And then there’s that famous fictional Irish Jew Leopold Bloom, protagonist of Dublin writer James Joyce’s Ulysses. Many literary-minded visitors to the city follow the route taken on ‘Bloomsday’ (16 June 1904) by Leopold.
I was reminded of all this because, over the past week, a talented philosemitic Irish girl has been the talk and the toast of the pro-Israel blogosphere. She’s 19-year-old Cliona Campbell, a non-Jewish student from Cork who’s been fascinated by Jews and Israel for half her life. Under the auspices of the volunteering project group Sar-El, she recently completed a two-month stint working at military bases in Israel. She felt impelled to volunteer after seeing the unfair way in which the media portrayed Operation Cast Lead – she was indignant at the lack of compassion with Israel’s civilians, who had endured rocket attacks from Gaza for years before the military operation was launched. On her return to the Emerald Isle Cliona wrote an enthusiastic account of her experiences in her local paper, the Evening Echo (16 July 2010), which includes the following:
“Being in Israel during the ‘Flotilla Incident’ was one of the most sobering experiences I have ever encountered. I was stationed in the north of Israel at the time, far away from the events on the high seas, yet the aftershock reverberated throughout the country. Our ‘madricha’, the soldier responsible for us volunteers, greeted us after the flag-raising ceremony that morning in an uncharacteristically depressed mood. Her voice quivered as she told us what happened.... As the ‘madricha’ spoke, tears welled in her eyes — not of anger, but of despair. It was a hopeless situation — either weapons would be smuggled into Gaza, thus supplying ammunition to Hamas’ terror campaign, or else when the Israeli Defence Forces intervened to stop them it would be a propaganda victory for the ‘innocent peace political — the Gazans are far from needy. During the last 18 months, more than one million tons of humanitarian supplies entered Gaza from Israel, equalling nearly one ton of aid for every man, woman and child. We volunteers were dumb-founded as we scrolled through our phones and read western media reports, each one damning Israel for ‘impeding humanitarian aid’. Shortly after the flotilla incident, I attended a peaceful demonstration outside the Turkish embassy in Israel, and as Israeli flags whirled above our heads, we all chimed with heartfelt sincerity “kol hakavod Yisrael” — “Well done, Israel.”See the entire article and photos of Cliona in Israel here http://dublin.mfa.gov.il/mfm/Data/184077.pdf
Troublingly, as a result of her support for Israel, Cliona has received insults and threats. "I came back after two months and wrote a piece [see above link] on my experiences. Now I am getting hate mail and being targeted. I went into a clothes shop where I live and the security guard came up to me abusing me. My Facebook page link was posted online in a forum and I started getting emails telling me to keep my head down from now on. My friends started getting abusive emails soon after that too."
The accompanying picture has an eloquence all of its own. No wonder one of the many blogs about the admirable Ms Campbell is entitled “How Can We Clone Cliona?”