If you keep crying “Wolf!” don’t be surprised when the real beast enters the room.
There has rightly been an explosion of outrage at Kevin Myers’ article in the Irish edition of the Sunday Times newspaper, owned by media baron and Tory ally Rupert Murdoch.
In it Myers mounts an openly antisemitic attack on Jews in the media, in this instance aiming at two women Jewish presenters, Claudia Winkleman and Vanessa Feltz.
Outrage there should certainly be. But not only over this disgusting piece, which has now been pulled.
Where, for instance, was the outrage over his 2009 piece for the Irish Independent newspaper?
Myers began that column by saying, “There was no holocaust, (or Holocaust, as my computer software insists) and six million Jews were not murdered by the Third Reich. These two statements of mine are irrefutable truths.”
For the rest of the article, which has also now (very belatedly) been pulled, Myers dissembled just enough to avoid sanction from his press and political patrons.
The article, in line with most of Myers’ tirades, finally concludes with a hate attack on Europe’s Muslims.
Where is the outrage at the fact that Myers has nonetheless continued as a regular columnist for the Irish Independent newspaper?
Here he has railed against “the crazy ideology of global warming”, the “union cult” of Jim Larkin, the promotion of the Irish language, the “toxic piety” of equality and much else besides.
But here is a peculiar thing. Myers has a long history of support for Israel, a defender of the attacks on Gaza, ever laced with hate for all things Muslim.
In 2012 YNET, the website of Israel’s most read newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, reprinted a Myers opinion piece in which he denounced the Irish Palestine Solidarity Group and BDS activists, as “secular mullahs” promoting “the liberal version of Sharia law”.
In 2013, the Israeli embassy in Dublin cited Myers very favourably for an attack on “the insensate hatred that the liberal left everywhere feel for ... Israel”.
The odd Holocaust peccadillo did not appear an issue between friends.
And this is the rub. The Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) has led criticism against Myers.
However, the CAA was founded in 2014 in order to defend Operation Protective Edge and justify Israeli war crimes in Gaza at the time.
All the while it mounted a slander campaign against the left, human rights bodies and Palestinian rights organisations, labelling their campaigns as “antisemitic”.
Of course we should point to the current hypocrisy of the CAA as longstanding allies of Myers and his ilk.
However, there is a more fundamental point to be made. The problem is that a defence of Israel tends towards a defence of the imperialist order upon which the Israeli state depends.
In my youth it was politically—if illogically—possible to separate the two. That separation is becoming increasingly difficult to sustain.
There is also a corollary at home. The defence of intervention in the Middle East, including Israel, now walks hand in hand with the promotion of Islamophobic narratives at home, fuelling the far right and the antisemitism it carries in its train.
Myers is a nasty antisemitic foghorn who was of use to the defenders of the Israeli state against the left despite the odd antisemitic “eccentricity”.
However, there is more at stake than the foul ramblings of a reactionary columnist.
For example, Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu has just paid a friendly visit to the antisemitic, Holocaust revisionist Orban regime in Hungary.
Orban is a tribune of anti-Muslim and anti-refugee hate and the bane of human rights NGOs and liberals.
As with Myers, Netanyahu and Orban have found common cause and will not allow a small matter of the Hungarian Holocaust to stand between them.