The Irish foreign minister and opposition politicians have used strong language to condemn the assault, with some even wearing the keffiyeh in parliament.
This has been hailed by pro-Palestinian commentators as an example for the rest of Europe.
Ireland is often seen as an outlier in the European Union, and its sympathy for the suffering in Gaza can be traced back to its own historical experiences.
One key factor is Ireland’s history as a victimized nation. The country has been Britain’s oldest colony and experienced its own struggles for independence and, thus, Ireland’s identification with the underdog is deeply ingrained in its psyche.
This historical perspective shapes how the Irish engage with postcolonial conflicts like the Israeli-Palestinian one.
Another influence is the small Jewish community in Ireland, comprising only around 0.05 percent of the population. This contrasts with larger and more influential Jewish communities in countries like Britain and France. The presence of a small Jewish community has given the Irish more freedom to take what they consider a principled position on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
Furthermore, Ireland has a track record of supporting Palestinian statehood, being the first EU state to endorse it in 1980. Ireland has also publicly criticized actions taken by EU officials that it perceives as lacking balance, indicating its desire to push for a more just position within the European consensus.
Israel’s capture of the West Bank in 1967 and its invasion of Lebanon in 1982 put Irish UN peacekeepers in harm’s way and deepened Irish sympathies with Palestinians. The narrative has now evolved to align with the idea that just as the Irish fought to remove occupiers, the Palestinians are also fighting for their own liberation.
While Ireland’s support for Palestine is multifaceted, the historical, geopolitical, and humanitarian factors contribute to the Irish people’s identification with the underdog; their own experiences of oppression strengthen their sympathy for the Palestinian
Paraphrased from “‘It’s part of our psyche’: why Ireland sides with ‘underdog’ Palestine,” published in the Guardian, November 20, 2023.