Robert Fisk: How Ireland exorcised the ghosts of empire - and the Mid-East parallels - U2 Feedback

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Old 03-23-2008, 12:31 PM   #1
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Robert Fisk: How Ireland exorcised the ghosts of empire - and the Mid-East parallels

This Easter, the 92nd anniversary of the Rising, it is intriguing to look at the parallels that connect Ireland and the Middle East. The "Black and Tans", whom Churchill supported when they took their revenge on Irish civilians in 1920, were later sent – again with Churchill's support – to Palestine, where they became the "British Gendarmerie" and continued their reprisals against Arab and Jewish civilians to considerable effect. Decades later, John Hume (Ireland's only living statesman) wrote in The Jerusalem Post that Israel and "Palestine" should take a page out of Ireland's Good Friday Agreement. It was all about compromise, he said.

He was wrong. Israel's settlements on Palestinian Arab land in the occupied territories were as illegal as the Protestant settlements and the dispossession of the Catholics in 16th-century Ireland. A closer historical symbol was Fallujah. Not long after the US 82nd Airborne killed 14 Iraqi civilians during a protest in 2003, the people of Derry wanted to twin with Fallujah. Had not the British Parachute Regiment killed 14 Irish civilians in Derry (13 on "Bloody Sunday", another died of wounds) in 1972? The offer was never taken up – but the message was valid enough: we must deal with injustice before we look for "compromise".

The relatives of the Bloody Sunday dead received a multi-million-pound inquiry. The relatives of the Fallujah dead were twice put under US siege until their city was almost destroyed.
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