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Jews and the Irish nationalist imagination: between philo-Semitism and anti-Semitism
Aidan Beatty

Journal of Jewish Studies

DOI: 10.18647/3304/JJS-2017

This article focuses on three of the most canonical Irish nationalists of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries – Daniel O’Connell (1775–1847), Michael Davitt (1846–1906) and Eamon de Valera (1882–1975) – and the various claims they made that the Irish nation was analogous to the Jewish nation. In his recent work on Anti-Judaism David Nirenberg has shown how abstract ‘figures of Judaism’ have been used in large swathes of European political thought. Such abstract ‘Jewish’ figures, Nirenberg argues, have been utilized in debates over secular authority, the perils of capitalism, even modernity itself. Following Nirenberg, this article argues that O’Connell, Davitt and de Valera engaged in a comparable Irish nationalist ‘thinking with Judaism’; this was a means of thinking about Irish statelessness and about where Ireland fits into a broader white, European world, whilst simultaneously attacking British rule as analogous to the worst excesses of violent anti-Semitism.

Modern period | Ireland | nationalism | anti-Semitism | philo-Semitism | race | identitity | O’Connell | Daniel | Davitt | Michael | De Valera | Eamon

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