Sunday, August 20, 2006
# Posted 7:14 PM by Patrick Belton
(14) opinions -- Add your opinion
I do not study Irish history, but I know enough about Israeli and Lebanese history and politics to know that the knowledge displayed here is unworthy of discussion. Israel withdrew from a 'security zone?' Are you kidding me? Every part of that, but the Israel part, is incorrect. The most egregious is the security zone part. Occupied land is occupied land, Israeli-isms for it don't change that, Mr Belton and your misuse of Israeli and Lebanese history correspondents.
Thanks for this, what interested me most actually here wasn't the Israeli angle so much as the Irish, and the high danger every long-running territorial conflict from Kashmir to Palestine runs of being sooner or later analysed through a Northern Irish lens. That, I suppose, would be an interesting piece. Hmm.
Actually, the Northern Irish relationship to Palestine (I cannot speak for Kashmir, though I can anecdotally suspect it equally true), is one that is usually made by Irish activists, and quite a few Irish scholars. Actually, Palestinians don't really look at Ireland for a few reasons I don't have time to explain here though they are rather clear. Palestinians, if they do look elsewhere, tend to look at South Africa--both for political inspiration and strategy, though not history.
I have Irish heritage, I am a devout Catholic, I will let you figure out where I stand on the issue of Irish Republicanism.
That being said, I just don't think there is an apt comparison of the Northern Ireland struggle and well, anyother "long running territorial conflict".
Oh and Patrick, I believe Google will soon have some explaining to do (follow the link). :D
Just one quibble - Nobody suspects Hassan Nasrullah of working for the Mossad.
In Zarqawi's last tape before his death, he accused Nasrallah and Hizb'allah of being Zionist agents. Kind of an amusing sidenote.
This analysis of the Northern Ireland Troubles is at least as facile as Fisk's. Whether rightly or wrongly, British governments in the 70s and 80s (and Thatcher in particular) never believed that the Republic of Ireland was pulling its weight in stopping cross-border raids (its hostility to the IRA was internal, since Sinn Fein did not acknowledge the legitimacy of the Dublin government). At no time did British forces ever have 'full control of the ground' in Ulster, and while it is true that the 'majority' of the population supported the Union, a very substantial minority (up to 40%) did not. Enough to be getting on with, one would think.
No one would deny the importance of military operations against the IRA, but it is a fantasy to suggest that the peace process came about because of 'a decisive military victory'. No such victory was either won or even possible. You might recall that the peace process collapsed under Major's government because of its insistence on treating the IRA as a defeated army, demanding disarmament before any political concessions were made. However ugly, peace in Northern Ireland involved talks with terrorist groups and the acceptance of known terrorists into government. It meant an invitation to the White House for Gerry Adams and political office for him and MacGuinness.
I'm no expert on the Middle East so I won't presume to draw lessons. But we're not going to get anywhere if those who use historical analogy simply find in the past whatever it is they want to see.
During the British Mandate in Palestine, quite a large number of those who served as High Commissioner on down to member of the Palestine Police, had some experience in Ireland. Its actually a fascinating correllary, both in the forms of practices the British transferred from one region to the other (including India, by the way)--such as administration detention, collective punishment--which Israel then also took up.
Some of the prisons built by the British in Palestine were very similar, and were based on lessons learned from Ireland and India. They used their knowledge of administrative rule in all their colonies to inform each other. It is also the origin of the Israeli right-wing, and Zionist, term for the occupied territories as 'administrative territories."
Patrick, le do thoil, bru balagh...
"the knowledge displayed here is unworthy of discussion. Israel withdrew from a 'security zone?'"
The standard term used by the Irish and British media, particularly in stories about the Irish contingent in UNIFIL was exactly that usually prefaced with "self-declared" or "so-called", as here, for example:
"the knowledge displayed here is unworthy of discussion"
If the "here" refers to your own contribution, I can only agree.
"I have Irish heritage..."
FYI Rugby fan - Irish nationalists, particularly of the more traditional stripe found in the GAA, describe soccer and rugby as "foreign" or "garrison" games.
"British governments in the 70s and 80s (and Thatcher in particular) never believed that the Republic of Ireland was pulling its weight in stopping cross-border raids"
"No one would deny the importance of military operations against the IRA, but it is a fantasy to suggest that the peace process came about because of 'a decisive military victory'."
I think that you're forgetting history here - the IRA was crushed at three points prior to the start of the modern Troubles in 1969 - the Civil War, World War II and the border campaign of the fifties. In each case, the Irish Free State, Republic of Ireland, 26-county regime or whatever you want to call it was quite unrestrained in its repression and quick to win. The IRA faced no force-feeding of hunger-strikers, capital punishment, reprisal killings by police or serious effort at internment in the North. With those, I'd have expected the PIRA campaign to have been over by the late seventies. Even without them, as the Irish journalist Ed Moloney argues at length in his book "The Secret History of the IRA", the Provos faced defeat by the mid-eighties and the leadership knew it.
As Bobby Sands' sister said at one point after the peace process began, "My brother didn't die for cross-border bodies and parity of esteem".
The force with the strongest Irish links in the pre-state Irish mandate was probably Begin's Irgun, which was armed and possibly trained by members of the IRA. One-time Dublin Lord Mayor Bob Briscoe in particular was very active, but other activists were strongly sympathetic. My suspicion is that Irish republicans have tended to gravitate towards whoever is the most ruthless and violent actor on that particular stage, first the revisionists and then the PLO.
Just as an aside, and not addressing anybody in particular, I'd like to quote some some fine words:
"If you harbour terrorists, you are a terrorist. If you train or arm a terrorist, you are a terrorist. If you feed a terrorist or fund a terrorist, you're a terrorist and you will be held accountable."
The good thing about the man from Texas is that these days, Gerry Adams finds himself having to take the train around the US rather than fly. Fund him or support him and you're a terrorist and an enemy of the Republic. Considering that his party is the most vocal opponent of the US in Ireland and that his other friends are FARC, Castro, Arafat and Gaddafi, he's also an enemy of the United States.
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