April 10, 2009

"The obnoxious phenomenon that is zionism"

I like that. It's a completely fraudulent headline though because this post was intended to just be about Gerry Adams visiting Palestine. The basic story is that the President of Sinn Fein, Gerry Adams, went to Palestine but was forbidden from entering Gaza because Israel didn't want him to meet with any Hamas people, which would be a bit difficult if he was in Gaza since Israel clearly considers every Gaza man, woman and child to be Hamas. But anyway, what do you when this happens? Turn to serial fantasist, Tony Blair, who as Quartet envoy to the Arab-Israeli peace process has ever such a lot of time on his hands. So there we have it, in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Ha'aretz, the Jerusalem Post and lots of other papers too, Mr Adams goes to Gaza and meets Hamas leader thanks to Tony Blair.

So why the headline? It's a quote that one of the Jerusalem Post's (at the time of writing) three reports attributes to an unnamed Sinn Feiner in an article written, it seems, by an Irish chap, Sean Gannon, who appears to be guesting at the Post and who doesn't seem to have a whole lot of time for the Irish republican movement:
MAINSTREAM Republican support for the Palestinians has been purely political since the official end of the IRA's war in 2005. Although he presides over a Sinn Fein which remains bitterly hostile to what it once termed "the obnoxious phenomenon that is Zionism," Adams, as an international peacemaker manqué, personally adopts a relatively moderate tone, leaving it to his international affairs spokesman, Aengus O'Snodaigh, to articulate the party's official positions. For example, in June 2006, O'Snodaigh described Israel as "without doubt one of the most abhorrent and despicable regimes on the planet." Two months later he claimed that the Second Lebanon War was the result of "continued Israeli aggression, expansion and occupation in the region" and called for UNIFIL's deployment on the Israeli side of the Blue Line. During Operation Cast Lead he demanded the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador to Ireland and compared him to Josef Goebbels.
I've said before that I often don't read articles in full before posting on them and this is a typical one. The article is actually quite lengthy and gets into a whole load of stuff about historical IRA and Sinn Fein figures who were antisemitic or who were associates or members of antisemitic organisations. So let's just take a look at the first instance, though it is a longer article than I first realised. Following the paragraph I pasted above, Gannon details some of Sinn Fein's expressions of hostility to Israel:
Sinn Fein repeatedly calls for the suspension of the EU's preferential trading agreement with the Israeli "rogue state" on the grounds of its "horrific crimes against humanity" and, in February, Adams himself launched the Irish Congress of Trade Unions' "Israel/Palestine Report" in Northern Ireland's parliament buildings, which calls for an economic, political and cultural boycott/divestment/sanctions campaign against Israel.

Republicans are also prominently involved in non-party anti-Israel activism, particularly in the Belfast branch of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign, where Sinn Fein cadres work alongside convicted IRA terrorists and members of dissident groups such as Eirigi.
I'd better point out here that Eirigi isn't dissident republican in the sense of supporting armed struggle. It opposes the Good Friday Agreement but supports cessation of violence, I think. Go check if you're interested.

Anyway, this is a lead in to what looks like a promising passage that suggests a difference between condemnation of Israel on the one hand and antisemitism on the other. But then look:
THE STRIDENCY of Irish Republicanism's anti-Israel campaign has, unsurprisingly, given rise to accusations of anti-Semitism.
I like that "unsurprisingly". It looks like "yawn yawn, yet another bogus allegation of antisemitism" but then:
Certainly, the movement is tainted with an anti-Semitic past. Arthur Griffith, who founded the original Sinn Fein movement in 1905, used the pages of his newspaper to rail against "Jew Swindledom" (9/10ths of all Jews were, he proclaimed, "usurers and parasites") and the Dreyfusards. While similar prejudices were commonplace in all the political parties which descended from his organization, only the eponymous rump which remained after the splits of 1921 and 1926 habitually preached Jew-hatred, culminating in a demand for an Irish-German alliance in 1939.
Now is he saying that there was just one party bearing the standard of antisemitism by the time Sinn Fein had split into broadly three components? I know that the original Sinn Fein split into what we now know as Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein, but the antisemitic tendency in the party was the bit that eventually became Fine Gael, the party most favoured by the UK and sometimes described as west British as opposed, yes opposed to, Irish.

Anyway, enough of this. I just think there's a bit of mischief going on in the article in trying to pin an antisemitic motive on to the support an anti-imperialist party like Sinn Fein might be expected to show for a fellow resistance movement.


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