Traditional folk band Dervish have pulled out of a tour of Israel after being targeted by ‘cyber bullies’ on social media sites.
Dervish had been set to play three concerts in June after being invited by their Israeli musician friend, Avshalom. However they have been forced to pull out after being on the receiving end of an “avalanche of negativity and venom” on social media sites.
Singer Cathy Jordan said on the band’s website: “Although I was aware of the concerns with our proposed visit to Israel, I wasn’t quite prepared for the extent of the venom directed at us.
“I deeply regret any upset caused by all of this. It was far from our intention to stir up all this anger and hatred, when the opposite was what was intended.”
She added on the band’s Facebook page: “In hindsight, it was very naive of me to think our motives would not be misunderstood and misrepresented.”
Ireland’s Justice Minister, Alan Shatter, claims the Irish Palestine Solidarity Group (IPSG) are behind the hate campaign and has slammed the attacks.
He said: “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.”
However the IPSG deny they had anything to do with the cyber attacks. Their spokesman, Dr Raymond Deane said: “There has been no negativity and venom directed at Dervish by ISPG members.”
There is no official boycott of Israel but many Irish artists including, Andy Irvine, Dónal Lunny and Damien Dempsey, have said they will not play there as a protest at the treatment of Palestinian people.
ISPG National Coordinator, Kevin Squires, said they had directed their supporters to Dervish’s website but insisted there was no venom on their part.
Deane continued: “We have congratulated them on their decision.”
Dervish have been one of the leading Irish folk groups over the last 20 years and have toured extensively all over the world.