Belly Dancing Political Activism
Dear belly dancing activists… have mercy on our souls. In our part of the world dancing is performed on happy occasions, and happy events in Palestine do not involve the belly — or kidneys for that matter, since we don’t trust taking our kidneys with us anywhere any more, notes Iqbal Tamimi.
Activism is a wonderful form of solidarity; different people passionate about certain human rights’ issues are willing to express their support in every possible way.
Some hold placards and march in the streets, others express their political stand by writing, and some paint the most wonderful works of art, or donate money to buy some aid.
But I have found after a number of gatherings I have been invited to that there are activists who are not there for the cause. Some enjoy being considered rebels and going against the flow, and they contest about almost everything. It takes all kind of people. But things started to get annoying lately for some Palestinians like myself when I found out that some come to such activities for other reasons, like taking their weekly shot of inflating their ego. Others promote their films and records, and many mix activism with musical talents that have nothing to do with the theme. All that is fine as long as they allow Palestinians to express themselves. But they don’t. One wonders if such forms of activism are a sign of a severely inflamed society, i.e., a reflection of individuals suffering oppression themselves, causing them to vent their anger and frustration through different platforms of activism; or is it a mere misunderstanding of what activism mean for different people of different backgrounds?
The majority are sincere about their efforts, but I have been invited to few events which show that the organizers know very little about us Palestinians. How can someone send an invitation to the Muslim community requesting their presence at an event that is supposed to be in support of the hungry in Gaza using a Western method of advertising? The invitation reads, ‘there is plenty of wine and belly dancing’. I thought, are they serious? Don’t they know that the majority of Palestinians are Muslims, and that this is not their cup of tea? The moment I read the invitation which shows a half naked woman wearing the patriotic belly dancing costume and bending like she is suffering a tummy ache, immediately I experienced a 7-scale Richter shock which was so hard that it almost blew off my Hijab. I thought that the dancer was so passionate about the Palestinian cause that she had leapt from the screen and was about to liberate Palestine and feed all the famishing people of Gaza.
Dear belly dancing activists… have mercy on our souls. In our part of the world dancing is performed on happy occasions, and happy events in Palestine do not involve the belly — or kidneys for that matter, since we don’t trust taking our kidneys with us anywhere any more. Some kidneys in Palestine lost their way in the crowds and never came back. We only stamp our feet hard to make sure that the land hears us and open its arms for us to dig our roots further, the trunk of our bodies standing stiff like the trunk of the olive tree, and we spread our hands towards the sky since it is our only escape for freedom…until further notice.
No one dances where there are pools of blood, and I am not talking here about dry cleaning reasons. How can one celebrate by belly dancing, even if it was for a good cause? I tried to find excuses for those people who want to mix activism with pleasure. I thought maybe the dancer was an impressionist, and her belly button symbolized our sinking morals, or she wanted to show us how the underprivileged people of Gaza can’t afford to buy clothes. I even thought of donating my spare curtain to cover the dancer’s bare body, since it is almost December and she might catch cold. But on the other hand, I thought, the price of the sequins stitched on her activism belt can probably buy her more than a big Mac.
Well, belly dancers and alcohol drinkers, thank you for your efforts, but we Palestinians need sober, healthy supporters. Donations are accepted from those who are doing better than the Gaza people and have enough clothes to cover their cold bodies. Please do not misunderstand my words. I am grateful. I do appreciate people’s kind efforts. But please do not use our plight to have fun. We like to participate in any activist’s event that is done in the name of our country. Surely you do not expect us to strip or get drunk to feed the orphans of Gaza. And from my humble point of view, serving mountains of food to fund some aid for starving children is bad taste, I would say.