The Jerusalem Post is known for perpetrating hoaxes based on fake reports of anti-Semitism. It published a story purporting that Norway was riddled with anti-Semitism. Turns out the report was written by someone who made almost all of it up. He mistook his own personal fear of anti-Semitism with the real thing and made things up so people would be forewarned.
On a slightly different note, Caroline Glick wrote an atrocious account blaming multi-culturalism and Norwegian criticism of Israel for the Breivik mass murder. This too is a perfect example of the Post’s desperate need to twist major news events to suit their ideological biases.
Now, it’s the paper’s Ireland correspondent, Sarah Honig, who has regaled us with a dramatic episode of rabid anti-Semitism in a cozy village in the famed Ring of Kerry. In the village of Cahersiveen, a sleeping giant of Jew-hatred laid in wait for her. When she walked down the street encountering seemingly innocent Irish schoolchildren, and scratched beneath the surface, she found mad-dog Jew haters.
I thank God there’s someone like Honig around to alert us to this scurvy villain lurking in the hearts of Man (Irish man at least). Here are some of the more choice bits from Honig’s account:
There were no hints of affection there for us. On the town’s main thoroughfare, Church Street, I was buttonholed by three boisterous teenagers in Santa hats, carrying a collection box and big signs reading “Free Palestine.” They solicited my contribution.
I asked: “Free Palestine from whom?” The cheery trio’s swift answer was unambiguous: “The Jews.”
I pressed on: “Do you know where your money would go? “The boys: “To plant olive trees.”
“Are you sure,” I continued, as kindly-looking little old ladies generously opened their purses and dropped coins and bills in the collection box, “that this money wouldn’t fund terrorists and murderers?” Their retort threw me for a loop: “What do you have against Palestinians? What have they done to you? They are only against Jews. Jews are evil.”
I am right here and now challenging Honig and the Post’s editor to provide any proof of this encounter: a tape recording would be definitive, but even contemporaneous notes would help.
Short of that I’m going to call this account fiction embellished by the feverish ideological imagination of a wannabe reporter. The Irish Times has interviewed the main principles in her story, who deny they said anything approaching what she claims.
There are several reasons why I am certain this account is a hoax. I lived in Ireland for a year. I taught in a Dublin Jewish day school and knew the chief rabbi at the time, David Rosen. I had a wide array of Irish friends, most of them non-Jews. I know the village where this story allegedly took place.
Contrary to Sarah Honig’s fictional portrayal of an Ireland teeming with anti-Semites, the Irish are among the most tolerant people I’ve ever met. Their own history of colonial oppression and suffering has made them deeply sensitive to all injustice whether suffered by Jews or Palestinians.
While she regales us with alleged acts of anti-Semitism in Irish history the only one that involved harm to Jews occurred in 1904 when there was what Honig calls a “pogrom” in Limerick. She doesn’t mention that no one was killed and the priest who fomented the violence was later banished from town. She ventures several incidents during WWII in which PM Devalera spoke favorably of the Nazis without noting the historical context in which many Irish Republicans believe England to be their worst enemy, which allowed them to believe falsely that the enemy of their enemy was their friend.
Honig neglects to tell her readers that pre-State Yishuv leaders like Yitzhak Shamir and others had the same idea and believed they could negotiate with the Nazis for favorable status for Palestine in case Germany won the war. It was largely the Jewish far-right of the day which harbored such beliefs. Precisely the sort of individuals whom Honig and the Post politically idolize.
I pried more. I asked what they know about the conflict. It was nothing except that Israel is the horrid ogre and the oppressed Palestinians are unquestionably worthy of compassion. Indeed the boys never stopped to question any of this.
…I asked if they knew of the Palestinian Authority’s and Hamastan’s persecutions of Christians, but my youthful interlocutors had never heard of the Palestinian Authority and didn’t know that Palestinians are overwhelmingly Muslim.
…The teacher, who unsuspectingly volunteered his name to me, said he took out his pupils, all from the town’s single secondary school, as part of a class project “to further a humanitarian goal.” The goal was to collect money to enable the Palestinians to replace olive trees because “Jews stole their lands.”
Here again I charge Honig with perpetrating a hoax. No Irish that I have ever known would say such a thing. If we keep in mind Honig’s clear pre-conceived ideological notions and her deep need to find anti-Semitism, then it isn’t hard to believe that she has fictionalized this encounter in order to fit with her own political narrative. Further, I didn’t know words like “Hamastan” could be published in an article purporting to be news reporting. In the fictive world of the Post, Hamastan exists as a real place, I suppose.
…The teacher remained remarkably unperturbed when I repeated to him what the three boys said earlier about Jews “always being villains,” along with one youngster’s aside that “they crucified our Lord.” In fact, the teacher nodded in agreement, without a word of objection.
While it’s certainly possible there are still some Irish Catholics whose theological beliefs are caught up in the 1950s or 1850s and hold views that have long gone out of favor (like the Jews killing Jesus or the Jews being evil), that is no longer the case in today’s Ireland and certainly not among Irish youth, who are if anything turning away from the Church and its traditional theology in droves.
This passage is unbelievably pathetic and a shock to see even in a gutter journal like the Post. Again, if Honig can’t offer any real evidence that such a statement was made she’s a liar. Reporters own tape recorders. If she was reporting for the Post she would’ve had one. Produce the tape, contemporaneous notes or admit this story is a freaking sham.
Honig and her story illustrate the age-old problem of pro-Israel ultra-nationalists who conflate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism. There are certainly Irish who embrace the Palestinian cause. There are Irish who believe Israel is oppressing the Palestinians. But there are very, very few anti-Semites in Ireland and Honig didn’t meet any that day. She invented an anti-Semitic incident and put words in the mouths of characters who never uttered them. The Post and Honig have some explaining to do. But they won’t. They’ll just float along till they come to the next fraud or hoax they perpetrate in the name of Israel and the Jewish people. What a sad excuse for a newspaper.
I’ve e mailed Honig and the Posts’ top editors to ask them for proof of the statements she claims were made in her story.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.