A Cork student is complaining she is the victim of a 'hate campaign' after volunteering for the Israeli Defense Force.
Cliona Campbell, a 19-year-old Cork student, took the unusual step of volunteering for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and says she has now become the victim of a hate campaign.
Campbell returned to Cork after two months working with the IDF to what she called public abuse, including emails and text messages telling her to 'keep her head down' after writing a piece for the local paper based on her experiences.
'I came back after two months and wrote a piece on my experiences. Now I am getting hate mail and being targeted. I went into a clothes shop where I live and the security guard came up to me abusing me. My Facebook page link was posted online in a forum and I started getting emails telling me to keep my head down from now on. My friends started getting abusive emails soon after that too.'
Campbell says she is surprised and upset at the personal insults that have also been sent to her.
'There were guys online as well saying that I was 'rough' in terms of my looks and bringing it all to a new, personal level as well. If I was a man coming back from being in the IDF, there would be none of that. That is the upsetting part.'
Campbell says most of the reaction has been because she spoke highly of her time with the army and maintains her own strong beliefs about their work.
'I got on really well with the soldiers. They were all there for their own reasons and had their own stories as to why they were there. I have a huge interest in the Jewish people and always have had so I had no hesitation about going out there.'
Campbell took the unusual step of joining the IDF after applying through Sar-El, a volunteering project that agreed to send her over to work for eight weeks.
'I took a crash course in Hebrew first and spent ages preparing. It was a massive culture shock, but very worthwhile. A lot of the days would be spent re-mantling guns and working with the soldiers out in the 42-degree heat.'
Campbell also added that she joined a protest against the flotilla to Gaza in May during which the IDF shot dead nine passengers on board one of the boats.
'I was a bit sad to be coming home, and now I've come back to all this discussion,' Campbell says. 'Some of the people writing to me and about me say they now see me as a terrorist and that they don't even see me as Irish anymore. I stand up for what I believe and I get hate mail and abuse, and I wouldn't mind if half of those people could back up what they are saying with a logical argument.'