Lebanese Belly Dancer Raises Eyebrows After Performing With Israeli Heavy Metal Band

According to Observers, Lebanese belly dancer Johanna Fakhri has been criticized in her homeland for performing with Israeli progressive folk metal masters ORPHANED LAND on June 19 at the Hellfestmusic festival in the western French town of Clisson. (See video footage of the performance below.)

Lebanon and Israel remain technically at war. The Jewish state is considered an enemy and any dealing with Israelis is considered criminal under Lebanese law.

ORPHANED LAND lead singer Kobi Fahri told Israeli web site Ynetnews that it was Fakhri who had insisted on bringing the flags onstage, despite his concerns that she would be criticized in her homeland.

Read more from Observers.

In a 2010 interview with Turkey’s Hürriyet Daily News Economic Review, Farhi stated about what it’s like to in a land where much blood has been spilled for centuries in name of the three Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Islam and Christianity, “We are living in a very big spiritual darkness. If I put you in a dark room and you are not able to see anything, you would have a lot of questions in your head: ‘Where am I?’ ‘What is this room?’ ‘Where is the door?’ and if I would give you a small match, you could see the whole room. Just with a small amount of light. We believe that in the darkness you would have a lot of questions and in the light you could see more of the answers, more of the truth. We believe that when our inner light is turned on, we understand that we are all one. Turkish, Israeli, Philistine, Arab, whatever. You would see that it is just a big, stupid mistake.”

On receiving lots of threats or criticism from both sides of the Middle East struggle over the years:

Farhi: “We never take any side or get involved in politics. I think what we are doing is helping our tragedy in the world, and if you ask me if I am willing to die for our message, I do not want to die, but I do not care if I have to.”

On how religious people could learn a lesson from the global metal community as it does not care about ethnic and religious backgrounds:

Farhi: “Just come to see the ORPHANED LAND shows in Turkey. Come to see how ORPHANED LAND sings in Turkish and how sometimes the Turkish fans sing with ORPHANED LAND in Hebrew. A priest, a rabbi or a sheikh: If you do not believe in the utopia ORPHANED LAND can create with its music, if you cannot get along, the metal people can show you how to do it.”

On how a lasting peace could occur in the Middle East:

Farhi: “I will say that the only way to open our eyes is music. People tell me, ‘You’re naïve’ and ‘You are a dreamer,’ but this is a fact. My music creates bridges between nations. I would say we are succeeding where politicians fail.”

“[Our fans] are the future. They are liberal, they are open-minded, they do not want to kill you because of your religion. They know religion is about other things than killing each other in the name of God. There is no other way than music to educate ourselves and listen to each other.”