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Thread: The Jewish Community in Ireland

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    Default The Jewish Community in Ireland


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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!
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    Politics.ie Member Bobert's Avatar
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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?
    Every one sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are, and those few dare not oppose themselves to the opinion of the many, who have the majesty of the state to defend them.

    - Niccolò Machiavelli

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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.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobert View Post
    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.
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    Politics.ie Member Bobert's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JCSkinner View Post
    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.
    Every one sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are, and those few dare not oppose themselves to the opinion of the many, who have the majesty of the state to defend them.

    - Niccolò Machiavelli

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    Quote Originally Posted by JCSkinner View Post
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by JCSkinner View Post
    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.
    Never let the best be the enemy of the good.

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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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    Quote Originally Posted by ibis View Post
    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
    Last edited by Takes Convincing; 16th October 2008 at 06:18 AM. Reason: miss spell

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    Quote Originally Posted by Takes Convincing View Post
    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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