Israel debut feis cancelled over threat

A dance academy in Tel Aviv has claimed that threats and protests by an Irish group expressing solidarity with Palestine has forced the cancellation of what would have been the first feis to take place in Israel.

The chairman of the Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign said his group had written to the Irish dancing authority and the feis judges to request that they observe a cultural boycott of Israel, but denied they threatened anyone associated with the event.

The 1st Israeli Feis was due to take place in Tel Aviv on August 15, and was set to have a number of competitions across a variety of age groups and dance styles and contests were to be marked by certified Irish dancing adjudicators.

However the Carey Academy, the studio organising the event, announced late Monday night that the event was to be cancelled amid concerns for participants’ safety.

“Not long ago, the feis page started to be attacked by a radical political group called Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign,” the organisers said in a statement on the event’s Facebook page.

“Threatening messages were sent not only to our teachers, but also parents and students. Age, nationality, or religious beliefs do not matter to us. Unfortunately, there was a protest outside of our dance studio. We do not want to risk the safety of anyone connected to the Carey Academy.

“The feis was not meant to be anything more than what it really is — a celebration of dancing, friendship, and joy.”

However Martin O’Quigley, the chairman of the Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said that the group did not threaten anyone, but wrote to those involved to ask that they observe the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement initiated by Palestinians in 2005.

“We were asking, we were not saying that you can’t go to Israel, we ask that people please respect the boycott,” Mr O’Quigley said.

Asked whether such cultural events should be above politics, Mr O’Quigley said Palestinians suffer cultural restrictions.

“What about Palestinian culture? Palestinian people can’t experience their culture in their capital, Jerusalem, without it being closed by police,” he said.


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