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July 7, 2015 2:26 pm

Irish Dance Festival in Israel Canceled After Palestinians Threaten Dancers, Teachers

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

An Irish dance festival set to take place in Israel was cancelled. Photo: Screenshot.

An Irish dance festival set to take place in Israel was canceled. Photo: Screenshot.

Organizers behind an Irish dance festival set to take place in Israel this August announced on Tuesday that they were canceling the event after both instructors and dancers received threats from a Palestinian solidarity group in Ireland.

The “1st Israeli Feis” was being organized by the Carey Academy in Israel, a branch of the Carey Academy in Birmingham, England. The dance academy said on the event’s Facebook page that a group called Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) sent “threatening messages” to their teachers, parents and students. There was also a protest outside their dance studio.

“We do not want to risk 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,” organizers wrote on Facebook. “We are sorry for any inconvenience caused to people who may have already booked tickets but I am sure you understand the safety of our dancers is our number one priority.”

Sussex Friends of Israel, a U.K.-based pro-Israel group, responded to the announcement saying that the cancellation is “so sad and such a reflection of these times that a simple act of dance can be turned into such hate.”

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“We hope that someday soon you will be able to visit Israel, free of intimidation or aggression,” Sussex Friends of Israel said. “You will love it.”

On its own social media page, the pro-Israel group described IPSC’s actions as “disgusting” adding, “The hate of the PSC attacking people because they wanted to dance, shame on the lot of them.”

In June, organizers behind the dance festival said the feis was intended to celebrate Irish culture while dancing with people from different backgrounds, learning to respect one another and creating understanding rather than “drawing more lines in the sand.”

They noted that Irish dance, or any art form, should be available to anyone willing to learn.

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