On the Irish and Israel (Cont'd)

By Jeffrey Goldberg

Andrew Exum (a/k/a @abumuqawama on the magic Twitter machine) e-mails to provide some depth on the subject of anti-Israel feeling in Ireland:

There are a few explanations for why the Irish do not have a lot of love for Israel. Here are two:
1.  During the Troubles, Ulster Protestant politicians consciously identified with the Israeli side of the Israel-Palestine conflict, comparing their own struggles against Irish Catholic terrorism with those of Israel against Palestinian terrorism. Irish Catholics, especially in Ulster, often reciprocated by sympathizing with the plight of the Palestinians living under occupation. (The PIRA, quite separately, had close contacts with Palestinian militant groups such as the PFLP in the 1970s and 1980s.)

2.  A lot of Irish have served in southern Lebanon as part of UNIFIL. It is very difficult to serve in southern Lebanon as part of UNIFIL and come away with a positive view of the IDF and, by extension, Israel.  (Imagine spending six months in Baghdad in 2004 living with Iraqis and then drawing all of your conclusions about the United States and Americans from that experience.) It is a lot easier, by contrast, to strike up lasting relationships with the people of southern Lebanon. (There is a shop-keeper named "Rosie" in southern Lebanon who speaks English in the most incongruous and delightful County Cork accent as a result of decades of trading with Irish peacekeepers. She is a star of Irish radio - as a gag, they once put her on and had callers from all over Ireland guess where she was from by listening to her accent.)

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/06/on-the-irish-and-israel-contd/241219/