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Lindy McDowell: As the bigots in a Derry bar prove, thoughout Ireland, north and south, anti-Semitism isn't just condoned, it's actively encouraged

Tuvia Tenenbom
Tuvia Tenenbom
Jon Snow
Notre Dame cathedral on fire

By Lindy McDowell

"The only thing Hitler did wrong was he didn't kill enough f****** Jews".

As noted by Tuvia Tenenbom, who filmed shocking scenes this week of a group of moronic bigots in a Derry bar spouting vile abuse (including the above), at least they weren't making any attempt to hide their hatred of Jews.

There are many others who are equally prejudiced, but they are cuter and much more coy about expressing it quite so blatantly.

Throughout Ireland, north and south today, anti-Semitism isn't just tolerated. It isn't just condoned. It's encouraged.

I'm ashamed even to write the sentence at the beginning of this column. But I also believe we need to be honest about and to confront the evil of the hatred of the Jews so brazenly and unapologetically expressed in it.

It's the same sort of malevolence towards Jews expressed in the video (although usually more craftily sugar-coated by terms such as "Zionist" or "Israeli") that is reflected in the popular portrayal of Israel - the only genuine democracy in the Middle East - as the global great Satan.

Entirely coincidental, we're expected to believe, is that Israel is the only Jewish state in the world.

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But no, it isn't coincidental.

Israel and its citizens are singled out for boycott and bile and an unprecedented barrage of censure directed at no other nation on Earth.

Yes, absolutely, there is nothing wrong with criticising and protesting against the Israeli government, its political leaders, its strategy in the Middle East - any more than it is to criticise any other country.

But that's a far cry from the concerted and unique campaign of vilification targeting Israel and all Israelis.

Throughout Ireland north and south today, anti-Semitism often conveniently labelled as anti-Zionism is pretty much mainstream.

It unites lefties and far right nutters. There are people who couldn't show you Israel on a map who just know that it is the evil empire incarnate, the fount of all ills amid the complexity of conflict in the Middle East.

Mr Tenenbom is a German journalist, an author, playwright, theatre director and academic.

He is also Jewish.

This week he spoke bluntly to Frank Mitchell on U105: "I don't think I ever have met people who have so much hatred for the Jews as I met in Northern Ireland and Ireland - and that includes Derry."

Sadly, he added: "The more I walk this land the more anti-Semitism I find."

Mr Tenenbom has been accused on social media of provoking the response of the Derry ghouls, who not only endorsed the most horrific genocide in the history of the human race, but actually suggested that the Holocaust didn't go quite far enough.

All he did, however, was to ask about the proliferation of Palestinian flags in the streets outside. That's hardly winding people up.

And for a man who is of a generation scarily close to the attempted complete annihilation of his fellow Jews, it must have been a chilling enough few minutes standing there listening to a venomous tirade that could have come straight from a 1930s newsreel about the rise of the Nazis.

Those comments have been widely condemned by politicians on all sides, of course.

Not representative of the vast majority of people here, we have been assured.

I think that as a Jew himself, Mr Tenenbom might be better placed than the rest of us to gauge the degree of anti-Semitism he has encountered.

And how representative it is of our wider population.

We're kidding ourselves if we think the Derry drinkers represent some sort of local societal anomaly.

There is a reason why the now pitifully small Jewish community here in Northern Ireland and in the Republic - a Jewish community which has contributed so very much to this place - has been in decline for a number of years.

Knowing that your neighbours harbour such hatred that they not only support the massacre of your people but, shamelessly, aren't afraid to say so doesn't exactly inspire a sense of security.

Mr Tenenbom is writing a book which will reflect his experiences here. I don't expect we're going to come out of it terribly well.

I don't think we deserve to.

There's a rat in me kitchen, what am I gonna do? Er, kill it...

It certainly puts the “Waiter, there’s a fly in my soup” scenario in perspective. This week a worker in a Portrush restaurant had occasion to advise a startled customer: “Miss, the rat’s on you. We need you to get up.”

The girl in question had been dining at the Ramore Wine Bar — a hostelry with a deservedly fine reputation — when dinner was interrupted.

By a rat falling from the ceiling.

In scenes to rival the famous episode from Fawlty Towers where a large rodent appeared in Basil’s proffered box of assorted cheese biscuits,  panic ensued.

One heroic onlooker stood their ground though and filmed the Ramore Rat as it ran amok.

People screamed hysterically. People laughed hysterically. Eventually a couple of workers cornered the creature and, fearing that it was going to escape again, killed it by use of a yard-brush and boot.

Obviously for the rat it wasn’t a pleasant experience, but what else were staff to do? There’s some argument that it might have been more “humanely” put down. I’m not sure how.

The term “pest control” covers processes which I don’t imagine are all that comfortable either.

The restaurant was later officially inspected and given a clean bill of health. It was just a one-off. Rats, mice do sometimes get into the most hygienic of places.

But, yes, the management should have closed the place down right away (like Basil, they nonchalantly continued serving).

You have to admire, though, the stoicism of the Portrush waiter, steadfast in the face of adversity.

In particular I’m thinking of the lad who is reported to have emerged from the kitchen immediately afterwards to inquire of understandably traumatised diners: “Rocket and pesto pasta, anyone?”

It's a rich irony for Notre-Dame

After the horrific flooding caused by the cyclone that devastated Mozambique last month the official appeal raised an impressive £8m in 24 hours and £18m in five days. There were other relief efforts too. But compare and contrast with the "generosity" of the fabulously wealthy who have already contributed over a billion to the fund to restore Norte-Dame - and in the process, promote their own largesse. Billionaire priorities? Charity begins in the PR department.

Snow comment on eco chaos, Jon?

Where's Jon Snow when you need him? Mr Snow was criticised after commenting about a Brexit march that he'd never seen so many white people in one place. As someone who judges people by skin colour he doubtless will have noted a similar preponderance of white eco protesters in London this week. Perhaps that doesn't count, though, because like Mr Snow himself, so many of those causing problems for working class commuters come from a posh, privileged background.

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