The Irish and the Jews – Ireland and Israel

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

I was trying for the past few days to think of a modern ethnic analogy to Jews, searching my mind for something to compare Israel to in modern and less-modern times.

Finally it dawned on me.  The Irish and the Jews have a surprising similarity in history.  Pre-diaspora Jews revolted, revolted, revolted against the Roman Empire occupation.  And for 500 years the Irish revolted, revolted, revolted against the British depredations of Ireland.

Both groups have profound ethnic identification, geographic identification with ‘homeland’, and conspicuous religious doctrinal loyalty.  Both groups have been reduced by starvation, by ethnic bigotry from ruling governments, by slaughter.  Both have been endlessly persecuted by those with the power to persecute them.

For 500 years the British did everything a civilized power could do to empty Ireland of Irish and for 2000 years the European states and Russia did everything they could do to rid themselves of Jews.

All that ended with the Irish independence resulting from the last revolt in 1922, and the creation of the State of Israel following WWII.

During the decades following independence Ireland flourished for the first time in its history.  Became, over the decades, the seventh most developed country in the world and among the wealthiest in GDP.  Probably the most peace-loving country in the modern world in the 5/6th of the island where British no longer rule.

Israel flourished, too, though it couldn’t be accused of being peace-loving.  Almost every moment of Israeli history includes brink-of-war scenarios.  The early 20th Century British clich’e, “The Irish brought most of their troubles on themselves,” found its way into Israeli explanations of their difficulties with their own Irish/British analogy.

In view of the similarities that contrast between warlike and peace-loving is surprising.  Rhymes more with relations in Northern Ireland and with the British.  Religious partisans might suggest it’s the difference between the Old Jehovah and the New Jehovah.  But history argues otherwise. 

Seems a lot more likely that, while Ireland is strictly neutral, Northern Ireland is still aligned with the British and by extension, the US.  So is Israel.  And while Ireland is finally completely free of British oppression, Northern Ireland isn’t, and by contrast adopted something akin to Zionism in an attempt to rid itself of Britain and the British.

Terrorism, intimidation and threats.  All the usual suspects from the bad old days.  Jews and Irish.  Israel and Northern Ireland. 

Something to ponder.

Old Jules

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11 responses to “The Irish and the Jews – Ireland and Israel

  1. Your analogy is vacuous and naive, the Catholics Irish of Northern Ireland never faced decimation and constant threat of war while Israel was born out of the ashes and bias been under constant threat of annihilation by a conclave of several nations and surrounded by a horde of hatred instilled by religious tradition and politicians who used it as a diversion from their suppressive policies.

    Your infantile understanding of history and reality gives you a myopic view of the world Israel is in. You believe that your view of the world has a basis in objectivity but it actually a direct descendent of righteous hatred and generations of belligerence.

    Had Jews ever followed your philosophy there would not have been any around to trouble your sleep!

    • Hi Ami. Thanks for coming by for a read. Of course you’d take that view, given your particular position in the ethnic side of things. And of course you’d fall back on the usual defense, anti-Jewish accusations and posturing. It’s all you’ve got. Israel was born the product of terrorism. Until it leaves that past behind there’ll probably be no peace for it. Ireland left it behind in the south.

      [Edit: I’ll concede, though, the Jews under Roman occupation had nothing to compare to the Irish under British occupation to justify revolt. Nothing even in the same ball park. The Jewish sufferings under the Romans might as accurately be described as ‘mostly their own doing’ as the same description used by the British about Irish sufferings during the occupation. And the Israeli description of the difficulties with Palestinians who used to own Israel during most of modern history.]

      Neither Irish nor Israeli matters trouble my sleep. Like Ireland, I’m neutral, just an observer.

      Thanks for offering your remarks. J

    • Ami: The Irish are fine, respectable people Ami. It’s no insult to Jews to be compared to them. In many ways they’re at least as unique as the Jews. In many ways they’re as rich in history. No need to believe you’ve been slighted nor denigrated by being compared to the Irish. Thanks again for coming by. J

  2. I think this is an interesting analogy. The major differentiator is the nature and proximity of opposing forces. Eire today faces a UK that is more commited to a detente with its neighbour, while Israel as a Jewish state lives ntxt to a mix of hostile and cold peace neighbours. Hence very different approaches to national identity and nation building.

    A better analogy for Jews in history is the Roma who have experienced many of the same discriminatory pracises particularly in Europe. There is no obvious Roma homeland and hence no attempt at nation building.

  3. I admire the freshness of your comparison and applaud your courage approaching such touchy subjects, Jules. There are a lot of pain and unresolved resentment about the fates of these two great peoples, so it’s a quicksand and a minefield what you’re venturing into. I’d also add one more point of identification between Northern Ireland and Israel: despite being democracies, both nations seem to have been historically afflicted by an acute lack of vision from their leaders, who seem unchallenged in their policies. Their misguided, often catastrophically policy decisions have cost thousands of lives and a sense of continuous despair about the future. One may say that, for all they went through, the Irish and the Israelis absolutely don’t deserve the politicians they’ve got. Best
    Wesley

    • Thanks for coming by Wesley. It’s definitely a touchy subject, though I’ve not seen a lot of objection to the comparison by Irish. Maybe that will come. Good observations. gracias, J

  4. Interesting documentary by an Israeli journalist that moved to Northern Ireland called “Shalom Belfast”. Was available on Youtube but now can only find clips. I think it aired on BBC. And other interesting book I just read, “The Girl who Stole My Holocaust” by a former IDF soldier. It is interesting the knee jerk response invoked by these topics. Without fail. I have been confronted about things I haven’t even written yet! :)

    • 8thday4life: Anticipating kneejerk gets easier as the decades roll by, I reckons. I’m on a dialup connection so I’m limited in what I can watch on YouTube, but thanks. Gracias, J

  5. Old Jules, I was the one who wrote to you about the Roma. You probably know them as Gypsies. The word “gyp” is a pejorative derived from this group of people based on stereotypes. It is exactly the same as the verb that I experienced being said to me a number of times in my life ” to jew” as in “to cheat.” This is the legacy of European civilization with all of its ethno-religious prejudices. Today the Roma are scattered in many countries but are most found in Hungary and Romania. Roma who have claimed refugee status in Canada have found little sympathy from my government even though the laws in both of those two countries have made life very uncomfortable for them. They are discriminated against for jobs, housing and education. Remember Sher’s song “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves.” That speaks of the stereotype.

    • Lenrosen: I understand what you’re talking about now … thanks for explaining. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a what? Gypsy?Roma? I wouldn’t know one if he bit me on the leg. Haven’t heard much about them except a movie, La Strada, with Anthony Quinn during the 1960s and a book sometime in the 1970s, The King of the Gypsies. Can’t remember much about either of them. Probably there are a lot of them somewhere, but if they were where I was I was unaware of it. Gracias, J

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