ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Monday, July 31, 2006

Palestine - Echoes of Ireland?

Have we seen a situation similar to that in Israel before in another place?

A pretty good argument can be made that what is going on in Israel has a strong comparison to what was going on in Ireland in the early 20th century. An indiginous population could be said to be trying to throw off an occupying power. In Ireland it was the Irish trying to rid themselves of the British, and in Israel the Arabs trying to rid themselves of what they perceive to be an occupying power, the Jews. There is not only a historical parallel, but a parallel in the methods used. There is also the obvious parallel in the religious element.

There was a singularly nasty individual by the name of Eamon de Valera in Ireland. He was a member of the "anti-treaty" faction. He was opposed to the Homerule Treaty that brought Ireland a large measure of independence while maintaining its ties to Great Britain. He was a separatist and a terrorist. It is assumed that he ordered the assination Michael Collins.

Collins, himself an Irish terrorist, had turned in his guns and negotiated the treaty bringing homerule to Ireland. That was not enough for de Valera and his people. Civil war among the Irish followed, with de Valera's forces prevailing, resulting in the founding of the Irish Republic. His party, Fianna Fail, with only limited interruptions, has ruled Ireland to this day. De Valera was the Yasser Arafat of his day. De Valera went on the become the long serving third president of Ireland and is a much revered person.

De Valera, interestingly, was a "Black Irish" expatriate Jew. He was born in New York. His ancestors were likely survivors of the Spanish Armada hence the Spanish last name. Not exactly your pure Irishman.

In Palestine the Jews during the 1947 war had some characters not unlike de Valera. The Irgun and The Stern Gang for instance. The assination of Bernadotte and the bombing of the King David hotel being notable examples.

So what is the point here?

These wars are ugly. We should draw some lessons from what has happened in the past, not be bound by them, but to learn from them. There is nothing totally new under the sun.

Are there moral equivalencies here, say between The Fianna Fail, The Stern Gang and and The Martyrs Brigade? An honest appraisal would have to admit that there are. We need to look past that and not react in a reflexive manner when the comparisons are made. The lessons to be learned are too important to reject them out of hand.

The Irish/Palestine comparison breaks down when what is presently going on in Lebanon is considered. That is not an indiginous secular struggle. It is a religious struggle fueled by an outside power, Iran. Have we seen that sort of thing before?

To where do we look for lessons in that type of conflict?

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn

Comments (3)
dan l said...

Between this and your post: "Does palestine have a valid beef?", I think ARC has some of the best stuff on Israel.

Stupid Country said...

"De Valera, interestingly, was a 'Black Irish' expatriate Jew. He was born in New York. His ancestors were likely survivors of the Spanish Armada hence the Spanish last name. Not exactly your pure Irishman."

What, exactly, did you have in mind by this aside? A "pure Irishman" would have had a better claim to authority in Ireland? That terrorism is a semitic trait?

Not trying to nit-pick -- just very curious.

Monterey John said...

Good question SC. I debated whether to put that piece of trivia in the post. I think that he was similar to the many Americans who emigrated to Israel after WWII is what motivated me more than anything else, folks like Golda Meir and many others who were prominant in the establishment of modern Israel. But that is about as far as the comparison goes. Meir was a remarkable and good person. De Valera was a thug more akin to Arafat or perhaps Manachem Begin of the King David Hotel infamy who later became the great peace maker.