Steve Andrew reviews Ireland and the Palestine Question 1948-2005 by Rory Millar, Irish Academic Press, ISBN 0 716533499, £19.50 pbk
THE FIRST thing that occurred to me on reading this book was how well researched it was. Despite the fairly specialist nature of Millar's subject, there is much here which will be of use to even the most casual of observers, while the author's use of archival material is particularly striking.
Dividing the relationship between Ireland and Palestine into four distinct phases also helps to make a fairly complicated topic that much more readable. Contents-wise, the chapters about Ireland's involvement in Lebanon and about more recent economic developments between Ireland and Israel were of the greatest interest.
Earlier chapters may well be of equal importance but given this reviewers ignorance of some of the figures and events described, I think that I'll have to leave it to others to judge. On the down side, the book's orientation towards simply providing a list of official Irish government positions is a disappointment. A more critical response going beyond establishment rhetoric would have been welcome.
I think that its fair to say that Millar has no great sympathy for the Palestinian cause. One of the book's central points is that Dublin has often attacked Israel unnecessarily!
The author's concentration on official state policy has meant that the response of nationalists and republicans in the six counties, where the whole question of Palestine has had a strong resonance, hardly gets a mention.
The sometimes narrow focus of the book inevitably leaves many important questions unanswered. Millar is candid in stating that Ireland's foreign policies rarely ever depart from European norms but doesn't really deal with occasions where these have been been more distinct or list the reasons why this might have been the case.
The history of Ireland's anti colonial struggle is alluded to as is her supposed neutrality but the extent to which this has informed policy isn't made clear.
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Copyright © 2005 Steve Andrew