Following an intense campaign by Irish BDS activists, organizers of the 1st Israeli Feis, a first time competitive tournament of traditional Irish Dance in Israel, announced the cancellation of the event on their Facebook page yesterday, July 7th. In the initial cancellation announcement, the event accused the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC), of threatening to kill “everyone” participating in the event, by shooting them in the head. Talk about massive social media fail.
The announcement, now removed, was eventually replaced hours later by one slightly less hysterical, inflammatory and accusatory, also published on the Facebook page of Carey Academy Israel, hosting the event. But not before being captured in a screen shot by Israeli BDS activist and Boycott from Within co-founder Ronnie Barkan. The original cancellation reads in part:
IPSC [Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign] and their idol organization BDS claim they are a peaceful campaign, they felt very comfortable not only sending aggressive messages to people, saying they want to destroy Israel or that everyone who takes part in the feis would be shot in the head…
…they are equally fine threatening US and UK dance teachers or a teenage musician from Europe. It really did scare us when IPSC/BDS campaigners organized a not-so-peaceful protest outside of our dance studio…
Referencing IPSC as a “radical political organization”, the updated 1st Feis cancellation claimed “Threatening messages were sent not only to our teachers, but also parents and students” and insinuated the event was cancelled for reasons of security, ending with: “I am sure you understand the safety of our dancers is our number one priority.”
In response to these hysterical allegations IPSC immediately issued a harsh, scalding rebuke including a detailed analysis of their campaign on their website, generously only addressing the accusations in the updated, edited version of the cancellation notice, and characterized 1st Feis accusations regarding the security of participants as a “barefaced lie”.
Excerpt from IPSC Statement on the cancellation of the Israeli Feis: A victory for Palestinian rights marred by disgusting and defamatory comments as follows:
The post insinuates that the IPSC – or these individuals – sent “threatening messages” to “teachers, parents and students”. Leaving aside the near impossibility, were one even so inclined, of finding contact details for teachers, parents and students which are presumably only in the hands of organisers, this is a completely defamatory statement. Neither the IPSC nor anyone officially associated with it sent a single threatening message to anyone. This statement smells of the usual lies and hasbara (Israeli propaganda) spewed forth when human rights activists are campaigning in favour of a cultural boycott.
We routinely hear of “threats” by the IPSC yet evidence has never been produced by any accuser to back up such defamatory claims. Indeed, it is not the first nor will it be the last time such lies are told about the IPSC. They are par for the course when campaigning against Israeli apartheid and for Palestinian human rights. If such an incident has occurred, it is of course important to state that IPSC neither advocates nor stands behind any violent act or violent threat made in the name of the BDS movement – nor does the international BDS movement itself – and that if anyone has genuinely made such statements or engaged in such actions they represent themselves only.
Yet, we are surely not alone in suspecting that having been taken to task by international human rights activists and realising the increasing indefensibility of their position and having their name and reputation associated with Israeli apartheid, The Carey Academy decided to pull the plug on the event, but sought to insinuate that non-existent threats of violence were the rationale.
Meanwhile, very real threats and racist comments have already started appearing in the IPSC mailbox and on our social media pages.
IPSC’s statement continued, chronicling, with a list, the “sum total of the actions taken” by their organization during their short campaign concluding
To return to the Carey Academy statement, it claims that “unfortunately, there was a protest outside our dance studio. We do not want to risk the safety of anyone connected to the Carey Academy”. By this they mean the Carey Academy in Birmingham, England – not their Israeli branch. People have a right to peaceful protest and judging by the complete lack of any evidence to contrary it seems this protest was entirely peaceful in nature. With the growth of the global BDS movement over the past ten years, institutions that do business with Israel – whether financial, cultural or otherwise – should expect protests from people concerned at these associations. This is what happens in democratic societies. The outrageous insinuation that dancers, or anyone else associated with the Academy, were ever in physical danger is simply a barefaced lie.
However, this protest in Birmingham was not organised by the IPSC – as the Carey Academy is located in England, it is outside of our ‘jurisdiction’. For the IPSC to organise a protest in England would be akin to our colleagues in the British PSC organising an action in Cork. Indeed, as the Carey Academy is based and located in England, we never saw it as our role to focus on their involvement with the Feis, preferring to leave that to local activists – we focus on trying to convince Irish cultural figures to join the more than five hundred of their peers in respecting the Palestinian call for a cultural boycott of Israel……
We recommend IPSC’s full statement concerning the allegations.
Ronnie Barkan posted the following riposte on his Facebook page challenging organizers
Dear 1st Israeli Feis, after reading the earlier version of your post, I must ask you to not only provide some evidence for the mentioned threats but also to kindly respond to the following:
1. Who sent the specific message(s) saying “that everyone who takes part in the feis would be shot in the head”? This is a very serious claim and I should hope that you have also notified the police, is that correct?
2. What happened during the IPSC protest outside your dance studio that made you concerned about the presence if any children around? Have you reported the incident to the police? “It did really scare us when IPSC/BDS campaigners organised a not-so-peaceful protest outside of our dance studio – fortunately, there were no children on the premises as who knows what these people were up to”
3. I have tried posting the official IPSC statement on your facebook wall. Both of my posts were removed less than a minute later. A screenshot of one of these posts seconds before its removal is below. Why would you remove it?
Many thanks and please come to perform another time – once we end apartheid. Once we secure the rights of all the people of the land. Your planned event was not only in defiance of the elementary Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (would you have performed in SunCity?) – it was quite simply an attempt at whitewashing Israeli crimes while even being hosted by the ZOA.
Until equality, freedom and justice prevail,
Despite the developing drama resulting from those claims, which it is important to note were completely unsubstantiated and therefore must be presumed to be false, one thing is clear: The Carey Academy: Israel, having been thoroughly wrong-footed by the so-called “heathen hordes” of Irish pro-Palestinian activists, has given up completely on hosting what would have been the 1st Israeli Feis, just a month before it was due to be held. This is a good day for the international cultural boycott of the apartheid regime. And these little victories surely we must celebrate, as they build hope of greater ones to come.