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Michael Devolin

Poll Taxes and a Palace Made of Wattle
By Michael Devolin
Mar 13, 2010 - 12:20:41 AM

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My father's ancestors (Develin) came to Canada during the Great Potato Famine. My grandmother (nee King) of that luckless generation died on a ship in Kingston harbour, Ontario, Canada. My mother's maiden name is DeClair, which I suspect is somehow connected to the FitzGilbert de Clare line. And I write of this so as to inform my Irish readers that I do have a bit of the Irish in me - enough to know that it was not the "little people" nor the Wizard of Oz who caused Irish families like my ancestors to starve to death on the shores of Ireland and on coffin ships bound for Canada and the United States. For this tragedy I blame the British Empire. That's a given with me.

So let me say that I've always found it quite absurd that the Irish "nationalists" of the IRA and Sinn Fein insouciantly align their political protestations with those of the Muslims of Hamas and the PA while totally ignoring the ancestral claims of the Jewish people of Israel. If Irish nationalists and historians are willing to turn back the pages of history to where the British began their brutal conquest of Ireland, why do they have such a difficult time turning back the pages of history a little further, to a distinctly similar conquest of Jewish land and people by Muslim imperialists?

Just as the kings of Ireland (and in extension their subject peoples) were made to kneel in submission before King Henry II "in a specially built palace made of wattle," so the Jewish inhabitants of ancient Israel were forced to submit to their Muslim conquerors by paying a poll tax.

I find it difficult to fathom how those Irish nationalists, who are wont to remind the world of the historical victimization of good Irish people by British Imperialism, cannot empathize publicly with the Jews of Israel and the humiliations they have suffered at the hands of Islamic expansionism. Hell, if you're going to travel back all those years into the sins of the British Empire, why not go back into the sins of those Caliphates whose track record runs pretty much neck in neck with the United Kingdom in terms of brutality and cruelty.

And now I read that a certain Matt Carthy, a Sinn Fein councillor no less, told the Israeli ambassador Zion Evrony he wasn't welcome in Ireland and that he should leave. I understand this protest is because Israel's Mossad allegedly used fake passports while carrying out the assassination of a Hamas leader in Dubai. Not that it should matter to a lot of people reading this, but Jews are not welcome in Dubai either.

As I wrote in the first paragraph, I have a wee bit of the Irish in me. And perhaps it's the Irish in me that remembers a certain Gerry Kelly, currently a member of Sinn Fein, who was arrested in the Netherlands in 1986 while on the run from the law. At the time of his arrest there were found in his apartment fake passports. Now Mr. Kelly is a member of Sinn Fein, as is Matt Carthy. Why, then, such a public outcry in Carrickmacross over fake passports being used to accomplish the assassination of a Hamas leader?

I cannot see that Sinn Fein members have a hell of a lot in common with Hamas terrorists, (unless of course they forged friendships in Libya while learning the ins and outs of detonators and timing devices). How can Irish nationalists, themselves well read in the history of Ireland's sufferings while in the path of British Imperialism, side with the misfits of Hamas and other terrorist groups who not only are the propagators of a religious expansionism that destroyed much Jewish life centuries ago but even now rejoice whenever Jewish civilians are murdered by Muslim suicide bombers. The big question in the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, like that of Northern Ireland/Republic of Ireland conflict, is who the real occupier is and who really has historical right to the lands in question.

I'm Irish enough to remember the assassination of Lord Mountbatten. Was there any kind of an uproar in Carrickmacross after his death? I've read that there were notices pinned on the walls all over the Republic that "Mountbatten had done to him what he had done to others all his life." I would like to venture here, on behalf of my Jewish friends, that Mr. Hamas leader had done to him not half of the suffering he had done to Jewish families in Israel. Tit for tat. Iron sharpens iron. He who sharpens an edge shall be endangered thereby.

So lighten up, Carrickmacross. Stop tramping on your hat, Matt Carthy. Remember your history. Better yet, try to empathize with the realities of those carrying on their shoulders a similar history: Irishmen have used fake passports; Israeli Jews have used fake passports. Now there's something else the Irish have in common with Israeli Jews. Another is that we both hate our enemies. Where's the shame in that?

Michael Devolin,
Director, B'nai Elim Canada

Michael Devolin's Magic City Column


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