Ireland’s Justice Minister has launched an astonishing attack on Palestinian ‘cyber bullies’ who forced Irish band Dervish to cancel an Israeli tour.
Alan Shatter has claimed that the Irish Palestinian Solidarity Group staged a "concerted" campaign to stop the series of three concerts by the traditional music group.
The band canceled their June tour after "an avalanche of negativity and venom" directed towards them on social media sites.
Now Shatter, of Jewish origin, has slammed the actions of the IPSG and their attempts to stage a boycott of Israel by Irish acts.
He told the Sunday Independent newspaper: “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 canceling their planned concerts in Israel is nothing other than cyber bullying.
“The invitation to Dervish to perform in Israel came from a fellow musician who worked to bridge divides between people through music for much of his life and the objective of the concerts was ‘to promote love between two divided communities.'
“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 recognize the value of cultural and artistic exchanges and the contribution such events make to fostering understanding and tolerance.”
Shatter also attacked the motives of the IPSG.
He added: “Unfortunately, IPSG’s interest is not in peace and reconciliation, their appeal to human rights rings hollow.
“It ignores the constitutional rights of Irish citizens and those who live in this State to get on with their lives, to travel and to perform around the world free from bullying, intimidation and discrimination.
“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.”
The IPSG have denied Shatter’s allegations that they orchestrated any campaign against Dervish.
Spokesman Dr Raymond Deane said: “There has been no 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.”