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FINTAN O’TOOLE ON ISRAEL


Fintan O'Toole

Fintan O'Toole


A RATHER Jesuitical argument from Irish Times resident ideologue Fintan O’Toole came in a polemic this week claiming: “It’s striking how brazen incitement against Irish Jews has become.”
O’Toole used the rantings of far-right journalists Gemma O’Doherty and John Waters in the freesheet they edit, the Irish Light, which contains a torrent of obscene, antisemitic matter, much of which came from extremists abroad.

Examples of this stuff occupied more than half of O’Toole’s column before he segued into the claim that this kind of antisemitism has become so “brazen and open” in today’s Ireland.
Why, where and by whom? O’Doherty and Waters? Two far-right eccentrics that have been eclipsed by the new factions on the right in the last year or so?

The point of the column appears to be Fintan’s anxiety to disassociate himself from Ireland’s global image as strongly pro-Palestinian and to show he believes this trend to be antisemitic.
He devotes a few dozen words to criticising the argument that pro-Palestinian equals antisemitism before asserting in the same paragraph that antisemitism is very real and has deep roots in Europe – this as the daily Israeli carnage in Gaza reaches new heights of depravity or “catastrophe”, as O’Toole describes it.

Alternatively, he refers to the “Hamas pogroms” (the mortality ratio here is about 20 to one against Palestinians).

With unparalleled irony, O’Toole goes on to weep on the page about a displaced and persecuted people pining for a safe homeland – and no, he is not talking about Palestinians. He even makes a ludicrous comparison between the collective punishment of Gaza civilians and the collective blaming in response of “all Jews” for Israeli behaviour.

Fintan is not a stupid man. He must know that the chief and practically sole purveyor of the notion that all Jews equals Israel is in fact the Israeli state and its supporters – not Palestinian supporters in Ireland.

O’Toole may be feeling the pressure, not from Irish political elements but from further afield. He was for some years drama critic of the Daily News in New York and was also a visiting lecturer in Princeton University. He was a resident of New York for a period and is currently an advising editor at the New York Review, for which he also writes.

The UK Guardian also takes a regular column from Fintan, which may help to explain the supportive reference in this week’s column to British comic and fervent Israeli supporter David Baddiel, who has accused the “progressive left” of refusing to fight for Jewish people.

O’Toole has form on Israel. He once offered the fantastic argument against proposed boycotts of Israeli cultural and other entities that “boycotts will always be interpreted as an expression of antisemitism and as a prelude to worse attacks”.

Did Captain Boycott’s tenants realise they were embryonic Nazis?

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