Radio: George wins the argument, Hook line and sinker
Ivan Yates is back on Newstalk, with a new Sunday show going - to quote that deranged cowboy in Doctor Strangelove - "toe-to-toe in nook-ular combat" with Marian Finucane.
We'll give Ivan a few weeks to bed in before delivering the Emperor Darragh Maximus thumbs up-or-down. In the meantime, stablemate George Hook was in fine form on High Noon (Mon-Fri), bringing the smack-down to one politician who'd showed true courage and imagination by doing the most dangerous thing in Irish public life: having a pop at Israel.
Yes, that was ironic. (Jews invented irony, by the way, along with most of the best things in modern life.)
John Lyons, of People Before Profit, proposed a Dublin City Council motion to fly the Palestinian flag over City Hall. Which is fair enough - maybe.
The problem, as Hook pointed out, is that nobody else's flag is ever flown "in solidarity". So, he asked again and again, why the Palestinian one but not others? There was no convincing answer from Lyons.
Now, there was a bit of obfuscation, blather and going off on tangents. And there was a whole heap of that robotic newspeak beloved of leftist politicians, all the familiar phrases droned out (over the sound of George Orwell sobbing and/or spinning in his grave): symbolic gesture, solidarity, occupation, apartheid, regime, discussion, issues, root causes, conflict, ethnic cleansing, holding to account, crisis, racist, exclusionary, democratic, equality, crimes against humanity.
But there wasn't an answer to Hook's straightforward questioning. A flag wasn't flown "for black South Africans, Jews during the Holocaust, modern-day Syrians". So why now? Why this?
"I just don't understand why Dublin City Council chooses one crisis over any other crisis," Hook said. "Why a Palestinian's pain is greater than a Syrian's or Ukrainian's."
Lyons replied: "It's not either/or" - but that's exactly what it is. By singling out one, and only one, cause, you've made it either/or. About the only argument he mustered was something about a strong tradition in Ireland of opposing Israel, which is itself an enclosed circle, a self-fulfilling prophecy.
By the end Hook had fairly skewered the guy, merely by sticking to that single, unavoidable and unanswerable question. The one these people won't, or can't, answer: what makes Israel so special?
Hook said near the end: "It's hard to stand up against anti-Semitism (in this country) because we don't have too many Jews in Ireland, so nobody gives a hoot." I don't know if that's true, though; most of the listener comments seemed to support him - and I guess, by default, Israel.
I'd imagine most of us are neutral at worst towards Israel, if not quite well-disposed. Certainly the number of us who think them more morally compromised than everyone else on the planet are vanishingly few.
Unlike most of the Middle East experts here, I've actually been to Israel. And while the locals were strongly (amusingly strongly at times) critical of certain Irish media and politicians - you can guess yourselves - any who'd visited Ireland had had a lovely time.
Indeed, they'd been pleasantly surprised at how friendly and welcoming the people were. Ireland, they had wrongly inferred from politicians' rants and newspaper articles, was a hotbed of anti-Semitism. Not so, in reality.
All of this, for me, points yet again to the chasm - the gigantic void - between regular people and this country's political/academic/media ruling classes. In this, unfortunately, as in so much else.