The Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) has been subjected to unprecedented attacks after the traditional music band Dervish refused to break the boycott and play in Israel. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter, who is an ardent Zionist has, in a frankly unbelievable press release, slammed the ‘IPSG’ [sic] for ‘cyber-bullying’ Dervish, has linked us with Al Qaeda, and has claimed we are taking away the constitutional rights of Irish citizens by asking them to boycott Israel.
What is worrying – showing the deference to power among the Irish media - is that these statements have been taken at face value, rather than treated as an ideologically motivated assault on peaceful Palestinian rights campaigners. With our minds on the hunger strikers facing death in Israeli prisons, this minor media mugging seems trivial – talking about it sounds narcissistic. But this bullying of Irish people who support Palestinian rights is part and parcel of a so-far successful campaign to ensure that Palestinian voices are drowned out in the media.
There has been no coverage at all of the hunger strikes in the Irish press. In comparison, there has been a flurry of articles on Dervish and the cultural boycott. You can find indignant voices talking of the value of cultural exchange as Palestinian prisoners are starving to death - here and here in the Sunday Independent; here and here in the Irish Times - and also in the Sunday Times (behind a paywall, but really, you’re not missing much).
The worst of these articles come from the Sunday Independent, the Irish version of the Daily Mail. Over the past few weeks, the Sindo has been launching ongoing attacks on the IPSC – their articles and various responses are here – something which demonstrates the success of the Israeli media machine in targeting Ireland, as they had previously promised.
In response to the statement of Alan Shatter, the IPSC are issuing an open letter to the Minister and having questions asked in the Dáil (Irish parliament) about the abuse of Ministerial power – see also this blog
Things come out in a crisis. On one hand, it shows that it was a real victory to persuade former Eurovision entrants, Dervish not to play Israel – although credit for that lies perhaps more with their friends in the traditional music field, long a bastion of support for Palestinian rights.
We must be doing something right to have this much hatred focused on our actions. In his defamatory and dishonest attack on the IPSC, Alan Shatter has, in the long term, done himself no good. In the short term though, we are facing a uniformly hostile media and a barrage of hate mail, my favourite being: "Dervish bulling. Undeliveble that you could do that. Pack of Muslim lovers"
We expect the Minister for Justice to make a public statement about this ‘cyberbullying’ any day soon.