The Long Lens blog: Photography with added snaps, art and culture

The photography site for sore eyes. Featuring: Art, photography, performance and theatre. With extra writing because I'm also a writer.

Folk off dancing

Surely there is no better way to celebrate a day accidental activism, antagonising Israeli soldiers and visiting the birthplace of Jesus Christ. A night of traditional folk dancing.

If there is any form of dancing guaranteed to have you off the edge of your seat, half asleep and mind-numbingly bored, it’s folk dancing.

Anywhere in the world, this ritualistic jive is the reserve of the organised trip, where an unwitting captive audience is forced to witness unnatural body movements coinciding with music that no sane person would actually want to own.


And here we have folk dancing Palestinian style, where the smiles of the dancers hide the hours of pain spent perfecting a dance nobody wants to watch.

I attended this event after a day-long tour of Bethlehem and Hebron in the West Bank.

In Bethlehem I visited the Holy Church of the Nativity, built on the site of Jesus’ Birth 2,000 years ago. In Hebron I went into the old town H2 district, controlled by the Israeli Defence Force and inhabited by Israeli settlers.


H2 is not the best place for a group of 50 international activists to start singing ‘Free Palestine’ songs. Especially when they are already surrounded by IDF soldiers.

We got out of Hebron safely. Our local guide faired less well. Later that evening Israeli soldiers came to his home and arrested the Palestinian. He has been in an Israeli prison ever since.

While he was beginning his detention stint, we enjoyed the dancers. Just another day in the West Bank.


NOTE: Photographed at the Ramallah Cultural Palace on November 12, 2012.

Palestiniana, the book about my visit to the West Bank, is out soon on Amazon and for Kindle.


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This entry was posted on December 30, 2012 by in Uncategorized.
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