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Following boycott campaign, 1st Israeli Feis attempts to smear activists as it cancels performance

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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. 

Logo: Ist Israel Feis

Logo: Ist Israel Feis

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…

Screen Shot: 1st Israeli Feis announces the cancelation of their event by accusing Irish BDS activists of threatening to kill everyone participating in the event.  (Credit: Ronnie Barkan)

Screen Shot: 1st Israeli Feis announces the cancellation of their event by accusing Irish BDS activists of threatening to kill everyone participating in the event. (Credit: Ronnie Barkan)

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.”

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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, thesum 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. 

#DontDance4Israel Photo by @Ruthanasia

#DontDance4Israel Photo by @Ruthanasia

Stan Hoben

Stan Hoben is a software engineer and human rights activist living in Northern Ireland. Follow him on twitter @newryforgaza

Other posts by .

Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

Other posts by .

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19 Responses

  1. John O on July 8, 2015, 3:02 pm

    Dear God! That logo! I can at least understand the hideous attempt at producing a Celticised Star of David, but WTF is a rip-off of Hokusai’s The Great Wave off Kanagawa doing in there?

    • RoHa on July 8, 2015, 7:56 pm

      If you are going to rip something off, why not go for the best?

      But perhaps they were thinking that, to make it Irish, they should throw in a reference to Yeats and Irish myth.

      “Cuchulain stirred,
      Stared on the horses of the sea, and heard
      The cars of battle and his own name cried;
      And fought with the invulnerable tide.”

    • DaBakr on July 9, 2015, 11:46 pm


      with a giant palm tree lodged in the middle just for good measure.

  2. a blah chick on July 8, 2015, 3:21 pm

    Remember this is Ireland, the land that has had to put up with the likes of Boaz (Constrictor) Modai. Israel’s ambassador there and his crazy Mrs. Who can forget the lovely Christmas card they sent out a few years ago that inferred the dire fate of Mary and Joseph had they had to live under “Palestinian” rule. Or the one that featured Michelangelo’s David with a suicide belt and Mona Lisa in a burkha, all potents of what would happen to Europe if they succumbed to the Muslims.

    I cannot wait for their take on this controversy.

    • annie on July 8, 2015, 8:19 pm

      i love ireland. one of my very favorite countries i have ever visited — because of the people of course. landscape is very wonderful too. the irish have massive grit.

  3. Bornajoo on July 8, 2015, 3:39 pm

    “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.”

    Bravo and well done to all involved.

    I think they got a bit confused, it’s Israelis that usually shoot unarmed Palestinians in the head.

    Many thanks Stan and Annie

  4. Citizen on July 8, 2015, 4:07 pm

    Algemeiner has an article up on their web site headlining the Irish Dance Group dropped doing their thing in Israel due to threats by Palestinian activists.

    Meanwhile, Hillary is busy promising the world to Israel and her eternal hate for BDS

    • annie on July 8, 2015, 5:46 pm

      citizen, the event was cancelled the day after the protest at carey studios in birmingham england. the cancellation notice insinuated dancers were unsafe.

      about 10 minutes before this was published stan sent notice of several videos of this protest shot in this back alley behind the studio where the protest took place.

      the idea this protest, with about 15 people (some elderly, not that we can’t pack a punch if we want to) and 3 police lingering bored in the background could be conceived by anyone as hostile or dangerous in the least, is a joke.

      we’re going to be publishing some of these videos along with an interview with one of the people at the protest. should be ashamed to be republishing these crap allegations. and see how easy it was to simply screenshot the “YOU ARE GOING TO DIE” message tha IPSC received and sceehshot?

      so carey dance should either issue a retraction or else provide proof they were ever threatened. we’re not stopping here.

      • amigo on July 8, 2015, 6:06 pm

        “so carey dance should either issue a retraction or else provide proof they were ever threatened. we’re not stopping here. ” Annie

        And I hope IPSC intends to take these liars for all they have.I bet these people will not show up in Ireland at a Feis.They will get a very special “Cead Mile Failte”.(100,000 welcomes)To clarify, I am referring to those who run Carey Dance troup. and are behind the lies.I know several people at the IPSC and not one would be involved in such behaviour.

        It,s not the first time IPSC activists have been accused of making threats.I spent the las half hour trying to find a link to the last time but it seems to have dissipated into the ethernet.

      • a blah chick on July 8, 2015, 7:50 pm

        Annie, I think it was easier for the dance trope to claim they cancelled their appearance because the big bad BDSers were threatening children than to admit that they did not have the courage to ride out the controversy. To do otherwise would have had the Zionists on their case (why didn’t you stand with Israel?!)

        What were they REALLY afraid of?

      • annie on July 8, 2015, 8:33 pm

        amigo, i don’t know the entirety of Carey Dance troup are behind these lies. the first big lie about everybody “shot in the head” could have easily been written by one person. if that’s the case , they should make an apology someone got carey’d away (pun on carried away ;).

        the “YOU ARE GOING TO DIE” message that IPSC received and screenshot shows how easy it is show proof of these allegations. besides, someone could be impersonating a #BDS activist. but their screenshot shows the i.p address.

        worse tho, is the insinuation protestors were so violent it threatened the safety of the dancers. i mean please. are we to believe none of them have cameras or videos or anything. extraordinary claims require extra ordinary evidence and they have provided none. none at all. and that accusation was made after several 3 edited version and ran on the carey site, it’s still there. so they need to back it up.

        re my radio interview “no meat” ad hominem (slander) is their primary tool. slander the opponent at all costs. that’s all they’ve got and they display it all the time and the msm repeats the claims with NO fact checking. it’s time to demand accountability., evidence, proof or something.

      • annie on July 8, 2015, 8:44 pm

        I think it was easier for the dance trope to claim they cancelled their appearance because the big bad BDSers were threatening children than to admit that they did not have the courage to ride out the controversy. – See more at:

        a blah chick, a more likely scenario as far as i am concerned, is they weren’t getting enough registrations to justify the feis which takes money to put on. i looked at their facebook page. the deadline for the great hotel deal posted last month was extended, which means it wasn’t filling up.

        my hunch is if they’d had plenty of registrations for the event they would have easily rode out the controversy and bragged about it too, how popular the event was. and if it came even close to filling up or selling out (!!!) it would have been big news. so it wasn’t the controversy that sunk them, it was the effects of the grassroots campaign that alerted a whole slew of people in the irish dance community (like children – who otherwise may not have been aware ) of what was going on in palestine. and enough people just didn’t register to make the event worthwhile.

        so, they scapegoated and claimed they were backing out for the safety of their dancers. and that’s the cowardly behavior. blaming it on violent protestors instead of acknowledging defeat fair and square.

        ireland held huge large consistent repeated protests last summer during the slaughter. i think carey bit off more than they could chew thinking the irish (let’s face it, the bulk of the irish dancing community in the UK, US and anywhere in the word is irish or from families w/irish roots – same thing) would be flying off to israel right now, for anything. how sympathetic could they, given their history, be to apartheid? i don’t think so.

    • socialconscience on July 10, 2015, 9:29 am

      The Irish people indeed shares it’s past experiences with that of Palestine.

      Here, an example of a mural at the famous ‘falls road peace wall” in Belfast…

      It’s a common site to see 1 or 2 coach loads of tourists from all over the world standing across the road taking photos of this mural on any day of the week

  5. a blah chick on July 8, 2015, 9:38 pm

    Annie sez: ” a more likely scenario as far as i am concerned, is they weren’t getting enough registrations to justify the feis which takes money to put on.”

    Yep, I hadn’t thought about a lack of interest in their little venture. I’ve heard that the Irish, given their history, have great sympathy for the Palestinians, which would explain why the Israeli ambassador, Modai, claims Ireland is the most “anti Semitic” country in Europe.

  6. niass2 on July 9, 2015, 12:53 am

    Although it would enhance their preconceived notion of BDS folks as not vey nice, I do believe they should be prosecuted for defamation and damages should be paid and provided to a fund to fight Israeli apartheid. The facts should be assembled. If they are just dumb, that’ ok we don’t need to ruin their organization.

    If they are all real pro Israeli types make an example of them. What would Israel do? We should do that.

    I guess they have never danced at an acid test to New Potato Caboose.

    That’s their loss. I bet Pig would agree with BDS.



  7. rosross on July 9, 2015, 8:18 am

    BDS grows. Good to see.

  8. Qualtrough on July 10, 2015, 3:58 am

    Unfortunately their magic worked, because last night on Reddit just about all the comments on this latest BDS success were about how Palestinians were an inherently violent people, blah, blah, blah*

    *nothing personal a blah chick!

  9. Marnie on July 11, 2015, 1:39 am

    I’m very glad to see this has been canceled and on another dance note, it would be great to see a boycott of the annual Karmi’el Dance Festival that takes place for 3 days every July (and did last year of course during Gaza “operation”). No fun in the sun until the right thing is done. End the occupation and apartheid.

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