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Why do we keep saying it's not anti-Semitic?


Attack: Blood trails on the floor near covered bodies at the scene of an attack at a Jerusalem synagogue last Tuesday. REUTERS/Zaka/Handout via Reuters

Attack: Blood trails on the floor near covered bodies at the scene of an attack at a Jerusalem synagogue last Tuesday. REUTERS/Zaka/Handout via Reuters

Attack: Blood trails on the floor near covered bodies at the scene of an attack at a Jerusalem synagogue last Tuesday. REUTERS/Zaka/Handout via Reuters

There are wars, there are terrorist attacks and there are pogroms. What occurred this week at the Har Nof Synagogue in Israel was age-old anti-Semitism. It was not political, it was not anti-Zionist, it was not an attack against Israel's military actions, it was a religious pogrom; the type of which has been seen thousands of times through the ages - the type which are occurring again.

Yes, I know. It's Israel's fault, isn't it? With their military actions and settlement building, they bring it all upon themselves. And, yes, I know that the majority of Irish people consider the charge of "anti-Semitism" to be a red herring; a convenient way of deflecting attention from Israel's military and political policies in the Middle East. During the summer, some Irish politicians and media networks aired the oft-repeated view that the terrorist group Hamas were no longer anti-Semitic, and that their pre-election manifesto indicated they would remove the call for the destruction of all Jews (and the State of Israel) from their 1988 charter. But, as one of our own politicians might put it, isn't that the sort of thing you say during an election? Hamas needed to take support from the more moderate Fatah party and had no problem misleading the people of Gaza in order to do so.

But the call to kill all Jews and destroy Israel is still there in the charter and, as recently as two months, ago Hamas spokesman Osama Hamdam refused to say that they would consider removing it.

This, to put it mildly, makes Jews living in Israel, surrounded by enemies, more than a little bit nervous. (Can you imagine what would happen if Isis got in there? And we wonder why the Israeli's need to be so militarised and hard-nosed?)

Over here in the West we may shrug our shoulders and say, "Hamas are different now, they say that they don't hate Jews - just the aggressive actions of the Israeli government, the anti-Jewish rhetoric doesn't mean anything". (Though, as one commentator asked; "If the Hamas charter included numerous references to the inferiority of black people and the need to exterminate them, would the Left be so willing to close their ears to complaints about it?)

But rhetoric matters. Why? Because violent anti-Semitism is alive and well and increasing exponentially - aided and abetted by the insistence of the West that it is still solely consigned to a mere 'sinister fringe' and not the "anti-Israel" lobby. Ironically, the attack this week in Jerusalem was in an ultra Orthodox neighbourhood of Jerusalem. The people who worshipped in Har Nof would probably never have served in the Israeli Army, lived in settlements or approached the Temple Mount. They are not Zionists. Quite the opposite. They are just Jews. And it was as Jews that they were brutally attacked and butchered, it was as Jews that four of them were killed, it was because they were (dead) Jews that Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) celebrated with songs and prayers and praised the perpetrators for their "heroic operation".

Meanwhile, in Europe the, 'It's not anti-Semitism, it's anti-Zionism' lobby refuse to take responsibility for their role in the increase in attacks against Jews and Jewish properties. Yes certainly, some right-wing groups throw the "anti-Semitism" tag around in order to shut down dialogue on Israeli actions, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Currently anti-Jewish sentiment in Europe is able to rise unopposed because of the "pro-Palestinian" (but only against Israel) Left's refusal to admit that its anti-Israeli campaigning is contributing hugely to it. Yes, I know that accusation will be met with hostility and disbelief. But think about it: when people campaign vociferously against any cultural events that involves Israel, they seek to boycott everything to do with that country and its people. How do you think that makes Jewish people feel? How can you support actions which make Jewish people feel they are outsiders and yet insist that you mean no anti-Semitism? To do so reveals an ignorance of how central Israel is to the identity, religion and culture of Jewish people worldwide.

How would we feel if other countries banned all Irish Catholic events because of the Catholic Church's horrific treatment of women and children through the years, unless we, as a country, cut all our ties with the Vatican and rejected the Pope? They may well insist that they are not being anti-Irish or even anti-Catholic, but that would be the outcome.

Also, many "Pro-Palestinian" campaigners admirably seek to support the aim of a peaceful two-state settlement. But what they are actually asking the Jews of Israel to do is to seek - and I quote - "friendly relations with a body which is founded on and promotes ideas which only seventy years ago led directly to the murder of six million Jewish people".

It would be like asking Irish people in 1921 to make a treaty with a UK that still promoted the aims of Cromwell, in both word and deed. No sane person would have expected us to do that - so why do we insist Israel does?

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