“Israel is a small market in terms of selling records, but a huge market in terms of fans.
Israelis are very curious and open minded to new music. It's not by coincidence that the electronic and trance scenes developed [in Israel] years before they hit the United States and Europe.”
Defying calls from Boycott Derangement Syndromers, the famed Irish step dancing troupe Riverdance has confirmed that it will visit Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem in September.
In response, BDS advocates have stepped up (no pun intended) their demands that Riverdance do no such thing.
In an "open letter" to the troupe, their set designer Robert Ballagh says he's "personally disappointed" by their decision.
"Many years ago," Ballagh continues,
"I was honoured to meet Nelson Mandela when he was in Ireland. I took the opportunity to ask his opinion on the cultural and sporting boycott of South Africa. He replied by saying that the boycott was an essential weapon in the struggle against apartheid. His forceful words came back to me last year when I, along with many other Irish creative and performing artists, signed a cultural boycott pledge not to visit Israel (www.ipsc.ie/pledge). This was a positive response to the call by Palestinian film-makers, artists and cultural organisations for a cultural boycott of Israel. I believe that this non-violent cultural boycott will contribute to the struggle for justice for the Palestinian people.
Because I have signed up to support the cultural boycott I will not be travelling to Israel with Riverdance, and also I have decided to donate any royalties due to me for performances in Israel to the fund for the Irish boat which will be taking part in the international flotilla which is hoping to break the illegal and inhuman blockade of the citizens of Gaza."And in a long and inevitable "open letter" similarly drawing that preposterous libellous analogy between Israel and apartheid era South Africa, the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, through Raymond Deane, its so-called cultural boycott officer, says:
"Would Riverdance have toured South Africa during the dark years of Apartheid there? If not, then how can its creators and performers justify touring the rogue Israeli state that has devised its own form of Apartheid that in many respects is worse than that once practised in South Africa?....
Just as BDS - including the cultural boycott - played a part in isolating South Africa and helping to bring an end to Apartheid, similar tactics can help isolate the Apartheid Israeli state and compel it to end its illegal occupation and colonial settlement of Palestinian lands, and its refusal to negotiate a just peace without preconditions ...
Some say that, unlike Apartheid South Africa, Israel is a democracy and must be treated differently...Even if this were true, do the crimes of a democracy weigh less than those of a dictatorship? But it is not true: Israel calls itself "the state of the Jewish people", not that of its citizens, and discriminates against non-Jews; intent on continued expansion, it has never negotiated internationally recognised borders; it is in permanent violation of international law and international humanitarian law by virtue of its occupation and colonisation of Palestinian and Syrian territory and its cruel siege of the Gaza strip; and it holds thousands of Palestinian political prisoners (including over 200 children) subject, according to Amnesty International, “to torture and other ill- treatment.“ Does such a rogue state truly deserve the noble epithet "democracy"?
You may protest that culture is above politics and builds bridges between peoples, even opponents. But culture is not above being exploited for political ends by states that serially abuse human rights....'The crusading anti-Israel British cleric Stephen Sizer, vicar of an Anglican church in Surrey, reproduces both letters, dated 26 April, in full on his blog: http://stephensizer.blogspot.com/2011/05/riverdance-must-boycott-israel.html
In a short statement posted on 29 April, the troupe notes:
"The upcoming inaugural visit by Riverdance to Israel follows an invitation by an independent concert promoter to perform in three cities next September and this tour will allow all Israeli citizens experience a show that has been seen live by over 22 million people across 35 countries for the past 16 years.
Riverdance supports the policy of the Irish Government and indeed the policy of every other EU state that cultural interaction is preferable to isolation."No doubt there will be a sustained campaign ahead, of the kind described in that same Hollywood Reporter article, to cajole Riverdance to cancel their plans. Let's hope they, so to speak, dig their heels in and resist the pressure!
Meanwhile, here's more from the Emerald Isle ...
On the morning of 4 May, around 50 so-called human rights activists associated with the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (reputedly one of the most fanatically hardline of all PSC groups) formed a "human wall" outside the Annual General Meeting at the Royal Marine Hotel, Dublin, of Irish multinational building supplies company CRH (Cement Roadstone Holdings, which has a 25% stake in Israel's Mashav group, a holding company for the Israeli cement firm Nesher), while inside the meeting Israel-bashing shareholders were vocal.