Saturday, 21 May 2011

Boycotting Israel, one shimmy at a time

By Ahmed Maged
First Published: February 12, 2007

CAIRO: At a time when Israel’s efforts to normalize cultural relations with Egypt continue to be stymied, the last thing anyone could have imagined was voices of protest coming from the belly.

Quite literally.

Egyptian belly dancers recently unanimously refused to participate in a festival for oriental dancing that was organized last week in the Israeli coastal city of Eilat.

Akhr Saa, one of the oldest and most widely-circulated of Egyptian weeklies, has highlighted the issue, saying that after Israel was turned away at the Cairo International Film Festival and the Alexandria Film Festival , Israeli cultural envoys had been desperately trying to woo Egypt’s dancers.

When Israeli cultural authorities honored late veteran belly dancers like Tahia Karioka, Samia Gamal and Naima Akef by giving their names to different halls in a hotel in Eilat during the dance fest, they had hoped Egypt’s dancers would be swayed.

The majority of the 3000-strong participants were Israeli, who had shown up side by side with another 130 from Greece, US, Russia, France, Japan and Costa Rica, said the weekly, stressing that despite the fact the festival was entirely devoted to oriental dancing, not one Arab belly dancer was present on the scene.

The weekly inquired if those deceased belly-dancers would welcome such a move had they been alive. But today’s artistes refused the festival’s invitations despite the offers and lures.

Talking to many bell-dancers about the issue, the weekly quoted famous belly-dancer Lucy as saying that the festival’s management had left her a message on her answering-machine saying: “why do you take such a hostile attitude and turn down our invitation?”

Lucy added that one time she had turned down an offer of $10,000 per hour against taking part in one such festival.

Dina, who remains one of the biggest figures in the field and the most well-known for attending belly dancing festivals worldwide, told Akhr Saa that she was invited to inaugurate the festival and train six Israeli girls in return for a large amount of money but she refused, saying: “let them dream on.”

Retired belly dancer Nagwa Fouad said that to accept the invitation was next to impossible because her mother is Palestinian.

Fifi Abdou said that she had been receiving offers since late president Anwar Sadat’s presidency but had never even thought about it.

“It’s a general stance taken against Israeli policies which are aimed at massacring women and children,” said Fifi.

Source: Daily News Egypt