A Lebanese belly dancer is facing scathing criticism in her home country after she committed the ultimate sin of performing with a popular Israeli band. As if that were not enough, she also held up and waved the Lebanese flag as her co-performers held up the Israeli one.
According to a report on Tuesday by the Al-Arabiya network, the incident was shown in a YouTube clip. In it, Lebanese belly dancer Joanna Fakhri was seen performing with Israeli heavy metal band Orphaned Land. The performance took place at a music festival held last Tuesday in Clisson in southern France.
The video clip shows Orphaned Land performing in Hebrew while Fakhri danced holding the Lebanese flag. Fakhri asked the Israeli band members to hold the Israeli flag as they performed together.
According to the report, the image of Fakhri holding the Lebanese flag alongside an Israeli flag sparked outrage in the comments section of the video, with some reprimanding her saying she cannot be Lebanese, and others hinting that she is an undercover (possibly a suitable word for a belly dancer anyway, in terms of Sharia law) member of the Mossad.
Israel and Lebanon are technically at war and as such, Lebanese law forbids a Lebanese citizen to have any form of public dealing with Israelis.
Orphaned Land member Kobi Fahri told the Israeli Yediot Aharonot newspaper that it was Fakhri’s idea to perform together, as well as wave the flags.
“She contacted me on Facebook and wanted us to cooperate and wave the flags,” Fahri said. “I explained to her that it would be amazing for us, but I didn’t want people to harass her. I didn’t want it to seem that we were using her and that she would be criticized in her homeland.”
Fahri added that “she insisted, despite everything, and I see her as a hero. I had a long conversation with her about the problems in the Middle East, and following the meeting she really wants to visit Israel.”
Fakhri herself later released a statement responding to the incident, a part of which was quoted by the Lebanon Now website:
“First of all, I know that politics, religion or other matters, moreover foreign ones, don’t hold an important place in a festival, but music is a tool for expression, and has to bring messages, history and legacy,” Fakhri wrote. “This way, I wanted to take this opportunity so rare in history – witnessing on stage an Israeli group and a Lebanese dancer – to say that beyond the artistic exchange and our collaboration for the love of art, we were willing to make it a symbol of Peace. And these two flags that we held as high as the fist can rise, transcends all these years of war and suffering.”
The latest dispute between Israel and Lebanon revolves around the maritime border between the two countries, now that Israel has found enormous gas reserves underwater. The Israeli Cabinet recently approved a “marine economic zone proposal” after Lebanon presented maps to the United Nations, marking maritime borders that would include part of the giant Leviathan and Tamar fields. The United Nations previously has refused to take responsibility for marking the maritime borders.
Lebanese Minister of Energy and Water Joubran Bassil said after Israel defined the maritime border that it “is playing with fire “by violating Lebanon’s maritime border and oil rights.”
Meanwhile, dancing aside, Hasan Nasrallah, the leader of the Hizbullah terror group, warned Israel on Tuesday against any attempt to encroach on Lebanon’s territorial waters.
“Whoever harms our future oil facilities has their own [facilities] and consequently will face the same damage,” Nasrallah warned, adding, “They know that Lebanon is capable of such damage.”
Note: For reasons of modesty, Arutz Sheva has edited the video.