Thursday, August 15, 2013

  • Thursday, August 15, 2013
  • Elder of Ziyon
From The Blaze:
In the past, pro-Palestinian activists have accused Israel of stealing “indigenous” Palestinian foods such as hummus and falafel.

Now, a small group has its sights on an unlikely target, an Israeli-born choreographer featured this summer at a prestigious Lincoln Center festival in New York.

Their complaint? That Arab culture is being “exploited” and “appropriated” by one of his dances.

“Our cultural heritage is not your natural resource,” dancers from a New York-based troupe say in an online video, wearing green T-shirts emblazoned with the word “Dabke” in Arabic.

Zvi Gotheiner, a New York-based choreographer who grew up on a kibbutz in Israel, directs the modern dance company ZviDance which last year created a piece called “Dabke” based on a dance that he characterizes as the national dance of Syria and Lebanon. He says it’s also performed by Palestinians as an expression of resistance to Israel.

...Choreographer Gotheiner told TheBlaze he “was not surprised and actually was expecting a reaction like that” and said he even understands the protesters.

“DABKE (my work) is a contemporary dance, inspired by the amazing dancers from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Palestine, whom we watch on YouTube and learned the Dabke from. Yes, you could call this ‘cultural appropriation,’ as we borrowed moves from these dancers,” he told TheBlaze in an email.

The work was featured this summer at Lincoln Center’s Out of Doors festival and included no dancers from Israel.

“This act might go unnoticed if Russians would dance the tango or teenagers from Japan would perform hip-hop. But in the Middle East, culture represent authenticity, and being authentic represent a true connection to the land. I was aware of these issues while making DABKE and was aware of the fact that my identity could come to play as an issue in the total perception of the work,” he said.
At no point did I see anyone from ZviDance claim that this was an "Israeli" dance. That seems to be fantasy on the part of people whose own culture is nearly nonexistent.

Here is the group of people complaining about this in an almost-unlistenable video:



I like the phrase "Your cultural appropriation is our cultural loss." Really? If that's true, then you ought to start eating lots of Bamba and matzoh balls to get back at those thieving Israelis.

However, when a group tries to retroactively create a shaky centuries-old culture from scratch, and when they aren't truly confident that they really have a culture to begin with, then they would be understandably sensitive to others adding their own spin to cultural objects they claim..

Here is a relevant post from 2011 about how Palestinian Arabs try desperately to pretend that some tiny regional practices are "Palestinian culture."

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