Demonizing Irish Times Columnist Crosses the Line

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Out of countless numbers of articles on Ariel Sharon’s legacy, the Irish Times has produced a stand-out piece of hatred. That it comes from the poisonous pen of Eamonn McCann is not a surprise.

McCann has already distinguished himself with his particularly vicious writing on Israel, two articles of which have been critiqued by HonestReporting over the past several months.

In his latest screed, McCann compares Sharon to a controversial and also the former Northern Irish politician, Ian Paisley, whose policies were guided by his religious beliefs. However, claiming that Sharon’s politics and principles were governed by biblical fundamentalism is wholly inaccurate. While Israel’s former PM and military giant was certainly a Jewish nationalist who felt a deep connection and love of the land, Sharon was essentially a secular Zionist.

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But McCann takes his interpretation further to a dark and very ugly place:

Sharon’s ruthless determination to cleanse the land of Israel of Palestinians was not rooted in analysis of contemporary reality – he didn’t see it primarily as a necessary response to anti-Semitism in the wider world, or to the Holocaust – but in the first instance as a duty conferred on the Jewish people by Yahweh.

McCann has effectively stated that ethnic cleansing is a Jewish religious imperative. By turning this accusation from a political one into a sweeping statement about Judaism as a religion, McCann has strayed into the realm of anti-Semitism and demonization that HonestReporting has been fighting.

McCann adds:

Sharon will have believed as he went about his work that he was wielding the sword of God – and will have had the same sense of righteousness when supervising the Phalangists’ pitiless butchery of more than 2,000 Palestinian refugees in Sabra and Shatila in Lebanon in 1982.

Sharon did not “supervise” the Phalangist butchery in Sabra and Shatila. Claiming that he was “wielding the sword of God” paints Sharon as a religious extremist. But is this really extremist in McCann’s eyes – considering that he evidently believes this to be a normative part of the Jewish religion?

He states:

This is not to suggest that religion can completely explain the ferocity of conflict in the Middle East or anywhere else. And Zionism isn’t the only religious ideology in play in the region. The point is no explanation of Sharon’s career can be complete without reference to the religious coloration of his political creed. It is said that, personally, he wasn’t particularly pious, but it was ultimately in religion that his actions found validation.

So, having acknowledged that Sharon “wasn’t particularly pious,” the only conclusion we can make from McCann’s article is that this is not just an attack on Ariel Sharon but an attack on the Jewish religion.

As we have previously noted, McCann is an acolyte of the Socialist Workers’ Party in the UK, a radical Trotskyite party on the very fringes of politics whose anti-Zionism regularly crosses into anti-Semitism while endorsing Palestinian terrorism. This time, McCann’s anti-Zionism has crossed that line.

You can send your considered comments to the Irish Times - lettersed@irishtimes.com - remembering to include your full name, postal address and telephone numbers (day and evening) to ensure eligibility for publication.


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