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The blogs and boards have been hopping

'I BET you're a Protestant." The opening line of an email I read as I horsed down my toast. A fine thing to say to a man from Birr. We've a lovely castle.

The previous week I'd written an article that was published in this paper. It explained how my political ideologies had shifted, following a seven-week stint in Israel and Palestine. I wrote how it wasn't acceptable to have a difference of opinion on the Israel issue in this country. How being pro-Palestinian has become part of our Irish national identity. How the Left can be Right, as in right-wing.

The fall-out has been quite spectacular. I've been called everything from a Protestant to an agent of Mossad. Letters to the editor have been flying in since, like rockets from the Strip. But, unlike the rockets from Gaza, not all the letters have been sent with spleen.

I expected hate mail. And I got it. But I didn't expect the support from a largely silent group of people -- Irish people. It seems there are true liberals out there; people prepared to listen to both sides of the story. Unfortunately they are surrounded by foaming scarf-wearers, clutching their boycott sheets and Bic biros.

It's the foam that gives the fear. Nobody wants to be bitten by a rabid dog. Or a Bic biro. So, as a result, the Irish support I've received has been largely by private correspondence. Strictly for health reasons. I'm contagious.

Private support, but very public abuse. The blogs and boards have been hopping. My favourite so far: "As far as Larkins go, Nicky is clearly more Celia than Jim."

I like it. Funny, but loaded.

But the most interesting forum has been on Facebook. Since becoming an agent for Mossad, I have also turned my hand to international matchmaking. As a result of the article, new Facebook friendships have been popping up all over the place.

Women who wouldn't be allowed to walk in public with

a man outside the internet cafe are now firm friends with chest-thumping provos. Bound together online by a mutual hatred of Israel.

Solid foundations are vital in any new relationship. I'm glad I've brought some love to the world. Unfortunately, none of this love has been extended towards my film. The mud-slingers have been quick to write off a film they haven't yet seen. It seems in our bid to become a socialist state, we're also doing Socialist Realism. But we drank too much Fanta at the party conference. Now we're fully fledged Soviets, sending dissenters to Siberia. Online.

Stalin would be proud. He'd have loved Facebook these past couple of weeks. One of his pre-Facebook mates had some similar ideas on Jews in Germany in the Thirties, as some of the online sentiment shows in reaction to the article.

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Is it too far a stretch to conclude that the rise of anti-Semitism on this island is in tandem with the death of a certain Tiger? Are we just bitter that there's a financially thriving state out there? A financially thriving race? And, worst of all, one that doesn't need our approval? Is that what we are really talking about when we dispute Israel's "right to exist"? Or is it just plain old anti-Semitism?

Either way, we'll all have something to say about it. On laptops, while eating toast.

'Forty Shades of Grey' will premiere in Dublin in May;

www.facebook.com/fortyshades; www.nickylarkin.com

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