During their performances at France’s Hellfest on June 19, Israeli metal group Orphaned Land received quite a lot of attention for performing with Lebanese belly dancer Johanna Fakhri. During the performance, Fakhri and Orphaned Land singer Kobi Fahri held their homeland’s national flags together before embracing each other with a hug. While some have applauded them for what they refer to as an “act of peace,” others have gone so far as to threaten Fakhri’s life.
Now for those who may not be caught up with their Middle East history, Israel and Lebanon are technically at war with each other. In fact, it is actually illegal under Lebanese law for any citizen to have public interactions with an Israeli. Because of the media attention this performance has received, Shi’a Muslim militant group Hezbollah has not only declared Fakhri a traitor, but has also issued her a death warrant.
In response, Fakhri, who has been hiding out in France, released the following statement:
“I know that politics, religion or other matters, moreover foreign ones, don’t hold an important place in a festival, but music is a tool for expression, and has to bring messages, history and legacy. This way, I wanted to take this opportunity so rare in history — seeing on stage an Israeli group and a Lebanese dancer — to say that beyond the artistic exchange and our collaboration for the love of art, we were willing to make it a symbol of peace. And these two flags that we held as high as the fist can rise transcend all these years of war and suffering.”
While we don’t want to start a debate about the Middle East(we are, after all a metal website), we will say that this is indeed scary, and we hope Fakhri remains safe. And here we thought metal was making a comeback in the Middle East. You can watch fan filmed video of Orphaned Land’s performance with Fakhri up top.