Friday, June 17, 2011

It's Bloomsday

THE CITIZEN: (Choked with emotion, brushes aside a tear in his emerald muffler) May the good God bless him!

(The rams' horns sound for silence. The standard of Zion is hoisted.)

BLOOM: (Uncloaks impressively, revealing obesity, unrolls a paper and reads solemnly) Aleph Beth Ghimel Daleth Hagadah Tephilim Kosher Yom Kippur Hanukah Roschaschana Beni Brith Bar Mitzvah Mazzoth Askenazim Meshuggah Talith.

(An official translation is read by Jimmy Henry, assistant town clerk.

James Joyce
Babes and Sucklings


Joyce metaphors point the way to greater empathy with Israel

13 June 2011

In his book The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce lets us taste his enduring bitterness over his childhood experience of being caned by a teacher who, without giving him a chance to defend himself or allowing for the possibility that he was tripped on the cinder path by a classmate, has blamed him for the mere fact that his spectacles are broken.

Israel would appreciate it if its critics in Ireland would assume the position of the fairer and more balanced educator, also described so lovingly by Joyce, the one who hears both sides, who listens before he canes, who might also have demanded accountability from those who constantly "trip" us all in the Middle East on the cinder paths to peace.

I think that my people and my nation have been caned enough in front of the Irish public and deserve at least that some attention be paid to their genuine security concerns. I say this in view of the prospect that Israel will return to the pre-1967 geographical contours that give her only a 9-mile 'waist' – the width of the country from the Mediterranean sea to the borders of a new Palestinian state!

One can imagine the ease with which a powerful force like that of Iran could sever such a narrow state, and how difficult it would be, even for an army with Israel's military capability, to defend against it. That is the nightmare scenario facing Israel if an agreement cannot be reached with the Palestinians, through bilateral direct negotiations, that will guarantee its security not only from dark forces such as the terroristic Hamas and Hizbullah but from external powers that constantly incite war against it. The latter are currently doing their utmost to manipulate the positive revolutions of the 'Arab Spring' to make them new fronts of militant Islamism (an ideology that has nothing to do with moderate Islam, a kin religion to Judaism and Christianity) in the areas neighbouring Israel.

No country can defend a 9-mile central strip, one that moreover contains its only international airport, without having a stable demilitarized neighbor!

Israel has lost more than 24,000 of its people in the last 7 decades to wars and terror, yet it is willing to forgive and forget, and understands – as indeed the founding fathers understood already in 1947 – that the only solution is to have a proud, independent Palestinian state existing beside it. But this state should be established through direct negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis – not through one-sided stunts such as next September's projected 'unilateral declaration of statehood' at the UN.

Open Joyce's Ulysses and witness the Jewish Leopold Bloom picking up Zionist brochures on the streets of Dublin 100 years ago and encountering some of the anti-Jewish sentiment that was the common lot of Jews across Europe then.

Indeed Ireland was far from the worst, but actually one of the best, in this regard: Bloom's Jewish brethren in other European countries in 1904 were experiencing much less tolerant environments, hearing the calls to "Leave Europe and go back to Zion!". (The Irish nationalist hero, Michael Davitt, travelled to the Russian Empire to see for himself and document one of many vicious anti-Semitic pogroms, the 1903 massacre at Chishinau.) Even then, Jews like Bloom could not know that something much worse was waiting around the corner.

Since long before the time of Leopold Bloom, Europe has sought to influence the course of Jewish national life. It is still seeking to do so. But it should do so now with great care and great responsibility and without asking Jews to put themselves in danger again, or demanding that Israel take risks with its own security that no European state would dream of taking.

Deputy Ambassador of Israel
Dublin 4.


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