Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Anti-Semitism, coming soon to a town near you..
I was at the University Bookshop yesterday in Belfast and I bought a mini-biography of Karl Lueger by Angela Clifford a socialist writer, with an introduction by Mark Langhammer, a Labour councillor. Lueger was the mayor of Vienna at the turn of the last century. He is really only famous for two things: anti-semitism and being one of Hitler's heroes.
I was very surprised on reading the book to find that it was written as a defence of Lueger. Despite lengthy quotes from his speeches in which he accuses Jews of using Christian blood in their rituals in Tiszaeszler, his opinion that all business and capital is Jewish run etc. the author unbelievably suggests that he is not anti-semitic because his opposition to the Jews was due to their wealth rather than their race!!
Interestingly, even though Lueger died in 1910 the author cannot restrain herself from denouncing Israel at various points in the book.
I think the European love of the Palestinians may be an unfortunate symptom of our failure to adequately root out anti-semitism on this continent.
I suspect that Irish Republicans sympathise with Palestinians when they see their conflict with Israel through the lense of "occupier and occupied" and identify both Palestinians and Irish as people oppressed by a foreign occupier. This does not require anti-semitism any more than Loyalist who view the same situation as "citizens threatened by terrorism" require a pre-disposition to favour Jewish faith or culture, or even Zionism. They just fly the flags.
Of course many do combine their "political" view with more visceral and sectarian feelings - from the outside, it can be hard to tell. While anti-semitism is a convenient label to hang on opposition to Israel, and although it's not always justified, it's probably more common than some "anti-colonialists" might like to pretend.
Attitudes at ground zero are interesting too. Israeli society has a range of views on Palestinians, from potential neighbours, to fanatical enemies who will never stop fighting Israel. But at least their schools and textbooks do not call for the elimination of the Palestinian people, or their expulsion from the middle east.
Ultimately though it may be of little interest to an Israeli whether he is hated for something his government did, or because of his faith, or his race.