I posted this reply to Brian Hanley’s blog on Cedar Lounge Revolution, which was reposted on the Pensive Quill. I post it here with the original in the link for those not familiar with that blog.
Brian, a chara
Brian, a chara
While I keep an occasional eye on this site, I never comment as I don’t like getting sucked into the echo chamber. But your ‘no axe to grind’ article is problematic on several levels and I would like to respond.
Firstly, you need to quote these statements in detail (I saw one link to the Times of Israel) and explain the difference in supporting Palestinians’ right to armed resistance and condoning acts of terrorism.
You are correct that war crimes are war crimes even if committed by those resisting colonialism. But that does not negate Palestinians right to resist.
Secondly, you make a false comparison between the Provos and Palestinian resistance to criticise factions of the ‘Irish Left’. Firstly, this is a different historical period and it is likely that the positions of these groups, and certainly their membership, has changed.
More significantly, as an historian you know that Irish people haven’t faced anything like what Palestinians are facing since at least the famine or even as far back as the seventeenth century. There is nothing inconsistent with ‘critical support’ for the PIRA and full solidarity for Palestinians operating under far worse historical circumstances with no avenues for a peaceful solution. You’re correct to identify Hamas as an off shoot of the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran proxy, but that does not negate their right to oppose colonial occupation and apartheid. I back the Ukrainian people’s right to resist occupation even though they have thousands of Nazis in their army. I might also add, as you know, that the socialist and secular Palestinian left acknowledge Oslo was a trap and that the Israeli state have favoured Hamas over Fatah to subvert peace and achieve “Eretz Yisrael”. As a socialist and anti-imperialist, it is imperative to side with the colonised against the coloniser – period.
Also, at some point you have to move from a facile evocation of class to actually develop a general analysis of the situation. So white Rhodesians, or Afrikaners, or the KKK in the southern states or Ulster loyalists for that matter didn’t exhibit class divisions? Your argument that Israelis are being presented as an undifferentiated mass is unconvincing and you counter argument falls flat.
Similarly, your points about the USSR recognising Israel or the number of Red Army veterans who now live there add little or nothing to your argument. You know antisemitism operated as a bedrock of post-WWII Stalinism and the 1952 Slanksy show trial should tell you all you need to know about Czechoslovak antisemitism in the period. My criticism is that it is not sufficient to sprinkle your own criticism of others with decontextualised incidents from a general understanding of European history.
Even international law states that it is legitimate to resist occupation. Palestinians claim this goes back to 1948, the UN back to the 1967 6 Day War. You are correct that many Middle-Eastern Jews suffered persecution and fled to Israel, but this followed the formation of a Jewish state based on the ethnic cleansing of 750k – 1 million Palestinians and, while unjustifiable and grotesque, Iraqi Jews etc did not suffer the same systematic ethnic cleansing as Palestinians, outlined in Ilan Pappe’s comprehensive work.
As it stands, Israel is an apartheid state with a kleptocratic prime minister in coalition with Jewish fascists. Israel is also the ally of the imperial hegemon that since 1945 has turned the Middle East into an open wound to secure its strategic imperatives, destroying secular Arab nationalism in the process.
You fail to contextualise the onset of full unequivocal USA support for Israel (it always favoured them) to the successful attempts to smash secular Arab nationalism within the context of the wider Cold War.
An anti-imperialist analysis would support the Palestinian people’s right to resist and then urge people here to deploy every means available to mobilise support for Palestine and pressurise Israel. Ceasefire surely, but BDS, recognition of the Palestinian state and expelling the Ambassador are all valid and appropriate calls for Irish people, or anyone, to make. Your later point in the comments about Kristallnacht is ironic given Netanyahu’s reaction is quite similar to the manner in which the Nazis (aside from Goebbels also wanting to ingratiate himself with Hitler again) used an atrocity against a German diplomat to initiate a pogrom. Now the Israeli state is using the 7 October attacks as the basis for collective punishment and forced population transfer. We are watching a genocide unfold before our eyes.
In short, and not for the first time recently, you are selectively using decontextualised historical nuggets to hobble a wider anti-imperialist and socialist analysis. You will recall you recently told a CPI conference we both spoke at that (I am paraphrasing but there is a recording) painting post boxes green and getting the army out of the 26 counties were tangible victories “ask anyone living in the six counties?” was your refrain. Well I lived in the North and the Brits never left Ireland, they just left Free Staters alone to paint the post boxes and victimise the poor – as you well know.
Your call for nuance then, and I write this respectfully, speaks to a failure to distinguish the general from the particular and exhibits a failing of many historians who prune facts from the trees and hedges unconscious of the ideological forest.
⏩Fearghal Mac Bhloscaidh blogs @ BLOSC.