Saturday, November 10, 2007

What did I tell you? You can't expect anything "Palestinian" to be about culture only. There are always politics and an agenda attached - -especially when aimed at kids. We saw before the video of a local guy explaining how Dabke dance can be used for political purposes. We lived through the Wheels of Justice saga.

So now controversy erupts in Old Saybrook, Connecticut with the visit of a traveling Dabke group, and whadaya know? Parents were disturbed by the group's political message: Palestinian dance troupe performances in Old Saybrook canceled

OLD SAYBROOK, Conn. --Officials in Old Saybrook have canceled performances by a Palestinian dance troupe after getting a complaint that it is offensive to Jews and Israel. more stories like this

The decision involves planned performances at the town's elementary and middle schools by Al-Ghad Folklore Dancing Troupe.

Town resident Ginger Horton says she felt compelled to complain to school officials after her two grandchildren told her they were offended by the troupe's performance at the high school Monday.

Horton says the grandchildren told her the high school performance depicted Israeli soldiers beating and torturing Palestinians.

School Superintendent Joseph Onofrio says he canceled further performances after learning several parents questioned whether it was appropriate for their children.

My advice is to find out who invited this group into town and into the schools in the first place. There's your problem. WTNH reports:

...The Palestinian folklore group has been touring the shoreline. Tonight, they visited the Church of the Holy Advent in Clinton. It was a fundraiser for the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem.

The troupe has also performed for schoolchildren in public schools and that has angered and outraged some who say they're not teaching, they're preaching...

...The Al Ghad Folklore Dancing Group is made up of Christian teenagers from the town of Bethlehem in the West Bank. Along with the traditional costumes and music there's interpretive dance, raising the Palestinian flag and crouching under netting to symbolize being restrained and oppressed. The Reverend Bruce Shipman says the politics is part of their cultural experience.

"They also are telling a story of occupation and struggle and hardship and that must be said also,": said Rev. Bruce Shipman from the Church of the Holy Advent...

TNH has a video report here. Click on "Palestinian dance troupe performances in Old Saybrook canceled - story by Annie Rourke."

Keep an eye on those schools, people. There are folks out there who want to normalize the world view we see being shaped by the stuff we get translated by MEMRI, Palestinian Media Watch and others every day, and they want to inflict it on your kids. It's not just "another narrative."

[h/t: Jerry Gordon]

Update: Unsurprisingly, these looks to be yet another Mazin Qumsiyeh (of Wheels of Justice) production. The Al-Awda email list has been abuzz, with messages from Hassan Fouda (also of Wheels of Justice), notorious anti-Semites Anne Selden Annab, and Karin Friedemann, and confused locals Marilyn Levin and Jewish Voice for Peace leader Martin Federman up in arms. Witness Federman calling for letters without knowing what the hell even happened:

...This clearly seems like another case of outrageous censorship thanks to the worst elements in Old Saybrook's community - and, if so, should be responded to sharply. I'm just curious as to the nature and content of dance troupe's performance is, i.e., is it strictly a dance performance, is there a "political" piece to their presentation?

To be clear - stopping them from performing, even if there was political content, is unacceptable and we need to respond to that. I'm asking because what the nature of our response should be would be framed somewhat differently...

Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: Beware of Palestinian Dancers.

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Uh oh, the brain trust at the Cambridge Peace Commission is threatening to bring the director of a Palestinian performance group through the area later this month. You know what that means: Watch your children. The Cambridge to Bethlehem group... Read More


If you recall, the Said Mural which celebreates the orientalized view of Palestinanism depicts the four figures in the background as dancing the Debka. It's another Palestinian appropriation into their myth of an Arab Bedouin dance as their own. In his book "Imaginary homeland" Salman Rushdie recounts a conversation with Edward Said in which the latter confided in him he had become convinced that there is such a thing as an authentic Palestinian cuisine, even though he knew well that it is no different from any other Arab cooking.

It is Said's legacy that we see staged in this dance group. Including the inability not to preach hatred for Israelis even when the subject is removed from politics. It only confirms to me once again how Palestinians can only define themselves as against Israel. It also explains why they refuse to create their own statehood. Take away their raison d'etre of Israel negation and what's left? Not much, it seems.

Speaking of Said, you may have seen Cinnamon Stillwell's two pieces on the mural here and here.

"Syme: It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. You wouldn't have seen the [Newspeak] Dictionary 10th edition, would you Smith? It's that thick. [illustrates thickness with fingers] The 11th Edition will be that [narrows fingers] thick. Winston Smith: So, The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect? Syme: The secret is to move from translation, to direct thought, to automatic response. No need for self-discipline. Language coming from here [the larynx], not from here [the brain]" -1984 (film)


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