An Israeli journalist who said she encountered “unwitting” anti-semitism and strong pro-Palestinian feelings at a Kerry secondary school street collection said she has received hundreds of “deeply upsetting” hate mails.
Sarah Honig, said her article in the Jerusalem Post was actually about how even decent Irish people may be misguided, and there was no attack on the Irish or on the town of Cahersiveen.
Ms Honig’s account of overwhelming bias towards Palestine, and comments by students and a teacher about “the Jews”, during the Christmas school collection for Trócaire on the streets of Cahersiveen, have been rejected by Coláiste na Sceilge, and by Trócaire.
Ms Honig said her article was to show her own compatriots how they had lost the PR battle even in a lovely place like Cahersiveen.
She said she was taken aback by the lack of comprehension, the attacks on her and the odiousness of some of the reaction.
Hate mail has been arriving “in droves”, the journalist revealed.
“Clearly I don’t label the Irish or residents of Cahersiveen anti-Semites. I call them ‘very decent folks’ and I call the indecency I encountered ‘unwitting’,” Sarah Honig said last night.
Some of the emails have been traced to Ireland. One of those, from Lusk, Co Dublin, racially abuses Ms Honig, saying the writer had just read about Ms Honig’s “recent escapades in Cahersiveen”.
It goes on to wish that the Nazis were around to deal with the likes of her and that she should concentrate on her own species “and leave the Irish out of it”.
Ms Honig said she had received hundreds of emails like it and was deeply upset by them. “The hate mail keeps coming in droves. I cannot remotely believe all these people have actually read a word of my original.” Ms Honig also said she was deeply saddened that there is such a lack of comprehension by her critics.
The school principal, John O’Connor, has placed a statement on the school website stating the students and the teacher involved “vehemently deny” the remarks attributed to them.
He said the students were taking part in a Trócaire project to collect money for the planting of olive trees in Palestine and the lesson content was neither pro-Palestinian nor pro-Israeli.
Trócaire also issued a flat denial.
Ms Honig said she could understand the school principal, who needed to look after his own interests. However, she feels his reaction should have been to accept the challenge to show his pupils “the other side of the complex Israeli story they dabbled in with a shocking lack of basic knowledge”.
She deliberately did not publish the teacher or the school’s name and was writing for her own compatriots, stressing that they had lost the PR battle.
Her article is available on the Jerusalem Post or on her own blog under her name.
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