Irish ex-minister in angry row with pro-Palestine academic

Alan Shatter accused Dr Ronit Lentin of 'failing to take antisemitism seriously'


Ireland’s former Minister for Justice has launched a furious attack on a pro-Palestine Israeli academic, publicly accusing her of “failing to take antisemitism seriously”.

Alan Shatter, a lawyer who was the last Jewish member of the Irish government until his resignation as Minister for Justice in 2014, wrote a strongly-worded letter to the Irish Times last week in response to a previous letter by Dr Ronit Lentin, a Haifa-born retired sociology professor who has lived in Dublin since 1969. 

In her letter, Dr Lentin, who identifies herself with groups such as “Jewish Voice for Just Peace (Ireland) and the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign”, said she did not “believe elevating antisemitism above other forms of racism, particularly Islamophobia and anti-migrant racism, is helpful in tackling racism”.

She describes what she calls “the current anti-antisemitism discourse” as “masquerading as anti-racism”, adding that it “prevents the understanding of racism as a colonial technology of power aimed at maintaining white supremacy”. 

Mr Shatter, in a response that he told the JC had received widespread support, said Dr Lentin had “failed to take antisemitism seriously, illogically asserting that there should be no talk of it, but only talk of Palestine”. He drew attention to the graphic on Dr Lentin’s Twitter account, in which she displays a large banner proclaiming “Make Israel Palestine Again”.

In his Irish Times response to Dr Lentin, Mr Shatter wrote: “As a white Irish member of Ireland’s small Jewish community, ‘colonial technology of power’ to maintain white supremacy has no relevance to my being spat at and also called a dirty Jew on Dublin’s streets when a TD, [member of the Irish Parliament], my being targeted with antisemitic abuse on social media which still occurs, the posting to my home when Minister for Justice of ashes, together with images of skeletal concentration camp survivors and Nazi symbols.”

Dr Lentin, he declared, “represents only herself and the views of an  infinitesimal number of members of the Jewish community. She has an ideological perspective on all of this. Her views, and critique of Israel, have become more extreme as the years have gone by.”

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