“Who is Ireland’s Enemy?”: Israel-Palestine War
The conflagration which reached a new level in Gaza on Saturday, 7th October, has undoubtedly become the largest story in the world, overshadowing even the Russia-Ukraine War. As we know, this is merely the latest phase in a conflict with deep historical roots stretching back to the early 20th century and even further beyond that.
The National Party is not a parochial party which ignores major world geopolitical events out of a simple isolationism. Irish nationalists have always taken a keen interest in international affairs. But the traditional nationalist attitude has always been to examine global events with an eye towards seeing how they could impact Ireland.
It was always a priority to determine whether international situations could be used to advance the nationalist cause.
The influential nationalist writer, Brian O’Higgins, wrote “Who Is Ireland’s Enemy?” in 1914. It poked through the hysterical war propaganda of its day. He clearly identified England as the culprit which had “robbed and reaved this land of ours” and had “scourged our Motherland”. Directing Irish ire against other countries like Germany or Russia was missing the point whilst Ireland’s interest was to oppose the British enemy.
Although the political situation has changed immensely from 1914, the same principle remains. Putting Irish interests first, internationally and domestically, must apply in 2023 just as it did in 1914.
Irish lives should not be sacrificed in far off lands in causes which don’t serve the national interest. This includes opposing Ireland, as a small nation, being dragooned into foreign military alliances.
True nationalists have often identified something unedifying in the excessive clamouring to identify with the Palestinian cause by Sinn Féin in particular. In 2018, the prominent Sinn Féin propagandist Danny Morrison tweeted, “I wish Palestine was Ireland. It’s more important than Ireland.”
Whilst it’s possible for a principled Irish nationalist to feel strongly about conflicts and happenings abroad, the sentiments of the likes of Danny Morrison capture a pathetic effort to downgrade Irish nationalism and lean on international events as a “substitute nationalism”.
This trend is mirrored on the right-wing, particularly the US right-wing, where milquetoast conservatives who strongly support mass-immigration partly on libertarian grounds of opposing “identity politics” become fervently animated when it comes to defending the state of Israel.
Both on the left and the right, there’s a sad attempt to substitute a healthy nationalism for taking partisan sides in the Israel-Palestine conflict which really does not concern them.
On Sinn Féin’s rhetorical support for Palestine, it should be recalled that they are an incredibly fickle ally. Having given up the fight in Ireland long ago, they are unlikely to really care about Palestine when the crunch comes. It should be remembered that in 2011 they were virtually silent about the murder of their former ‘fervent ally’ Muammar Gaddafi of Libya. Already they’ve tried to move away from their support for Palestine due to pressure from the centre-ground of Irish politics. With friends like Sinn Féin, who needs enemies?
The details of the Israel-Palestine conflict aside, there’s something objectively admirable in Zionism. There are many parallels between Zionism and Irish nationalism. It could provide a case study for how Irish nationalists should think about ourselves as a global nationality. Zionism marshalled its large Diaspora population to achieve what appeared in the early 20th century to be a pipe-dream. In any future Irish nationalist government, the full force of the Irish Diaspora must be recognised and used to advance Irish interests in the world.
In addition, Zionism revived the dead language of Hebrew. This was achieved largely by sheer force of will and ideological zealotry. An obvious comparison can be made with the Irish language, which is regrettably a minority language today. It won’t be revived through half-measures or tokenistic incentives. It will require a guiding state policy which is supported by an Irish population with a stake in the revival of Gaeilge. Our language cannot be revived in an Ireland which is not Irish. Reviving Irish would require an ideological dedication from the public which a foreigner is not likely to have.
Israel proudly proclaims itself to be a Jewish state. It’s one of the few states in the world where explicit ethnic nationalism is tolerated. However, some of the most ardent Zionists are also the first people or groups to criticise when other nations try to assert a similar right to put their people first. For example the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which is US-based but which has a global influence, has condemned various governments such as Poland and Hungary for following policies which put their own people first. ADL spokespeople have been among the most fervently pro-Israel during the recent conflict and the first to assert Israel’s right to be an ethno-state.
The disgraced ex-minister for justice Alan Shatter shamelessly condemned Ireland’s neutrality in the Second World War at a recent pro-Israel event outside Leinster House. He spoke hysterically of widespread anti-Semitic racism in Irish society. But it was Mr Shatter who presided over the acceleration of mass-immigration into Ireland and waxed lyrical about the “New Irish” as he handed out Irish passports like snuff at a wake. But, like his fellow travellers in the ADL, Mr Shatter is happy to be a multiculturalist and a liberal when it comes to Ireland but suddenly he transforms into an ardent nationalist when it comes to Israel’s borders.
Exact parallels between Ireland and Palestine or Ireland and Israel are clunky and not very accurate. They often serve a propagandistic purpose, as seen with the phenomenon of a “substitute nationalism”. This is simply an attempt to demoralise Irish nationalists. It implies Ireland’s right to independence and national freedom is based on nothing more than its place within a liberal international rules-based order, that Ireland should get in the queue. Given the prevailing orthodoxy of the day, Ireland would be far towards the back of the queue.
The presence of the internet and social media have meant that international observers are now subjected to a barrage of information. For users of social media, it is difficult to discern between what is true and what is not. This has become highly relevant in terms of breaking news and atrocity reporting.
It’s been the case in almost every war that atrocity propaganda has been spread which is aimed at eliciting sympathy and urging other countries to take “action”. Western countries were undoubtedly misled by fabricated intel and propaganda during the First and Second Iraq Wars to become involved in these conflicts. Nationalists should be mindful of this today with regards to the current conflict in Israel-Palestine or in Ukraine for that matter.
Irish nationalists must look firstly to our own needs. We must be vigilant and resist attempts by the current Irish government to rush to send Irish money abroad to foreign causes or send Irish soldiers off to be target practice in a complex regional conflict. Irish money is needed at home to benefit our own people, and no Irish life should be thrown away for a foreign war which does not concern us.
We should resist any efforts by our government, the EU or other supranational organisations to cynically use this conflict as a means to inundate Ireland with even more mass-immigration in the form of a fresh “refugee crisis”. This is already happening in startlingly high numbers due to the Ukraine conflict, which needs to be addressed.
Irish interests must always be put first. Our attitude towards international affairs is that we believe in the right of nations to self-determination, to break free from large empires – as seen in the achievement of partial Irish independence, and as seen in the liberation of eastern European nations from communist domination in the 1990s.
Nations must be free to protect their own unique characteristics from being undermined by pernicious migration. This principle should not be controversial or considered “hate speech”. If supporters of Israel or Palestine want to make a nationalist case in respect of their chosen side, they should also be expected to support the same principle for Ireland.