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David Collier's report on Antisemitism in Ireland

  • 19-10-2021 1:14pm
    Registered Users Posts: 5,301 ✭✭✭

    Following Sally Rooney's principled stand/priggish pose (delete according to preference) on not allowing an Israeli publishing house to translate her latest novel into Hebrew, she has come under a torrent of abuse for her temerity in criticising Israel's human rights record, especially with regard to Arabs in its extended jurisdiction.

    Leading the charge against the youthful and very pretty, if ever so slightly priggish, Ms Rooney, is a predictable coven of Hideous Old Hags led by Anne Harris, , Melanie Phillips, and the truly gruesome Julie Burchill

    All have cited the work of one David Collier who has recently published in PDF format a "report" into Antisemitism in Ireland. He basically trawled the social media feeds of various Irish politicians and public figures known to be sympathetic to the Palestinian cause and denounced their posts as antisemitic. Drawing especial ire is anyone who associated their sentiments in any way with the Palestinian aspirational slogan "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free."

    This is a fairly standard response from the pro-Israeli lobby. During the recent bombardment of Gaza (2021 version) a young American catwalk model of some renown (I am told) called Bella Hadid appeared on a march in sympathy with Gaza and chanted that very slogan. Shortly afterwards a well known rabbi called Shmuely Boteach took out a full page advertisement in the New York Times to denounce her as an ignorant Antisemite, ie a racist. Ms Hadid is the daughter of a Palestinian refugee from the 1948 Nakba, Such is the level of paranoia among Israel supporters nowadays.

    Mr Collier's work deserves some attention, even if he is only what he says he is, a hobbyist "Investigative journalist" with no regular financial backing who depends on crowd funding to pay the bills. A look at his own website gives some indication of his own viewpoint and it's not pretty. On his home page is a link to a subsection where he shows himself to be a Nakba denier.

    Some quotes "The Nakba narrative is a lie" "The Nakba as it is described by our enemies never happened".

    Fortunately for Mr Collier, Nakba denial does not carry the same social stigma, or indeed legal sanction in some countries, as does Holocaust denial. Or at least, not yet. I have been surprised that there has not been more pushback against this clearly unsavoury character for denouncing our entire nation as a bunch of racists, especially when his work is being cited by so many people including, but certainly not limited to, the HOHs mentioned above.

    Perhaps we think he is such small fry and the opinions of his supporters so deranged that we should not worry. Ms Phillips, for example, published some years ago a book called Londonistan an Islamophobic, in the true sense of the term -phobic, screed warning about the "Replacement" of English society by brown-faced Muslims. Ms Burchill has frequently been in trouble for her vituperative prose aimed at (mainly but not exclusively) Muslims, the middle class and the Irish and was recently forced into issuing an abject apology to an English journalist of Muslim heritage, Ash Sarkar, for her bullying and defamatory social media posts. As for Anne Harris...she used to be married to Eoghan Harris.

    However, Collier's work has been taken seriously enough to be published on the website of the Israeli Embassy from which it may be downloaded in entirety.

    Maybe we should be more forward in refuting defamatory rubbish like his, even if it bears all the hallmarks of an antisocial keyboard warrior stuck alone in his bedroom for far too long downloading selective quotes and seeing malevolence and conspiracy in every nook and cranny.



  • Registered Users Posts: 1,599 ✭✭✭Cyclingtourist

    It wasn't about having her book translated into Hebrew, she's happy to have it translated.

    Yes this anti-Semitism charge is pretty standard from the usual quarters for anyone who criticises Israel or supports the BDS movement.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,301 ✭✭✭Snickers Man

    I thought I stated her position accurately. ".. not allowing an Israeli publishing house to translate her latest novel into Hebrew,"

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,729 ✭✭✭✭Inquitus

    Meh they always try and conflate sympathy to Palestinians as anti Semitic. I am no fan of Israel due to the apartheid like treatment of Palestinians, doesn't make me anti Semitic, anti semitism is defined as hostility or prejudice to the Jewish faith, not distaste of Israel's horrific treatment of others.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,300 ✭✭✭landofthetree

    Ireland has a long history of antisemitism.

    The biggest party in the Dail has TDs that believe in antisemitic conspiracy theories.

    In any other western democracy members of parliament posting antisemitism would have to resign.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,301 ✭✭✭Snickers Man

    With all due respect, that is NOT what Antisemitism means. Or at least not what it meant when the term was coined less than 200 years ago. Antisemitism is racism; it has nothing to do with belief or behaviour. There is no escape from an Antisemite who believes Jews are subhuman because of their heredity, not because of what they believe.

    Antisemites condemn people for having Jewish blood, not Jewish prayer books. It has its roots in a crude 19th century application of Darwinist "natural selection" theory. The Nuremberg Laws said nothing about religious practice. Devout Christians with recent Jewish heritage were as liable for transportation to the work camps--and worse--as were the Orthodox and Hassidim with their prayer shawls, strict observance of the Sabbath and meticulous dietary regulations. It didn't matter.

    Like any concept of "scientific racism" it was and is bunkum, if only because it is almost impossible to separate races or ethnic groups completely. We're just all too attracted to each other. Have anti miscegenation laws, including the Law for the Protection of German Blood and Honour (one of the two sets of laws collectively known as Nuremberg Laws) ever worked anywhere? They even tried it back here in the 14th century with the Statutes of Kilkenny, attempting to compel Englishmen to keep their hands off Irish women!! Look how that worked out!!

    Retrofitting "AntiSemitism" to include any hostility to Jewish or Israeli actions however heinous they may be, is a con trick. We should resist it.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 5,301 ✭✭✭Snickers Man

    I don't think there's anyone here who would condone Reada Cronin's remarks on that topic. She's an ignoramus. I'd never vote for her in a blue fit anyway.

    While we have you on, what do you think of Mr Collier's views on the fate of Palestinian refugees in 1948? Link available above.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,599 ✭✭✭Cyclingtourist

    You nearly did but by putting the emphasis on 'translation' rather than publishing you were reinforcing a common misconception about her stance.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,300 ✭✭✭landofthetree

    Her views are shared by a sizeable proportion of the Irish population.

    What happened to the Jews in Algeria? Egypt? Syria? Etc.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,301 ✭✭✭Snickers Man

    Do they want to go back? The Palestinians do. Many of the older ones STILL have the keys of their properties they left, or their parents left, in 1948.

    And many of them went to places other than Israel. The Algerians in particular went back to France after independence in 1962. Syrian Jews had largely left in the 19th century. The Egyptians expelled Jews in the 1950s, after the Nakba. The Iraqis were largely encouraged to leave by Israeli agents.

    What happened to the Jews in Arab countries was wrong. But nobody is seriously pretending that it wasn't part of the general Arab/Israeli strife caused by Zionism that precipitated it.

    So I ask again. What do you think of Mr Collier's statement (go check it if you like) that "The Nakba narrative is a lie"?

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,473 ✭✭✭Brussels Sprout

    There seems to be an entire industry whose sole objective is to depict any criticism of Israel and it's actions against the Palestinians as anti-Semitism.

    The American lobby group AIPAC are the worst culprits for it. Progressives Jews over there, realising how horribly biased AIPAC is have set up an alternative group called J-street, that try and be more even-handed when it comes to Israel-Palestine.

    I think Irish people, given our own history of oppression and land theft, tend to be more willing than other western countries to give the Palestinians a fair hearing and criticise the Israelis. To the likes of AIPAC that is anti-sematic.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 7 dejavooddo

    No reasonable person would deny the disastrous outcome that the war of 1948 brought on the Palestinians, and in many cases they were driven out by the aggression of the Israeli army. It's just that in the views of most Israelis (including myself), they bear big chunk of the responsibility for their own fate. The war was avoidable. All they had to do was to accept the UN partition plan. The plan was more in favor of the Jewish side, but it wasn't overly favorable (it allocated 60% of the land to the Jewish state, while the Jews comprised of only 1/3 of the population. But 30% of it was unhabitable desert land, and the Palestinian state had a better territorial continuity). And so they could have formed their own viable and prosperous country. 

    But while the Jewish side embraced the plan, the Palestinians rejected it and waged an existential war against Israel (7 Jews were murdered as a response to the UN vote the morning after). There is a long list of belligerent, hateful statements, made by members of the Arab Higher Committee, stating in clear words what would be the fate of the Jews in Palestine, once the war is won. Feel free to explore the historical records, and you can start by reading the translated leaflet written by the Mufti of Jerusalem (Amin al-Husseini, an ardent ally of Hitler), which called the Arabs to attack and conquer all of Palestine, to ignite all of the Middle East and to curtail the U.N. partition resolution.

    So what was the Jewish side supposed to do. Play it by the rules? say to the Palestinians - "you tried to wipe us out but we won. No worries, water under the bridge, let's go back to the negotiation table and try to work it out" ?

    The point is. The Palestinians gambled. Big time. They could have gone the compromise way, and live in their own independent land. Instead they sought to destroy the other side. And when you take such a high risk gamble, you pay big price if you lose.

    Post edited by dejavooddo on

  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 19,341 Mod ✭✭✭✭Sam Russell

    I think justifying the current ethnic cleansing going on in Palestine on events over 70 years ago is untenable.

    Gaza is an open prison subject to bombing and deprivations extending to school materials intended for teaching children. The West Bank is subject to illegal settlements with Palestinians kicked off their land, and their crops destroyed.

    It is the stated aim of all Israeli Governments to make Israel an exclusively Jewish state.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7 dejavooddo

    I was replying to a previous contributor who was talking about the Nakba narrative. This is why I was talking about 'events' over 70 years ago (as if they bear no consequences. Certainly not when they don't suit your narrative). I was simply making the point that the Palestinians could have settled in their own independent state (which included the West Bank and Gaza), but they chose to go a different path, and therefore share at least some of the blame of what happened next.

    And how is my previous comment in any way a justification of what is currently happening in the West Bank? The Israeli occupation is shameful, illegal and deserves every condemnation, but it started only 19 years after the Nakba. The West Bank and Gaza were not under Israeli control before 1967. Since I was talking about the Nakba, I didn't see the point of mentioning that.

  • Posts: 1,010 ✭✭✭[Deleted User]

    "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free" is effectively a call for the destruction of Israel. Its a slogan than brooks no compromise or recognition of Jews right to live in their own homeland. So any politician sharing this slogan in ireland either wants the above, or is too ignorant to be commenting in a public matter on the subject. How would posters here feel about loyalists singing Rule Britannia while demanding the whole Island be returned to British rule.

  • Registered Users Posts: 24,784 ✭✭✭✭Strumms

    Articulation of a desire for freedom for Palestine is not a call for the destruction of Israel…

    thats a disingenuous statement..

    freedom for Palestine won’t be sought by looking to destroy Israel… that’s some wild amount of mind gymnastics you have going on there. :)

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,301 ✭✭✭Snickers Man

    I think that the basic Israeli argument that you advance here: "We made the Palestinians an offer they couldn't refuse and they refused it so it's all their own fault" is BS on its own, but that is not the argument that Mr Collier is making.

    He's saying it's a "Myth". It didn't happen. That the Palestinian accounts of suffering and displacement are greatly exaggerated and anyway it was all their own fault. Try saying that about aspects of the Holocaust. If the Israeli case is so strong why does he have to lie about it? Why do any Israeli propagandists have to lie about it? Could it be that in its essentials, the creation of the Israeli state at the expense of what the Balfour Declaration called "pre-existing non-Jewish communities" necessitated such barbarism and cruelty that the Israelis are unable, even to this day, to face up to it?

    But there is little to be gained by debating the details of what happened in 1947-48. It is my universal experience when dealing with Israelis, or more often their Irish supporters, that their opening gambit is to say: "You don't know the history. Your heart strings have been tugged by talk of 'refugees' and 'oppressed people'. It was all the Palestinians' own fault anyway. Your motives are probably anti-Semitic, based as they are on ignorance". Yet after a few minutes debate they react to the citing of facts and the correction of obvious lies to take the diametrically opposite view: "How come you know so much about this? Why do you only research Israeli actions? What have you got to say about the brutality of truly despotic regimes like those of Saddam Hussein or Bashar-al-Assad? Were you protesting at the actions of the Burmese junta or the denial of gay rights in Uganda? You're such a hypocrite. You are probably motivated by anti-Semitism!"

    Line A: you're an anti-semite because you don't know enough about the subject.

    Line B; you're an anti-semite because you know too much.

    Too much, in this context, doesn't mean a lot. It just means more than the Israeli supporter thought you ought to know. Which, given their initial dependence on Line A, is very little indeed.

    All I want to say about Mr Collier is that he's an insignificant little worm and we shouldn't take him seriously. The Irish Times seems to be happy to let its contributors quote him as if he is an authoritative and unbiased "researcher" when in fact he is an unashamed Israeli apologist with long and deep links to Israel's propaganda machine.

    The Phoenix magazine did a profile of Mr Collier recently presenting his history of pro-Israeli activism and the likelihood that much of it is funded by Israeli embassies, if not by their intelligence services . For some reason, no other Irish media outlet, so far as I am aware, has seen fit to tell us more about this chap, despite his determination to brand our entire nation as racists.

    Fine. Every state has its ambassadors and promoters. But that doesn't give them carte blanche to piss down people's necks and insist, under pain of being called racists, that they admit it's only rainfall.

    The big question is what happens now and in the future in Israel/Palestine. It's no use arguing about 1947-48. The Israelis are there and they're not going anywhere. But they have to come to a dignified resolution with the Palestinians. A major problem is that Israel is too good at fighting to want to take a chance on making peace. So they just keep their country on a war footing, universal conscription and regular military service for all males (and many females) until retirement age. Regular oppression and inexorable humiliation of Palestinians in their own country which provokes uprisings which are then put down with brutal ferocity amid claims that "They started it! All we did was commandeer more of their land for settlement/evict people from East Jerusalem on grounds that don't apply to Israelis/blockade their enclaves/label them all as terrorists and label anyone who utters a single word of sympathy with them as a racist." People can see through the dishonesty of that line of argument.

    It is Israel's refusal to make meaningful concessions that prolongs the injustice and inevitably prolongs the conflict. Saying "We won the war" only invites the response that "you might lose the next one. Or the one after that. Or the one after that. Or....." you get the picture.

    Winning a war and winning a peace are too very different things. No matter how many wars Israel wins it has never been able to crack the second problem.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,879 ✭✭✭yosser hughes

    What ethnic cleansing? Is the population increasing or decreasing?

  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 19,341 Mod ✭✭✭✭Sam Russell

    The ethnic cleansing where Palestinians are driven from their lands and illegal Israeli settlers are allowed to move onto it, with Government support. The West Bank was largely (mostly) Palestinian prior to its invasion and gradual annexation by Israel.

    That ethnic cleansing.

  • Registered Users Posts: 51,431 ✭✭✭✭tayto lover

    Antisemitism is always brought into the conversation when they have no other answers or explanations for the human rights abuses of the Israelis and the IDF towards the Palestinians. Always used because they think it will stop the person who has been calling them out on it.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7 dejavooddo

    We??! What do you mean by We? the Jews? the Zionists? we didn't make any offer to the Palestinians. It was a peace proposal suggested and voted by the UN, not the Zionist Congress. Are you suggesting that there was some Jewish/Zionist cabal behind that act? and if so, can you provide any proof?

    I haven't read Mr Collier's 'report', and for all I know he might be a little worm. I was just referring to your assertion about the Nakba being an outcome of this one big Zionism crime against humanity. As an Israeli I think that the Palestinian accounts of suffering and displacement is not exaggerated one bit. But yes, I definitely believe that it is at least in part their fault (not entirely, but partly), and I tried to explain and prove to you exactly why, btw without calling your stance BS. I respect your opinion. I just don't agree with it.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 5,301 ✭✭✭Snickers Man

    I am aware of UN Resolution 181. I am also of the opinion that it is probably the most recent UN Resolution that Israel has paid any attention to! She has a well founded reputation for ignoring any resolution passed by that body concerning her actions with which she does not agree.

    Not that Israel ever accepted even that resolution in full. She merely accepts, and demands that the rest of the world accepts, the principle that a Jewish state exist as a matter of right in the area then known as Palestine. She NEVER accepted the boundaries drawn up by the UN. Even before the creation of Israel, Zionist forces began forcibly removing Arabs from areas that they wanted to occupy, frequently to the accompaniment of massacre and destruction of their property. And Israel refuses, to this day, to retreat to those boundaries citing that "We won the war!" or "It is politically impossible to do so" or "We have to respect facts on the ground".

    So if you want to argue that international mandates agreed by the acknowledged forum for the resolution of international disputes, ie the UN, are to be obeyed in all cases well then Israel has a huge backlog of resolutions to implement. Is she going to? Is she bloody hell!

    As I already said, there is little to be gained by picking over the embers of 1947-48. My initial reference to it was only to point out that Mr Collier's opinion of it is ahistorical, to say the least. Calling the Nakba a "Myth" doesn't do anything for his credibility. It's one thing to say that too much time has passed to undo what happened in 1947/48. It's another thing altogether to say it didn't happen.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,036 ✭✭✭coolbeans

    Why did you have to lead with this in your preamble... "Leading the charge against the youthful and very pretty, if ever so slightly priggish, Ms Rooney, is a predictable coven of Hideous Old Hags led by Anne Harris, , Melanie Phillips, and the truly gruesome Julie Burchill" ?

    This makes an objective reader question your motives and seriously detracts from what was otherwise a reasonably considered piece.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7 dejavooddo

    Yes exactly. That UN resolution. The one that offered the Palestinians a viable state. The one which Israel 'paid attention to' (by that I assume you mean accepted) and the Palestinians rejected, only to get the Nakba instead.

    Is it not ironic how in few posts you moved from this:

    So I ask again. What do you think of Mr Collier's statement (go check it if you like) that "The Nakba narrative is a lie"?

    To this:

    As I already said, there is little to be gained by picking over the embers of 1947-48

    Why is that? is it because I confronted you with some historical facts that do not reconcile with your image of the Palestinians as pious martyrs?

    And btw, I totally agree with you about the crimes of the Israeli occupation. I just don't think that it discharges the Palestinians from their responsibility to the outcome of the war of 48.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,301 ✭✭✭Snickers Man

    I make no apologies for my utter loathing of Ms Burchill, Ms Phillips and to a lesser extent Ms Harris, if only because her column output is less prodigious, as a former editor, and not a front-line opinion columnist) than the other two. And it's not their physical appearance; it's their inner beauty--or conspicuous lack of it--that I find so unnerving.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,597 ✭✭✭tdf7187

    I can't stand those three either. But the expression "from the river to the sea, Palestine must be free" is genuinely anti-semitic. This piece explains why:

  • Registered Users Posts: 7 dejavooddo

    To be honest, this is what Israel is doing in reverse (without publicly declaring it). It effectively creates one state between the sea and the river, without giving the Palestinians citizenship rights. This is why the occupation is unacceptable and cannot be excused. I often argue in forums with Israeli right wingers that one Israeli state between the sea and the river is better than the current situation, IF, the Palestinians living in those places will be given full citizenship and the wall will be taken down. 

    But of course Israelis don't want that. They don't want to take on 3 million Palestinians. They don't want an extra 30 Palestinian members on top of the current 15 in the Israeli parliament. They don't want every person from Nablus to get into a taxi and land in the centre of Tel Aviv. This is what makes their stance so hypocritical. They smear any boycott on products from the settlements as antisemitic, without admitting that all Israeli governments have been following the exact same logic. There are many international cooperation agreements signed by Israel and other countries that leave the settlements out, thus effectively doing the same thing - boycotting the settlements. They want the wet bank to be part of Israel but not now. Only in the future when the Palestinians will miraculously disappear - either by magic, or by the brutality of the occupation.

    This to me is the Israeli hypocrisy in a nutshell. 

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,301 ✭✭✭Snickers Man

    Dejavooddo, You're floundering. I made clear that although the Israelis (as they became) nominally accepted the Partition Resolution, in practice they never accepted its boundaries and had started to extend them by military acquisition, expulsion of Arab residents and in many cases, massacre even BEFORE the state of Israel came into being.

    As I also said, there is a difference between trying to restore a situation that existed before 1947 (which most would accept is not possible) and pretending it didn't happen. It did. It's not a "Myth" as Mr Collier calls it.

    When did I call the Palestinians "pious martyrs"? They're not. They're people. People who have had to pay a terrible price for the fact that other people flooded into their homeland, decided that it was theirs to begin with and announced that they were taking over as much of it as they could get away with. Of course the Palestinians were going to resist that; who wouldn't?

    The basic Israeli argument that you put forward, which is essentially "If only the Palestinian Muslims and Christians had agreed immediately to be Zionists, there would have been no problem" is fantastic. It's utterly unrealistic to demand that anybody think like that--effectively to agree to their own non-existence and/or partition--and expect that it can be achieved without slaughter.

    If you were a 65 year old Palestinian living in, say, Jaffa or Haifa in 1947, the Zionist "Aliyah" into Israel would have happened entirely in your own lifetime. How could you seriously expect such a person to believe that their home city was to become part of another people's state to which they had no attachment or loyalty and that the two previous colonial masters they had endured in their lifetime (Turks and British) were to be replaced by a third? For refusing to accept such an outlandish proposition they are to be blamed for being architects of their own displacement and misery? There's victim blaming, outrageous victim blaming, and then there's modern Zionism.

    OK. It happened. It can't be entirely undone. But to allege that Palestinians are "guilty" of it and therefore to suggest that they should be punished some more is reprehensible.


    The Anti Defamation League is not the worst of the pro-Israel advocates and they don't actually say in the link you offered that the phrase is anti-semitic, just that "Usage of this phrase, regardless of intent, can have the effect of making members of the Jewish and pro-Israel community feel beleaguered and ostracized."

    They also say "Demanding justice for Palestinians, or calling for a Palestinian state should not also mean negating Israel’s existence." Exactly. And the same is true in reverse. Isn't it?


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,547 ✭✭✭rock22

    What is the way forward?

    It seems, to an outsider, that the Israeli people continue to elect more hard line governments who just continue with the same anti Palestinian policies. Is there any effective opposition who are putting forward a single state of Israelis and Palestinians or a two state solution? Does the current coalition have a different position to the previous , Netanyahu , government?

  • Registered Users Posts: 7 dejavooddo

    Some of your arguments are controversial to say the least, and I can challenge them. But there is no point. This debate will go forever.

    I'd still like to ask you something. Would you ever come out with such categorical statements against any nationality in the world that is not Israel? To unequivocally tell all of us Israelis, regardless of the huge differences in our political views (to the extent that our former PM was murdered by a Jewish extremist), that the birth of our country was one big colonial crime and a mistake that should never have happened? have you ever confronted Americans, Australians or Canadians with the sins of their fathers, who flooded into places, already inhabited by someone else, quoting yourself - 'decided that it was theirs to begin with...which they had no attachment or loyalty"?

    And one last thing. My grandparents emigrated to Israel in 1934. What exactly is the moral basis that gives you, an Irish person (I presume) who I doubt ever set foot in Israel, the right to lecture me about their 'crimes' in the country where myself and my parents, not you, were born? how is it that you know more about them than I know about your grandparents? Do you know where they lived? what they did for living? what where their relationship with their Palestinian neighbours? you probably do, as you know everything. But for the record - they lived in a tiny shithole in the Negev. There were no Palestinians in sight. They didn't force anyone out, didn't steal any land, didn't kill anyone, and had no intention doing any of that sort.

    I find all this quite incredible to be honest. You have a strong opinion about the Israeli - Palestinian conflict, and have the full right to express it of course. But since you are in the business of looking into other people's inner beauty, I suggest that before getting to us Israelis, you might want to start at home with your friends in the progressive left. The ones that denigrate Israel as a way of living, but have no problem praising the great achievements of the liberal and human rights Utopia that is Venezuela, denying the plight of the Uyghurs in China, and holding a memorial service to IRA men that detonated bombs near children and women.

    Post edited by dejavooddo on

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,599 ✭✭✭Cyclingtourist

    Israel has the might to exist.