Israel's Irish envoy proclaims triumph

By Marcus Dysch, December 1, 2011

Anti-Israel protesters repeatedly disrupted Ireland's biggest ever showcase of Israeli films during a major four-day festival last weekend to promote cultural links.

The Israeli Film Days festival was beset by protests inside and outside the hosting venue in Dublin. The cultural event included Israeli films, Holocaust documentaries, Israeli rock-music, and photo and culinary exhibitions. Around 1,000 people attended events at the Filmbase centre in the city's Temple Bar area.

But the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign's daily protests targeted the showing of an Israeli sitcom and a performance by singer-songwriter Izhar Ashdot.

A spokesman at the Israeli Embassy in Dublin, which helped organise the festival, said film-goers were forced to "run the gauntlet" past demonstrations and chants broadcast on megaphones in the narrow streets around the venue.

There was major disruption at the opening event, with police officers forced to remove around 50 protesters, as dignitaries, including Irish Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore, and Justice Minister Alan Shatter, arrived.

Israeli ambassador to Ireland Boaz Modai was interrupted by demonstrators at the gala event. They displayed Palestinian flags and shouted as he gave an opening speech. But the Israeli embassy said the festival had been a success despite the disruption.

Mr Modai said: "We were tackled with vicious anti-Israeli activity, by people who pretend to understand the reality of our region better than those who live there. We wanted to bring culture to Ireland – their reply was anti-culture." An embassy spokesman said: "There was a feeling the protesters had had their own way for a long time. We think they are now reeling from the shock of the festival going ahead and that the Irish government supported it in such a way. "

Tom Carew, chairman of the Ireland-Israel Friendship League, said: "The fanatical fringe did not win, nor will they or their jihadi idols ever win. The issue is not merely about Israel, but freedom for all democrats."

Last updated: 12:16pm, December 1 2011