Ireland’s Unheroic Holocaust History

Aug. 29 2017

“They crucified our savior 1,900 years ago and they are crucifying us every day of the week,” said the Irish parliamentarian Oliver Flanagan in 1943; by “they” he meant Jews. Flanagan went on to praise Germany’s success in ridding itself of “them.” The same year, he led like-minded colleagues in torpedoing a plan to bring 500 refugee children into the country from France. Robert Philpot writes:

While the virulence of Flanagan’s anti-Semitism may have been unusual, Ireland, which adopted a position of neutrality during World War II, displayed precious little sympathy for Europe’s persecuted Jews. As Fintan O’Toole of the Irish Times has argued, Irish policy was “infected with a toxic combination of anti-Semitism and self-pity.”

In the 1930s, the government placed responsibility for refugees in the hands of the aptly named Irish Coordinating Committee for the Relief of Christian Refugees. Jews who converted to Christianity were allowed to settle in the country. Those who had not were barred. These Jews, the committee’s secretary suggested, would be taken care of by the American Jewish community. . . .

Meanwhile, in Berlin, the country’s violently anti-Semitic ambassador, Charles Bewley, worked to scupper the chances that any Jews might slip through the tight net Ireland had thrown around itself. His reports back to Dublin noted that Jews were involved in pornography, abortion, and the “international white-slave traffic.” They also denied any “deliberate cruelty” on the part of the German government to the Jews, and parroted Hitler’s defense of the Nuremberg Laws.

Even after the war, . . . Irish ministers and civil servants viewed Jews as “enemies of faith and fatherland” who should be shut of the country. A proposal to admit 100 Jewish orphans from Bergen-Belsen was initially blocked and only proceeded after [Prime Minister Éamon] de Valera’s personal intervention. Perhaps this was the prime minister’s way of atoning for his decision the previous year to visit the German ambassador to offer his condolences on Hitler’s death.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, History & Ideas, Holocaust, Ireland, Refugees

How Israel Can Best Benefit from Its Newfound Friendship with Brazil

Jan. 21 2019

Earlier this month, Benjamin Netanyahu was in Brazil—the first Israeli prime minister to visit the country—for the inauguration of its controversial new president Jair Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro has made clear his eagerness to break with his predecessors’ hostility toward the Jewish state, and Netanyahu has responded positively. To Emanuele Ottolenghi, the improved relations offer an opportunity for joint cooperation against Hizballah, which gets much of its revenue through cooperation with Brazilian drug cartels. In this cooperative effort, Ottolenghi cautions against repeating mistakes made in an earlier outreach to Paraguay:

Hizballah relies heavily on the proceeds of transnational crime networks, especially in the Tri-Border Area [where] Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay [meet], but until recently, Brazilian officials were loath to acknowledge its presence in their country or its involvement in organized crime. [But] Bolsonaro’s top priority is fighting organized crime. Combating Hizballah’s terror finance is a vital Israeli interest. Making the case that Israel’s and Brazil’s interests dovetail perfectly should be easy. . . .

But Israel should be careful not to prioritize symbols over substance, a mistake already made once in Latin America. During 2013-2018, Netanyahu invested heavily in his relationship with Horacio Cartes, then president of Paraguay. Cartes, . . . too, had a genuine warmth for Israel, which culminated in his decision in May 2018 to move Paraguay’s embassy to Jerusalem. Most importantly, from Israel’s point of view, Paraguay began voting with Israel against the Arab bloc at the UN.

However, the Paraguayan side of the Tri-Border Area remained ground zero for Hizballah’s money laundering in Latin America. The Cartes administration hardly lifted a finger to act against the terror funding networks. . . . Worse—when critics raised Hizballah’s [local] terror-financing activities, Paraguayan ministers confronted their Israeli counterparts, threatening to change Paraguay’s friendly international posture toward Israel. [And] as soon as Cartes left office, his successor, Mario Abdo Benítez, moved Paraguay’s embassy back to Tel Aviv. . . . Israel’s five-year investment ultimately yielded no embassy move and no progress on combating Hizballah’s terror network. . . .

Israel should make the battle against Hizballah’s terror-finance networks in Latin America its top regional priority.

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More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Brazil, Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Israel diplomacy, Latin America