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Antisemitism in Ireland ‘Blatant and Obvious’ in Wake of Hamas Onslaught, Says Jewish Former Cabinet Minister Alan Shatter

Ben Cohen
Algemeiner, Mar. 12, 2024

“They’ll say that we’re restrained by our EU membership on the matter of boycotts, so it’s unlawful to do so unilaterally, but not that doing so is wrong.”

There is little doubt in Alan Shatter’s mind that over the last five months, his native Ireland has “evolved into the most hostile state towards Israel in the entire EU.”

A former member of parliament who served in the Irish cabinet between 2011 and 2014 as Minister for Justice, Equality and Defense, Shatter is one of the best known products of Ireland’s tiny Jewish community. A lawyer by trade, he spent much of his political career helping to reform Ireland’s archaic legal system. As one of the few Jewish politicians in Ireland’s history, Shatter was invariably a reliable supporter of Israel and wider Jewish causes, helping to found the Irish Soviet Jewry Committee to assist Jews in the Soviet Union attempting to flee communist persecution for a new life in Israel during the Cold War. “We used to make phone calls from my home to Jewish refuseniks in Moscow and Leningrad,” Shatter recalled during an extensive interview with The Algemeiner on Tuesday. “My Dad would speak to them in Yiddish.”

Shatter’s family came to Ireland via the same route that brought Jews escaping the killing fields of Poland and Russia to western Europe, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In 1912, his father’s family left the city of Lodz for London. Shatter’s father was born in the city’s East End, where many Jewish immigrants first settled. Then, in 1948, he traveled to Ireland to visit his brother, who was living in Dublin. By coincidence, a young Jewish woman from England happened to be visiting her relatives who lived in the house next door. Spotting each other over a garden fence, the two quickly fell in love, got married, and elected to stay in Dublin, where Alan was born in 1951.

Shatter has pleasant memories of growing up as a Jew in the Ireland of the 1950s and 1960s. “There was a minimal amount of antisemitism,” he recalled. “I got called a ‘dirty Jew’ by a kid in my street, but there weren’t any major issues.” Most of his friends as a teenager were drawn from the Jewish community, many of whom attended the same Church of Ireland high school as Shatter. … [To read the full article, click here]

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