THE SUNDAY INDEPENDENT’S new columnist, David Quinn, has been regurgitating all the disingenuous clichés about Israel’s critics being anti-Semitic, Hamas using people as human shields and denials that Israel deliberately slaughters civilians. Quinn’s line of attack has continued for two of the last three editions of the Sindo during the Israeli bombing massacres of Palestinian children, women and other civilians.
David’s late father, Brian Quinn, may or may not have been pleased with his son’s line on the conflict in Gaza and Israel. Quinn Snr was editor of the Evening Herald from 1969 to 1976 and later, as chief diplomatic correspondent for the Indo group’s titles, he wrote much of their coverage of the Middle East. Brian Quinn was also a member of the Irish-Israeli Friendship League (IIFL), which he joined in 1967.
In 1996 the Israeli government awarded Quinn Snr the Jerusalem 3000 medal at a ceremony at the Berkeley Hotel, which was attended by the Israeli ambassador to Ireland. An Israeli embassy official told Goldhawk back then that Quinn had received the medal for his tireless work for Israel and that he had served Israel’s interest almost daily.
Despite being a member of the IIFL for most of his career, Quinn never declared such an interest to Herald readers or the other Indo group papers he was writing for even though his writings often included editorials on Israel and the Palestinians. Behind the scenes, the elder Quinn was regularly embroiled in rows with officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs over Ireland’s line on the Middle East, which he saw as soft on the Arabs.
Interestingly, the only other Irish citizen who was at that time awarded the Jerusalem Medal – for acts of friendship to Israel – was then Labour Party chairman Jim Kemmy. Labour has traditionally included pro-Israeli TDs from time to time, including former party leader Ruairí Quinn (no relation).
David Quinn and other Israeli supporters have repeatedly described Hamas as hiding behind human shields in Gaza. Presumably, this accusation can be levelled against all guerrilla organisations across the globe, including the Old IRA. Israeli propagandists ought to get their line straight. They occasionally refer with pride – in Ireland – to the role played by Bob Briscoe, a Jewish Fianna Fáil TD and lord mayor of Dublin. Briscoe fought with the IRA under Michael Collins as a highly successful gun runner, according to the Irish Jewish Museum.
On October 15 David Quinn’s Sindo editor, Alan English, expressed his bafflement at the BBC’s refusal to describe Hamas as terrorists – “There is no other adequate word in the English language to describe them” – citing the Hamas “slaughter of more than 260 young people attending a music festival”. With 10,000 or so Palestinian civilians killed in recent weeks, can we expect English to reveal a logical editorial mind and refer to the ‘terrorist Israel state’? Perhaps not.