By Rob Harris
The BDS movement can chalk up another minor victory when the Irish folk band Dervish were forced to pull out of a concert in Israel recently, after yet another anti-Israel onslaught by the pro-Palestinian (or rather, anti-Israel) Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC or “IPSG” as noted in some articles), whose “street theatre” on Dublin’s main thoroughfare gained considerable notoriety. To quote an article in the Irish Independent from the 6th of May:
The band cancelled the tour planned for June, citing an “avalanche of negativity” and “venom” directed towards them on social media websites. Dervish singer Cathy Jordan said the band members were not politically minded and were only due to go on the three-date tour at the invitation of an Israeli friend and musician called Avshalom.
The group said they have opted out of the tour because they were unaware there was a cultural boycott in place when they agreed to the performances. In fact, there is no official boycott of Israel and artists are free to play in the country if they wish.
In response, Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter criticised the IPSC with an unusual intensity:
The Irish Palestinian Solidarity Group’s action in directing its members to ‘target’ the website of the musical group Dervish in order to intimidate the group into cancelling their planned concerts in Israel is nothing other than cyberbullying. […]
It is absolutely understandable that the group, in the face of an ‘avalanche of negativity’ and ‘venom’ on social media websites took the decision to cancel their concerts — but it is a great pity that the bullying tactics of the IPSG worked.
If the IPSG were in any way interested in promoting peace and reconciliation in a troubled part of the world they would recognise the value of cultural and artistic exchanges and the contribution such events make to fostering understanding and tolerance. But, unfortunately, IPSG’s interest is not in peace and reconciliation.
It is particularly extraordinary that the orchestrated campaign targeted at Dervish occurred at a time when thousands have lost their lives in Syria and the IPSG have remained silent about the crimes against humanity being committed there.
Shatter voiced the kind of concerns that many have been expressing about the IPSC for years. Of course, the polar opposite view of the Dervish cancellation was expressed by the IPSC itself. Step forward one Dr. Raymond Deane, a fine specimen of humanity, who added salt to the wound by smugly congratulating Dervish for giving in. In stark contrast to Dervish’s own statement, he denied that any bullying took place prior to the cancellation, and also took the opportunity to fling mud at his hated “Zionists” with a nonsensical story about them bullying Dervish subsequently:
…it is the other way around. All you have to do is look at the remarks made by zionists after Dervish made the laudable decision to pull out of the tour.
We have congratulated them on their decision.
Deane also lashed out in the Irish Times, calling Alan Shatter’s comments the “type of psychological projection you always get from Israel’s supporters.” Deane continued:
Intimidation and bullying is about the only tactics they have because they don’t have truth or justice on their side. They like to pretend they are the victims when they are the victimisers.
Well in this case Dervish were clearly the victims rather than Israel itself because the band is not particularly well known in the Jewish State, and while Deane was talking about Israel, he could have also been inferring that Dervish are also behaving like victims that victimise since he probably believes that they possess “Zionist” sympathies.
Raymond Deane is a well-known face in the Irish pro-Palestinian movement. He is a government-funded “modernist classical composer” of dubious repute. More notably he is the founder of the IPSC. To quote a Front Page article:
He is a… founding member of the IPSC, a former chairman, and “Arts, Cultural and Sports Boycott Officer.” He wrote a letter to a prominent newspaper claiming the Israeli medical team landed in Haiti to take pictures for the purposes of propaganda and promptly went home. Like many pro-Palestinians, Deane has an extraordinary capacity to sling mud at anyone who dares defend Israel, but objects strenuously to its return. Historian Dermot Meleady challenged his assertions in the letters pages of the Irish Times newspaper, which led to Deane threatening libel.
A quote from Deane in 2008 shows how extreme he really is — perhaps even supporting a nuclear assault: “President Ahmadinejad has repeatedly expressed hopes for an end to the Zionist regime, a hope shared worldwide — including within Israel — by people of more impeccable democratic credentials than the Iranian president. “The provision of training and logistical support to Hamas” — nominally, the democratically elected government of the Palestinian people — is to be welcomed as a small counterbalance to US and EU support for the murderous Israeli regime.”
Deane has also compared the defence of Israel with the defence of paedophilia.
However, the IPSC doesn’t seem to have persuaded Dervish of the righteousness of their anti-Israel cause, despite the band having cancelled their performance. On the 1st of May singer Cathy Jordan stated on Dervish’s website:
Dear friends, today I arrived back from the US and although I was aware of the concerns with our proposed visit to Israel, I wasn’t quite prepared for the extent of the venom directed at us.
A few months ago an old friend and fellow musician Avshalom asked us to play in Israel. Avshalom is one of the people we met on our travels who moved and inspired us not just through his music but through his attitude to life. He is one of the good ones, a citizen of the world who looked not for the differences between people but for the stuff that connects them. […]
So many times we have played concerts where a powerful connection is made between musician and audience, where creed and colour have no bearing and what exists is love.
Our friend Avshalom also believes this and that is why we wanted to play in Israel, to promote love between two divided communities that he has worked all his life to unite.
A few years ago I used to be “against” this and “anti” that, which ended up just filling me with anger and frustration when things didn’t go my way. Anger is a dangerous thing. When left unchecked, it can turn into hate which spreads like a cancer until it has consumed its host. I do not believe that fighting hate with hate is the way to peace. […]
It was far from our intention to stir up all this anger and hatred, when the opposite was what was intended. In hindsight, it was very naive of me to think our motives would not be misunderstood and misrepresented. So much so it started an avalanche of negativity which has made it impossible for us to make the trip regardless of our motives.
From Ms. Jordan’s statement it would seem she believes the IPSC is driven by very intensive “anger” and “hatred”. Perhaps the sceptre of anti-Semitism may have been behind her remark “Anger is a dangerous thing”, and indeed the conduct of the IPSC, in their strenuous efforts to isolate and demonise Israel, has decidedly pointed in that direction.
It is important to note that the actions of the IPSC are not in any way a one-off. They are in fact standard pro-Palestinian bully boy tactics that are commonly used in preventing bands performing in Israel today. On that point it should be noted that the IPSC is associated with the more internationally focused Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, an entity with very substantial resources.
It is also worth noting that similar pro-Palestinian actions have been directed at Irish people that dare support Israel publicly. One such example of abusiveness that reached the media was the treatment of Corkonian Israeli-supporter Cliona Campbell.
Likewise, the trend of pro-Palestinians bullying artists for even expressing a mild like or sympathy for Israel is not unknown, e.g. a Face Book page advocating an attack on Mary Byrne, who is a relatively new celebrity figure after having won fame on a TV singing contest. What was her sin? Saying during a radio interview that she had a nice time on a Kibbutz years ago! To quote the Face Book page in question:
“About: *LONG LIVE PALESTINE LONG LIVE GAZA*
Description: Mary Byrne is an XFactor contestant from Ireland.
During an Xtra Factor interview she revealed she had spent a year in Israel working on a Kibbutz.
She is a Zionist and must be exposed as such.
PLEASE SUPPORT THIS PAGE & SHARE AMONGST YOUR FAMILY/FRIENDS!”
Alan Shatter, the sole Jewish minister in Government, has also been the focus of a considerable degree of ire. For example, former MP and well known pro-Palestinian, Chris Andrews, tweeted that Shatter was “Israel’s puppet in Ireland” last year. Similarly, Senator Terry Leyden, head of the Friends of Palestine parliamentary group, said in the Irish Senate that Mr. Shatter had an undue level of influence over foreign policy on Palestine even though Mr. Leyden would know that Mr. Shatter’s own office has little or nothing to do with foreign affairs. The foreign ministry is held by deputy Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Eamon Gilmore, and his support for the Palestinian cause is well known, e.g. Gilmore voiced very strong support for a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state, and quite frequently criticises Israel’s actions, especially with regard to the settlements. Thus Leyden’s assertions raised the image of a certain kind of irrational paranoia that decidedly typifies anti-Semitism.
Irish Independent contributor Concubhar O’ Liathain also asserted that Dervish was caught up in a one-sided boycott against Israel. He also referred to his own experiences of the tactics used by the pro-Palestinian movement:
Back in 2005, I witnessed the type of negativity and venom Dervish received when a friend of mine, Belfast Irish-language activist Gearoid O Caireallain, invited an Israeli academic, Dr Shlomo Izre’el, to speak about the lessons that the Irish language could learn from the Lazarus-like resurrection of Hebrew, once an almost extinct language, but now the spoken vernacular in Israel.
There were protests and mounting pressure to withdraw the invitation to speak at the event in West Belfast — but it’s testament to the independent mind of O Caireallain and the Irish-speaking community there that this pressure was withstood. The lecture went ahead, the knowledge was shared.
And that wasn’t an unusually hostile reception for an Israeli academic in Belfast. For example, last year the blatant thuggery of the movement was very much on show when an academic had to be rescued by security officers at Queen’s University.
Yet intense opposition to any cultural or academic contact with Israel, no matter how slight, will in fact make little or no difference to the legitimisation of Israel’s position because the Palestinian perspective on the conflict has for a very long time been the predominant one in Ireland, and by a very considerable margin as Mr. O’ Liathain suggests:
There’s no shortage of people to tell the Palestinian side of the story in Ireland, how they’ve been brutally suppressed by the Israelis, how they’ve been forced out of their homes and lands, how their villages have been divided by the Israeli-built barrier wall. […]
I read a website containing a list of the victims of Palestinian attacks since 1994. It ran to several pages and contained thousands of names of the dead and wounded.
I mention this because we rarely hear this in Ireland. It’s not that the deaths of the Israelis somehow outweigh those of the Palestinians — the suffering of the Israelis is largely ignored here.
The popular cause is that of the Palestinians, they are oppressed and their resistance is to be admired and not examined, it seems.
Pro-Palestinians constantly squawk on about “legitimising occupation” and other tired clichés, with regard to the visits of academics, and very basic cultural contact, such as musicians, sports people etc. going to and from Israel.
However, such contact doesn’t even pose a remote threat of such a thing happening because Ireland has long been hostile to Israel without any pressure to boycott. Therefore, the acts of the IPSC et al actually resemble a form of psychological warfare, in essence an ongoing effort to demonise and isolate an enemy in a battle toward its eventual destruction. These activists overwhelmingly support a “one-state” solution, or in other words a Palestinian victory.
Good on Foley’s
On a related note Israel advocacy group StandWithUs sent out the following email last week:
…Foley’s pub, Merrion Row, Dublin 2 (near St. Stephen’s Green) has been flying the national flag of Israel from its upper window for the past week.
The move began when the proprietor learned of the annual celebration of Israel’s Independence Day, Yom Hatzmaut, which this year fell on 26 April and was celebrated in Dublin on Monday 30 April, and decided to fly the blue-and-white Star of David flag of Israel in honour of the occasion.
Despite pressure from some predictable quarters to remove the flag, the pub has courageously continued to fly it.
If you happen to be in that part of town and are considering where to have lunch or are planning a meeting, a dinner or a social evening, we strongly recommend that you consider Foley’s as a venue and, if you feel like it, express your support to the management.
If you cannot go there, an email of support would also be good; send it to Foley’s bar.
The “predictable quarters” are of course Raymond Deane and the IPSC, as pro-Israel group Irish4Israel noted.
Update: May 14, 2012
News has just emerged that Raymond Deane and the IPSC are now targeting novelist and poet Gerard Donovan because he is scheduled to appear at the International Writers Festival in Jerusalem this week. After being unable to contact him directly (translation: he didn’t return four emails to his university department — the result of being elsewhere due to a serious illness), they published an open letter. The IPSC’s absurd contention is that his appearance will somehow “whitewash” Israel.
Meanwhile, Senator Paschal Mooney, a member of the opposition Fianna Fáil party, has added his voice to that of Minister Alan Shatter’s by condemning the IPSC’s campaign “of intimidation and bullying” against Dervish, during a session in the Irish Senate. Perhaps the IPSC’s own bully-boy tactics could also do with a touch of that aforementioned “whitewashing”?
Update: June 03, 2012
Gerald Donovan wrote an excellent response to Deane, where he humorously describes the IPSC’s ilk as the “perfect” humans:
EVERY GENERATION creates the right monsters to destroy itself… Now let me suggest the monster of our time is a device that creates the perfect human. This human hears what he wants to hear, sees what he wants to see and already knows everything he needs to know. The machine’s primary attribute is a shield through which nothing can penetrate that suggests what our man hears and sees may not be the whole truth.
In short, this machine provides him certainty in a world that, if left unfiltered, is otherwise an arbitrary, capricious and infuriating place. Behavioural economists call this phenomenon the psychology of denial, and it can result in an uncompromising and sometimes dangerous delusion that brooks no interference.
Donovan pointed to the irony of Deane receiving a substantial Irish tax payers grant each year, whilst intimidating Irish artists. He referred to Deane’s hypocrisy in having his music performed in Hong Kong when under the rule of China. Donovan related to how Deane criticised the Irish Times for a “steady campaign of defamation of human rights activists”, a comically thin-skinned remark made in relation to a critical letter published in the paper some years ago that led Deane to threaten legal action. In fact the Times is known as perhaps the most pro-Palestinian mainstream newspaper in Ireland, often giving the IPSC, IAWM etc. an unduly positive hearing. It even misrepresented the Six Day War as an aggressive act on Israel’s part in the photo caption for Donovan’s article.
PS: a similar article is also posted at Anne’s Opinions, Anne having contributed to the writing of this piece.
Rob Harris contributes articles to several websites on contentious political issues (not to be confused with the popular English novelist (1957-) of the same name). He blogs at eirael.blogspot.com. He lives in Ireland. For all the exclusive blog entries by Rob Harris, go here.