From top: O’Connell Street, Dublin on Tuesday night following the deaths of protestors in Gaza; Dan Boyle
I have come to the conclusion that I must be something of an anti-Semite. It is a difficult thing to define. Most dictionaries describe Semite as a grouping of languages from the Middle East, spoken by now long disappeared peoples such as the Phoenicians and the Canaanites. In the present day largely only Hebrew and Arabic survive.
While I have no animus against these historic cultures, it seems that the evolution of anti-semitism has become directed solely at one linguistic group and their faith/belief system.
There can be no doubt that, despite having contributed positively, and hugely out of proportion to their numbers, to global culture and history, the Jewish people have seen their fate to have become the most demonised, prejudiced against, and persecuted of people.
In the period of World history that has been dominated by adherents of Christianity, Jewdom has been horribly discriminated against. Culminating in the unforgivable and unforgiving Holocaust of the Second World War.
A level of Christian guilt saw the making of The Balfour Declaration of 1917. This was a well-intentioned initiative in recognising the need for a Jewish State. Once put in place after the Second World War, its application to address a colossal, horrendous wrong, created a whole new series of further wrongs, now against the existing inhabitants of Palestine. The British brilliance with borders reached new heights here.
The basis of any religion is that its adherents are a chosen/special people. The fervency of such beliefs when linked to a national identity is a particularly potent mix.
That said the emerging State of Israel came through its beleaguered beginnings, when all around it sought to prevent its establishment, with additional strength. The new State sought to be more democratic and somewhat more diverse than its neighbouring countries. Credit should also given to the level of innovation that was created in the new State, in the least auspicious of circumstances.
However, somewhere along the line the justified sense of siege felt by Israelis has been transformed in hubris. Going beyond thinking themselves as ‘God’s Chosen People’, they began to see other people, with whom they shared the same space, as a sub species. Creatures to be corralled, caged, interned, interred, kicked and spat upon. All in the name of National Security.
This term has replaced patriotism as the last refuge of scoundrels. Any angry waving of arms, or throwing of sticks and stones, provokes a ‘justified’ shoot to kill response from those with the superior technology and weaponry. When the opposing arsenal includes Swiss Army knives and Molotov cocktails, an even more vicious response is evoked.
Any criticism of this is refuted not as being an expression of revulsion, but as an extension of an age old sectarianism, irrationally and hatefully aimed towards Jews and Jewishness.
Questioning the actions of the Israeli State through its government, now apparently, constitutes the height of prejudice.
This redefinition has passed many of us by. Nonetheless some of us must now redefine ourselves, through our audacity in calling out murder is as murder does, as being anti-Semites.
We inhabit the same space as the Ku Klux Klan and the most crazed of Islamic fundamentalists. In the Middle East there can be no nuance. Only the righteous can prevail.
Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator. His column appears here every Thursday. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle