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Members of the public protest outside the Israeli Embassy in Dublin at the end of a march in solidarity with the people of Gaza in Palestine. Photo by: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

Anti-Israeli sentiment is at fever pitch in Ireland

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Members of the public protest outside the Israeli Embassy in Dublin at the end of a march in solidarity with the people of Gaza in Palestine. Photo by: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

Dublin: The cover of The Phoenix magazine's last issue had Benjamin Netanyahu gleefully talking about gassing the Palestinians.

The latest issue of the publication, Ireland’s leading news magazine, showed a photograph of a distraught relative holding up an incinerated 18-month-old Palestinian baby.

It is rough stuff, so much so that the editor of The Phoenix, who had been away on vacation, disassociated himself from the Netanyahu gas cover.

But it is indicative of the anger and fury aimed at Israel in recent months. Despite the current truce it shows no sign of abating.

Ireland has always prided itself on supporting the underdog, and the combined might of Israel and its massive funding from the United States bearing down on the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip provides a perfect foil for that emotion. Any attempt at objectivity has no place in such a discussion, it seems.

The newspapers here are full of boycott stories. Famed rugby international Gordon Darcy is partner in a chain of pubs that announced it was boycotting Israeli goods because of the “disdain and disgust at the genocide on the people of Gaza.”

Genocide? Hardly. Horrific killings, utterly depraved indifference to human life, war crimes in many instances on both sides; but not genocide.

There is little or no criticism of Hamas in the Irish media, no mention of the issue that sparked the latest war when three Israeli teenagers were captured and murdered.

No mention either of the several brokered ceasefires that Hamas broke or the sense that Hamas are using their own people and making deaths inevitable to make the bloodiest of all points.

No criticism of Egypt whatsoever, even though they share a border with Gaza and have refused to open it to allow refugees to escape. No one comments that much of the Arab world is secretly welcoming the attack on Hamas, who they see as a powerful enemy.

Not much mention either of the massacre of Christians and other sects by ISIS or the spread of dreaded extreme Islamic practices inducing regular public beheadings in Saudi Arabia.

It is “Arabs good, Jews bad” type of coverage that is disturbing for its lack of any attempt at balance.

Israel is not helped by its defenders, most notably top journalist Eoghan Harris who not to long ago was predicting all out war if there was a peace settlement in Northern Ireland.

I know --that made no sense either.

Now he claims that reading about Hitler’s atrocities against the Jews upset him so much that “the evil I encountered contributed to the cancers which struck me down soon after.”

With such extreme battle lines drawn it is very difficult to have a rational discussion.

Even The Phoenix seems to have realized some of the chest thumping has gone too far.

In fairness, the magazine was inundated with letters complaining about the Netanyahu cover.

Extreme views on conflicts, whatever sides they take, are deeply unhelpful.

This week's New Yorker has a major cover story on AIPAC, the Jewish lobby on Capitol Hill. It is evident from the article that they are practically running American foreign policy in that part of the world these days.

AIPAC is also skewing almost as far right as the Tea Party, the article reveals. Worse, there are many who feel AIPAC is not extreme enough. Look out for a Jewish Hamas-type group shortly, the New Yorker says.

Until centrists on both sides can gain some traction and move the discussion to accommodation, not point scoring and j’accuse, there seems little hope.

But the Irish peace process encountered many such seemingly hopeless realities at several points and somehow came through.

We can only hope the same will happen for the people of the Middle East.

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