Irish and Irish-Americans more sympathetic to Palestinians?

In 1979, I visited my Irish-American cousins in New Jersey, and I was struck by the amount of sympathy they expressed for the Palestinian cause, especially the older generation. They thought Israel was doing something similar to what the British had done to their ancestors. This was in the late '70s, when support for Israel was pretty much taken for granted on the American political scene. The invasion of Lebanon hadn’t happened, Sabra and Shatila hadn’t happened, Begin and Sadat and Carter were in a big love-fest and Americans were P.O.'d about waiting in gas lines.

These days, Israel says it will object to any fact finding commission that includes Mary Robinson or Bernadine Healy, who are Irish and New York Irish-American, respectively. (In the case of Healy, it’s a bum rap. This article tells how Healy resigned because the Red Cross wouldn’t adopt the Shield of David.)

Is there any connection here? Among the Irish and among ethnically conscious Irish Americans, is there more generalized sympathy for the Palestinians than among other ethnic groups and Western nationalities?

FWIW, two classic, atavistic, frothing at the mouth, anti-Brit, Irish Americans I have encountered were both very pro-PLO.

The IRA is known to support the PLO - the latest example being suspicions voiced in this (admittedly not 100% objective source). It appeared elsewhere, but that’s the first cite I got.

An ex-UK army guy working with the Red Cross in the Mideast recently claimed that a lot of the bombs used by the Palestinians look like carbon copies of the IRA stuff. (In yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph.)

But such inter-terror-group cooperation could just be tactical rather than ideological.

Hemlock, if this is all the evidence they have in that article, I’d be worried about wheir investigative abilities.

As for the Sunday Telegraph article, I don’t think I have heard of the IRA using pipe bombs, but I may be wrong on that.

From what I have read, IRA men were trained with PLO rather than by, if you get what I mean.
tcluie, you raise a very interesting point. I supose Irish people could (if they so wished to) identify with the Palistinian struggle.

I know there is a huge link between socialists in Ireland and Palestine (and Israel), that want to establish a proper system for workers in both Israel and Palestine, and are dedicated to a peaceful resolution to the current situation.

It is fair to say that the extremely large majority of Irish people who take interest in the activities support a peaceful resolution to the current situation.

I myself am pro-palestinian, but I do not support the use of violence as a means to achieve ones goals. I am also NOT anti-Israeli. I want to see both sides peacefully and fairly co-exist.
Did I explain that OK?

It’s an interesting thought that those of Irish ancestry might have a unique view differing that of their peers. My origins are largely Irish, but I believe I’d be 5th or 6th generation since that side of my family arrived in the US. Of those I’ve talked to about the issue, the views expressed span a spectrum from neutral or moderate, to fairly pro-Israeli. I’ve never talked to an Irish relative that was decidedly pro-Palestinian. Subjective information to be sure, but that seems to be one of the things the OP is looking for.

While extremist on both sides may feel a type of solidarity, I’d be careful using that fact to draw too many parallels. The situations in the two countries are drastically different.

extremist? :wink:

I’m anti some of Israeli policies and actions and anti quite a lot of Palestines policies and actions.

I don’t think that Irish people would default to a Palestinian POV but do feel that Irish people may be more familiar with the type of OTT reactionary actions and comments from both sides that accompany this sort of fucked up situation.

There probably is a contingent that would support the PLO / Hamas etc. but they’d be idiots who most likely support the real IRA and other disedent republican movements.

Europe as a whole is more open to the Palestinian POV so it’s not just the Irish.

No stats here, just anecdote: I have just come back from a weekend in London, and didn’t speak to a single English person who wasn’t sympathetic towards the Palestinian people (including a friend who is very pro-Israel, speaks fluent Hebrew, lived in Tel Aviv for several years, has a degree in Israeli Studies, etc.). Everyone I met was appalled at Sharon’s actions, and at the implication of severe human rights abuses by the Israeli government. As is every Irish person to whom I have spoken on the subject.

Similarly, everyone I’ve spoken to in Dublin or London is appalled by the suicide bombing and other terrorist tactics on the part of Palestinian extremists.

I don’t discern a difference of opinion between those two nationalities, amongst my peers anyway, even though the English haven’t gone through a ‘liberation struggle’.

They’ve gone through several actually, just not theirs :wink:



Hey, I may have painted with a broad brush, but it’s not my fault if you should choose to roll around in it.

Seriously, I was speaking of those whose views are extreme enough to act on them who might feel they were comrades at arms. Simply sympathizing with the POV of either the Palestinians or the Israelis isn’t extremist in my opinion.


Irish-American here.

I see ONE similarity between the current Arab rebels and the Irish rebels Im descended from. Both groups were equally stupid, self-destructive, and hopelessly ineffectual.

I thought of this last St. Patrick’s Day, when I realized that Irish-Americans celebrate their heritage by singing songs or playing old records about James (“The Patriot Game”) Connolly, Sean South of Garryowen, Young Roddy McCorley, and the lads gunned down in “the foggy dew.” And it struck me… we Irish are as stupid as the Arabs!

Think about it- Connolly, Sean South, Roddy McCorley and their ilk got themselves and loads of other people killed, through ill-conceived raids or rebellions that never stood the slightest chance of success. And yet, sentimental Irishmen sing about them.

Michael Collins, on the other hand, gave the Irish something REAL, something solid. He gained genuine freedom and independence for 80% of Ireland. The die-hard “patriots” of the IRA, of course, called Collins a traitor and a quisling for not getting the other 20%, and killed Collins. Needless to say, nobody sings songs about Collins on St. Paddy’s Day.

So the Irish hail as heroes people who got killed while accomplishing absolutely NOTHING, while scorning the chance to gain MOST (but not all) of what they always claimed they wanted!
Gosh… where have I heard of other people like that?

Yes… it’s easy to see why some Irish sympathize with the Palestinians.

Not so. he founded the Irish Transport And General Workers Union, and was one of the Leaders of the Easter Rebellion. His Goals for Ireland and the foundations he lay for the modern state are still very much in evidence, so I would hardly call him innefectual.

I would not class Connolly in with South (led a team of volunteers to attack a border police station in a milk van. they all jumped out, and fired a mortar at it at basically point blank range.
Basically, if it had happened in the last 5 years instead of 50 or 60 years ago, they’d get a Darwin award.

As for songs about Collins, yes, they exist and are sung. Songs like “Candles Dripping Blood” (the most depressing song ever, which I hate BTW) and “The Ballad of Michael Collins” are sung.
There is a very good version of the Ballad of Michael Colins done by The Wolfe Tones on their 25th Aniversary album.

Collin’s is VERY much regarded as a hero in Ireland.

Are we talking about 1916 here, or the War of Independence and the following civil war?

That Torygraph article was a hoot. The claim was that the pipe bombs used by the Palestinians were exactly like those used in Northern Ireland. Problem is, as Twisty noted (and what made you think of that, Twisty? ;)), the IRA haven’t been implicated in a pipe bomb attack since … I dunno … 1973 maybe. Pipe bombs are very much a loyalist weapon.

A commonly held belief, but wrong. The split that led to the civil war and the assassination of Collins was not, in fact, primarily over partition. It was over the Oath of Allegiance to the crown. The document Collins signed ensured that even that 80% would not have “genuine freedom and independence” for some time thereafter (until De Valera came to power, in fact).

Ruadh- obviously, there was more to the Irish Civil War and the death of Michael Collins than mere partition, but there is no question that partition alone led to a great deal of bitterness. My grandfather and great uncle were among the hard-core IRA fighters who left Ireland rather than live under what they (foolishly, in my opinion) considered a Quisling regime. I regularly heard them say they’d have shot Collins themselves if they’d known the deal he was going to return to Ireland with.

Now, I realize that such talk may simply have been the meaningless rantings of old men who’d had too much to drink, or who just didn’t fully understand the situation Collins found himself in. But their anger (which hadn’t subsided after nearly 60 years) WAS based, first and foremost, on the partition. Of course, more cynical politicians were only too happy to take advantage of that anger for their own purposes.

And Twist: I’m well aware that James Connolly was not a mere dumb fanatic. He was an intelligent, patient, determined man who spent years creating a formidable organization. But the fact remains, his Easter Rebellion was a fiasco, by any standard. It was badly conceived, ineptly carried out, and doomed to failure from the start. Worst of all, a man as smart as Connolly had to have KNOWN how futile it was. There was no real coordination, no real plan… it’s hard not to conclude that Connolly simply pissed away all his hard work.

In the end, Connolly accomplished nothing, except “glorious” martyrdom. Frankly, as an Irish-American, I’m SICK of paying homage to noble failures and martyrs with nothing to show for their valor. I’m tired of songs and poems that immortalize them.

In my opinion, the Palestinian Arabs will never accomplish anything until THEY get as sick of such nonsense as I am. And that won’t happen any time soon.

After nearly 60 years it might well have been. Can you honestly say for sure that’s what their anger had been based on to begin with? After de Valera (rather easily) got rid of all the other objectionable things in the treaty, partition quite naturally became the sticking point for those who still wanted something to blame Collins for.

Reading the histories of the Treaty negotiations, you find that de Valera’s alternatives also provided for some form of partition. And I recall F.S.L. Lyons reporting in Ireland Since The Famine that only some ridiculously - I mean ridiculously - small percentage of pages of Dáil debates over the treaty are concerned with partition specifically. I’ll see if I can find the exact reference.

I don’t know your relatives personally, but I’m strongly inclined to think that their view of partition which you witnessed is one influenced by hindsight, rather than one held from the outset. Perhaps that isn’t the case - but if not, they were probably the exception.

to an extent I agree with you. their early plans were thrown to the wind after the Irish Volunteers were withdrawn from the rebellion. Also, had they had better intelligence they might have done more than sieze buildings and sit there. They were not to know that there was only 1/3 the army force in Dublin due to the Races being on in Fairyhouse. had they a better turnout (or even more guns) they would have had a lot more success.

the thing is though Astorian, sometimes you have to look past the actual achievements and what the motives were.

these people died so that my country may be free. no matter how ill-concieved their plan was, they were executed.

If you only remember and acknowledge your successes, you are neglecting the majority of your history.

They did, the result being this.

In an interesting reversal of the usual way these things go, they overthrew tyrannical English monarchy and installed an obedient foreign one.