‘Time to Stand by Ireland’s Jews,’ Declares Belfast Columnist in Wake of Cemetery Desecration
Henry McDonald of the Belfast Telegraph said that the act of vandalism “appears to have been something more organized, more targeted, more pointed” than “mindless drink and drug-fueled behavior.” According to McDonald, “The vandals used hammers and blocks to break up the headstones, while a larger mob looked on encouraging their actions. There is clear evidence here of forward-planning.”
McDonald said that some have pointed to the recent fining of the Celtic soccer team by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) over fans’ display of Palestinian flags during a recent game against Israel’s Hapoel Be’er Sheva as the catalyst for the vandalism. However, McDonald declared, “[W]hatever the motivation, or even the rights and wrongs of the Israel-Palestine question, it is undoubtedly the case that the desecration was motivated by anti-Jew hatred.”
Further elaborating, McDonald detailed the “dualistic, simplistic and narcissistic” views of many of his countrymen:
There is a depressing binary attitude in Northern Ireland in relation to the Israel-Palestine conflict. If unionists happen to be pro-Israeli and fly the Star of David flags on lampposts in loyalist working-class districts, then naturally nationalists must wrap themselves up in the green, red, white and black colours of the Palestinian cause. In this simplistic black and white vision of a conflict infinitely more complex than our own, there is no room for any grey nuances. You cannot, say for example, be a supporter of a free and independent Palestine while at the same time backing Israel’s own right to exist free from the exterminationist tendencies of so many in the Arab world.
According to McDonald, only around 80 Jews live in Northern Ireland. “It is only recently that the community has been building up enough numbers again to have its own rabbi despite the long benign legacy the Jews who settled in this society from the 19th century bequeathed to us all,” he wrote.
McDonald said both unionists and nationalists in Northern Ireland “owe a great deal to the Jewish influence on politics, culture and business.”
Concluding his op-ed, McDonald called on residents of the area near the cemetery where the vandalism took place to turn in to police the “bigoted morons” responsible for it.
Among the most eminent Belfast-born Jews is the late former Israeli President Chaim Herzog. Herzog’s Polish-born father Isaac served as the chief rabbi of Ireland from 1921-36 and his son, also named Isaac, is the chairman of Israel’s Labor Party and heads the oppositionist Zionist Union — a joint electoral list comprised of Labor and the Hatnuah Party.