Sunday, March 25, 2012

Anti-Israeli sentiment: the 'default setting' for many?

Racism and anti-Semitism: double-standards displayed by many who cry foul when it is directed at them!Lessons of history are not taught to the young,- they are the worst in Ireland.
"I had to be honest and admit that as a democrat, a liberal and a feminist, I could not
support ideologies that would stone me for having sex, and order my
brother/father to murder me if I were raped -- not to mention what
they would do to my gay or Jewish friends."Carol Hunt.


Carol Hunt: Lessons of history are not taught

Anti-Israeli sentiment seems to be the default setting for many people
who should know better, says Carol Hunt

Sunday March 18 2012

Last Thursday we all had a good laugh at the assertion that the
Islamic Republic of Iran "is concerned about human rights violations
in Ireland", particularly "xenophobia and discrimination against

Well really, we may not be perfect but we don't stone adulterers,
execute rape victims and repeatedly announce that we aim for "the
defeat of [Muslim] ideology and the dissolution of [Iran]" as
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has often said of Judaism and Israel.

We can afford to be a little smug -- and rightly so, can't we? Yet our
reaction to the double standards inherent in the statement from Iran
pointed up one of our own double-standards, albeit not one that many
people will admit to.

Let me explain. Last week's article on the Israeli/Palestinian
conflict by artist Nicky Larkin reminded me of the PLO scarf I owned
as a teenager. I loved that scarf so much I think I slept with it. And
as I and my peers were in thrall to Yasser Arafat and the struggles of
the Palestinians (not that we knew much about either), I was delighted
to be accepted as one of the PLO pack.

Being a teenager, independent research on these issues was fairly low
on my to-do list. I consumed the views of my peer group with few, if
any queries.

Which is just about acceptable when you're 14, but not so much when
you're 40-something. So since then I've had to change my mind on quite
a few occasions when the facts as I understood them also changed. One
major shift was the realisation that any possible legitimate,
Palestinian nationalist aim had been ruthlessly hijacked by groups
like Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committee -- both
cynically sponsored by human rights-loving Iran. I had to be honest
and admit that as a democrat, a liberal and a feminist, I could not
support ideologies that would stone me for having sex, and order my
brother/father to murder me if I were raped -- not to mention what
they would do to my gay or Jewish friends.

Even Hamas, less radical than the groups above, says in its charter
that it wants the State of Israel eradicated: "Israel will exist and
continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it
obliterated others before it." It also cites the [forged] anti-Semitic
Protocols of Zion and calls for the death of all Jews.

Yet in the years since Israel retaliated against the continual
terrorist attacks on its people -- (you can do your own research as to
whether or not you think their reaction was justified but just
consider how we'd feel if Britain denied the right of our Republic to
exist and kept launching attacks on Irish people) -- anti-Zionism and
anti-Semitism have increased exponentially. There seem to be many who
believe that if Israel would just go away, the Islamists would be
content and World Peace a natural consequence (women's, lesbian/
gay/bisexual/transgender and religious rights be damned -- but isn't
it wonderful to see the far Right and Left agree on something?!)

Traditional anti-Semitism in Europe -- the historical demonisation of
Jews -- has been transferred to the demonisation of the State of
Israel: a far more socially acceptable prejudice, particularly in
Ireland where anti-Israeli sentiment seems to be the default setting
for many who really should know better.

As Dubliner Dr Rory Miller, author of Ireland and The Palestinian
Question, said of Irish bias against Israel: "One might define it as
an unthinking, visceral attachment to Palestinian suffering ... many
people neither understand the facts nor want to know them."

And, despite protestations to the contrary, the facts show that this
anti-Israeli prejudice translates into run-of-the-mill anti-Semitism.
Is it any wonder that Israel -- and many Jews worldwide -- fear
another attempt to exterminate them, not just because of the visceral
hatred of them in the Middle East but because of this astonishing rise
of anti-Semitism in Europe?

In Ireland CSO figures have shown an increase in offences aimed at the
Jewish community and, rather more worrying, a study published last
year by Jesuit priest and sociologist Michael MacGreil (based on ESRI
statistics) showed that "anti-Semitic sentiment was strongest in the
18-25 age range, with 46 per cent claiming that they would not be
willing to accept a Jewish person into their family" (40 per cent in
'all ages' category) and 48 per cent would refuse an Israeli citizen.

Fr MacGreil commented: "There is a real danger that the public image
of 'Israeli' can lead to an increase in anti-Semitism". These figures
would tend to contradict the argument that pro-Palestinianism is
anti-Zionism devoid of anti-Semitic elements. And the fact that it's
our young citizens who are most anti-Semitic is perhaps proof that
lessons of history are not being taught.

Last December the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in
Europe, a UN intergovernmental group, highlighted the "alarming rise
in anti-Semitism in European countries in the past three years".
Increasingly there are scenes played out in towns, schools and
synagogues that are reminiscent of the worst medieval pogroms. Yet
there is little coverage of these crimes or censoring of the
perpetrators in case a "liberal" media is accused of bias towards
Israel -- or antipathy to Islam.

In January, as European institutions joined Jewish organisations in
commemorating the Holocaust, Dr Moshe Kantor, President of the
European Jewish Congress, warned: "We are witnessing a rise in
anti-Semitism ... the remembrance of the Shoah is a European
responsibility towards the future, particularly ... when Europe is
facing the most serious economic and social crisis since the end of
World War II. We saw that such crisis in the past led to the rise of
Nazism and we have to be extremely vigilant against the rise of
extremism, populism and ultra-nationalism, which once again could
destroy the spirit and soul of Europe."

Facing up to our own dangerous double standards would be a good start.

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