IRA_1.jpgThe Brits have left Northern Ireland. They did so because the IRA put down their guns and bombs. The IRA quit when they had their backs against the wall. Palestinians could learn a big lesson here.

BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) – The British army marked a milestone of peacemaking Tuesday as it formally ended its 38-year mission to bolster security in Northern Ireland.

The military’s longest-running operation officially was ending at midnight. But the symbolic moment came months after the reality – no British troops have been on patrol on Belfast streets for two years.

As of Wednesday, all 5,000 soldiers remaining in this long-disputed corner of the United Kingdom will be committed to training for operations in Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere overseas.

Analysts and ex-soldiers are debating whether British security forces defeated the outlawed Irish Republican Army, which waged a 1970-1997 campaign to overthrow Northern Ireland by force. But all sides agree the IRA’s 2005 decision to renounce violence and disarm has permitted British soldiers to beat their own retreat…..

Intelligence agents eventually built a detailed picture of the IRA, and undercover army squads wiped out several IRA units in ambushes in the 1980s and early 1990s – a brutal strategy that Dewar credits with spurring the IRA’s cease-fire.

The Israeli’s can learn a valuable lesson too. No concessions to terrorism, and ruthless pursuit and disruption of the terror infrastructure.

Of course one can argue that the West bank and Gaza are not Northern Ireland. Its true. But the Palestinians can get what they want when they stop terror.

About the author

Rabbi Yonah


  • Well it’s a mixed record here Rabbi Yonah. There were certainly long & protracted negotiations where each side conceded important points, and the IRA remained willing to search for a real political solution, but mainly only after almost all other avenues were forestalled for them. They were eventually down to a few score of effective ‘fighters’/bombers and knew it would be hard to continue. That would be really hard to do in Israel, but they are trying. The IRA never had the viciousness of suicide bombers, but the fight was certainly brutal and had severe consequences for the entire population.

    In the end as Abba Eban had foretold, the essential question remains, ‘Do they hate their enemies more than they love their children’s futures?’ In Western eyes, eventually this led to the agreement between age old enemies. To lay down their arms and try for some political accommodation. For the Arabs & Hamas & the PA it’s all about irredentism & the death & destruction of infidels. They seemingly are perfectly willing to burn & destroy however many generations of children to accomplish their goals. How else might you describe the holding of perhaps a million or more refugees captive in the surrounding Arab nations to be used as political pawns but also almost wholly without any political rights for 50 years or more? Astonishing. And no real democratic government anywhere would be willing to tolerate this outrage, and there would be demands from the population for such accommodation & negotiation. But all we see is talking via terror, which is war by another name.

    I think the Brits got lucky too. The ‘Troubles’ were burned out for awhile, just long enough for the population to see & feel what peace might bring to the nation. And now their economy is the fastest growing in Europe. The parallels are fascinating & tantalizing but perhaps facile. It’s just wildly different, and of a different order of deadliness I’m afraid. Cheers, ‘VJ

  • If the British example is fully followed, Israel will negotiate a political settlement with Fatah and Hamas in tandem with security measures, and the negotiations will include as partners neighboring Arab states.

  • Well, let’s look at what each side wants. The IRA wanted the British out of Ireland. The Palestinians want the Israelis out of Palestine.

    The problem is that many Palestinians define Palestine as encompassing all of Israel.

  • There is no Palestine and most of the Arabs who call themselves “Palestinians” immigrated to Israel after it was re-founded. They should Israel because it’s not theris and never was.

  • “But the Palestinians can get what they want when they stop terror.”

    yeah? Israel will withdraw to the Green Line and dismantle the settlements if the Palestinians would just stop the violence?

  • So you approve of terror as a form of fighting, xisnotx?

    Even if you do, Israel offered to do almost exactly what you write in 2000 and 2001 and the Palestinian violence increased. So the answer to your question is “no.”

  • I dont see how you’d extrapolate from what I wrote that I suport terror. What I did was list the baseline palestinian demand. With or without violence, I don’t see Israel giving up more than 90% of West Bank land. So I don’t agree w/ Rabbi Jonah’ statement that if they give terror, the Palestinians can get what they want.

  • A number of stupid comments here. firstly the IRA remained up until 2005 one of the most vicous and effective guerrilla armies of all time. It proved in 1997 that it still had the capacity to inflict huge blows to the british Army. the british army also bean to show that it could hit back. In all it ended in a stalemate, the british army could not defeat the IRA while the IRA could not force a british withdrawal.

    now heres the thing, if the british won (as many of them seem to claim) why are ex-IRA members now running Northern Ireland? the reason is that in 1998 the British made a huge compromise with the IRA by giving up their unilateral claim of sovereignty on Northern Ireland. this basically guarantees that Northern Ireland will be handed back with the growing Nationalist population and dwindling Unionist one.

    At best it was a draw for the british,
    at worst a defeat

  • Kram,
    while iti s true htat the IRA and its offshoots were effective, you miss a major point.
    When the Troubles began, the British army entered as a peacekeeping force between the Catholics and Prods. The Prods were kicking the shit out of the Catholics and the Brits came to protect the catholics.
    Only later did the IRAstart fighting the british forces. If the British army had not entered the Prods would have won.

  • no i am not missing the point. the british forces were far from a peacekeeping force. ive seen videos were there was a riot between the 2 sides and the british army would march in with their backs to the protestants. for example during internment they arrested thousands of Catholics and not a single protestant, depite the fact that protestant groups such as the UDA/UVF were repsonsible for most of the killings at the time. also you are missing the point that it was NOT a religious war. though principally the opposing sides were divided along religious lines, this was not always the case. there were many nationalist protestants.

    the British army only went in after the Irish Defence Forces massed on the border and threatened to take control of Derry City. In 1970 the british troops still allowed the unionist police force and thugs to attack Catholic areas (Short Strand anyone?). At this time the IRA split into Provisionals and Officials. The Provisionals became possibly the best guerrilla army in the world. Had the british army not been there the IRA would have wiped out the UVF/UDA/LVF etc in a matter of weeks.

    Had the british army been a neutral peace keeping force then the violence could have stopped there and then. instead it took sides with the UVF/UDA and was seen as an extension of the armed wing of unionism. Large numbers of British army members were found to be colluding and helping these loyalist death squads (who only attacked innocent catholics) and to suggest they were a neutral force is almost laughable

  • The brits came in officially as a neutral force and of course there was collaboration between some brits and the prods. The RUC had many officers who collaborated with the prod paramilitaries. However if the Brits didn’t enter the Prods woulsd have wiped out the IRA and MANY innocent Catholics. To say that the IRA would have defeated the prod paramilitaries is indeed laughable.

  • ck: That totally doesn’t come across.

    As a graphic designer I give it a thumbs down.

  • It’s not a viable comparison because Bono isn’t either a Jew or Muslim.

    Is that sarcastic? Think about it. No matter how one compares the logistical, religious or historical issues it’s still apples and oranges to me. Or should I say pomegrantes and Guinness?

  • Well you crudely missed the point of the whole thing to suit your own machiavellian aspirations to wage ruthless war against the palestinians. The IRA had the capacity to continue a low intensity geurilla war indefinitely, this was recognised by the british army’s own intel reports. another report which was leaked after the war stated that the army could not win against the ira. Infact our government held a similar line of no negotiating with terrorists until tehy planted several bombs in england which ripped through city centre and caused billions of pounds worth of damage. They done this with impunuty, the people responsible are still at large and capable of doing it again. The scary thing is they gave warnings for all the bombs to allow civillians to be evacuated and if they hadnt thousands of people, including many wealthy financiers and journalists would have been killed. They could have caused the collapse of one of the biggest financial centres in the world.

    We got smart, we addressed the problems which were causing people to hate us with such intensity… and we have done nothing to them compared to the horrendous evil your beligerent nation has inflicted on palestinians. violence begets violence. good luck with the whole peace thing but i can already see israel is doomed with people like you on the loose. actually i dont mean that i look forward to the day when israel has to go crawling on its hands and knees to beg forgiveness for all the crimes they have committed in the past, it might not happen in my lifetime but it will happen as it always does where your people are concerned

  • Hmmm, wearing green, having shamrock grow on your property and speaking Gaelic being subject to death penalty, being deliberately deprived of nutrition during the Great Famine, not being permitted to one’s own government or casting votes in the elections to the Commons, still not being permitted to being either spouse to the Sovereign and / or becoming PM due to being Roman Catholic, considerably higher unemployment rates among Catholics in Belfast encouraged by policies that condone of discrimation against Catholics based on religious adherence,…

    Yeah, the Irish must have loved just that.

  • Well, though the Provisional IRA did lay down arms and chose to establish a peaceful method to achieving a United Ireland… The CIRA and RIRA have resurged, and their attacks, though right now looked down upon by both sides, if they continue, it could lead to Loyalist retaliation. Then all bets are off on the Unity Government in N. Ireland.

  • So much of what’s in the Guardian is bullshit. Especially their coverage of the Middle East Conflict. 😉

  • I’ve never read so much nonesense in my life.

    I still vividly remember the victory celebrations when the British agreed to self-determination and a move away from downing street.

    The IRA didn’t give up their guns until the british agreed to devolution..i.e. Northern Ireland is now a step further away from downing street and a step closer to a united ireland.

    I won’t embarass you by explaining how that is a victory for the IRA.

    The resurgence of RIRA is because of impatience with the process and implementation of the good friday agreement, but the key thing to remember here is that re-unification will happen through the ballot box now. Not through the bullet.

  • You have deluded yourself somewhat in your research, or else are reading too many propaganda pieces from mainstream British institutions… There was years of painstaking negotiation put into this, and a violent struggle not merely meant to result in perpetual attrition. And there was an ACTUAL halfway solution found.

    The IRA relented because they no longer had need of violent struggle to achieve political aims, which developed, modified, as every side’s did throughout the conflict… the armed struggle ran its course successfully (to repeat an oft-used sometimes-pejorative) “from the armalite to the ballot box”.
    End of story.

    If your perception of a total British subjugation and infiltration of the nationalist ranks were as close to truth as you hope, we would not be experiencing the unanswered dissident paramilitary violence we have been of late.

    You belittle the social and political gains of the northern Irish struggle for reconciliation and peace by your awkward propagandising.

    I would suggest in future you confine your comment on your society’s struggles to the bracket of your own history. The complexity of trying to apply its form to other arenas obviously causes a strain on your deductive capacity.

    Try this for size: If you fancy yourself in a similar position as the British government in Northern Ireland throughout the conflict and wish to emulate their original and final positions, then you invite obvious parallel with the most repressive, oppressive, biased and divisive regime in Western Europe. And you will have to change yourself then, fundamentally, as they had to, and make concessions to your enemies to achieve whatever peace you seek.

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