Israeli-Lebanese Detente

That a heavy metal band and a belly dancer perform together is unusual enough. When the band is Israeli and the dancer Lebanese, the performance raises quite a few eyebrows. But when the performers choose to brandish their respective countries’ flags side by side on stage, you have all the ingredients for a potentially volatile mix. Or a politically incorrect friendship?

Observers.france24 -On Sunday, June 19, Israeli heavy metal band Orphaned Land performed alongside Franco-Lebanese belly dancer Johanna Fakhri at the Hellfest music festival in the western French town of Clisson. Cooperating with belly dancers has become a trademark for the band, which makes a point of using its music to bring Israelis and Arabs closer together. But this was the first time the group shared a stage with a Lebanese artist.
The gesture is far from inconsequential. Lebanon and Israel remain technically at war. The Jewish state is considered an enemy and any dealing with Israelis is considered criminal under Lebanese law. Orphaned Land lead singer Kobi Fahri told Israeli website Ynetnews that it was Fakhri who had insisted on bringing the flags onstage, despite his concerns that she would be criticized in her homeland. Unsurprisingly, online videos of the performance have sparked a wave of comments, ranging from admiration to shock and anger.  
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