WHEN my mother chose to send me and my brothers to the only Jewish school in Ireland it probably seemed, to others, a bit out of place. That the school was, at that time, only around the corner from our home, and that my mother had suffered terrible abuses from the religious when she attended boarding school, meant it made sense to us.
All of my primary years and three of my secondary years were spent in Zion School and Stratford College. The tiny number of non-Jews and I had the pretty unique experience of Catholics attending a school in 1970s Dublin where we were the ethnic minority, at least during our school hours. We all loved it, though. The school was more like an extended family where hospitality, generosity, tolerance and care were the curriculum. We shared our different annual celebrations, with Santy coming to my house after my friends had celebrated Hannukah in theirs. For us it was normal.
When antisemites burned Stratford in Rathgar, we were told never to hate those responsible. We were told that our commitment to education would mean better tolerance and understanding in the future.
WHO: civilians, patients, and health workers in #Gaza spend night in darkness and fear— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) October 28, 2023
During a night of intense bombardment and ground incursions in Gaza, with reports of hostilities still continuing, health workers, patients and civilians have been subject to a total… pic.twitter.com/F2CBJ9VOHD
Many of my childhood friends emigrated to Israel in the 1980s. With their families they considered and framed it as “going home”. I do not remember huge conversations about it all, but it became noticeable that there were fewer Jewish families in Dublin by the time I left the school in 1985.
I am eternally grateful to my mother for making her choice and sending us to that school and to have had that unique experience. I feel nothing but love and admiration for the Jewish faith.
What is happening in Palestine today, and has been happening for decades, is nothing short of war crime, and a genocide of its people.
The Zionist state holds zero moral credibility in any world which may hold the rights of its citizens as sacrosanct. It is not antisemitic to say any of that. It can only be viewed through the lens of law. Much of the law that has been developed to name genocide and formulate international war crimes is the direct result of the experiences of World War Two. It is not antisemitic to point to that lens of history either. Uncomfortable for some undoubtedly, but not antisemitic.
It is, however, antisemitic to say the Zionist state’s actions are the responsibility of all Jews. While the Zionist state will conflate the Holocaust with the actions of Hamas over the past few weeks, that perverse and abusive tactic is not owned by anyone other than Israeli state despots. There are Jewish communities all over the globe standing up and saying “not in my name”. Theirs is not an easy position to take as that rogue state deliberately wishes to dictate to every room and forum what antisemitism looks like. But Jewish activists for peace face up to that, and confront its perversion.
No Gaza baby is responsible for October 7, and not every Jew is responsible for Gaza’s genocide.
At times like this, and I am not sure I have lived through worse times, the primacy of human rights must be held close, and promoted. That requires courage and leadership from all who sign up to these obligations in easier times. Some who should, and indeed do, know better, state that a country’s human rights obligations can be compromised if there is a security threat. That is not only stupid, it is exactly the opposite of the intention of rights law. It is precisely when others threaten us that we must rise to better.
Israel will not want to – the rest of the world must stop pandering to its evil, abusive intent.