Uncertain future for Belfast’s Jews

NESTLED BEHIND carefully pruned hedges on Belfast’s resolutely middle-class Somerton Road is an unexpected landmark. In a town where religion and politics have been intertwined stands the synagogue of the Belfast Hebrew Congregation, an unassuming modernist building that is home to a faith community that has been in the city for decades

Funny story: I wrote and filed this article in April but it was bumped off the pages every time it was due to run. Events, dear boy, and all that. Then someone I had been talking to posted me a clipping from the Belfast Telegraph. The story was about Belfast’s Jews. I knew I was right – it is worth writing about. Anyway, the paper ran the story today (with a quick update).

Uncertain future for Belfast’s Jews, Irish Times, November 21, 2009

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  • GGN

    Have to disagree with you a little bit.

    I know a number of Jewish people in Belfast, bu they do not attend the synagogue however.

    I think there could be more than one hundred – what does the census say?

  • Jason Walsh

    Secular Jews, probably. The congregation is around 100. There’s no progressive or liberal congregation, either.

  • Dave

    Jewish migration from NI has little to do with the violence up there and is related to the same factors that have caused the Jewish community to dwindle down here (from about 5,600 circa 1950 to about 2000 today). There are too few of them to form a community proper, and the younger folks find it too difficult to find other Jews to date so they migrate to larger Jewish population centres and particularly to Israel. Then of course they marry and the parents move to be near the grandchildren. There was some immigration of Jews during the boom of probably a few hundred in all but they are not committed to staying here. There has been some anti-Jewish unpleasantness of late that may be speeding up the decline of Ireland’s Jewish population but it doesn’t originate among the Irish people themselves but rather from among a small extreme section of the 50,000 or so recent immigration of Muslims into Ireland. Irish people are profoundly anti-Zionist, however. Which is probably why you didn’t mention who Belfast’s most prominent Jews were.

  • picador

    Interesting article, Jason.

    I think the old synagogue behind Carlisle Circus is now used by the Mater Hospital.

    Unfortunately I hear a lot of casual anti-Semitism around.

  • Jason Walsh

    Dave “Which is probably why you didn’t mention who Belfast’s most prominent Jews were”

    You what now? It’s a short article. Filed copy was just 1,500 words, published copy 1,300. I had to leave a lot of things out.

    I wrote a (slightly) longer history of Jewish Dublin the Dubliner magazine a few months ago. Anyone who wants a copy, e-mail me (not at Slugger – use the forth address listed at the bottom right of this page: http://forth.ie/

  • Jason Walsh

    picador I don’t know. Everyone I spoke to said anti-semitism was not an issue, including the Rabbi.

  • picador

    Well I’m glad to hear that. I just making an observation of what I hear, generally when Palestine is in the news. As a gentile it makes me cringe.

  • Doctor Who

    There has always been an air of anti semitism in Northern Ireland, usually emanating from but not exclusively coming from the nationalist side. Growing up I lost may aquantancies after they found out I was `Jewish´, even though by the time I was in my teens, most of my extended family where either secular Jews or Christian by marraige,

    At job interviews I would be asked about it, usually not in a sinister way but certainly inappropriate.

    “The current lord mayor [Sinn Féin’s Tom Hartley] worked hard to have the Jewish plot in the City Cemetery on the Falls Road restored and tidied.”

    While this was welcomed it was in Hartley´s best interest to have this done. It was after all young republicans who vandalised the Cemetery, painting swastika and IRA slogans on the stones and defecating over the graves.

    I suppose like Southern Protestants, Jews have generally been tolerated due to their low numbers, but every now and then a message would be sent to them.

  • Dave

    Jason, it wasn’t an accusation of anti-Zionism on your part; rather that you might not have mentioned that that Belfast’s most prominent Jews included the Chief Rabbi of Palestine and also of Israel and an Israeli president because others “are profoundly anti-Zionist.” Ireland is deeply hostile to the state of Israel, and has been so since de Valera created this foreign policy. It was, for example, the last country in Europe to grant Israel the right to establish an embassy in Ireland.

  • Jason Walsh

    Doctor Who

    I have no wish to dispute your personal experiences, however, I’m not so sure about your broad point. First, I think it’s a stretch to call the vandals “young republicans”. Idiot malefactors who hide behind the local rhetoric seems more likely to me.

    Also, there have been plenty of prominent Jewish republicans in Irish history (as has there been Jewish unionists). The only conclusion I can draw is that being Jewish has no political significance in Irish terms.

    There may be some issue with the old Catholic “killed Christ” notion, but I think Catholicism is a waning force.

  • Jason Walsh

    Dave

    Ah, right OK. I did mention Herzog Snr and Jnr, for example. It mustn’t have made the final edit. (I don’t really read my own stuff much when it’s published).

  • RG Cuan

    I was in the Somerton Rd. synagogue for the first time last month – for the play Jason mentioned that’s based on Belfast’s Jewish community – and found it a very interesting place. Intend to go back sometime to find out more.

    As for anti-semitism in Ireland, in my opinion it is more anti-Israeli policy and actions in Palestine than anti-Jewish. There is a clear distinction that should be recognised.

  • Doctor Who

    Jason

    “Idiot malefactors who hide behind the local rhetoric seems more likely to me.”

    You seem to totally ignore the fact that there are many links with Irish republicanism and nazism. Perhaps you should ask Dublin Jews what their opinion on nazi colaborator Sean Russells statue proudly sitting in Phoenix Park is.

  • Jason Walsh

    Doctor Who

    It’s not in Phoenix Park, but yes, there is a statue of Russell.

    Russell is (now) widely regarded as a fool, but very few people think he was a Nazi sympathizer. Russell’s guiding principle seems to have been “the enemy of my enemy”. Regardless of whether or not this is an appropriate moral stance, the “links” between Irish republicanism and Nazism are wildly over-stated. For a start, the IRA of Russell’s era was a tiny fringe group, not a serious force. Secondly, it’s a bit odd to link one person in this way. Do people link Irish republicanism to Amnesty International? After all, Amnesty was co-founded by a former chief-of-staff of the IRA

    Moreover, neither Russell nor indeed the IRA represent anything like the sole version of republicanism – and even if you think the IRA is the ne plus ultra of republicanism, well, Robert Briscoe was a prominent IRA member, for example.

    I’m sorry, I lived in West Belfast for too long to accept that typical republicans or nationalists are anti-semetic. It’s just not true. This is not to say there isn’t the odd fringe character about the place, but widespread anti-semitism? Not in my experience.

  • picador

    When people make comments along the lines of ‘Hitler should have finished the job’ it is more than just anti-Zionism? And yet I have heard a surprising number of people say such things (usually after a few drinks).

  • A N Other

    Doctor Who,

    Thank you for sharing your experiences with the thread.

    The only high profile Jewish member of the ROI community I can think of, is FG TD Alan Shatter.

    [open to correction on this].

    Although, the fact there is so few in ROI public-life, is indictative of the size of their numbers?

    PS That statue isn’t in the PP, it’s in a park in Fairview, IIRC.

  • Rory Carr

    When I first began work in Belfast as an apprentice accountant, aged 16, my very first assignment was to prepare the accounts for two Jewsih friendly societies, the Bnai Bnith and the Ancient Order of Maccabeans. I was obliged to travel to a flat on the Antrim Road to obtain the signature of the secretary of these societies, a man who seemed absolutely ancient to me who spoke with a European accent which I suspect was German or Austrian, and who made me welcome. I then had to go to a furriers opposite Queen’s Arcade to obtain another signature and sat waiting enthralled and embarrassed as two divine looking models wafting breezes of perfume glided around modelling fur coats for two hatchet-faced customers. The boss when he arrived was arrogant and impatient of me as though I were to blame for interrupting his day. I didn’t like him, but not because he was Jewish but because he was an ill mannered oaf whatever his religious or ethnic background.

    But let us not forget a word of praise for the Jewish tallyman who clothed the children of both east and west Belfast, Protestant and Catholic. and delivered the goods to the door, returning each week to collect weekly payment of one shilling in the pound so that, after twenty weeks, little Johnnie could get new shoes and new trousers that mammy and dady could not afford to buy at full price in the shops.

    At the beginning of the triobles one such was held up at gunpoint and robbed in the Ballymurphy area but protests from the local mothers that their only line of credit for first communion wear was now cut off swiftly brought about reimbursemnet of loss and reinstatement of service.

  • Turgon

    Jason Walsh:
    “I think it’s a stretch to call the vandals “young republicans”. Idiot malefactors who hide behind the local rhetoric seems more likely to me.”

    Well no it is not a stretch at all is it. If one writes republican slogans that tends to make one a republican. However, now we are told it is a “stretch”; that is extremely disingenuous. Indeed to dismiss and minimise daubing swastika and IRA slogans on headstones and defecating on graves is actually very disturbing.

    I am sure Jason is not anti-Semitic and I am sure some of his best friends are Jewish.

    However, maybe Jason you could accept that if Doctor Who felt that this was more than “idiot malefactors” then that is his experience.

    Furthermore to then dismiss the links between republicanism and Nazism simply compounds the problem. Quite revealing about Jason though.

  • RG Cuan

    “Furthermore to then dismiss the links between republicanism and Nazism simply compounds the problem. Quite revealing about Jason though.”

    Come on Turgon. The fact that some people attempt to highlight these ‘links’ reveals more.

  • Turgon:

    Leave it out. I have strong personal ties to Jewish Ireland which you couldn’t possibly know about but, more importantly, are of no relevance whatsover to any discussion we could possibly have here. The point is the writing, not the person who wrote it. Isn’t there some rule about playing the ball on Slugger?

    If you think I am anti-semitic, as you are implying with a wink and a nod, why then did I write two positive articles about Jews in Ireland and why is my work to be found in the Jewish museum in Dublin. You know nothing about me, my family or my background.

    If you want to critique my writing you are most welcome to do so. You are not welcome, however, to cast aspersions on me or indulge in ignorant and uninformed character assassinations.

    I didn’t discount Doctor Who‘s experiences. I simply said I think it would be, in my opinion, wrong to extrapolate a political sentiment from them. We all have many experiences but to draw a line from them directly to a broader point is to raise the possibility of our experiences being less common that we might think.

    So, you think that republicanism is honestly represented by a few shitheads on the Falls? When I was 16 I knew someone who (he claimed) smashed some headstones, but they weren’t Jewish ones. They were Catholic ones. He did it for reasons that had nothing to do with politics whatsoever.

    If you think that republcianism’s true voice is expressed by vandals in the City Cemetery where does that leave, for example, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, both of which claim to be republican parties? Indeed, even the SDLP has in recent years referred to itself as a republican party, something which I saw as a positive move away from ‘nationalism’, a term too connected to cultural issues for my liking.

    I have very little desire to debate the issue of Sean Russell with you. I don’t represent either him or his political tradition (or any political tradition) for that matter, but to argue that he was significant is simply wrong. Had he been successful we might be having a different discussion (and the world, Ireland included would be a worse place for it) but the fact remains that he failed for a number of reasons including the fact that IRA of the time was virtually non-existent.

    If you want to attack Ireland for it’s attitude to Jews you’d be on firmer ground asking why they weren’t allowed to settle here en masse during the Second World War. They should have been, that would have been the decent thing to do.

  • I have to say, I am saddened by the fact that an article which points out that being Irish and Jewish (in religious or secular terms) confers no automatic position on Ireland has already been turned into a argument about republicans versus unionists. The entire point of what I wrote was that, in this instance, we can clearly see that relgion has no bearing on one’s political views.

  • Turgon

    My my Jason you seem sensitive: not willing to accept Doctor Who’s point though are you? If he as a Jewish person felt it was significant who exactly are you to discount his opinions?

    Oh yes you tell us you have personal ties to Jewish people yes so that means you can interpret their views: silly me. Though as I said above “I am sure Jason is not anti-Semitic and I am sure some of his best friends are Jewish.”

    Incidentally on the issue of other odd examples of republican behaviour it is you who suggested Fianna Fáil was republican. Now which state’s leader gave condolences to the German people on the death of Adolf Hitler?

  • OC

    “turned into a argument about republicans versus unionists”

    Look out, there’s a new sheriff in town!

    C’mon Walshy, this ain’t the tea cosy blog, don’t ya know?

    I’m glad to see you here, but you’d better grow a thicker skin if you want to retain your sanity!

  • Paisley Lives

    Jews were also targeted by the Unionists/Nazis during the 1920’s Belfast pogroms. Unionists have never liked anyone steering away from their core Nazi belief.

    There have been plenty of promnent Jews downb south. At one stage all three major parties had a Jewish TD (Briscoe, Taylor and Shitter). The 26 cos also had the first Jewish Mayor: Goldberg/Briscoe.

    So much has been written about them they are a bore. Briscoe’s kid has gone to Israel to aid in the terorism campaign against the Palestinians.

    For ther Unionist Nazis: I ma unsure as to how many Jews are in the GAA.

  • Doctor Who

    RG Cuan

    “Come on Turgon. The fact that some people attempt to highlight these ‘links’ reveals more.”

    Nonsense, Jason mentioned it in his article, I am pointing out that the nature of the vandalism on Jewish graves namely IRA slogans and nazi style swastikas, added a sinister dimension to it that the defecation alone didn´t.

    “If you want to attack Ireland for it’s attitude to Jews you’d be on firmer ground asking why they weren’t allowed to settle here en masse during the Second World War. They should have been, that would have been the decent thing to do.”

    Absolutely, the allies and Ireland´s attitude to the Jews before and during the war was similar to Spanish refugees during the Spanish Civil War. Horrendous. From what Ive been told from family I had Polish relatives refused asylum both in Britain and Ireland prior to the second world war. This is despite members of my family being decorated veterans of World War I.

    With reference to Russell, first im sorry for moving him to Phoenix Park. It seems to me those who say he was a minor player and a bit of dope in republican circles, clearly don´t mind his memory being celebrated. You ignore 35,000 citizens of the Irish Free State who joined British forces to fight the nazis, there is no statue in their memory. Maybe because they are seen as traitors?? The nazi collaborator Russell is of course seen as a patriot.

    I can assure you this statue is offensive to all Jewish people who have heard of it´s existence. I believe the Israeli embassey has written to the Irish govt. concerning this matter, perhaps you can investigate that Jason.

  • Turgon,

    Ever feel you’re making too many leaps of faith? At no point did I imply that I can interpret anyone’s views. I am a journalist, not a medium or a psychiatrist. I ask people what they think and write down what they say, it’s very simple.

    Amazing how you personalise the issue and then respond by calling someone who tells you to stop sensitive.

    Again, I did not discount Doctor Who‘s experiences or opinions. I merely disagreed with the idea that they were representative. He is most welcome to respond, in fact, I would like to hear more.

    I was plainly told by any number of people that I interviewed, inclduing ones who didn’t make it into the final article, that their experience was not one of anti-semitism. Why you are so keen to rubbish what they said I am not sure about.

    If *all* of my interviewees in two cities were wrong, well, fair enough. I rather doubt it, though.

    It is not me that suggested that Fianna Fáil is republican, it is Fianna Fáil that suggested it. Some people would question their right to use the term.

    I am perfectly aware of De Valera’s conduct. I’m also aware of his many other flaws and hold no brief for Fianna Fáil.

    More broadly, what makes you think I represent any political party or their outlook? If you think I do then you are mistaken. I have authored countless aritcles critical of Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil, the Green Party, Alliance, the SDLP, the Ulster Unionists and the DUP.

    Are you going to ignore the Briscoes or the late Gerald Goldberg because they don’t fit the argument you have made?

    Jews represent 0.05 per cent of the population of the South. Disgraceful incicdents like the Limerick Pogrom are well-known, but they have been few and far between and, in the vast majority of cases (including the pogrom), non-violent.

    I have no idea why Jews have had such a hard time of it internationally – I simply have no understanding of anti-semitism, it seems bizarre and twisted to me – but Ireland’s record is a good deal better than that of almost every other European country. This may be due to a relatively small population, of course, but I cannot say that with any confidence. It would be mere conjecture.

    OC

    Yeah, I know. But that was a pretty irritiating slur.

  • Doctor Who:

    My personal opinion on the Russell debacle is of little worth, but here it is:

    I found it faintly amusing that it was attacked by the anti-fascists. On the other hand, I was bothered by the fact that people take him so seriously.

    It’s not the first memorial to be attacked and it won’t be the last. I rememeber Bomber Harris had his head sawn off in London.

    One good question is how can we approach memorials in an era when fewer people agree than ever? Churchill is hailed as a hero by many but I have read arguments which called him a fascist. As Turgon pointed out, De Valera has a chequered past. At what point do we say something someone did is a bridge too far? And if we do say that, how do we ‘de-memorialise’ them without attempting to whitewash history?

    If the NGA is serious about the need to commemorate Russell there should be an open public debate about the exact nature of his actions and then we could put the issue to bed one way or another.

  • Actually, RE the Russell statue, I do plan on writing something about it in the near future. Any chance you could e-mail me? My e-mail address is on forth.ie (which, like the Jewish Daily Forward takes its name from Vorwarts.)

    By the way, there’s an excellent documentary on Google Video about the Freie Arbeiter Stimme newspsper which is really interesting for anyone interested in Yiddish, Jewsish migration, trade unions and politics.

  • Dave

    Ireland was one of the countries that attended the Evian conference in 1938 along with the US and the UK but only one country was willing to accept Jews, with a quota far short of the numbers known to be at risk, so I wouldn’t single Ireland out of the pack when the other countries all purposefully colluded with Hitler’s persecution of the Jews by refusing them refuge after Hitler said he would allow them to leave if other countries would accept them. As Hitler gloated after that conference, “It is a shameful spectacle to see how the whole democratic world is oozing sympathy for the poor tormented Jewish people, but remains hard hearted and obdurate when it comes to helping them.” It is Ireland’s shame for sure, but it the world’s shame too. Let’s not pretend that the UK acted with nobility on this issue when it did no such thing, striking a dirty little deal with the US that no mention should be made of its exclusion of Jewish refugees from Palestine.

  • Turgon

    Jason,

    You are the one who minimised the relevance of daubing swastika and IRA slogans on headstones and defecating on graves; not me.

    Doctor Who has pointed out his views on the daubing of graves: you have chosen to dismiss them. Hence, you are interpreting and minimising them: journalist or not that is what you did.

    But oh yes you “have strong personal ties to Jewish Ireland.” I wonder what those people to whom you have “strong personal ties” think about daubing graves? Maybe they think it is more important? Doctor Who certain does: him being Jewish his views might be relevant.

    To then complain that I am personalising the issue is interesting: I pointed out that you had said it; it is up there.

    The fact that you claim to have “no understanding of anti-semitism” is interesting and also seems odd. I can understand anti-Semitism very well. It is disliking people simply because they are Jewish. Now I regard it as extremely offensive and unacceptable: I trust you do also.

    I confess that for you to then self congratulate with: “Ireland’s record is a good deal better than that of almost every other European country” is also utterly disingenuous. As Doctor Who has pointed out the Israeli embassy has objected to Russell’s statue and it seems that Doctor Who (a Jew) does not like it and nor do other Jewish people. He may well know quite a few Jewish people: him being Jewish and all.

    To congratulate a state which has put up a statue in defiance of the people whom it offends is not an ideal position. Now Britain has also been very guilty of anti-Semitism but for you to preen about Ireland is to say the least interesting.

  • Doctor Who

    Turgon

    I feel I should point out that I am an Atheist, of Jewish descent. I don´t think Jason is being dismissive, although I do think he was to quick to expalin the vandalism of Jewish graves.

    This could be a very interesting thread, maybe it´s time to put that particualr point to bed.

    Jason I will get back to you.

  • Jason Walsh

    Turgon:

    OK, clearly you are impossible to argue with.

    I did not “preen”. I listed, for example, the Limerick Pogrom.

    You are deliberately twisting my words, for example, I am well-aware of what anti-semitism is, just as you are well-aware that what I meant was that I consider it to be a bizarre and senseless viewpoint.

    Daubing graves is obviously to be objected to. Is civil society really so non-existent that people have to come out and say they don’t agree with obscene acts of vandalism? The Magen David was daubed on the Iranian embassy in Dublin a few years back? Do I have to say that I disagree with that? Even though I rather doubt it was done by anyone with any Jewish heritage? Do I have to answer for every stupid teenager with a paintbrush or spray can and a penchant for annoying people?

    You’re really grasping at straws if a statue of Russell is the worst thing you can throw. As offensive as the statue is to Jews, it does not represent any historical policy of discrimination.

    In addition, my defence of Ireland has only arisen in response to your comments, anyway. I am not here to cheerlead for any country. I have plenty of problems with Irish politics, both historical and contemporary. Here’s one example: I want to see an end to all border controls. Do you?

    As I have already said, Ireland can take its place in the hall of shame over not allowing Jewish refugees to settle here en masse.

    For the last time, you cast aspersions on my views and, indirectly, my background, though to be fair you couldn’t have known the latter. I am asking you now, politely, to stick to the matter at hand and stop making wild guesses about who I am or what I think. If you want to debate daubings or Russell, fine, but stop attempting to put words in my mouth. I can express myself perfectly well, thank-you.

  • Turgon

    Jason Walsh,
    “Daubing graves is obviously to be objected to.”

    There are very many examples of people saying things exactly like this and being castigated on slugger and elsewhere for not having actually condemned them. Now I am sure you meant to say that you also object to it. This is one of the problems with blogs especially widely read ones like slugger: one has to be careful exactly what one says. I am sure you will concur that you object to daubing graves. Or is that putting words into your mouth?

    However, the substantive point remains that you minimised the relevance of daubing the graves. Now this sort of thing happens all the time. As an example after Kevin McDaid’s sectarian murder there were attempts to explain and contextualise: that is very, very close to and at times indistinguishable from attempts to explain away and minimise.

    Moving on to you believing anti-Semitism is “a bizarre and senseless viewpoint”; there you go again. To say that is again to be in grave danger of minimising it. It is an evil, malicious and utterly unjustifiable position: one which has led to countless murderers. To merely call it “a bizarre and senseless viewpoint” is just not strong enough.

    As to Russells’s statue being the worst thing I could throw: well no the pogroms are much worse. However, they are but one example of why preening about Ireland’s treatment of Jewish people is disingenuous.

    Coming to sticking to the matter in hand I think you misunderstand: Doctor Who raised the graves issue and you minimised it: that is now one of the matters in hand. Blogs go like this. If you do not like the heat etc.

  • Turon,

    Fine, yes, for the record I object to the daubing of graves. But I do consider it to be of minimal importance.

    With regard to he McDaid murder, for example, I presume you are referring to some graffitti or other that mocked his death. In which case, any such graffitti was unfortunate but I don’t consider it a major issue. I would also assume any such graffitti was the work of teenage miscreants as much as I would on ‘da other side’. I don’t consider that to be explaining away, I just consider vandalism, even vandalism which takes on political overtones or is indeed expressly political, to be as significant as actual acts of violence.

    So: minimsing? If you want, sure. On the other hand, I see such daubings more as unfortunate and inchoate expressions of resentment often unrelated to the aparrent rarget than as direct threats. There may well be instances when this is not so, instances when they are direct threats, but I think we need to be wary of viewing the current period as flatly identical to history.

    At the end of the day, I don’t think daubers can be viewed as the voices of the communities from which they come. They may express some pent-up and inchoate feeling but on the other hand they may just be manipulating cultural signifiers and acting as much out of misdirected teenage rebellion as anything else. What their parents do is of much more interest to me.

    Now, I don’t think I am minimising anti-semitism. Again, I think it goes without saying that it is wrong, malicious and utterly unjustifiable etc. (I don’t use the word ‘evil’ for anything because I feel it obscures more than it illuminates. I do worry that branding things evil shuts down any attempt to understand them – it’s not the only word that does that*). I accept and agree with your use of it as shorthand, though.

    I really wasn’t preening, you know. That much at least should be clear by now.

    * On which point, after the McDaid murder I wrote a piece for the Irish Examiner about loyalist violence, including racist incidents, arguing that the tendency to simply dismiss loyalists as fascists was unhelpful. Firstly, it means that anyone who calls them that has decided to do no further work to understand why things are happening or what they want. Secondly, it has a terrible ring of snobbery and prejudice about it.

  • TYPO ALERT

    Sentence in the post above should read:


    I just don’t consider vandalism, even vandalism which takes on political overtones or is indeed expressly political, to be as significant as actual acts of violence.

    Apologies.

  • Paisley Lives

    There was no pogrom in Limerick. A few rack renters and vulture lenders of Jewish origin got their marching orders. What of it?

    The Israelis do not rule Ireland (yet). If thye do not like Russdell’s statue, that is their tough shit. Perosnally, I do not like Israelis killing Irish soldiers (as they have done).

    Russell’s thought was the same as many in the Ukraine and elsewhere who worked with Hitler. Arthur Koestler has written much about how the Soviet rapists used their war against Hitler to preen themselves. Who hasn’t?

    Basic fact: Jews are rich in Ireland. They use it as a base to financially and diplomatically support the Nazi nuclear powered state of Israel.

  • Turgon

    Jason Walsh,
    “for the record I object to the daubing of graves. But I do consider it to be of minimal importance.”

    You see the problem is that some seem to find it of considerable importance: that you dismiss their opinions is itself interesting.

    You do not regard such incidents as threats: so daubing a Nazi symbol along with “IRA” on a late Jewish person’s grave is not threatening? Again you presume to judge how Jewish people should feel rather than let them make their own minds up. But oh yes of course you “have strong personal ties to Jewish Ireland.”

    You see the vandalism which says “Jews out”, “Taigs out” or whatever is an evil and pernicious thing in our or any society. It is also political. Now you may not think it worthy of politics but it is fundamentally an extremely dangerous and actually deeply political act. You may disagree with the politics (I certainly do); but it is political and designed to make a point.

    As to Mr. McDaid’s murder what I meant was the attempts by some within the unionist community to explain what happened. They might have been attempting context. However, in my view they were at best extremely foolish to do so and in reality I think exposed their own fundamentally sectarian mindset. I thing that minimising any crime (even graffatti) if you are not the target of it is a very dangerous place to go and often says a great deal about the one doing the minimising. If a Jewish person wishes to minimise the importance of anti-Semitic graffitti that is for them to do so. It is not for you to do so whatever your supposed “strong personal ties to Jewish Ireland.”

    You are correct that an act of violence may be more serious than daubing graffitti; however, frequently those who end up committing viooence began with lesser acts. I think all such acts should be condemned and not minimised as you did.

  • Turgon

    Paisley lives,
    I do hope that your comments are left up: they help demonstrate why people need to guard against sectrainism of all sorts. You have demonstrated more eloquently than I could have why minimising the relevance of sectarian hatred be it of Jewish people or others is utterly wrong.

  • Paisley Lives

    http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=define:+pogrom&meta;=&aq=f&oq;=

    to find out what a pogrom is. You could always ask Palestinians.

    Or Rabbi Perrin who tells us that a million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail. Israel deservies no sympathy. It is the pen ultimate terrorist state.

  • westone

    ”Jews were also targeted by the Unionists/Nazis during the 1920’s Belfast pogroms”

    pure shite….

    ”The 26 cos also had the first Jewish Mayor: Goldberg/Briscoe”

    but belfast had jewish lord mayor jaffa before that…

    ”Briscoe’s kid has gone to Israel to aid in the terorism campaign against the Palestinians.”

    good for him,bravo!

  • Paisley Lives,

    I’m at a loss as to how to respond to you.

    Turgon,

    I really don’t understand what you think the point of this is.

    I think contextualisation from unionists at the time of the McDaid murder is perfectly legitimate and need not be an attempt to whitewash it or blame the victim. It really depends on what is said. I don’t think your black and white view helps matters much. Yes, we can and should all agree that a murder was wrong and cannot be in any way condoned or justified. This doesn’t mean that understanding any events that occurred before it or general feeling on the streets is worthless.

    You keep saying that things are “interesting”. Really? Well, here’s what I find interesting: you seem to think that every piece of garbage written on a wall is a direct and explicit threat. They’re not.

    Like those who argue for the arrest of various religious leaders for inciting hatred you seem to have a very strange view of free will. Any person is responsible for their actions and no adult can simply use “I was told to do it by this or that person” as an excuse for their behavior or actions. There is no direct and immediate link between words and actions because between the words and the actions lies a sentient, rational, thinking human being who must make choices.

    As for graffiti, people have the right to be offended, they have the right to demand it is erased but only in your free-speech-free world are words the same thing as actions.

    It seems to me that you are so easily offended that a trip up the Newtownards or Falls Roads in a taxi must be a truly horrific experience. I don’t much like paramilitary murals, I consider some of them “threatening” but I categorically do not consider them to be an immediate threat to my person.

    Or are you just trying to score cheap points?

    This “some” you speak of consists of whom, exactly? No-one I interviewed. Doctor Who and I may disagree (we may not, I have yet to discuss the matter with him at length) but he’s not making the same kind of remarks as you are.

    You have taken it upon yourself to feel the outrage of people you don’t represent when more than a few of those very people directly stated to me that they did not feel the daubing was significant. Let’s get the facts straight, shall we? I repeated the opinion of people. My contention on the significance or otherwise of the daubing was based on what was said to me and what I reported on the record in a public forum.

    By the way, constantly repeating what I said in response to you unjustified smear on my character is not an argument. I don’t have to prove myself to you, but I have done enough to prove that your initial insinuation was incorrect. Additionally, as I have said several times now in this thread, you do not know a thing about me or my background other than what I have voluntarily revealed out of politeness. As I consider journalism to be a trade in which the journalist is an observer rather than a participant, I have no desire to discuss my background. It is simply of no interest to anyone. Journalists who put themselves at the centre of stories require a very good justification for doing so. I have neither the justification nor the desire to do so. So, for the last time, leave it out.

    Once again, I am unhappy that a relatively light feature article (because that is all it was) has been turned into a political football.

  • Reader

    Paisley Lives: The 26 cos also had the first Jewish Mayor: Goldberg/Briscoe.
    Only if the history of Sir Otto Jaffe can be obliterated. Did you base your claim on a Republican source?
    http://www.historyfromheadstones.com/index.php?id=722

  • Turgon

    Jason Wlash
    “I consider journalism to be a trade in which the journalist is an observer rather than a participant”

    Therein lies part of the problem. You did not simply report you intrepreted. In this case you intrepreted the significance of daubing things on graves. In actual fact you did not even report: Doctor Who raised it so you never mentioned it unitl you began to intrepret it. To try to pretend otherwise is dishonest. You advanced an argument about what was and was not imnportant in terms of anti-Semitism. That you do so says something about your views whether you like it or not.

    To say that you do not like paramilitary murals is also patheticly weak. They are considered by many to be completely unacceptable and thankfully some progress has been made in removing them. Personally I would like to see much more robust action against them. Again, however, you do not report the murals you give an opinion.

    Your attempts to pretend some form of objectivity which is essentially what you are doing when you say that you are reporting are completely inaccurate. To think that you are “an observer rather than a participant” is to show either an arrogant form of naievity or to simply tell an untruth.

    For a journalist to think that their reporting or in your case intrepreting is not affected by their background and is not informed by it is again either naive or dishonest.

    These are not “cheap points” but go to the heart of the matter. You minimised the relevance of something which someone else took seriously. That took you out of the role of observer and reporter and into the role of participitant in the debate. it also told us something about you. That you do not like that also tells us something about you which is also interesting. I would submit that that is because you do not like admitting that you have your own biases. There is nothing to be ashamed of in that but it is dishonest to yourself and the rest of us to pretend that you are merely an observer.

    Of course once again we need to note the fact that you are trying to avoid: that you never reported the attacks on graves. You did not perform the role of observer or reporter; rather you performed the role of analyst or intrepreter.

  • Turgon,

    Total nonsense and yet more assumption piled upon assumption.

    You may believe that a journalist in incapable of reporting objectively but that is just your opinion. It is not one I share. I know it’s trendy these days to knock journalists but that doesn’t make every claim lobbed at the trade true. I’m not a significant journalist by any means, far from it, and if you want to slam the trade you should really start with someone that matters rather than a mere freelance.

    What a lot of people see as sinister conspiracies by the media are in fact the result of a combination of factors including time pressure, human error and editing (which has nothing to do with the reporter in the first place). A journalist’s job is not to report every detail of every fact, it is to nail a story. All the pompous sermonising about the ‘first draft of history’ cannot disguise that errors are a daily occurrence in every newspaper, but that doesn’t mean that there is malfeasance at work.

    But seeing as you are being unbearably pedantic: I did mention the daubing of graffiti in the story. It is recorded in direct speech from two individuals. I did not mention the specifics of the vandalism of the graves as I am sure readers were well aware of it – there are limits to space, you know. Implicit in the reported speech about Tom Hartley having it repaired is the fact that it is in his gift to repair it because it was in his community that it was damaged. Anyone with a basic knowledge of Belfast’s geography knows where the city cemetery is. Those that don’t won’t have to work too hard to find out where.

    Still, if you think there was a deficiency in my reporting, so be it. That does not mean, however, that you are correct in any of your assumptions. You skipped right past editing, misunderstanding, forgetfulness, sloppiness and a litany of other common journalistic problems in order to land on your own conspiratorial reading. Get a grip.

    For such an apparently conservative person you seem to have somehow ingested an awful lot of post-modern and politically correct prejudices more commonly encountered on the liberal-left. Whatever the deficiencies in journalism, for a journalist to just lie-down and accept that it is impossible to get to the truth would be the nadir of self-righteous self-loathing. It’s a job, you’re supposed to shut up and do it, not agonise over it. You may find my stance strange, but I assure you it is, at worst, merely old-fashioned.

    I, as you put it, ” advanced an argument about what was and was not imnportant in terms of anti-Semitism” based on comments made to me by those most affected by it. Again, recorded in direct speech. You keep dodging this issue in your effort to twist and turn a simple feature story to your own agenda, whatever that happens to be.

    It is not “patheticly weak” to say I dislike paramilitary murals. It’s the truth. I, like a great many people, dislike them and wish they were not there but do not think that we can all just hold hands and pretend the last forty years did not happen. They are what they are – what they are isn’t very nice, but they do not represent a direct and immediate threat to anyone.

    The need to replace them with state-sanctioned murals and other assorted crap says more about the state the North is in than anything else. I would be interested in hearing your response to this piece by Dan Jewesbury about the bizarro-world debacle in Kilcooley:

    Tablets of Ulster’s new covenant
    The North’s ‘re-imaging’ project took a surreal turn when working class loyalists prescribed something the middle class found hard to swallow, reports Daniel Jewesbury

    http://forth.ie/index.php/content/article/tablets_of_ulsters_covenant/

    You must have to get up very early in the morning to get all of that being offended in.

    I do not have an agenda in my writing for the Irish Times or any other newspaper. If I did, I rather doubt they would publish anything I wrote. If any newspaper wants to pay for my opinions I would be delighted to supply them, in the meantime the vast bulk of my work is much more prosaic. Believe it or not, it is possible to separate opinion from reporting. It is my opinion, for-instance, that you are just engaging in green-ink antics.

    There may well be a sensible debate to be had with you about journalism but this is not it and I suspect I am not the person you should be having it with. Try a more senior figure.

    Anyway, I really can’t be bothered defending myself any further from accusations of bias from you. If you don’t like what I write, don’t read it. No-one is forcing you.

    If you are serious about discussing journalism, start here:
    http://www.proof-reading.org/

  • Turgon

    Jason Walsh,
    So amid all the nonsense we still have the simple facts:

    1). You did not mention the grave daubing incident until Doctor Who mentioned it

    2). You then interpreted it.

    3). You then tried to pretend that the above two did not occur in that order

    Now we have moved from you objecting to any suggestion that your comments might reveal anything about yourself to saying the following about me:

    “For such an apparently conservative person you seem to have somehow ingested an awful lot of post-modern and politically correct prejudices more commonly encountered on the liberal-left.”

    Now there are a series of assumptions about me someone about whom you know very little.

    You also keep accusing me of having an agenda. My only agenda was at first top point out that you had no right to minimise the significance of anti Semitic behaviour as of little importance and had no right to claim that it was non political. My agenda has now moved on to also pointing out the factual inaccuracies in your claims about the narrative of this blog and its comments. In addition I am pointing out that your claimed objectivity is shown as false by your own words: hence the use of quotes from yourself.

    In addition I take issue with you minimising the Limerick pogrom by saying it was non violent.

    Now if you want to accuse me of another agenda go ahead. You have already piled a good few assumptions in deciding on my conservatism and accusing me of “conspiratorial reading.”

    Finally you say “If you don’t like what I write, don’t read it. No-one is forcing you.”

    The problem is that this is a blog and we all have the right of reply; its a bit different to being able to pontificate in a newspaper. Again if you do not like the heat etc. Alternatively you can just not respond or even admit that you were wrong: it is not that difficult.

  • You really are working hard at this. Your definition of facts seems rather curious to me, but, nonetheless, against all better judgement I shall continue to indulge you for now.

    I concede this: my remark about “politically correct prejudices” was indeed wrong of me and a heat of the moment comment. Mea culpa.

    I am still, however, waiting for your apology for your demonstrably incorrect insinuations about my character in your very first post to this thread. Or does blog-commenting under a pseudonym mean never having to say you’re sorry?

    The Limerick Pogrom was an economic boycott started from the bully pulpit of Fr. John Creagh. This does not make it right, but it was not violent. Let’s be perfectly clear: the Limerick Pogrom was a disgrace and is the key reason why the city now has no Jewish population.

    Now, take issue all you like, but don’t take your issue to me, take it to the historians. It’s certainly possible that I (along with everyone else who ever studied Irish history) have been befuddled by lying historians but it’s up to you to prove that if that is what you think.

    Dermot Keogh’s ‘Jews in Twentieth-Century Ireland’ (pub. 1998, Cork University Press) covers the matter on pp. 26–53.

    Your 1,2,3 routine confuses me. Are you talking about my work as a journalist or my comments here as an individual. They are not the same thing.

    1. I have already addressed this above
    2. Not in the story, only here
    3. Not so. There may be some confusion between us but I did not attempt to pretend anything did not occur.

    Either you are criticising my report or my posts here. You have not been clear about which. Even if it is both you surely understand that what one says on a comment thread is more akin to conversation than what one writes for formal publication.

    My personal opinion, as written on this thread, stands: I do not believe that words or, in many cases, actions against inanimate objects are the same thing as action against people. Again, you may call this ‘minimising’ if you want. I agree that it includes interpretation, but it is an informal conversation. One of my reasons for joining this blog was to get directly involved with people who read the news rather than just “pontificate in a newspaper”.

    To broaden the topic out, I would be interested to hear your opinions on the issue of freedom of speech. If it is not already abundantly clear it should be by now that I believe in absolute freedom of speech. On the other hand, that does not mean that speech should go unchallenged or that we should necessarily treat all speech as having the same weight.

    Now if you will excuse me I have other things to do, including sleeping.

  • Turgon

    Jason Walsh,
    So we have established that you were incorrect to suggest my “politically correct prejudices.”

    However, there are an awful lot of other problems here. You repeatedly accused me of an agenda: the idea that I was simply commenting on what I see as the disconnect between your proclaimed “strong personal ties to Jewish Ireland” and your position that daubing graves was of little importance. I also objected to you trying to dismiss it as a non political act. I continue to contend that it was a political act (as well as a nasty, immoral and criminal one).

    As to my insinuations about your character all I did was suggest that you should not presume to decide what was and was not political and what was or was not the relevance of any link between Nazism and republicanism. I suggested that your position on both of these issues was interesting and might have relevance. Or were they somehow not what you actually think because they are below the fold?

    I did not claim that the Limerick pogrom was violent: that is you being dishonest about what I said. I objected that you minimised it by saying it was non violent.

    You seem to see a difference between what you say in the blog and what you say in the comments. It does not work like that. I feel that people have to stand or fall by what they say above and below the fold. Indeed this is the first time I have seen this defence and am completely unconvinced by it.

    Your trying to broaden this into freedom of speech is simply trying to create a diversion. My issue is with you interpreting and commenting and then pretending objectivity.

    I comment and report and make no pretence of being objective. Maybe that is why I am a mere blogger and you are a journalist. Alternatively in reality you are being disingenuous be that deliberately or accidentally. You are not objective. There is nothing at all wrong with that but honesty with yourself and others would actually free you from the need to pretend an objectivity which you clearly cannot manage and I would suggest is not even desirable.

  • 6countyprod

    I can’t believe I have just wasted all this time on such a load of drivel.

    Jason, you are going to have to learn not to be so touchy. You’re going to drive yourself batty trying to ‘correct’every little comment you don’t agree with. Just accept that we Northerners can sometimes be a little obstreperous.

    Looking forward to reading more of your posts.

  • Wilde Rover

    Turgon,

    What I find “interesting” is that the two posters of Jewish extraction have made cogent arguments while you have taken it upon yourself to use Jews as a stick to beat the Fenians.

    But don’t worry Turgon, I am sure you are not an hibernophobe and I am sure some of your best friends are Fenian bastards.

  • I’ll have to second 6countyprod’s opinion though drivel might be a little strong.

    In terms of immigrants, Jewish people bring much to the countries they settle in. They tend to be well educated and contribute much to their new lands.

    It is a grievious mistake to think all Jews have a uniform opinion on Israel’s handling of the Palestinian issue. I have close Jewish friends and their views on Israel are as diverse as Irish people’s to the wee North.

  • PaddyReilly

    More propaganda about the so-called Limerick pogrom.

    The 1901 Census showed 31 Jewish families in Limerick and the 1911 one 22.

    Limerick in the period is well described by Robert Graves as a place where nobody did any repairs to their houses because so many properties had been left vacant by emigration, when one house became uninhabitable they just moved into another. Everyone died of drink, except for the Plymouth Brethren, who died of religious melancholy. So the decline in the number of Jews in Limerick took place in the context of a decline in the numbers of the total population and is not remarkable.

    Into this slough of despond stepped one Father John Creagh, a Redemptorist, who attempted to ameliorate matters by stopping illegal drinking and selling drink on credit, which was basically taking the food out of children’s mouths, and a couple of Jewish businessmen who were lending money to the same effect. He was packed off to the Philippines in 1906: maybe because social reform is not really a priest’s job. Quite possibly the publicans campaigned to have him removed. Limerick of course, continued to get worse.

    I should point out that there were two synagogues of Judaism in Limerick at the time, one of which disapproved of money lending and another which did not.

    The problem is not one of an Irish antipathy to Jews but of a widespread Jewish idea that the rest of humanity exists for their benefit, and is somehow in breach of their duty to God if they fail to supply this benefit. Jewish historiography concentrates and preserves these incidents, always from a point of view which exonerates the Jews and castigates the Gentiles, and is then recycled as an excuse for Jewish excesses in this day and age. Nobody cares about the troubles of the hundred of thousands of Irish people who had to emigrate at this time: not even me.

    Equally, Cemeteries the world over get trashed because the inhabitants are not in a state to protect them. But if you’re a young vandal who wishes to enjoy the satisfaction of having people notice your handiwork, spray painting swastikas on a Jewish Graveyard is the quickest way to make the headlines.

  • Doctor Who

    Paddy Reilly

    “Jewish historiography concentrates and preserves these incidents, always from a point of view which exonerates the Jews and castigates the Gentiles, and is then recycled as an excuse for Jewish excesses in this day and age.”

    The problem with this dirge, apart from it being a view shared by extreme anti Jewish islamic extremists, it ignores the fact that in just about evry century in history, somewhere in the world, something pretty horrendous was happening to Jewish folk.

    “Nobody cares about the troubles of the hundred of thousands of Irish people who had to emigrate at this time: not even me.”

    Really? No I think you typify Irish Nationalism as you want to be viewed as the most oppressed people in history. Thierry Henry is just the latest person to commit a crime against these poor down troden people.

  • Paisley Lives

    You write: ‘‘Jews were also targeted by the Unionists/Nazis during the 1920’s Belfast pogroms’‘

    pure shite….

    I write: Not so. Simon Greenspon was one of seeveral liberal Jews/labour leaders who were chased out of Belfast. And liberal Protestants were targeted then as during the Troubles as they broke the Protestant Orange-Nazi ranks.

    You write:‘‘The 26 cos also had the first Jewish Mayor: Goldberg/Briscoe’‘

    but belfast had jewish lord mayor jaffa before that…

    I write: Good for Belfast. But irrelevqnt when trying to demonize Catholics. Also, the old asage about Catholic v Protestant Jew rings.

    ‘‘Briscoe’s kid has gone to Israel to aid in the terorism campaign against the Palestinians.’‘

    I write:good for him,bravo. Sums up your partisan approach. I guess you support killing Palestinians and stealing their land. Imperialists of the world, unite.

  • PaddyReilly

    Take this statement:

    in just about evry century in history, somewhere in the world, something pretty horrendous was happening to Jewish folk.

    And compare it to this:

    you typify Irish Nationalism as you want to be viewed as the most oppressed people in history

    I take it you resent the affrontery of the Irish in attempting to handball their way into the championship that rightly belongs to the Jews.

    Jews are the richest ethnic grouping in the US: Irish Catholics the second richest. Possibly kvetching pays dividends, I don’t know.

    I myself think any mention of the last millennium (i.e. 1000-2000) in this forum should be disqualified. A lot of Irish history makes depressing reading, so I don’t bother to read it.

    For the present, we are doing all right. Ireland is one of the richest countries in the world. Even Cork, which in my lifetime was a polyomelitis infested swamp, is now reckoned one of the most attractive places in Europe to live.

    I am interested in the future, not the past. The inexorable rise of the Nationalist vote in Northern Ireland, together with the contingent fall of the Unionist one, these are my preferred topics, my shtick as you might call it.

  • latcheeco

    Jason,
    I have an anecdote concerning Russell’s generation which might not however be typical but was for me at least illuminating.

    I remember a couple of years ago I was at a wedding and a very elderly, generally affable relative was at the table who had been very active in the IRA in the forties in Belfast and beyond, and would have been at least a contempory of Russell’s. Late into the night he was maudlin in drink and began to mutter animatedly to himself that “Belfast Jew boys never had to stand in the bru because they always got the pick of the jobs” This remark seemed so anachronistic, inconruous, irrelevant, and uncharacteristic (yet at the same time spewed with such deep rooted conviction and venom) that it made me think that antisemitism must have been a serious issue for his generation. It certainly wasn’t for any other republican that I ever met although support for the Palestians, Argentinians, and Sioux Indians was general among the more internationally aware, keffiyeh sporting set.

    Dr. Who,
    That graves should be desecrated and even defecated on is an outrage of the highest order and an utter disgrace. And should be condemned unreservedly. It is reminiscent of the Polish people”s headstones which were used by the Nazis to make roads inside the camps. The perpetrators should have been caught and summarily hanged high by the privates. This is true whether its Jewish graves in the City, a postal worker’s grave in Carnmoney, or republican graves desecrated by British soldiers in Milltown.

    Regarding the City Cemetary (and I could be wrong) but I think the vandalism there is more likely to come from the cider the swilling morons from West Rock, the Murph, or the back of Turf Lodge that haunt the place at weekends (or did) than from some deliberately antisemetic neonazi activists (small comfort as that is to the families and religious commmunity to which the graves belong).I would suggest that their antisemitism goes no further than the anti-scouserism or anti-mancunianism which they are also somehow able to maintain sentience long enough to articulate on the graves they otherwise use for lavatories;these are no doubt same chaps who thought that they might borrow other people’s cars and turn the Cooler at the back of the cemetary into a Circuit of Ireland stage, or redesign the park bowling green lawn at midnight with the motif “Mackers, Celtic, Up the RA.”

    Turgon,
    You are, as usual, close to the mark. This behavior is clearly an indictment of the wider republican/nationalist/catholic community as a whole, rather that a few aberrant ne’erdowells that are barnacles on the ass of any society. The best thing would be for the government to take those unmanned CIA drones which you recently claimed are nocturnally flying around your head in Fermanagh, and reassign them to the City Cemetary toute suite to keep an eye on these nefararious Nuremburgesque weekend rallies.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Jason Walsh: “I didn’t discount Doctor Who‘s experiences. I simply said I think it would be, in my opinion, wrong to extrapolate a political sentiment from them.”

    Sure, because who should be believe, you or his own lying eyes and ears and experiences.

    Jason Walsh: “So, you think that republicanism is honestly represented by a few shitheads on the Falls? When I was 16 I knew someone who (he claimed) smashed some headstones, but they weren’t Jewish ones. They were Catholic ones. He did it for reasons that had nothing to do with politics whatsoever.”

    Which A) has nothing to do with the vandalism of Jewish headstones on its face, B) has nothing to do with the issue at hands — the daubing of political symbols and slogans is, usually, prima facie evidence of political motives (unless you intend to go so far as to suggest the swastikas were daubed by Hindus or some other foolishness, as opposed to drunken recreational vandalism and C) would seem to fly in the face of logical thought, given A) and B) above.

  • RepublicanStones

    Christ of almighty, so much nonsense. Again with the Russell shite. I suppose its then fair to label Churchill a Stalinist and the whole of wartime Britain likewise?

    Turgon, are you implying the desecreation of headstones is representative of the nationslist/republican community as a whole?

    ‘Jewish historiography concentrates and preserves these incidents, always from a point of view which exonerates the Jews and castigates the Gentiles, and is then recycled as an excuse for Jewish excesses in this day and age.” (Paddy Reilly)

    The problem with this dirge, apart from it being a view shared by extreme anti Jewish islamic extremists, it ignores the fact that in just about evry century in history, somewhere in the world, something pretty horrendous was happening to Jewish folk.‘(Doctor Who)

    There are jewish academics who have highlighted the tendency of some jewish historians to whitewash jewish history, so Paddy’s point is not an invalid one. A similar tendency exists in Islamic historiograohy, for example, great emphaisis is put on how ‘booty’ was divided up evenly regardless of rank (even though those at the top obviously recieved more), emphasis is also stressed on the ‘good treatment’ of the Ahl al-Kitab. Pointing out these tendencies is not ‘anti’ anything. And to suggest that an honest appraisal of history should be avoided lest bigotted idiots gain succour is ridiculous.

    An interesting article Jason, although i don’t know why you would describe the presence of a synagogue in Belfast as unlikely. It is reassuring to hear from the community’s leader in Belfast that there is no serious anti-semitism, despite the best efforts of posters on this thread to claim otherwise.

  • Jason Walsh

    RepublicanStones,

    What I said was unlikely was the “idea of Belfast as [a] centre of religious tolerance”.

    I said the synagogue was “unexpected” and that was in reference to it being a modernist building in a leafy, middle class, residential street.

    Dread Cthulhu,

    More green-ink missives. No thanks. If you want to believe that the Falls is hotbed of anti-Semitism that’s up to you. I don’t imagine being wrong will stop you.

  • RepublicanStones

    Apologies Jason, I read it as the presence of a synagogue itself being unexpected, not the architectural style contrasting with the burgeoise location.

  • westone

    ”Sums up your partisan approach. I guess you support killing Palestinians”

    yes,i do.i support the killing of fatah,hamas,gflp etc etc.no problem.

  • Jason Walsh

    RepublicanStones.

    No worries. I wasn’t having a go. I used to be an architectural correspondent and old habits die hard. It’s an interesting building.

  • poolio

    “I’m not so sure about your broad point. First, I think it’s a stretch to call the vandals “young republicans”. Idiot malefactors who hide behind the local rhetoric seems more likely to me.”

    So the latest addition to the Slugger site is an apologist for the motives of grave vandals now. Aren’t we blessed with a new contributor who has to self-publish his real viewpoints.

    Dublin reject.

  • Jason Walsh

    poolio,

    More green ink and personal abuse.

  • Wilde Rover

    Poolio,

    “So the latest addition to the Slugger site is an apologist for the motives of grave vandals now.”

    I believe he used the word “malefactor” which refers to a person who breaks the law, a criminal, people who do harm or evil, especially towards another. It is unclear to me how this could be seen to be any kind of apology for their motives.

    He used the term “hiding behind the local rhetoric” which should be familiar to you since that is exactly what you are doing. Are you not employing a poorly constructed ad hominem attack to inflict personal pain on someone from the comfort and safety of your anonymity?

    “Aren’t we blessed with a new contributor who has to self-publish his real viewpoints.”

    I don’t know if you are aware of this, but there are these things called newspapers which many people believe may not be around in the near future. And if that is the case then what will be left besides inane schoolyard taunting on the Internet? So yes, you are right to say we are blessed to have professional journalists involved in the transition to whatever is coming.

    “Dublin reject.”

    And if he were from Belfast and was expressing an opinion that you might feel familiar with would you employ such language? Should I believe that you are representative of the cutting edge of nuanced unionist opinion?

    Or maybe you have more in common with the malefactors in question than you would like to admit.

  • poolio

    when is someone who scrawls IRA graffiti not a Republican?

    When it’s done over someone’s grave and could possibly be shown in a bad light (as opposed to a gable wall which is apparently a display of cultured revolution)

    Dublin reject – that forth site reads like a Third Way for the Republic. Good luck with that

  • The problem is not one of an Irish antipathy to Jews but of a widespread Jewish idea that the rest of humanity exists for their benefit, and is somehow in breach of their duty to God if they fail to supply this benefit

    Did I really just read this steaming pile of anti-semitic tripe? Please tell me I was just imagining this!

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Jason Walsh: “More green-ink missives. No thanks. If you want to believe that the Falls is hotbed of anti-Semitism that’s up to you. I don’t imagine being wrong will stop you. ”

    IOW, you’ve no useful rebuttal, so you’ll take a swipe on your way out. As I said, who should we believe, what we see or what you say? You’re missive does not agree with the experience of others and, rather than acknowledge that mileage may vary, you try to put forth the notion that you’re right and they’re mistaken.

    All I’m saying is that, when the vandalism is political, you’re being naive (at best) if you try to claim non-political motives for the vandalism — apolitical drunken shites don’t scrawl political slogans, as a rule. Likewise, having heard the Republican opinion re: Israel on this board, I don’t think it is too far a stretch that anti-Zionism would ground out in anti-Semitic acts.

  • apolitical drunken shites don’t scrawl political slogans, as a rule.

    Drunken shites scrawl whatever slogan first comes to mind.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Andrew Gallagher: “Drunken shites scrawl whatever slogan first comes to mind. ”

    Exactly. And apolitical drunken shites think apolitical thougts.

  • DC:

    I think you ascribe greater self-control to drunks than is warranted. Unfortunately in NI, even the apolitical drunks come from an identifiable “side”. Old habits die hard.

  • Jason Walsh

    DC
    “IOW, you’ve no useful rebuttal”

    Actually I do, I’m just sick of having my words twisted on this thread.

    I did not write an apologia for anyone. My views are perfectly clear.

    As AG said: “Drunken shites scrawl whatever slogan first comes to mind.”

    In posh Sandycove, Dún Laoghaire someone scrawled 32CSM on a wall. It was there for a year at least. I don’t think the natives of this particular burb are big 32CSM followers. I’d be willing to bet cold, hard cash it was some alienated teenager trying to piss people off. The grave destruction is more serious than that (because it was a grave and also because it was truly wrecked) but I’m a not willing to say either that it represents typical attitudes on the Falls (I know it doesn’t, I lived there for long enough) or that it wasn’t just the work of anti-social yobs trying to outrage and inflame. I could certainly be wrong on the latter point, but I don’t think I am.

    More broadly, I am concerned that anti-Zionism can be used as cover for anti-Semitism. Likewise, I am concerned that anti-Semitism is too easy a charge to make.

    Elsewhere, you and I see exactly eye-to-eye on the fact that bad things happen and sometimes nothing can be done about them.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Andrew Gallagher: “I think you ascribe greater self-control to drunks than is warranted.”

    No, I’m simply not applying “miraculous thinking” to the scenario as some others are — it would seem unlikely that a drunken lout would suddenly decide that, in the midst of his scrumpy-fueled haze, would decide that *THAT* is the moment for him to find his political voice and share that eloquence with the deceased.

    Andrew Gallagher: “Unfortunately in NI, even the apolitical drunks come from an identifiable “side”. Old habits die hard. ”

    Ah, but that isn’t the notion that Jason is putting forth. His notion is that this is “ordinary decent” vandalism that just happens to take the form of political commentary.

    You, on the other hand, is putting for an argument of “in vino veritas” — get them drunk and they tell you who they really are. Not nearly the same thing.

  • Ah, but that isn’t the notion that Jason is putting forth. His notion is that this is “ordinary decent” vandalism that just happens to take the form of political commentary.

    That’s not quite my argument.

    My argument twofold: first, that it takes on pseudo-political trappings specifically in order to outrage

    Secondly, these actions self-evidently cannot be taken as represntative of the typical view of the locals and their political representatives, otherwise they would be much more common

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Jason Walsh: “More broadly, I am concerned that anti-Zionism can be used as cover for anti-Semitism. Likewise, I am concerned that anti-Semitism is too easy a charge to make.

    Elsewhere, you and I see exactly eye-to-eye on the fact that bad things happen and sometimes nothing can be done about them. ”

    Agreed… sort of. I am, despite all appearance to the contrary, an idealist. The public square is just that, the public square and, as such, entitled to be used by the public. It isn’t just that bad things happen and nothing can be done. It is that, until and unless something bad happens, you’re not entitled to presume bad will happen. Likewise, while you cannot undo the bad done, you can nail those who do ill to the far wall with the biggest spikes you can find, as an example to all that with rights come responsibilities and if you are going to abuse your rights, you will find your responsibilities will come ’round to haunt you.

    Having been acquainted, on occasion, with drunken louts, political sloganeering and current events are not popular subjects for their drunken rants. When daubing graffiti meant to excite passions, they go for visceral and topical, hence swastikas on Jewish graves.

    Unless you are suggesting that republican slogans are somehow topical re: Jewish graves, I’d have to say it is a case of “in vino veritas.”

  • DC:

    I wasn’t arguing “in vino veritas”, more “monkey see, monkey do”…

  • Case in point:

    Where I grew up, there was a mythical paramilitary group called the Killicomaine Tartan Rangers. Nobody believed they actually existed, but there was plenty of “KTR” graffiti around. It was just something all the wannabes did to feel hard.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Andrew Gallagher: “Where I grew up, there was a mythical paramilitary group called the Killicomaine Tartan Rangers. Nobody believed they actually existed, but there was plenty of “KTR” graffiti around. It was just something all the wannabes did to feel hard. ”

    Again, requires a political / tribal mindset pre-existing.

    Get them drunk and they will tell you who they really are.

  • Again, requires a political / tribal mindset pre-existing.

    No, it requires a hard-man mindset. Politics is just a handy peg to hang the hat on. What proportion of the real paramilitaries were/are truly political and what proportion were just gangsters?

  • PaddyReilly

    Good article this: tells how people in Detroit are so poor they can’t afford to pay for funerals, and the dead are piling up in mortuaries:-

    http://tinyurl.com/y8esw6j

    Yet while this is all happening, people in Belfast are being tricked into paying to maintain a Jewish cemetery in pristine condition for all eternity because they’re frightened of being called antisemitic.

    100% of Gentiles and 95% of Jews are antisemitic. If you listen to debates in the Knesset you will find that this epithet is flung with relentless abandon at any faction that is not following the agenda of the most bigoted.

    Did I really just read this steaming pile of anti-semitic tripe?

    The idea is widespread among Jews, but fortunately not universal. The riposte proves the original statement, and also that they have managed to persuade others of this notion. This very thread contains suggestions that Ireland is obliged to conduct its politics to suit the state of Israel, and restrict its freedoms so people can’t put up statues of anybody who briefly might have been on the same side as antisemites.

    The problem is that the notion of antisemiticism has been left undefined, and therefore has no boundaries. It rightly refers to our obligation not to practise genocide or forced conversion against the Jewish people. But little by little it has been expanded to the extent that it now means we are not allowed to voice any criticism of any Jews under any pretext whatsoever: one commenter pointed out that he had been called antisemitic just for pissing off a single Jew.

    Obviously after 1945 people felt that they had to go easy on the Jews: but they cannot expect to dine out on this misfortune for all eternity.

    Rest assured that no-one in Israel is worrying about appearing anti-hibernic: the word doesn’t exist.

    An Englishman I know, presented with arguments of this sort from the people he was doing business with, replied, “Get lost, I’m not your bleeding mother.” After that he said, they treated him with a new respect and all was plain sailing.

  • Brian MacAodh

    Jason

    Thanks for the interesting article. Don’t let some of the commenters get under your skin.

  • Jason Walsh

    AG

    “monkey see, monkey do”

    I’ll go for that. Hoods in west Belfast used to be shot in the knees by the IRA but many of them would be viewed as “republicans” by unionists. There is a cultural currency to the local lingo.

    DC

    “When daubing graffiti meant to excite passions, they go for visceral and topical, hence swastikas on Jewish graves.”

    True. That is precisely what I was arguing. I would further argue that the attempt to piss people off or simply be destructive and anti-social may not be anything more than that. Rather than assign political significance to the act, it is the act itself which is the issue not what it may or may not mean or what thoughts motivated it.

    “until and unless something bad happens, you’re not entitled to presume bad will happen”

    Yes, I like that formulation.

    Brian MacAodh

    Thank you.

    PaddyReilly

    Detroit story was interesting. Thank you.