Israel is different from Northern Ireland

With all due respect to Anne Carr and to the bloody intractability of the conflict in Northern Ireland, Ms. Carr doesn’t get it:

A Northern Ireland peace activist told an audience of Arabs and Jews at the St. George Hotel in east Jerusalem on Friday, “If we Irish can solve our conflict, then so can anybody.”

Anne Carr, who opened the first integrated (Protestant-Catholic) school in Northern Ireland in 1986, was delivering the keynote address at a conference organized by the Bereaved Families Forum as a part of its “Knowing it the Beginning” project, which aims to bring together families who have suffered loss from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict so that they can better understand each other…

“We have to work out a way of living together, respecting the dignity of each other, not creating a humiliating peace so we can feel contentment with our lot, and not resentment with our lot,” she said. — Jerusalem Post

There are of course some similarities between the Troubles and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in particular the employment of terrorism. But there are also fundamental differences.

The nationalists did not view the unionists as interlopers who must be killed or expelled from Ireland, as most Palestinians view the Jews in Israel. If they had come to power, they would not have ethnically cleansed the Protestant neighborhoods. The Roman Catholicism practiced in Ireland does not call for Catholics to hunt down and kill Protestants.

Although the British government may have sided with the unionists, they do not fire rockets into Catholic areas. Northern Ireland is not surrounded by hostile nations who wish to destroy the state using chemical or nuclear weapons, supposedly to help the Catholics.

There are not four or five million hostile Catholics in camps located in the Irish Republic who are not permitted to live normal lives, but are kept in a permanent state of limbo until they can be introduced into Northern Ireland to change the demographics (and incidentally, to wreak violent havoc).

The question in Northern Ireland is how the area will be governed. Will it be a part of the UK, the Irish Republic, or something in between? In the Mideast, one asks whether the Jews will keep their state or, after a bloody war which may become nuclear, the survivors will be dispersed again throughout the world.

The idea that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians can be solved if only the two sides could sit down and talk enough is seductive but false. This is in part because the Palestinians have a wholly unrealistic view of what they are entitled to in any settlement. The Palestinian position is based on a narrative which distorts historical facts, perverts justice, and does not admit that they bear any responsibility for their actions.

I said ‘in part’ because the other part is the fact that in the Middle East the Palestinians are just the tip of the iceberg. Israel is under siege by the entire Arab world, especially Iran and Saudi Arabia, who are pumping large sums of petrodollars into support for Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas which directly confront Israel, and which shortly will be at war with her. There is nothing even remotely analogous to this in the Irish example.

So, while I am certainly in awe of the Irish, who may have ended a conflict that has been going on in some form or other for centuries, I suggest that there’s more than “working out a way of living together” that has to occur before there will be peace in the Middle East.

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