The bullying tactics of the Irish anti-Israel IPSC

Dervish Band

Dervish Band

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) Irish Palestinian Solidarity group (IPSC or IPSG) – whom I mentioned in a previous article on antisemitism in Ireland.  The Irish Justice Minister, Alan Shatter, is outraged and has accused the  group  of cyberbullying:

Justice Minister Alan Shatter has launched a blistering attack on the Irish Palestinian Solidarity Group (IPSG), accusing them of “cyberbullying” folk group Dervish who were forced to pull out of a planned concert in Israel after a concerted campaign.

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.

Ms Jordan wrote on the band’s Facebook page: “In hindsight, it was very naive of me to think our motives would not be misunderstood and misrepresented.”

No, Ms. Jordan. You were not naive. You are musicians who shouldn’t have to premeditate your motives for going on a concert tour.  Politics should not be involved in culture.

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.

Well said. Bullies like the IPSC make sure that their victims targets do not know the full truth.

Now Mr Shatter, who is Jewish, has delivered a broadside against the band’s critics.

Why the need to mention Mr. Shatter’s religion? Of course, this is a rhetorical question.  The newspaper implies that it is his religion which is the sole reason he is defending Israel.  No other civilized person could sanction such a defence apparently.

“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,” Mr Shatter said. He added that the IPSG’s appeal to human rights rings hollow.


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,” Mr Shatter added.

Kol hakavod to Mr. Shatter. If only there were more politicians, in Ireland and everywhere else, as unabashedly outspoken as him.

Update via Rob Harris: Unfortunately Mr. Shatter’s courage in the face of such bias has made him the focus of a considerable degree of ire. For example, during proceedings in the Irish Senate calling on the government to recognise a Palestinian state at the time of last September’s Palestinian statehood bid in the United Nations, Senator Terry Leyden, head of the Friends of Palestine parliamentary group, said that Alan Shatter, the sole Jewish minister in Government, had an undue level of influence over foreign policy on Palestine. However, Mr. Leydon would know that Mr. Shatter is has nothing to do with foreign affairs. That is a role performed by deputy Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Eamon Gilmore, and his support for the Palestinian cause is well known, and whilst the government hasn’t been as critical or aggressive toward Israel as the pro-Palestinian brigades would wish, 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 paranoia that typifies anti-Semitism, which of course he furiously denied.

Of course, the polar opposite view of the Dervish cancellation was expressed by the IPSG itself:

Dr Raymond Deane, of the IPSG, denied that there had been “negativity and venom” directed at Dervish by ISPG members..

“Rather 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.”

Who is this “Dr.” Raymond Deane? He is a government-funded “modernist classical composer of dubious repute”and founder of the IPSC, and in word if not in deed an outright antisemite:

From this FrontPage Magazine article by Rob Harris:

One of the most high profile pro-Palestinian campaigners in Ireland is Raymond Deane. He is a state-funded composer, as well as 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, I’ve problems with the concept of “People who genuinely support Israel.” Of course there are such people, just as there are people who genuinely support paedophilia. Israel is a criminal state in every respect, a state that exists in a suspension of international law enabled by its US (and now EU) protector(s).

These classic pro-Palestinian bully boy tactics that appear to be the norm in preventing bands perform in Israel today don’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. […]

I’m lucky enough to play music which is an amazing way to connect people to the brotherhood I speak of. 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.The only antidote to hate in my opinion is love. […]

I deeply regret any upset caused by all of this. 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.

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.

Perhaps Dervish will reconsider the cancellation of their concert and reschedule a show in Israel. I know that they would be very warmly welcomed.

From her statement it would seem Ms. Jordan believes the IPSC is driven by overt hatred, perhaps even anti-Semitism, and indeed the conduct of the IPSC, in their strenuous efforts to isolate and demonise Israel, has decidedly pointed in that direction.

Irish Independent contributor Concubhar O’ Liathain added his voice, asserting Dervish were caught up in one-sided boycott of Israel:

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.

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 don’t doubt for one minute the suffering of the Palestinians. But it’s not as clear cut a case of David Versus Goliath as you would think. Israel may be Goliath to the Palestinian David but it is David to the surrounding Goliath of an Arab world which denies its right to exist.

At present Israel is being attacked on its western border by Palestinian militants, as well as al-Qaeda and Hamas elements. The gas line between Israel and Jordan has been bombed several times recently while, last August, eight Israeli civilians were killed in a militant attack.

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.

Israeli flag at Foley's Bar, Dublin

Israeli flag at Foley’s Bar, Dublin (story below)

But to finish this whole sorry saga off on a more optimistic note, the Israeli Embassy in Dublin sent out the following email.

To all friends of Israel in Ireland and all who support free expression and the spread of understanding and friendship between peoples

This email is to inform you that 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

Dermot Meleady
Information Officer
Embassy of Israel
Follow the Embassy of Israel on Facebook
& Twitter

This one little story illustrates most clearly that the average Irishman is not necessarily antisemitic or anti-Israel. It’s just that the highly vociferous and bullying tactics of the international BDS brigade that pressurises people and groups into actions that they would normally oppose.

We must make the pro-Israel activism louder and more widely heard!

This article was co-written by Robert Harris, who blogs about Israeli-Irish relations at Eireal, and also writes for The New English Review and Crethi Plethi.

This entry was posted in Boycotts and BDS, Culture, Arts & Sports, Israel news and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to The bullying tactics of the Irish anti-Israel IPSC

  1. ealha3 says:

    Another example of the failure and/or the impotence of western civilization to confront and expose the barbarian savagery of terrorist Islam. In the civilized world, criticism is confronted in the market place of ideas and free speech. In barbaric, savage Islam, it is confronted with the threat of you and/or your loved ones being bombed, stabbed, poisoned, hunted and killed under some sort of fatwa either known or unknown. Who or what can survive that kind of barbarism and savagery? As seen here, when anti-Semitism is combined with barbaric, savage Islam, the cultural divide is crossed and terrorisim becomes a movement inspired by religious hate and executed by terrorist threats. How can we rise to defend our valued humanity under such threats?

    • anneinpt says:

      While it’s true that Islam has many violent characteristics, one would expect better of Western “civilized” supporters. But it seems they are just as prone to violence as their friends, whether by cyber-bullying, economic boycotts or real violence like the flotilla.

      I don’t have any answers for your very apposite question – how can we rise defend our humanity? Just keep on pounding out the truth at every forum, is all I can suggest.

  2. reality says:

    if the Israeli public would demand compensation with interest which would be demanded from the bands or their agents perhaps musicians & performers who could sue the Palistinian groups in turn for recompensation(this is getting a bit complicated I know!) all this would stop

    • anneinpt says:

      Not a bad idea. The gov’t already passed a law demanding compensation for any damage caused by a boycott of Israel, so the Israeli organizers of the concert could certainly claim recompense. But groups like the IPSC have so much foreign funding behind them that they probably wouldn’t care.

    • owainglyndwr1416 says:

      Maybe the Germans will sue Israel for the 1933 boycott God willing…

  3. cba says:

    I sent the pub a message.

    • anneinpt says:

      Good for you! Here’s what a friend of mine wrote in a message of support, and I couldn’t have said it better myself.

      A big thank you from an Israeli for going against the tide of unfounded hatred against my country. I hope one day you’ll come visit–it’s beautiful, it’s fascinating, and it’s the very opposite of the evil picture painted in so much of the press.

      I proudly declare that, for all its faults and shortcomings (of which there are many), Israel behaves AS WELL AS or–in most cases–BETTER than ANY other country in the world, and under far more challenging circumstances.

      Thank you once again!
      Shalom from Israel.

  4. Adam says:

    I’ve also thanked the pub on their online form. Thanks for drawing this to our attention.

    Do the BDS thugs really think that an Irish folk group not coming to Israel will be a fatal blow to the Jews? What a bunch of complete losers.

    • anneinpt says:

      Bravo for writing to the pub Adam. I hope all the messages of support will give them a well-needed boost.

      No, I’m pretty sure the BDS thugs don’t really think that Irish folk group not coming to Israel will be a fatal blow to the Jews. But it’s a very effective way of harassment, with the added plus of further delegitimization of Israel and brings them the publicity they so badly crave.

      Which makes me think that perhaps we should all avoid writing about them and their boycotts. But that would let them think they’ve got away with their shenanigans. It’s a dilemma.

      • R. Thompson, aka Aridog says:

        I’ve not much to say, let alone add to Anne’s and Rob’s post, except, “Bravo.” Actually, it clears up a lot of conflicting thoughts for me, as I’ve not exactly reached peace in my own mind.

        I , too, have sent a supportive message to “Foley’s” as well as a separate message to Dervish/Cathy Jordan…in which I express hope that they may soon again be able follow the faith expressed in the high lighted portion of Cathy’s message posted here. That succinct statement of transition reverberates for me, it tells part of my own story that I can’t seem to get out.

        • anneinpt says:

          Thanks for your comment Aridog and for the message of support to Foley’s. I’m sure every such letter gives them more moral support.

        • Rob Harris says:

          Cheers for that Ari, and well done for sending messages of support to both the band and the pub. Cathy’s message does have a real resonance that many would do well to heed…

  5. Rob Harris says:

    Thanks Anne for posting an interesting article. It is nice to see a nuanced approach to how Ireland is perceived. BTW I was given authorial credit too as I just put together some extracts of articles and a few words of my own. Anne told me about the issue first and finished the piece.

    @ CBA, Adam and Anne – As expected Raymond Deane and company are now harassing Foley’s.

    @ Anne re. the IPSC’s funding, I think I mentioned before that they have a large office in Dame Street, which is in the very centre of Dublin. This is where the Irish equivalent of OWS are, and its one of the more expensive rental streets in Europe. Rumour from one of the main people in Irish Friends of Israel is that they get a lot of money from Iran but that hasn’t been verified at all to the best of my knowledge.

    BTW good luck ealha3 with your new blog! Hope it works out for you.

    • anneinpt says:

      Hi Rob, thanks for your extra information here.

      It shouldn’t really surprise or shock us that the IPSC are the beneficiaries of foreign funding. This is the story of nearly all of Israel’s delegitmizers. Unless Israel or its supporters raise some serious funding to counter this bias and propaganda, we are going to lose the battle of the airwaves and cyberspace.

      Re Foley’s bar, the harassment is an outrage. Are they receiving police protection? The harassment should be made public very noisily. Perhaps we can embarrass Deane and company.

      Rob sent me a facebook page link where one can express support for Foley’s and suggest action.

      Also, the message from the Israeli embassy in Ireland originated with Stand With US UK, the Uk branch of a pro-Israel activist group.

      By the way, for our readers, Rob is much too modest. The main part of my article was researched and written by him. I just added a few more links and commentary.

      • Rob Harris says:

        Hi Anne,

        I’m not too sure what the details are with regard to the IPSC’s action against Foley’s Bar. It was probably to be expected. I doubt they would receive police protection unless there is a big protest or severe threats. The IPSC might decide a softer approach is better so I don’t know at this stage. Perhaps some could comment on the Facebook page giving the details, to ask for more detail – I can’t do it as I’m not on FB myself!

        I think a lot of oil dollars are fuelling (excuse the pun) the pro-Palestinian movement (consider buying all the ships to Gaza etc.), flooding into academia etc., so I’m not sure how pro-Israel supporters could even remotely match that. Maybe making the most of organisations and resources as they are, might at least get better results, something along the lines of what I outlined before but thats probably a discussion for another time!

        BTW oh no I insist Anne is being too modest! 😉

  6. anneinpt says:

    Kevin Myers of the Irish Independent has an excellent post on Ynet (cross-posted from the Irish Independent), decrying the BDS movement for their antisemitism, and criticizing the politicians for not opposing it. You can read it here.

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  8. Adam says:

    Anne, I understand your point – it is indeed a dilemma. My own view is that rather than debate on the haters’ terms, we change the whole conversation. Rather than defend Israel against every charge under the sun, we need to highlight the lack of rights in both Arab countries and the territories administered by the Palestinian Arabs – whether in Gaza under the bigotry and ruthlessness of Hamas, or the Fatah run areas of the West Bank. We need to highlight the human rights abuses by the Palestinians, the lack of rights for women, gay people or Christians, let alone Jews. We need to talk about the ethnic cleansing of Jews from Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem and the Arab countries. We need to talk about the genocidal intent and sheer racism of Hamas enshrined in its charter.

    We need to change the entire conversation. That is what will weaken BDS. Why do we keep engaging on their terms?

    • cba says:

      I agree with you to a certain extent BUT… then they just say, “Well, Israel claims to be a democracy, so we hold them to higher standards.”

      In my opinion, we need to compare Israel to other first-world democracies. Anne’s friend above is right–Israel IS as good as any other country, and we need to show how Israel compares to those countries (and we especially need to repeat and repeat the undeniable fact that Israel’s ratio of terrorists killed vs. civilians is waaaaaaaaaaaay better than any other country’s. That’s just one example.

    • anneinpt says:

      Adam, you are 100% correct – and also cba below. In fact Alan Dershowitz addresses this issue similarly. I’ll link to him here: Alan Dershowitz – but I think he deserves a post of his own. Look out soon for a new post.

      • Rob Harris says:

        Adam wrote: “Rather than defend Israel against every charge under the sun, we need to highlight the lack of rights in both Arab countries and the territories administered by the Palestinian Arabs…” – good point, people need to do more than simply respond to attack after attack in an underpowered way because the pro-Israel movement doesn’t get its message across at all, especially outside America. Pro-Israeli’s needs to set the agenda of debate too in a unified way. As an extension of that point, we also need to look a lot more at the Palestinian support base in the West, and the individuals they associate, with because much of it constitutes collusion with terrorists, and those that sponsor it.

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  10. Roxymuzak says:

    Will descend Foley’s next time I’m in Dublin and get four sheets to the wind from pints of Guinness.
    Dean and the Irish Palestinian Terrorist Supporting Movement are truly repellent creatures. I have no doubt that most of them are inspired by one of the oldest hatreds.

  11. Rob Harris says:

    Just an update on the story:

    “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 probably didn’t return a prolific number of their calls and emails), 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.”

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