The Hard Road

The Irish Times – Letters

Allow me to publicly distance myself from that cowardly consensus. I call it cowardly because it takes no courage, in this or any other century, to come down hard on Jews, even armed Jews. Israel is as massively outnumbered by the forces of the Arab world as were the Jewish fighters of the Warsaw ghetto by the German Nazis.

He is probably right that it takes no courage to denounce Israeli bombing of Palestinian children, since most people in these parts can do so at little cost to themselves.

However, this is not, as he puts it, coming down hard on Jews, any more than denouncing the Shankill Road bombing is coming down hard on Irish people.

He implies any Jew deserves to be treated differently on account of the fact that he or she is a Jew. Such a world-view requires a rejection of the principle of universality, or, to paraphrase Camus (who approved of such a rejection) defending someone else’s mother before justice. Conor Cruise O’Brien aptly described Camus’s stance as follows:

He could not divest himself of his Frenchness; he could not betray his mother; if France in Algeria was unjust, then it was justice that had to go, yielding place to irony.

Earlier this week, probably referring to himself, Harris talked about how the ‘the real test of an Irish public intellectual is to walk the hard road walked by Conor Cruise O’Brien’, though the absence of a reliable test subject makes this statement impossible to verify. Whether said ‘hard road’ involves unconditional support for massacres and ethnic cleansing provided they are performed by Jews is open to serious speculation, and such a road would inevitably mean that justice has to go. The irony is grim, to be sure, but the farce is tragic.


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