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The Jewish Community in Ireland


ibis

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From the article:

Leopold Bloom of James Joyce's Ulysses answers the same question in Barney Kiernan's pub, when the rabidly nationalistic Citizen asks him, "What is your nation?" and Bloom replies, "Ireland... I was born here. Ireland." The answer, and indeed Bloom's very presence, enrages the Citizen; Bloom is hurried away by friends, as the Citizen threatens to "brain that jewman."

...

In Ulysses, Bloom is shunned as a Freemason as well as for his Jewishness. As other, he becomes a substitute for popular resentment against the less vulnerable Protestant minority. Religious, economic, and social anger fueled extreme Irish nationalism at the time, visible in attacks on the Abbey Theatre as a subtle Protestant plot to ridicule and subvert the true Irish, in the widespread burning of Protestant "Big Houses" in 1919-21, in the Catholic Bulletin's dismissal of Yeats's 1924 Nobel Prize as an award "to a member of the English colony in Ireland." By the standards of Joyce's Citizen, Wolfe Tone, Parnell, Synge, Douglas Hyde and Erskine Childers (both Presidents of Ireland), Lady Gregory, and Samuel Beckett would have no right to call themselves Irish.
Well, plus ca change. I wonder if we could find anyone like the Citizen around here!
 

Bobert

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In Ulysses, Joyce has the line "Ireland has never had a problem with the Jews. We never let them in."

Does anyone know if Joyce was an anti-Semite?
 

JCSkinner

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It's a reasonable potted history of Irish Jewry. It might be informative to those with little knowledge of Irish Judaism and its trajectory through the ages.
I'd have liked much more discussion of the early history of Jews in Ireland. Otto Jaffe was the first Jewish mayor of Belfast in 1901, and Chaim Herzog was born within a couple of minutes walk from my childhood home.
The Joycean thing is overdone too, in my opinion. After all, Joyce wasn't a Jew, lived the majority of his life abroad and had no personal experience of how Jews in Ireland experienced their day to day lives (Bloom was based on his Trieste mate Italo Svevo, whose novel 'The Conscience of Zeno' is THE great book about quitting smoking.)
And there could be a lot more about contemporary Irish Jewry. Where are Shatter, Briscoe, McCusker, not to mention those from outside the political field, such as the recently deceased June Levine?
There's plenty on the single pogrom against Jews (Limerick) and nothing on any of these.
So in short, it's a little negative, I feel.
 

JCSkinner

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In Ulysses, Joyce has the line "Ireland has never had a problem with the Jews. We never let them in."

Does anyone know if Joyce was an anti-Semite?
Absolutely the opposite. He made a Jewish friend from Trieste into the hero of the greatest ever Irish novel, and possibly the greatest novel in all literature. And that depiction, which wasn't based on any reality Joyce knew in Dublin, where he knew few or no Jews beyond the butcher he occasionally bought meat from, highlights the bigotry that Svevo had related to Joyce from his own upbringing, many countries away from Ireland.
In a sense, Ulysses maligns the Irish in relation to their treatment of Jews. Apart from the Limerick pogrom (lengthily discussed in this brief essay) they were treated well and to this day rise to stations in society without facing anti-Jewish bigotry for the most part.
The main reason for the decline of Irish Jews has been the Troubles in the North and the creation of the Zionist state, alongside the ageing of the population.
 

Bobert

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Absolutely the opposite. He made a Jewish friend from Trieste into the hero of the greatest ever Irish novel, and possibly the greatest novel in all literature. And that depiction, which wasn't based on any reality Joyce knew in Dublin, where he knew few or no Jews beyond the butcher he occasionally bought meat from, highlights the bigotry that Svevo had related to Joyce from his own upbringing, many countries away from Ireland.
In a sense, Ulysses maligns the Irish in relation to their treatment of Jews. Apart from the Limerick pogrom (lengthily discussed in this brief essay) they were treated well and to this day rise to stations in society without facing anti-Jewish bigotry for the most part.
The main reason for the decline of Irish Jews has been the Troubles in the North and the creation of the Zionist state, alongside the ageing of the population.
Ah. Very good then.
 

ibis

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Absolutely the opposite. He made a Jewish friend from Trieste into the hero of the greatest ever Irish novel, and possibly the greatest novel in all literature. And that depiction, which wasn't based on any reality Joyce knew in Dublin, where he knew few or no Jews beyond the butcher he occasionally bought meat from, highlights the bigotry that Svevo had related to Joyce from his own upbringing, many countries away from Ireland.
In a sense, Ulysses maligns the Irish in relation to their treatment of Jews. Apart from the Limerick pogrom (lengthily discussed in this brief essay) they were treated well and to this day rise to stations in society without facing anti-Jewish bigotry for the most part.
I'd agree. The Limerick pogrom seems like something of an aberration - the author of it seems to have used displaced anti-Protestant sentiment as a support for his personal anti-Semitism.

The main reason for the decline of Irish Jews has been the Troubles in the North and the creation of the Zionist state, alongside the ageing of the population.
Once you get to a certain level, any small population is no longer self-sustaining.
 

JCSkinner

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I don't think the author was in any way anti-Jewish. Rather the opposite. I felt the essay was somewhat unfair to the Irish by focusing so heavily on a single negative event while simultaneously omitting a huge proportion of the long record of prominence Jews have had in Irish life.
 
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I'd agree. The Limerick pogrom seems like something of an aberration - the author of it seems to have used displaced anti-Protestant sentiment as a support for his personal anti-Semitism.



Once you get to a certain level, any small population is no longer self-sustaining.
There are some theorys that Father John Creagh's outbursts and hate inciting was motivated my mammon---apparently some of his family and confraternity connections in Limerick were in buisness competition against Jewish traders and merchants and couldnt keep the pace,--once again religion is used as an excuse--like all war/bigotry/discrimination sooner or later it comes down to greed and cash, the common denominator
 
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JCSkinner

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There are some theorys that Father John Creagh's outbursts and hate inciting was motivated my mammon---apparently some of his family and confraternity connections in Limerick were in buisness competition against Jewish traders and merchants and couldnt keep the pace,--once again religion is used as an excuse--like all war/bigotry/discrimination sooner or later it comes down to greed and cash, the common denominator
Your posts on this site indicate an interest in Irish history and a knowledge thereof that makes me feel that you would not have found much of interest in such a patchy analysis of Irish Jewry as this essay is.
And this post above seems to indicate that in fact your area of interest is to focus on the single anti-Jewish pogrom in Ireland at the expense of examining the role the Jewish community has played and continues to play in Irish life.
Therefore I would ask you if you concur with me that the Limerick pogrom was an aberration, that Jews have generally been extremely well regarded and treated in Ireland, and have often risen to prominence in many sectors of Irish society, including political power unhindered?
 
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Your posts on this site indicate an interest in Irish history and a knowledge thereof that makes me feel that you would not have found much of interest in such a patchy analysis of Irish Jewry as this essay is.
And this post above seems to indicate that in fact your area of interest is to focus on the single anti-Jewish pogrom in Ireland at the expense of examining the role the Jewish community has played and continues to play in Irish life.
Therefore I would ask you if you concur with me that the Limerick pogrom was an aberration, that Jews have generally been extremely well regarded and treated in Ireland, and have often risen to prominence in many sectors of Irish society, including political power unhindered?
Yes I would concur with your last 4 lines above.
 

Nem

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locke

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It might also be worth mentioning that the Cork Festival of Jewish Culture is on in UCC this weekend.
 

Green eyed monster

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...

Good post, JCSkinner.

People tend to forget that Bloom was a fictional character.

Why is it that when we broached this issue of Jews in Ireland it has to automatically be defined in the terms of 'how far did we persecute them'? There is another side which should be mentioned, for example it was a Jewish man who financed Strongbow's invasion of Ireland (he would later be murdered by followers of Richard the Lionheart in England during a persecution there). Jews were friendly with and did business dealings with Cromwell prior to the height of Ireland's 'situation' in the 1640's and 50's, as a military leader he would have needed funding and the Jewish people were the most powerful lenders....

Antonio Fernandez Carvajal - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In 1653 Carvajal was reported as owning a number of ships trading to the East and West Indies, to Brazil, and to the Levant.

History of the Marranos in England - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jewish PM Benjamin Disraeli (who had voted against the repeal of the disastrous corn laws in 1846) would write "This wild, reckless, indolent, uncertain and superstitious race has no sympathy with the English character". And he was an absentee landlord during the 19thC too.

On the other hand the worst antisemitic incident that i can think of in Ireland's entire history was the so-called Limerick Pogrom, in which there were some riots whipped up a bigoted priest and a boycott - nobody was hurt but several Jewish famillies left the town and moved from Limerick to Cork. These were businesspeople - the business classes had greatly harmed the Irish people during the 19thC, as everybody knows... A boycott could be a fair and honourable way of fighting back against exploitations such as price fixing and so on... it is generally regarded as such to this very day.

On the other hand it is sometimes inferred that Eamonn De Valera was antisemitic because he signed a book of condolences for Hitler and maintained Irish neutrality, or because of some Breton nationalists who were Nazi Sympathisers who fled to Ireland, but the Jews of Israel themselves have actually declared De Valera to be a friend of the Jews and planted a forest in Israel in his name...

De Valera Forest Rededicated at 40th Anniversary
 
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Odyessus

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The decision of countries to go to war with Germany or to remain neutral, had nothing whatever to do with the Jews.
 
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The decision of countries to go to war with Germany or to remain neutral, had nothing whatever to do with the Jews.
Yes--had there been no war and the Nazis killed every Jew in the territory they occupied no country would have fired a shot in their defence--indeed the inhabitants of the places the Nazis occupied were very enthusiastic in handing over Jews.

All the Western democracys including Ireland had a dismal record when it came to providing refuge to fleeing Jews
 

conservative green

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Very good article.

Particularly interesting as regards the anti-semitism of some Irish nationalists, such as Griffith - anti-semitism which is still around today unfortunately and, indeed which is seen all too frequently on this very site in the postings of some of the Irish nationalists here.
 

JCSkinner

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Yes--had there been no war and the Nazis killed every Jew in the territory they occupied no country would have fired a shot in their defence--indeed the inhabitants of the places the Nazis occupied were very enthusiastic in handing over Jews.
On a point of fact this is not correct. The entire nation of Bulgaria resisted en masse the transportation of Jews, and in every single occupied country (where it must be remembered that locals themselves were facing life and death situations) literally hundreds of thousands of people risked their lives by harbouring Jews and smuggling them to safety.
Jewish MOPEry is no more pleasant or legitimate than other MOPEry, and it is unfair to malign the non-Jewish citizens of Europe and Ireland by over-egging the persecution angle.
As Thranduil has pointed out, Ireland has probably suffered more from Jews than Jews have suffered from the Irish.
And as I pointed out, the Irish have with a single exception where no one died treated their Jewish community with great respect.
 

joel

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Very good article.

Particularly interesting as regards the anti-semitism of some Irish nationalists, such as Griffith - anti-semitism which is still around today unfortunately and, indeed which is seen all too frequently on this very site in the postings of some of the Irish nationalists here.


Postings, such as?
 

Green eyed monster

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Particularly interesting as regards the anti-semitism of some Irish nationalists, such as Griffith
More a point to say that such attitudes were common in those times anyway. Such attitudes of being racist and bigotted towards groups such as Jews, would have been very common in those days. Likewise as we know, throughout the Anglosphere in particular attitudes against the Irish in those days were even more openly expressed, in cartoon form and newspaper articles. Those were the times that were. The important thing to remember is that the Irish from the 16th century to the 1920's were not the masters of their own fate and were governed by England so were not in a position to harm Jews or anyone else in the first place - but when released from their powerlessness they could show angry bigotry too (as in the anti-black riots in the US during the civil war period). To truly judge the Irish record we begin looking at the period from the 1920's to today, and i think our record throughout that era (in which our democracy survived even the turbulence of the 1940's and 1970's) in terms of how we treated minority groups, speaks for itself.

When dealing with two races such as the Jews and the Irish, and building up a record of the dark periods between them (but presumably there were good periods too.. yes?), we need to use two accounts.
 
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