, legal risks and reputational risks.”

Chasdai, who denies any wrongdoing, said “The fact that a government bank decides in the middle of a bright day to seize the bank accounts of settlers solely because of pressure from extreme leftist organizations and a hostile American government is unimaginable, but the fact that this is happening under the tenure of a right-wing government just after the greatest massacre in the country’s history is a national disgrace first class.”

“We have gone through many oppressors who harmed the people of Israel over the generations, we will also go through the persecution of Biden and his aides,” he added.

US President Joe Biden approved the sanctions last week, saying “The situation in the West Bank – in particular high levels of extremist settler violence, forced displacement of people and villages, and property destruction – has reached intolerable levels and constitutes a serious threat to the peace, security and stability in the region.”

The post Israeli Bank Shutter Accounts of Settlers Sanctioned By Biden first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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