Eire Do Deo: Can Ireland Teach Us About Israeli-Palestinian Peace?

"Eire do deo" is Irish for "Ireland is forever."  Like the Jews and Palestinians, the Irish too have a convoluted history.  Ireland was not settled by a single group of people, but by waves of people.  We associate Ireland as a Celtic nation. but the Celts too came to Ireland in waves.  This migration did not leave the island united, so it was several kingdoms.  But one of the kings did eventual become High King of Ireland, usually through bloody warfare among the various kingdoms.  This disunity is what made Ireland vulnerable to outside invasion.  The first to come were the Vikings.  The Vikings settled in large numbers, and founded Ireland's major cities.  Dublin, the capital, was founded by the Vikings, in fact its name "Dublin" is Norse for "Black Pool."  Brian Boru was King of Munster, but eventually became High King of Ireland.  In 1014, he defeated the Vikings at the Battle of Clontarf, and drove them out of Ireland.  But fighting among the kings of Ireland was to return after that, and in 1167 the kings of Leinster and Connacht called upon the help of the English.  The English King John was proclaimed "Lordship of Ireland" by Pope Adrian IV, who is the only English pope that ever existed.  English domination was to continue, and in 1536 King Henry VIII became King of Ireland.  Two things happened after that, the land was no longer owned by the Irish, and Protestant settlers (Orangemen) from both England and Scotland settled in Ireland, especially in the northern part.  Everything that Irish farmers produced went into rent and taxes.  Potatoes were introduced into Ireland in 16th century, and the moist climate of Ireland resembled the Peruvian Andes, where the crop originally came from.  After paying their rent and taxes, the only thing Irish farmers had left to eat was potatoes.  Until the 1840's, when a blight hit the potato monoculture of Ireland.  From 1845 to 1852, it is estimated that between 1,000,000 to 1,500,000 Irish died, and over 1,000,000 emigrated.  When World War I took place, it was empires trying to undermine each other.  The British sent T.E. Lawrence or "Lawrence of Arabia" to start an Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire, and Irish rebels were to seek German help to rebel against British rule.  That happened from April 24 to 30, 1916, when the Irish with armaments secretly sent by Germany launched the famous "Easter Rebellion."  Ecstatic Irishmen were printing banners, manifestos, and flyers that they were finally freed from the brutal, repressive rule of Great Britain.  But were they?  The rebellion was quickly put down, and Ireland after that was placed under control of the paramilitary Black and Tans.  But after World War I, negotiations were to take place between British Prime David Lloyd George and the Irish rebels.  In 1921, the Anglo-Irish Treaty proclaimed Ireland free of British rule, except the 6 northern counties, which became known as Northern Ireland.  But the Emerald Isle's troubles were not over.  For sectarian violence was to continue between the Irish and the Orangemen in Northern Ireland, with Northern Ireland under British military occupation.  But on April 10, 1998, the Belfast Agreement was to bring about power sharing between the Irish and Orangemen, and the removal of all British army bases in Northern Ireland.  In 2005, the Irish Republic Army was to disband, and international arms inspectors were to accumulate all their weapons.

How much of the Irish experience resembles the Israeli-Palestinians conflict?

How can what was used for Ireland to achieve independence, be applied to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

How can Northern Ireland's Belfast Agreement, be used to halt sectarian violence between Israelis and Palestinians?

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It is like I said, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict receives huge, huge media attention.  Palestinians have made very strong claims to justice.  I have hosted numerous town halls meetings within both the West Bank and Gaza, to hear these claims to justice.  They can range all of the way, from the outrageous and improbable, such as get rid of all of the Jews, and our problems will be gone.  It is like what the Egyptians said about Murbarak, get rid of him, and all of our problems will be gone.  Notice how Egypt's problems are still there.  To the ones really to listen to, such as this is where my farmer was at,  until an Israeli settlement took it over.  Then how to address these problems.  I had a woman in Gaza tell me, "They should just go in and separate us from the Jews!"  Well, that took place when Israel made the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza.  Yet has that pleased everyone within Gaza?  So then it moves to the sociological, how to accept each other.  I have discovered so many Israelis, who have never sat down and talked to a Palestinian.  So many Palestinians, who have only spoken to an Israeli army officer at an army checkpoint.  So what it is, is entering each others' minds.  I have gotten in enormous trouble with Jewish extremists, for speaking to a Muslim (the enemy), so it is the lengthy process of how to present these people, where they are no longer the enemy.  The real enemy is attitude.

How is the strengths of politics to separate people who need each other. Just recently, on the Indonesian news, it is said that Palestines depend on the natural resources supplies brought from Israel side. It says also about the high employment among the youths of Palestine. Do you think that the economical factors might influence to the participation of the youths to the political party like Hamas or Fatah?

In my experience, economical experiences can bring people to talk to each other. Even they appear nicely because they want to make sure that they do not loose their partner of economics. Hope it is clear for you. Thank you Tim for sharing your knowledge to me. Salam

One thing the Palestinians get from Israel, which is essential is electricity.  In fact Israel is holding all the Palestinians' excise and border tax fees, because the Palestinian Authority has not be paying its electricity bill on time.  When rockets are fired at Sderot, it knocks out the power plant, which also provides electricity to Gaza as well.  Water in the West Bank comes from their wealth of aquifers, the same ones that are supplying water to the Israeli settlements there.  Water in Gaza comes from Israel, but Saudi Arabia is providing bi-lateral aid to Gaza, to set up and manage a water supply system.  For the Palestinian economy, it is weak compared to Israel, and in order for it to expand, then it would require multi-lateral development assistance, from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.  But in order to receive this type of assistance, the West Bank and Gaza would have to become a nation-state.  Also joint business ventures between Israel and the Palestinians could provide a windfall of profits.  But to develop these joint business ventures, there has to be thorough peace between them.

I have a quetion. Who do control the basic needs of these two communities, for example, the water? How is the regulation conceived to serve these two communities according to the principles of justice and democracy? Do you think my question sound innocent? Thanks


Hello Fasijana, I am presuming you are asking about the Protestant and Catholic communities in Northern Ireland.

When Ireland was partitioned, they basically drew a circle around the prosperous Protestant area and said that that part of Ireland would remain British.  

In those times, the difference between being Catholic or Protestant was significant. 

One of the problems was that within this Northern Ireland area there are numerous pockets of all-Catholic communities.

Belfast Corporation is like a kind of giant municipal council that decides which areas receive financial upgrades to roads, schools, hospitals etc. It was easy for them to ignore Catholic areas. Schools were all segregated, not so much deliberately, but as a consequence of people traditionally living in separate areas.

Most of the business men in this area were Protestant, so they naturally wanted to employ Protestants, which created a large pool of poor unemployed Catholics.

The situation is further aggravated by the fact that many of the Loyalists (Prostestants) happen to be arrogant people, and I imagine the less arrogant among them long ago moved to England to escape the horror within their midst. 

Thanks sister Sussan for mapping the economical structures of the people in the area of conflict such as in Nothern Irland. I wonder whether the Catholic communities are those who were farmers to have their access to land. They were the producesr. The Protestants are the business men and the outsiders who came to enforce their power are the politicians. If this economical structures represented the old condition, I think there will be no conflict in the area. I think the situation was changed already. The business men also wanted to have their own power therefore they have fought with the Anglican British. The Catholic also had changed their economical position. They might now be the business men now. Everyone wants to gain something from the fight in the area.

The Irish in Northern Ireland were for a long time tenant farmers, just like when all of Ireland was under British rule.  The Irish Catholics have never owned anything more than 5% of the land.  Northern Ireland is greatly industrialized though, the Titanic was built at a shipyard in Belfast.  Because it is so industrialized, all people, including the Orangemen and the Irish Catholics are mostly employed in the industrialized sector.  This made Belfast a prime target for German aerial bombardment during World War II.

There has been recent rioting in Northern Ireland. i think it has been going on for about a week. 

the rioting is over a seemingly trivial issue: the decision to not fly the Union Jack (UK flag) every day of the year.

Apparently Loyalists (Protestants who want Northern Ireland to be linked to UK, not the rest of Ireland  have been infuriated by this decision. 

"People are entitled to peacefully protest but there is absolutely no justification for the carnage which has been caused in Carrickfergus (an area outside of Belfast in County Antrim) this evening," said Sammy Wilson of the Democratic Unionist Party, which shares power with the pro-Irish Sinn Fein (which in Irish means "We Ourselves.")  The Democratic Unionist Party has strong ties with the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster, and was founded by that dreadful Irish Catholic hating Ian Paisley.  So unless the Democratic Unionist Party breaks completely from its alliance with Sinn Fein, is there any real danger that the power sharing agreement in Northern Ireland would dissolve.  Thus returning Northern Ireland back to its awful sectarian violence, which plagued it for 30 years.  (The Egyptians are doing more rioting in Cairo, than what is going on in Northern Ireland, and they are rioting against their democratically elected government too.)

Sorry to late to say thanks for Tim Upham whose explanation about the economical structures among the Irish in Northern Ireland opened my mind.  I have another question. They are distinguished because of their religions, I wonder whether their biological background contributes to the separation based on religious and economical factors. Hope you can answer my question. salam.


The issues in Northern Ireland have more to do with one group controlling the economy for the advantage of their own, and at the expense of the other group. 

Traditionally Catholics and Protestants had different cultural values, and did not intermarry, but these differences do not create neighbourhood violence. 

In the mid 1960's as the cultural differences were starting to diminish both in Ireland and everywhere else; extremists in Northern Ireland stepped in to ensure that the 2 groups did not start to socialize. This was the start of the bomb threats. I can continue, if you want to know more ...  I used to work for the man who interviewed every individual who received a bomb threat in Northern Ireland.

Thanks sister Sussan for sharing your experiences to work with people in Northern Ireland. Technology makes the peaceful efforts to become difficultly to be fulfilled as I see also in the conflict of Israel-middle east. What do you think?



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