Friday, July 17, 2015

Threats Quash Irish Dance Festival in Israel

Michael L.

Ha'aretz reports:
An Irish dance competition that was set to take place in Israel has been canceled, following threats by pro-Palestinian activists.

The Carey Academy said it canceled the "1st Israeli Feis," which was set to take place in Tel Aviv in August, after threatening messages were posted on the event's Facebook page by members of the Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and a protest was held outside the academy's dance studio.
Most Israelis consider the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction their country (BDS) to be grounded in anti-Jewish prejudice.  Israelis look around and see that they are surrounded by countries with far worse human rights records that are not subject to western calls for sanction or boycott.  They, therefore, see the movement against them as hostile, bigoted, and hypocritical.  Hundreds of thousands of people are dead in Syria within the last few years, but no one speaks of a BDS for Syria.  Millions of people are dead in Congo over the last decade and the West does not care.  As Israelis often see it, the sanctimonious West has simply swapped out the allegedly nefarious Jew of the early twentieth century for the allegedly nefarious Jewish state of the early twenty-first century.

The Irish, naturally enough, tend to view the Arab-Israel conflict through the lens of Irish-English history.  For many Irish this translates into visceral support for the Palestinian-Arabs, and a generalized hostility toward the Israelis, who they view, like the English, as violators of the sovereignty of an indigenous people.  It is, thus, not the least bit surprising that among the European countries Ireland tends to be more pro-Palestinian than most.

European views on Israel, and on the movement to boycott Israel, are not uniform.  If the Irish have tended to be less supportive of Israel, the Czechs have tended to be more pro-Israel and for similar reasons.  If the Irish generally view the Arab-Israel conflict through the lens of Irish-English history, the Czechs tend to view it through the lens of their experience during World War II wherein the country of Czechoslovakia was sacrificed by the major European powers in the fruitless hope of avoiding a larger conflict.  It is for this reason that that the Czechs, unlike the Irish or virtually anyone else, provided arms for Jewish defense during the 1948 war for Israeli liberation.

But was it "Israeli liberation"?

Palestinian-Arabs do not look upon the 1948 war as the liberation of the Jewish people from foreign control and the re-establishment, after 2,000 years, of Jewish sovereignty on Jewish land.  What they see is al-Nakba, the catastrophe.

During the war to establish the State of Israel approximately 700,000 Arabs were displaced, sometimes through Jewish military force and sometimes through a voluntary desire to remove themselves from the path of warfare, an option that the Jews did not have.  Middle Eastern Jews, Mizrahis, living outside of Israel at the time, went through a similar process of displacement and with similar numbers of people.  The difference, of course, is that on the heels of the Holocaust, Israel was intent on absorbing Jewish refugees, while the Arab states thought to use their displaced brothers and sisters as clubs against the "Zionist regime."

Those who follow the BDS campaign in the international Jewish media and "blogosphere" usually read stories of BDS failure.  This is particularly true in the United States where the movement has yet to gain much traction.  In Europe, of course, the situation is different.  Anti-Zionism and BDS have more of a following in part because of the greater percentage of Arab-Muslims who live in Europe compared to the United States.

However, it also should be kept in mind that from the perspective of a Palestinian-Arab father who must put food on the table for his family, the BDS movement sometimes represents a threat to livelihood.  When Sodastream closed its factory in Mishor Adumim, in what is commonly referred to as the "West Bank," some five hundred Palestinian-Arab families lost their breadwinner.

These five hundred families who - due to the efforts of those who allegedly wish them well - may face considerable hunger in forthcoming weeks and months.

And just how depriving Israelis of Irish dancers helps Arabs is beyond comprehension.  It simply makes no sense.  If the Irish wish to help Muslims and Jews live together peacefully in the Middle East, they should encourage cooperation rather than a boycott of the Jews, who are among the most persecuted people in the history of humanity.

If, on the other hand, those in the Irish community who support the Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) want constant bloodshed between Jews and Muslims in the Middle East then they are going about things the best way possible.  If they want Jews to strike back against Arabs in that part of the world a very good way of doing it is to stoke Jewish fears concerning persecution.

The success of the BDS movement in quashing the Irish Dance Festival in Israel is a relatively small matter.

It is ugly and counterproductive, nonetheless.

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