The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign holds Israel to a moral standard that it doesn't apply to any other country, writes Nicky Larkin
IF A bunch of Jews want a dose of trad, then that is their right. Same for Muslims, Protestants and Provos.
Well, not according to Dr Raymond Deane. Dr Deane is the founding member of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC). His methods, however, are more suited to the position of Minister for Cultural Excellence in some Borat-style state, chastising his Eurovision entrants for failing to bring him home the title. Beaten by those bloody Belarusians. Again.
Dr Deane said he "looked forward to being nice to Dervish after all this", upon hearing that his campaign, described by the band as an "avalanche of negativity" and "venom", had been successful.
Before his career organising boycotts took off, Dr Deane was better known to me as the man responsible for boring the arse off a generation of Leaving Cert music students. A composer by trade, Sea Changes his piece was called.
In the wake of his victory depriving trad-hungry Jews, Dr Deane warned Dervish, "You will now be subject to massive defamation from Zionists and their fellow travellers."
Hold on a minute there, Dr Deane! Stall that digger! I challenge anyone to substitute Dr Deane's use of the word "Zionists" with that other little phrase we all know -- "anti-Semite".
The very reason former Eurovision entrants Dervish gave for cancelling their tour was an "avalanche of negativity" and "venom" directed towards them for their decision to play for trad-hungry Jews. An "avalanche of negativity" and "venom" orchestrated by the IPSC.
The IPSC quickly counter-claimed. They reckoned this was definitely maybe all an inside job by The Zionists, and absolutely possibly nothing to do with them. The voting was probably rigged by The Latvians.
Dr Deane and The Boys didn't stop there. Irish novelist Gerard Donovan described an open letter written to him by the IPSC as "outright intimidation". They didn't want him to attend the International Writers Festival in Israel.
But the IPSC didn't contact him directly.
They didn't contact me either. Again, they issued a public statement. A bizarre, manic and at times hilarious collection of writings by various IPSC members. An "avalanche of negativity", to quote the mighty Dervish.
Dr Deane has previously compared the defence of Israel to the defence of paedophelia. Irlande: nul points!
One ex-member claimed he left the IPSC when he realised it was made up of "about 10 per cent genuinely decent people, about 50 per cent anti-everything people, and about 40 per cent it's-cool-to-be-pro-Palestine people".
Yet Dr Deane didn't feel moved to organise cultural boycotts against Russia, Iran or Syria. Not to mention China -- where fellow artist Ai Weiwei was recently imprisoned for over two months without charge. Ai Weiwei is China's most internationally famous contemporary artist. But his government wanted to shut him up. He was causing them all sorts of hassle; going around the place investigating this and that. He was making The Party nervous. So The Party locked him up with no explanation. When pushed, they mumbled something about "economic crimes".
But somehow this didn't seem to bother fellow culture vulture Dr Deane. Never mind The Boys. The Boys like The Party.
At least Ai Weiwei has balls. Using our politically selective artists as pawns, we chase the Chinese dollar. We elect the likes of Dr Deane to Aosdana -- another important Irish "Family". We give him a yearly stipend, called the Cnuas.
Then while Raymond sucks the Cnuas tit, we invite the Chinese Vice-President over for a three-day visit full of forums on trade and investment. Before The Vice has time to jump on his jet, we sign four agreements with him about "trade links" and "investment".
So, having carefully picked their battle, Dr Deane and the IPSC hold Israel to a moral standard they don't apply to any other country -- while our Chinese bedfellows are busy locking up any artists that annoy them. If only we could do that here too...
Because Dr Deane and the IPSC have gone too far. They've been allowed. We recently tolerated the day-long enactment of mock executions of "Palestinians" by "Israelis" on O'Connell Street in Dublin. Then again, we almost elected a former terrorist president. No wonder the flag-burning antics of the IPSC are allowed to flourish on our streets.
Fortunately, however, like Dervish and McGuinness, the IPSC are relics. Outdated, irrelevant and well past their sell-by dates. In terms of contemporary Irish identity, they are the symbolic equivalents of going on a date in a nursing home -- musty but romantic. At least Jedward have youth on their side.
Sea changes, indeed.
Nicky Larkin's film 'Forty Shades of Grey' premieres in The Lighthouse Cinema, Smithfield, Dublin on May 31; www.nickylarkin.com