Justice Minister Shatter attacks Irish on Holocaust and antisemitism

By Marcus Dysch, September 20, 2012

The Irish Justice Minister has launched a scathing attack on his country's past governments for failing to speak out against Nazi Germany.

Alan Shatter, the only Jewish member of Ireland's lower house of parliament - Dáil Éireann - accused 1930s and 1940s governments of allowing "evil to flourish" by ignoring Hitler's atrocities.

Mr Shatter was speaking at an event at Trinity College Dublin last week to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved nearly 100,000 Hungarian Jews during the war.

The one-day conference featured speakers discussing Mr Wallenberg's actions, and artworks which memorialise his efforts.

Mr Shatter, who is also Ireland's Equality and Defence Minister, opened the conference. After praising the actions of Mr Wallenberg he criticised those who "did nothing in the face of the industrialised genocide and the destruction of European Jewish civilisation".

He said the Irish government of the day had "sat on its hands".

"Even after the death camps were liberated, the Irish government denied Jews refuge in Ireland," he added.

Attacking the United Nations for "not doing more to stop mass murder", he added: "The international community could have impeded the Shoah had it acted in time. But states neither spoke up nor acted against the mass murder of European Jewish civilisation.

"Hitler and his henchmen always felt reassured that they could act with impunity when the international community kept silent in the face of Nazi outrages. Silence was interpreted as acquiescence. Thus, acquiescence helped evil to flourish."

Mr Shatter said his country had "undermined its moral authority" to speak on current international issues such as Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons and the Syrian civil war.

"It is morally absurd that Ahmadinejad still rules Iran - an active denier of the Shoah who has promised to use nuclear missiles to turn Israel to smoke and ash," he said.

"The silence of so many of the non-aligned states in the face of his threats must surely undermine their moral authority to speak on important issues of international concern."

He said right-wing and left-wing extremism intersected with religious fundamentalism to "spread the lethal prejudice" of antisemitism.

"Modern antisemitism," he said, "obsessively singles out Israel for disproportionate forms of condemnation that barely conceal a denial of Israel's right to exist."

Mr Shatter has been the target of both anti-Israel and antisemitic attacks in recent months. In one incident he was described as a "Jewish nation-wrecker…destroying Ireland" in a YouTube video.

In May he accused anti-Israel activists of waging a "cyber-bullying" campaign against Irish musicians who were forced to cancel plans to perform in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Last updated: 4:45pm, September 20 2012