A Guardian analysis (‘It’s part of our psyche’: why Ireland sides with ‘underdog’ Palestine, Nov. 20) by Rory Carrol and and Lisa O’Carroll purported to explain why Irish politicians are so outspoken about “Israel’s bombardment of Gaza” inadvertently demonstrated that one of the reasons is antisemitism.
For background on antisemitism in Ireland, you should read David Collier’s in depth report on the problem of antisemitism, and antisemitism denial, coming from the Irish politicians, academics and activists.
Now, here are the relevant paragraphs from the Guardian article:
Sympathy for Palestinians is rooted in Ireland’s history, said Niall Holohan, a retired diplomat who was based in Ramallah from 2002-2006 as the Irish government’s representative to the Palestinian Authority. “We feel we have been victimised over the centuries. It’s part of our psyche – underneath it all we side with the underdog.”
Holohan claims that another factor in Ireland’s outlook has been its tiny community of approximately 2,500 Jews – barely 0.05% of the population – that contrasts with sizeable and influential Jewish communities in Britain and France. “It’s given us a freer hand to take what we consider a more principled position,” he said.
Holohan said the quite part loud, and the Guardian journalists didn’t blink an eye. Ireland, the retired diplomat asserts, is blessed to have less Jews in their country than in the UK and France.
This is staggering. If you have too many Jews in your country, they prevent your government from acting with principles – according to a retired Irish diplomat, quoted without comment in the Guardian. https://t.co/64xv703KuR
— Dave Rich (@daverich1) November 23, 2023
We’re of course not surprised that Guardian editors didn’t flag the unambiguously antisemitic narrative concerning the putatively nefarious influence of ‘Jewish power’ on Western politics, as, for instance, their veteran journalist Chris McGreal has devoted much of his career to peddling variations of that trope – albeit, typically in a more subtle way than the former Irish diplomat.
Moreover, the Jewish population in the UK – which Holohan describes as “sizeable” – is, in fact, one-half of one percent (0.5%) of the population. French Jews similarly make up less than one percent (0.75%) of the population. The correct word to describe the Jewish populations in these countries is miniscule.
However, the problem with arguments such as Holohan’s isn’t merely that they obscure the fact that all Jewish communities in the diaspora are extremely small. The more disturbing subtext is the assumption that Jewish communities – unlike other minority or majority communities – engage in political activism that’s intrinsically at odds with the interests (or ‘principles’) of their countries.
Indeed, the ‘dual loyalty’ charge is predicated upon the fear that Jews can’t be trusted to put the interests of their own countries first. Of course, who decides precisely what’s in any given country’s best interest – in terms of foreign or domestic policy – is what politics is all about. Liberal democracy is predicated upon the right of all citizens to influence their government’s decisions, using all legitimate and legal means – through persuasion, lobbying and voting – to affect change.
The belief that Jews’ loyalty to their own country is suspect, that they exercise too much power over government policy and that smaller Jewish populations lead to more moral policies is redolent of centuries of antisemitism in which Jews have been viewed as a toxic element in the body politic. The fact that the Guardian didn’t detect the underlying racist assumption of Holohan’s comments is another example of how the outlet’s obsessive support of the Palestinians, and related hostility towards the Jewish state, leads them to legitimise, condone and peddle antisemitic content on their platforms.