Imyourbiggestfan: thanks, no real argument there with regard to Arafat - and I’m keeping away from the USA threads in case I lose my temper completely.
Juba: Yes there are a lot of similarities between Israel and Ireland, but I think you’re confusing the issue. Let’s not forget that Ireland (all of Ireland!) negotiated peaceful autonomy from Britain using the democratic process in 1914. It wasn’t implemented because a minority of people on both sides of the political divide chose violence, which spiralled into a war, leading to partition. The objective was to protect a minority group who saw themselves as being threatened and would have perpetuated the bloodshed in ‘self defense’.
The compromise solution when the rest of Ireland became independent was for N.I. to govern itself and for the people there to work it out for themselves. The troops were only sent in (and direct rule from London reimposed) when they showed that they couldn’t, and most British people were unhappy about it.
It’s all very well to point the finger at the protestants for causing trouble - and I know a great joke about Ian Paisley - but you can’t really blame them for being the descendents of people who were pretty shabbily treated by the power elite of the time. The protestants in NI were transplanted there, without having any say in the matter, by people who had power of life or death over them. Their position, like the modern day Palestinians, is not of their own making.
Britain also mis-handled the creation of the state of Israel, but then again they were under fire from terrorists - sorry, that should read ‘freedom fighters’ - including Ariel Sharon, and anxious to get out of what was really someone else’s problem.
The big difference between the two disputes is that most British and most Irish people have got on with their lives and made friends. There has always been an open border between the two countries, and no one has ever tried to prevent Irish people going to live and work in Britain. Many Irish catholics served in the British armed forces during WWII, and Ireland evolved into the successful republic it is today over several decades without significant (ie military) interference or opposition from Britain.
There is democracy in Ireland, and the actions of a few lunatics on each side should not colour your view of the realities. The people of the Republic of Ireland have agreed democratically, in a free and fair referendum, to give up their territorial claim to NI. They have recognised the real world for what it is, instead of clinging to stupid divisions, and got on with the business of living together peacefully. This wasn’t a concession to Britain’s imperialist fantasies, it was recognition of a reality that needed to be addressed. I know that many Irish people still feel in their hearts that it’s all one Ireland, but they’ve been willing to make a political concession for the sake of peace - peace for someone else - and have my respect for doing so.
Sure we have differences of opinion as individuals, but we’re not going to start blowing each other up over them. That sort of thing is left to terrorists, and they don’t get a lot of support from ordinary people (of any political persuasion) who are going to get caught in the crossfire. People on the other side of the Atlantic (Actually I don’t know where Juba is from, but arguments like his usually emanate from the USA) saying there is no democracy in Ireland, and that the British people will endure decades of terrorism simply to occupy an impoverished part of someone else’s country, need to take their heads out of their arses.
The activities of Noraid in supporting the IRA during the '70s and '80s did a lot to foster anti-american sentiment in Britain. I grew up with bomb alerts, women and children being blown up in shopping centres, nail bombs, car bombs, hotels being blown up, attacks on office blocks, bandsmen and HORSES dying in the streets. And there was a very clear public perception in my country that a lot of it was financed by idiots overseas who didn’t understand that I could travel to Ireland and drink a few Guinesses with people who disapproved of what was going on as much as I did.
Instead of saying that there’s no democracy in Ireland you should say that decisions were made for the British people without consulting them. Nobody I knew in Britain ever gave a toss about Northern Ireland, and if the issue had ever been put to a referendum in Britain then the whole problem would have been handed over to the government in Dublin. And Ireland would still be fighting to subdue a minority people who have nowhere else to go and are still fighting religious wars that ended centuries ago.
An Irish catholic republican friend of mine told me an interesting story: He was in the USA, and got talking to an ‘Irish-American’ who ventured the opinion that the protestants should just be cleared out as they were not Irish. (Just like the Palestinians.) My friend’s reply was that there have been protestants in Ireland for longer than there have been white (or black) people in many parts of the americas. Take the view that land only belongs to it’s original inhabitants, and most of the people of the USA are going to have to go back ‘home’.
If the great Sioux nation starts an intifida to reclaim their spiritual homeland and repair the damage done to their holiest places - Mt Rushmore! - they would only be exercising the same logic that seems to be acceptable to most Americans when it’s exercised by the Israelis. If your god gives your land to you do you eradicate anyone else who lives there, or do you learn to live with them?
We can go on forever laying the blame at the feet of the British, the Americans, even the Normans, for their actions in the past. But the reality is that people have to grow up and find a way to live in today’s world.
So please get off your Irish hobby-horse. It’s an issue that has been more or less settled, and will become increasingly irrlevant as the EU coalesces. Otherwise I agree with what you were saying though.