Conor Cruise O’Brien

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Conor Cruise O'Brien (1917-2008), commonly called "The Cruiser" in Ireland, is, to quote Geoffrey Wheatcroft in the Guardian, another "one-time idol of the left [who] is now a darling of American neo-conservatives".

He has been, at various times, a scholar, diplomat, politician, government minister, historian, biographer, anti-war activist, intellectual, playwright, newspaper editor, prose stylist, political theorist and university president. He regards himself as an authority on Zionism, terrorism, Ireland, Africa, post-colonialism, and nationalism. His books include the pro-Zionist tome, The Siege: The Saga of Israel and Zionism (1986).

Here is what Wheatcroft said of the Cruiser's Zionism:

His knack for taking reasonable premises to extreme conclusions also led him from attractive philosemitism to fervent Zionism and intransigent support for Israel, horrifying an erstwhile admirer, Edward Said. This had painful consequences 20 years ago when O'Brien wrote an Observer column stoutly defending the Israeli incursion into Lebanon. It appeared just as news had broken overnight of the massacres of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila camps in September 1982. To say, as Howard does, that "we had egg all over our faces" seems an understatement, but O'Brien was unabashed and persevered to write The Siege, a learned but partisan history of Zionism and Israel, making little attempt to see the Palestinian side or even to consult Arab sources. Maybe this is what Ferdinand Mount means when he calls O'Brien a man "whose function it is to be gloriously wrong".

See Wheatcroft's pen portrait of him which appeared in the Guardian on 12 July 2003 -- the date is symbolic of the fact that the Cruiser has now moved to the far right on Northern Ireland.

Born in Dublin in 1917, he has held a variety of political and diplomatic posts, including positions in the Republic of Ireland's Department of External Affairs and in the Irish delegation to the United Nations. In 1961, O'Brien was chosen to serve on the executive staff of United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammarskj�ld; subsequently he resigned from diplomatic service and devoted his attention to writing and teaching.

The Cruiser is (2000) a contributing editor to The Atlantic, a magazine which Norman Finkelstein, on 10 September 2003, described as "the well-heeled house organ of Zionist crazies" (see here).

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