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A Joycean slant on the problems facing Israel

IN 'A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man', James Joyce reveals his enduring bitterness over being caned by a teacher who, without giving him a chance to defend himself, blamed him for his broken spectacles.

Israel would appreciate it if its critics in Ireland would assume the position of the fairer and more balanced educator -- also described so lovingly by Joyce -- the one who hears both sides, who listens before he canes. I think that my people and my nation have been caned enough in front of the Irish public and deserve at least that some attention be paid to their genuine security concerns.

I say this in view of the prospect that Israel will return to the pre-1967 geographical contours that give her only a nine-mile 'waist' -- the width of the country from the Mediterranean to the borders of a new Palestinian state. No country can defend a nine-mile central strip, one that moreover contains its only international airport, without having a stable demilitarised neighbour.

Open Joyce's 'Ulysses' and witness the Jewish Leopold Bloom picking up Zionist brochures on the streets of Dublin 100 years ago and encountering some of the anti-Jewish sentiment that was common across Europe then.

Since long before the time of Bloom, Europe has sought to influence the course of Jewish national life.

It is still seeking to do so. But it should do so now with great care and great responsibility and without asking Jews to put themselves in danger again, or demanding that Israel take risks with its own security that no European state would dream of taking.

RUTH ZAKH
Deputy Ambassador of Israel, D4

Irish Independent