Home inContext Firestorm Over Lebanese-Israeli Performance

Firestorm Over Lebanese-Israeli Performance

Samara Greenberg

A Lebanese belly dancer is in danger after performing on stage with the Israeli band Orphaned Land at a French music festival last month. Johanna Fakhry, 22, says she can’t return to Lebanon because she has received threats after her performance in which she held up the Lebanese flag and helped the band’s lead singer, Kobi Farhi, hold the Israeli flag.

Performing with belly dancers is a trademark for the Israeli band, which prides itself in its music that crosses cultural lines. Orphaned Land has a large fan base in the Arab World and was even featured on the cover of an Iranian music magazine last year. This was the first time, however, that the group performed with a Lebanese artist.

Johanna Fakhry and Kobi Farhi raising the Israeli and Lebanese flags

“It was her idea to go on stage with the flags,” Farhi said. “She contacted me on Facebook and wanted us to cooperate and wave the flags…she insisted [to raise the flags], despite everything, and I see her as a hero,” he added. Lebanon and Israel are technically at war with each other and Lebanese citizens are forbidden from cooperating with Israelis in any way.

The Lebanese culture is often described as the most similar to Israel out of all the Jewish state’s enemies, and the two countries’ people most ready for peace. At the same time, Lebanon and Israel are best described as the last countries that will ever make peace. The Lebanese government has a history of being controlled by outside forces hostile to Israel and the West, and with Hezbollah today in control of Beirut, the chances for peace remain slim.