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September 6, 2016 11:06 pm

‘I’m a Zionist,’ Irish Journalist Writes in Criticism of Celtic Fans Who Waved Palestinian Flags During Recent Game Against Israeli Team

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Irish journalist Ruth Dudley Edwards. Photo: Twitter.

Irish journalist Ruth Dudley Edwards. Photo: Twitter.

Fans of a popular European soccer team who waved Palestinian flags during a recent home match against an Israeli team are clueless about the history of the Middle East conflict, an Irish columnist wrote on Monday.

Ruth Dudley Edwards of the Belfast Telegraph opened her Monday column by saying she had received “vicious” online responses from “ignoramuses, anti-Zionists and anti-semites” after a previous column in which she criticized the behavior of Celtic fans during an Aug. 17 game in Glasgow against Hapoel Be’er Sheva.

Edwards then proceeded to offer a history lesson and passionate defense of Israel to Celtic fans.

“I’m a critical friend of Israel…but I passionately believe in its right to exist,” she wrote. “In other words, I’m a Zionist.”

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Edwards wrote:

Israel is a fine country which contributes mightily to the world, culturally, scientifically, technologically and in many other ways, while being in the Middle East a model of democracy and religious tolerance where women and gays can live like free people.

I’m desperately sorry for most Palestinians, but their miserable plight is mainly the fault of bigoted and callous leaders who at every turn have blocked a two-state solution with a Jewish state of Israel and an Arab state of Palestine living side by side in peace.

Furthermore, Edwards noted, “Twitter will scream that Jews have no right to settle in the Middle East, yet they’ve been there for over 3,000 years.”

She continued:

The land they presently occupy, as well as the West Bank, was mainly occupied by Jews until sequential persecution from the first century AD by Romans, Christians and — from the seventh century — Muslims, forced most of the survivors to flee.

As a people, they have never ceased to yearn for their ancient homeland which provided a refuge for many tens of thousands at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century from Russian pogroms and the rising anti-semitism in Europe.

Edwards also castigated the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), writing that the group “was supposed to help them [Palestinian refugees] escape their refugee status, but like so many institutions which — consciously or unconsciously – make their own survival a priority, it preferred to grant that status forever to anyone descended from a Palestine refugee.” She went on to say that “[i]t suits most Arab countries to encourage generation after generation to think themselves helpless victims of Israel, leave them to rot in camps mainly supported by the West and feed them anti-Jewish hate.”

As reported in The Algemeiner, another Belfast Telegraph columnist recently wrote it was “time to stand by Ireland’s Jews” following the desecration of Jewish graves at a cemetery in the Northern Irish capital.

Henry McDonald said that some had pointed to the recent fining of Celtic over its fans’ display of Palestinian flags during the game against 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.”

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