Legendary songwriter, performer and peace activist, Tommy Sands’ scheduled performance at the ‘Festival Bloomsday Concert ‘ Sunday June 20 has been cancelled.The appearance was canceled after Sands refused to be censored during his performance. Sands was asked by the organizers of the events, the Israeli- Ireland Friendship League, in association with the Municipality of Ramat Hasharon, to not perform ‘Peace on the Shores of Gaza,’ the song he had written as the anthem for the MV Rachel Corrie that set sail from Ireland to Gaza.
This came shortly after Ireland’s recent decision to expel an Israeli diplomat after an investigation over the assassination of Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai earlier this year. The investigation proved that the eight Irish passports used by suspects in the assassination, an operation supposedly under Israeli intelligence, had been forged.
Despite the recent increase of artists boycotting Israel by cancelling their performances, Sands has taken an alternative approach to the boycott, by performing in Israel, Palestine and Gaza during his tour. Sands recalls friends and colleagues in Ireland urging him not to come after the Flotilla crisis, fearing for his safety as a peace activist.
However, Sands thought it was important to come, ‘I realized that even though Ireland was seeing Israel in a dehumanizing way, I realized that there are many activists here who may need solidarity from the outside.’
During his performance last week at the Yellow Submarine in Jerusalem, Tommy received an invitation to play at the weekly Sheikh Jerrah demonstration in East Jerusalem this Friday. Sands accepted the invitation despite the fact that it was not a planned venue for the tour.
Sands is known for his involvement by actively speaking out about the conflict between Northern and Southern Ireland through his music. When asked about his role as a peace activist musician he responded, ‘Trust me, it would be a lot easier to stay home and make records, but we have a duty to contribute to the betterment of society.’