Palestine solidarity rallies support Flotilla to Gaza and demand Riverdance don't play Israel


Over 200 people took part in co-ordinated rallies and marches in Dublin last night to express solidarity with Palestine through support for the 2nd 'Stay Human' Freedom Flotilla to Gaza and protesting outside the launch night of Riverdance at the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin.  Riverdance are intending to break the boycott of Israel by playing 9 dates there in September.  The march then went to the Israeli embassy where there was a live hook up with the MV Saoirse, the Irish ship in the Flotilla to Gaza.

Speakers at the meeting point at the Central Bank included the outgoing Chair of the IPSC Freda Mullen Hughes, the ex UN Weapons inspector and anti-war activist Denis Halliday and Irish politicians Mick Wallace, Joe Higgins and Richard Boyd Barrett.  They spoke in support of the 2nd Freedom Flotilla which is now attempting to leave Greece to break the blockade of Gaza.  Last year in an act of piracy Israeli commandos stormed the ships of the Flotilla killing 9 Turkish activists and brutalising and illegally detaining hundreds of activists from a range of countries including Ireland.  Disgracefully Labour Party politician and Irish Foreign Minister Eamonn Gilmore, while verbally opposing the blockade, has effectively given the Israeli military the green light to again attack the Irish ship in saying "I would expect that any interception of ships is conducted in a peaceful manner and does not endanger the safety of our citizens or other participants."

After last year's events it is clear that any interception will see significant violence from Israeli military forces even if we can hope that perhaps this year they try to 'restrain' themselves from shooting any of the participants dead.  Given the level of routine killings they carry out in Palestine this will only be to avoid a repeat of the PR disaster they suffered last year. In that context Gilmore's word's serve to undermine that deterrent as does his statement that "I have made it clear that I cannot advise any Irish national to participate in a venture which potentially brings them into harm’s way through seeking to break a naval blockade."  These statements from Gilmore are already being printed in the Israeli press and in the event of significant violence will be used to justify the actions of the Israeli military.

The Gaiety tried to prevent speeches outside the Riverdance venue through turning up the traditional Irish music played through their external speakers. The composer Raymond Dean also managed to make himself heard above the loudspeakers to argue for the boycott. And in what has to be a worrying indication for the owners of the Riverdance franchise a group of around 20 Asian tourists on their way to the performance stopped and arranged to pose for photographs with the Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign banner to show solidarity and their support for the boycott call.  Robert Ballagh the Riverdance set designer has written to the show's producers telling them he is not willing to travel to Israel and will be donating any royalties for those performances to the Irish Ship to Gaza.  The attempt to drown out the speakers with music also backfired as it encouraged chanting, drumming and dancing from the protesters which generated a very vibrant atmosphere.  


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There are some additional photos in the WSM Facebook album of this event