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Friday, July 29, 2011

Fury in Lebanon: Belly dancer performs with Israelis

A Lebanese belly dancer who appeared on stage at a French music festival with an Israeli group, while holding Lebanese and Israeli flags, says that she cannot return to Lebanon due to threats to her life.
Johanna Fakhry, 22, says she can’t return to her homeland following threats from her family and compatriots for appearing on stage with the band Orphaned Land in front of 90,000 fans at the Hellfest festival last month in Clisson, France.

Amateur video of the performance has amassed 20,000 YouTube views over the past month. The clip shows Fakhry wearing traditional garb and waving a Lebanese flag while dancing around lead singer Kobi Farhi as he sings in Hebrew. She then stands next to the singer and helps him raise a significantly larger Israeli flag.

“This is all about peace, my friends,” Farhi tells the crowd as the two performers hold the banners up alongside each other. “We are all brothers and sisters. Now I want to see all of you jumping and party with us, okay?” The crowd responds with cheers and heavy-metal “devil horns” signs, and as the tempo picks up both performers jump up and down holding their flags.


The singer said the idea to make a political point onstage had been entirely Fakhry’s.

“This dancer contacted me on Facebook and said she wants to perform with us. Of course we said yes, and then she suggested we wave the Israeli and Lebanese flags,” he recalled. “I told her, ‘We’d love to, but we think it might endanger you, and expose you to a lot of criticism.’ She said, ‘I know.

Bring the flag – this is my choice, and I want to use my art for the sake of peace.’” With Israel and Lebanon technically at war since 1948, Lebanese law forbids citizens to have contact with Israelis. Fakhry was born to a Muslim family in southern Lebanon, but has lived in France for most of her life and has French citizenship.

“Of course there were many negative responses – that’s not a shock – but to our surprise there were also many, many positive responses,” Farhi said.

He said he received Facebook messages ranging “from calling her a whore who sold the flag to the Mossad, to Lebanese who said they were moved to tears, that we expressed their hopes and dreams that we can all live here in peace.”

Fakhry has refused to recant.


Attempts to contact Fakhry went unanswered Thursday, but the day before she told Channel 2 News in a short web interview that her family had barred her from returning to her country of birth.

“People started criticizing me, threatening me, saying they’d kill me – even my family,” she said.

“They’d say things like, ‘You should be ashamed of yourself – never come back to Lebanon.’ But I’m dealing with it, as long as I still have support from people I love.”

That same day, she told the website NOW Lebanon, “As a young child living in Lebanon, I, too, thought of Israel as an enemy, now I consider them friends. We are all one people.

“I want to tell my fellow Lebanese that I am proud of my roots and my country and who I am as a Lebanese. I will always raise the colors of my flag with great pride. Please understand me before you judge me. I don’t regret what I did on stage because my actions were delivering a passionate message of freedom and peace,” she added.
Peace is still a long way off.

I won't post the video of Fakhry, but you can find it here.

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At 7:52 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

If it wasn't for Hezbollah and Syria - Lebanon would likely make peace with Israel. The two countries have no real quarrels.

But the reality is peace is not going to happen in our lifetime but the few courageous Arabs who do seek peace are going to help make it happen someday in the future.


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