Irritated...

gypsy8522

New member
Gypsy, over half of the Jewish population of Israel are of North African and Middle Eastern origin, many having lived in the region for over 3000 years, the term generally used to describe this group is "Sephardi", if you go to a Sephardi synagogue you will hear quarter tones in the music and tunes (music written in the middle east), the older generation of middle eastern Jews spoke Judeo Arabic (written in Hebrew characters), wrote many texts in it that are still referenced today. And if you look at any Jewish party in Israel playing Mizrachi (that means eastern) music, the sephardi girls do what you would describe as shaabi. There are those however who forget this fact, and are generally idiots. There is no law written that says you can't dance or have fun.

nicknack,

Israel is in the heart of an Arab/Middle Eastern region, of course there will be Middle Eastern people living in that area who brought their heritage and tradition with them. This isn't related to the original topic and your response about "jewish culture" and sephardi jewish "belly dancing". In the Arab world we say that anything Middle Eastern or from neighbouring eastern countries is sharqi, eastern. We are an eastern society, whether our community is made up of jews, muslims or christians, and this includes all of the different sects.

I don't know where you got that statistic, that over half of the jewish population in Israel is from Middle Eastern origin. Let us assume it is true, this could be due to different reasons, one of them is that more non-Middle Eastern jews are leaving Israel. They are either going back to Europe where they came from or immigrating to somewhere else. I know there is over 4 million palestinians living in Israel, they are muslims and christians who are being forced out of their homes but have got no place to go to since Arab countries have become saturated from taking in refugees. There is also the "Israeli Arabs" these are the few people who got to stay after the formation of Israel in 1948, they are named as such because they hold Israeli passports and since Israel denies there is such thing as palestine, they cannot call them "palestinian arabs". And then there are the Israeli jews from Middle Eastern origin. Now if you bundle up all these groups together you will get a huge population who besides the Middle Eastern roots they have in common, they are also treated like second class citizens. Either way, the jewish population in Israel does not represent "jewish culture" as there are more jews living OUTSIDE Israel, many that are from United States, Russia, UK, France and other western countries. These people do not have any relation with Middle Eastern culture.

I agree with you and I suspect there is no law in the torah saying you can't sing or dance, just like there isn't one soorah in the qura'an that says dancing or singing is haram. but when you ask a religous person, be it a Rabbi, Priest, or Imam if it is ok to dance half naked infront of men, what do you expect that the answer will be? But your response about jewish law is changing topic because this isn't what I was refering to when I quoted the Rabbi. I was refering to the Rabbi's halachic ruling that belly dancing is forbidden because it comes from cheap and defective cultures, your first response is a contradiction of what he is saying.
 
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Kharmine

New member
What you've read I'm assuming it came mostly from online articles and belly dancing forum. Correct? Unless you watch arabic TV programs, besides that I can't imagine any other sources...
Y'know, Gypsy, I'm sure that living where you are you have not only a different perspective but access to different resources, and those advantages. no doubt, can be invaluable to your research.

However, you know very little about me. And if you haven't read a lot of my posts on this forum you don't anything about how I reached my conclusions so I would gently ask you to please try to find out before you make assumptions.

Unfortunately, I only have access to what's been published in print and online in English, including translations, but I have taken great pains to seek as much credible information as possible. I've used my education (BA journalism, MFA prose), and my training and experience as a professional journalist for more than 30 years to research sources. I am way too old, and old-fashioned, to rely strictly on hearsay and the Internet!

Everything I've found, from personal anecdotes to scholarly articles, is checked and verified as much as possible in coming to my conclusions. If I think something is dubious or unverified, I say so. If it seems to have several credible sources that back it up, I say so. I don't claim to be an authority or to have the last word. But I do know how to do scholarly research.

There are many posts on this forum where I've listed some of my print sources, but I realize that it's kind of hard to sort through past threads so I'll note a few of the best here:

"A Trade Like Any Other: Female Singers & Dancers in Egypt" (University of Texas Press, 1995) by Karin van Nieuwkerk, a Dutch anthropologist who did her fieldwork in Egypt.

"Belly Dance: Orientalism, Transnationalism & Harem Fantasy" (Mazda Publishers, 2005), edited by Antony Shay and Barbara Sellers-Young
-- the chapter on the early belly dance scene in the United States, "A Night in the Orient: The Middle Eastern Nightclub in America", is especially helpful. It was written by Anne Rassmussen, associate professor of ethnomusicology at The College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia, who is director of the William & Mary Middle Eastern Music Ensemble.

"Mass Mediations: New Approaches to Popular Culture in the Middle East and Beyond" (University of California Press, 2000), by Walter Armbrust, visiting assistant professor at The Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

"The Belly Dance" (Horizon Magazine, Spring 1966, Vol. VIII, No.) by Morroe Berger, who died in 1981. He was a distinguished scholar and writer on various Middle Eastern topics and music, and chairman of the Sociology Department at Princeton University.

I have also read articles by Morocco and Aisha Ali, who have studied ME dance abroad. Even read the famous diatribe "Orientalism" by Edward Said and the subsequent books opposing his viewpoints.

Anything I can find in print and in English, I read it. I also look for documentaries and other resource material.

Now, from what I READ, very little was known about Egyptian dancers and the Cairo nightclub scene in America in the 50's, let alone the 20's when the whole cabaret scene took off. So any gossip or myths I hear from a belly dancers ninety years later who are living thousands of kilometers away from where the 'history' took place, I wouldn't consider it accurate and reliable information.
Unfortunately, there are few people living that I know of who can talk from personal experience about the early Cairo cabaret scene. If you know of any, it would do us all a favor if you interviewed that person before she/he joins the rest now lost to us!

I understand Badi'a Masabni wrote her memoirs, which I would love to read. However, they are not generally available, certainly not in English.

Whatever has been written about those times by the people who were there, I've tried to find it. There isn't much in English, but so far I haven't found any contradictions to what I've maintained about the Western influence.

We are not talking about baladi or Egyptian singers or anything else but an art form that developed as a result of dancers of different ME traditions performing together and nightclub owners who wanted to attract European and American clients to their establishments. It's fine to debate how much Western influence had as an impact, but it was not insignificant.

Sure, we could skip the veils and Hollywood-inspired costumes, pull the Western instruments out of the live bands, forget about Westernized versions of traditional music, stop doing ballet-style arms and spins, lose those high heels -- but all those things, while optional, are still what we associate with belly dancing today.

As for later times and the way belly dance came to the United States: I have written an extensively researched article on Sol Bloom, the American showman who brought ME dancers to the 1897 Chicago World's Fair, when the first use of the term "belly dance" was recorded. I've also written about early belly dance record albums produced in the States from the 1950s to the '70s (both articles can be found on The Gilded Serpent online).

I also interviewed one of the greatest of the music producers, Eddie "The Sheik" Kochak for Zaghareet!, a print magazine. Kochak is in his 80s and a first-generation American musician of Syrian immigrant parents. His parents ran a ME-style coffeehouse for other immigrants in New York City from at least the 1930s.

He is among many still living in the U.S. who remember when ME/Turkish/Greek/Armenian communities of the time had their own supper clubs, coffeehouses and meeting places. They also had haflas and other celebratory events. Not only did people do their traditional dances there, they imported dancers and musicians from Egypt and other places to perform.

When Kochak (this is an Americanized name) grew older, he became a very popular percussion musician, booking agent (he still is) for ME entertainers, and impresario. First-generation musicians of ME/Turkish/Greek/Armenian descent (and more recent immigrants) often played together at various ethnic events and gatherings. They learned each other's music, and as time went by they also altered some of the traditional music to be more appealing to a newer generation and to the Western audience that started coming in the early '50s.

Kochak himself teamed up with a very respected Iranian musician named Hakkai Obadia, a Sephardic Jew who formed Baghdad's first symphony orchestra, to arrange old and new melodies for belly dancers and lovers of belly dance music. They turned out a long series of records called "Strictly Belly Dancing."

According to Kochak, these immigrant communities referred to raqs sharqi, tchiftetelli and Oriental danzi by their proper names according to the style and who was performing them -- or just generally as "Middle Eastern dance", "Turkish style" and "Greek style," although they also knew the differences between these modern cabaret styles and the older, folkloric ones.

Americans, both the children of immigrants and non-related Westerners, started visiting these clubs and gatherings and seeing the dancing. Kochak recalls that it was the Americans who called it collectively "belly dancing," and the term was generally picked up by the ethnic communities. Americans learned belly dancing from immigrants and the imported performers (as attested by American pioneers such as Morocco, Serena Wilson and Dahlena).

I need to make a point here: Eddie Kochak has had similar comments published elsewhere, particularly in Arab-American related articles. Of course, he is not alone in experiencing a similar upbringing and seeing the evolution of belly dance in the States. But he is very well-known, and his comments can be verified. He's listed in the Brooklyn telephone book (because he's still a booking agent and performer), and he has an address printed on his web site that he can be written to. That's how I contacted him.

This is what I know, pending further discovery. If I were claiming to be a real authority, I would be at least fairly fluent in Arabic so I could read some otherwise unavailable materials in English, and I would have actually done fieldwork in the Middle East, Turkey or Greece, preferably all three!

I am just a journalist who knows how to do research with what's available. Not everyone's research has been the same as mine, and I'm sure there are lots of experiences and materials I haven't even dreamed of! All I would ask is that those who would dispute my conclusions would present verifiable evidence that isn't only hearsay or personal opinion.

I've said many times what we call "belly dance" today is a distinct ethnic style. With a strong Western influence, true, but I never said it dominates or should get more credit than it is due. It's just there. I think "belly dance" should stay within certain parameters to be called that and not another kind of fusion.
 
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gypsy8522

New member
Sure, we could skip the veils and Hollywood-inspired costumes, pull the Western instruments out of the live bands, forget about Westernized versions of traditional music, stop doing ballet-style arms and spins, lose those high heels -- but all those things, while optional, are still what we associate with belly dancing today.
It is TODAY those "optional things" have become, in many cases, the only requirement by western dancers. For that reason they are not real belly dancers, they are moving bodies. This is NOT what the original raqs sharqi back then WITH ALL ITS WESTERN INFLUENCES was about. Oriental dance is about SOUL and FEELING, it expresses the happiness, sorrow, history, cultural pride and other things about the Middle Eastern culture. It is NOT about the west and it is not the spins and high heels that make up the belly dancing. I have seen barefooted women without hollywood-style gear, not doing any spins and they were belly dancing. Fifi abdo came out of the ghetto, I dont think she even knew what ballet was when she first started dancing, still she is one of the greatest raqs sharqi dancers of all times.

We are not talking about baladi or Egyptian singers or anything else but an art form that developed as a result of dancers of different ME traditions performing together and nightclub owners who wanted to attract European and American clients to their establishments. It's fine to debate how much Western influence had as an impact, but it was not insignificant.
No it was not insignificant and I don't think anyone here was trying to say that. But you said more than once in this thread that belly dancing had a stong western influence which is NOT the case, especially since you do no have a strong evidence to back up your words.



I am just a journalist who knows how to do research with what's available. Not everyone's research has been the same as mine, and I'm sure there are lots of experiences and materials I haven't even dreamed of! All I would ask is that those who would dispute my conclusions would present verifiable evidence that isn't only hearsay or personal opinion.
I would also ask that you provide evidence to back up your opinion or the facts that you are educating us or the public with. I read 'a trade like any other' by Karin van Nieuwkerk, and while I appreciate that the writer went to Egypt, did a lot of research and took photos of the locals etc.. it was clearly writen from a western tourist point of view, at least to me it seemed like it. The Egyptian television archives has interviews of people who were in the show business that late back to the 60's. I watched a show last month that hosted some old man who used to work with all these actresses and dancers, he had many nice stories to tell but I only got to watch the last ten minutes of the program. The history is not lost, people are just not looking in the right places. A lot of the performers are related in some way or another, for instance the child actress Fairuz's cousin who is also a famous actress was on a TV program last week and talked alot about her.


So what part of this East/West mixture belongs so exclusively to a few ethnic groups that "white girls" or non-Arabs or whatever can't possibly do it as well?
Middle Eastern dance is dance from the Middle Eastern region and North Africa. Raqs Sharqi or oriental dance means 'dance of the east'. It is NOT an East/West mixture. Answering your question, and I'm going to be blunt this time, many western girl just do not 'get it', hence the terrible misrepresentations being passed off as belly dancing. A lot of them do not have the natural ability as they did not grow up in an environment where they were surrounded by those things. Arabs have certain gestures, slang terms, basically intercultural things that non-Arabs will never understand. Arab women grow up with the music, they understand the language in different dialects, the poetry, sometimes when they listen to a song it brings back to them childhood memories, certain songs give them a sense of happiness, womanhood and cultural pride. You see the expression on their face, it is genuine not plastered on. They dance from the inside and without self consciousness. It is not about the costumes, the heels, the effect and only so they can show the world what they can do.
 
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Dev

New member
Dear Aisha,
In that thread is there something different to other we have already seen or worse than the infamous wedding dancers. I have-not found that thread so please if you can give me the exact link.

My sincere apology for not mentioning the few people who understand or try to understand cultures other than their own .

I am aware that many make fun of Bollywood , in fact Bollywood dance and Indian accent is an item of jokes for many people. No I am not angry at all. However I understand your frustration when you see all those videos. I tend to ignore them as not being culturally accepted doesn’t matter what kind of dance they do. When I visit YT I have a choice to make after watching all those painful videos and the one accepted or near as the real thing. Almost in every art form this exists, Whether Belly Dancing or painting. There is always a good and bad side to all art forms.


I also agree that there is a strong influence of west to make belly dance popular among western and eastern people. It did not happen always in a good way but I think Middle eastern culture is strong enough to survive all these .

Gypsy, I like your posts, because you bring a very different dimension to this discussion board, but sometimes I assume there is a lot of anger inside you against so called Western world. I was born in India and India was under the British for 100 plus years , before that it was ruled by Muslims dynasty for a few centuries, most of the countries on this planet went through the same process, Only difference is the last 50 years we are more aware of situations because of modern media and technology and more vocal about our rights. United States of America is not only responsible for many conflicts in the Middle east but also in Asia and South America, In the cold war period they used to help Pakistan against India because it was an ally of former USSR. Not that India is a perfect example of democracy , they have their own agenda ,specially against Pakistan mainly because it’s a Muslim country, the situation is changing a bit and most of the educated Indians do understand that its all about government face saving effort but nothing else showing off Nuclear power and all the warship etc etc. I would say when you look back at history Asian or middle east countries never stand as a good example to others. For many Asian and middle eastern countries showing off their heritage or war power or whatever in a aggressive way is quite common. It does not help any situation. I think its time we get rid of those tribal thoughts and move forward , it’s time for those countries to prove themselves culturally and financially to the world rather than thinking who did what to whom. If you really know the inside political and financial situation of USA , believe me you would not worry that much of America, those days of world domination as they used to think is over. Financially its over, culturally it’s a concern. In fact Americas double standard culture always has been a concern to others.
 

LLAIMA

New member
they were surrounded by those things. Arabs have certain gestures, slang terms, basically intercultural things that non-Arabs will never understand.


I understand exactly what you are saying gipsy,

The Cabaret movement was born in Paris and many many countries like Brazil, Argentina, USA Egypt and Cuba were influence by it. For example, Cabaret Tropicana is one of the most famous cabaret in the world, it exists before Las Vegas,
The Tropicana shows are a recopilation of the Cuban flolkore rythms and dances taken to " Sparkle and fantasy" Cuban Cabaret music is very Jazz influenced (Latin Jazz) each dancer in thoses shows, is trained in a special school, to get in that school, they should meet certain requirements and one of them is having a ballet background, but what is mostly important is that when they are in the stage performing, they have to represent the culture of the island. I have met many non - cuban dancers who have gone to cuba to learn from the correct source and they are all very humble never heard any of them suggesting that our dance is american or french just because ot the Jazz or ballet influence its used in cabaret.
 

gypsy8522

New member
Gypsy, I like your posts, because you bring a very different dimension to this discussion board, but sometimes I assume there is a lot of anger inside you against so called Western world.
Dipali,

I do not carry anger towards the western world as much as I (and millions of others) am irritated by the ignorance that a lot of them carry. It is common to see western people who have got nothing to complain about except how messed up our cultures are(yet it is okay to "borrow" our dance and music) and how suppressed the women, always ranting about something they don't like as if everyone on this planet was born to live by the western standards. This is the impression I got from some members on this board as well. By the way, I grew up in the Middle East but I speak three different languages and I know a lot about other cultures and I have friends from all over the world. Why is it that many westerners who have been learning about the Middle East, be it politics, culture, arts, have been "studying" for a long time yet they do not bother to learn how to communicate in arabic? The majority of them cannot pronounce foreign names properly. I don't see why it is ok to be that ignorant, but when someone from the other side expresses how they feel about this, that feeling is referred to as anger.

The United States of America IS responsible for many of the coflicts in the Middle East. If they hadn't been supporting our dictators many countries would not be suffering and living in conditions below poverty level. Do you know why is it that Hosni Mubarak has been president for the last 30 years, Egypt is the only country besides Israel to get billions of dollars in aid from the United States each year (which by the way all goes into his own pocket)? It is the same reason why Egypt is the only country that has an Israeli embassy that is still operating. And no, it is not because he got 98 eight percent of the votes in the "democratic" presedential election. We cannot get rid of him because this is the kind of democracy America wants to see in the Middle East, although they are saying their mission is to "free" the Arab world from dictators like Saddam Hussein which and the reason they started that failed war in Iraq... out of their love for the poor Iraqi people. There is no difference between Saddam, Hosni Mubarak and Saudi Arabian king. They are all dictators, they killed many innocent people.. the only difference is that Egypt and Saudi are dictatorships as well as slaves for the American government, while Saddam was NOT. If the United States really cared for establishing democracy in the Middle East, they would have started with Egypt and Saudi Arabia first before going into Iraq.

For many Asian and middle eastern countries showing off their heritage or war power or whatever in a aggressive way is quite common. It does not help any situation. I think its time we get rid of those tribal thoughts and move forward , it’s time for those countries to prove themselves culturally and financially to the world rather than thinking who did what to whom.

Yes, I am sure that theory applies to the eastern countries only, as the western countries have never tried to show off their war power in an agressive way!!!! As for the heritage, I am sure if they had one they would be doing the exact same thing. If someone defending his land and culture or killing for some religous belief is agressive, killing a hundred thousand innocent people for OIL is....??? Are you implying that Asian and Middle Eastern are the aggressive while in America and the west they are the 'civilized' ones? If this is true the west would be the most peacful. Despite not having wars or an outside power occupying their land, the level of crime, rape and domestic violence is reportedly the highest in western countries... not mention fatalities from drugs and violence, the divorce rates, sex, morals, racism and the list goes on... all these things are more widely spread in the United States of America and the western countries. What you are saying I hear it on CNN all the time. It is easy to say this to someone living in a country and all they have to worry about is paying rent, electric bills and the price of gas not going higher than $3 per gallon. However, there is people across the world who are starting to wake up and they will not be fooled by this anymore.
 

Kharmine

New member
Part of our education as intelligent and thoughtful human beings is learning that even "outsiders" can teach us useful things about our own cultures.

To dismiss or disparage the observations and findings of "foreigners" just because we don't always agree with them is unreasonably ethnocentric and a real loss to our understanding of our world.

I understand the objections to dancers who misrepresent the art, but I'll say it again -- bad belly dancing isn't limited to non-ME or Arab folks, non-Turks or non-Greeks. And I've seen beautiful, soulful dancing done by dancers of all races and cultures who have taken the time to understand what they are doing.

So, I am forced to conclude that racial/cultural heritage does not automatically gives dancers an advantage over those who don't share it. Which is what people are saying when they claim "white girls" or non-Arabs or whatever can't dance as well.

The Western influence can be obvious or subtle, but it was a significant part of the history and development of raqs sharqi, and its presence to a greater or lesser extent does not automatically make it "not belly dance" as some might want to claim (particularly ironic in that 'belly dance" is inescapably a Western term, and old American slang, at that).

Which is why I stress, even perhaps sometimes overstress that fact occasionally. I am not trying to diminish the true ethnic heritage of the dance, but trying to remind people of certain things they may not know or would prefer not to remember.

It's too bad that this thread seems to be getting off the original subject and into a political diatribe.

I can understand the East's problems with the West, and I can even agree with many of the complaints. But I refuse to support the idea that all the sins charged against the West are a good enough excuse not to be fair, balanced or accurate in this argument about 'belly dance" -- or any other topic, for that matter.

I've said my piece as courteously and accurately as possible. I'm done here and off this thread.
 
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Aisha Azar

New member
Dance etc.

Dear Gypsy and Dipali,
Just as governments in your own countries do things that the people do not agree with, the same is true here in the U.S. I am an American and I am neither arrogant nor violent, nor do I feel superior to my fellow human beings on any level. Prejudice works both ways. I am a separate individual, as is everyone else here. It is necessary on ALL sides to look at individuals. For example, recently there was a Coptic gentleman on this forum who got decided I am a Muslimeh because I use "Peace be on him" when talking about the Prophet Mohammed. This is just common courtesy and it is the way my Muslin friends have taught me. He hates Muslims so much that this hatred was all encompassing and he could care less what my beliefs were. If I was going to respect Muslim tradition, regardless of my own faith, then I was dirt. he called me a liar, among other fine things.
When you say, Americans do thus and so and are responsible for this and that, I have to disagree. I am an American. I have persecuted no one. I have stolen nothing from anyone and I bend over backwards to remain true to the culture; enough so that many other western dancers get really angry and frustrated with me for taking the Arab view of things. ( To see that's true, just look this forum over a time or two!!) I can not help it. It is the correct view as far as I am concerned. Do not mistake Americans for being lump of people all the same. We are vastly different. I need to add here that I recently received a visit from the FBI because of my activities in the Arab community. My own government treating me like a traitor when I have done nothing wrong!

Dipali, that clip is in the Off Topic forum under "Just had to show you this". I think it is about 10 threads down. If I were either Arab or Hindi, I would probably be upset about that clip because it is aimed at children and perpetuates some pretty weird stereotypes.

Regards,
A'isha
 
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gypsy8522

New member
But I refuse to support the idea that all the sins charged against the West are a good enough excuse not to be fair, balanced or accurate in this argument about 'belly dance"
A fair, balanced or accurate argument is when you listen to all different points of views and not always looking for ideas that match your own. If you think that belly dance is an East/West mixture that has nothing a non-Arab girl can't possibly do as well (I gave a detailed explaination) it would be a good idea to elaborate on why you don't find my answers or somebody else's acceptable instead of repeating the same 'fact' throughout the thread. An accurate argument about the origins of a "belly dance" that came from the Middle East is to be supported by evidence preferebly coming from the actual source. It would not be based on myths or "facts" coming from a bunch of books and articles about Eastern dance that were written from a Western point of view decades after the art form is produced.



A'isha Azar,

By America I mean the American government and its foreign policy. If you visited Arabic countries you'd very well know that Arabs distinguish between the American people and what their government is doing. But in the past eight years since George Bush has come to office the way Americans are viewed, not only in the Middle East but worldwide, has started to change. We cannot be blamed for our governments actions because they were imposed on us. It is different in the United States because the American citizens get to vote and after everything that has been going they still went out and voted for Bush, again. Also when tens of thousands of Iraqis are dying each month from a war an occupying force brought over, but we turn on the TV and all we see is rants about the 'tragic death' of two or three soldiers, it makes people very angry. Those innocent civilians who died are human beings too.
 

nicknack

New member
Gypsy my statistics come from national records. The reason that the population statistics are as they are is because after 1948 an average of 1 million Jews living in Arab countries became refugees, a large majority was absorbed by Israel (adding to the number of native Jews already residing there), the rest went to France, the UK, the United States, South America, so yes there are Jewish commities in the western world with a relation to middle eastern culture. And not all non middle eastern Jews came from Europe, they also come from Ethiopia, India, Central Asia. These and most of European origin would not "go back where they came from", my best friend would never even consider Besarabia or any part of the former soviet union home (he would however be willing to move to Canada but that's because the economic situation is dire).

Please don't get into the whole "palestine thing", it's only going to boil down to an argument over semantics, history, propaganda, the sykes picot agreement, the creation of Jordan etc etc..... one mutation of a thread at a time.... But you do have a point that a large part of Israeli society have been looked down on by a minority of ashkenazim, it's a problem with some of the older generation holding onto the tradition of goyland when they no longer have any need. But it's not endemic, in everyday life everyone lives equally side by side, especially in places such as Haifa, and Jaffa, nowdays there's nothing unusual about half "europen" half "middle eastern" jews (we like to call them ashkephardi), or children with both Jewish and Arab parents. And Arab Israelis who live in Israeli society have no problem being called just that, those that I know are community minded. one running a successful outreach program that helps Jews and Arabs alike..... The only people with a problem are the ultra religous, who have too much say in a secular society (well there are other people with other crazy problems but it's far too much to stick here).
 

gypsy8522

New member
nicknack,

As there is 1 million jews out of Arab countries that became refugees, there is also more than 4 million muslims and christians out of Israel that became refugees after 1948. I know there are Arab jews who imigrated to Europe, just like there are many muslim and christian Arabs who imigrate to countries all over the world. I am talking in general, the jews who come FROM Europe that are European. I also know about the jews from India and Ethiopia, I didn't bring them up because they are discriminated against just as much as those who come from Middle Eastern origin. I saw a whole documantary on Ethiopians in Israel, how badly they are treated and the type of racism they have to face on a daily basis. I just want to let you know this documentary was not produced by an arabic network, it was on the BBC, just incase you're going to call in propaganda.
 

Aisha Azar

New member
Prejudice, etc.

A fair, balanced or accurate argument is when you listen to all different points of views and not always looking for ideas that match your own. If you think that belly dance is an East/West mixture that has nothing a non-Arab girl can't possibly do as well (I gave a detailed explaination) it would be a good idea to elaborate on why you don't find my answers or somebody else's acceptable instead of repeating the same 'fact' throughout the thread. An accurate argument about the origins of a "belly dance" that came from the Middle East is to be supported by evidence preferebly coming from the actual source. It would not be based on myths or "facts" coming from a bunch of books and articles about Eastern dance that were written from a Western point of view decades after the art form is produced.



A'isha Azar,

By America I mean the American government and its foreign policy. If you visited Arabic countries you'd very well know that Arabs distinguish between the American people and what their government is doing. But in the past eight years since George Bush has come to office the way Americans are viewed, not only in the Middle East but worldwide, has started to change. We cannot be blamed for our governments actions because they were imposed on us. It is different in the United States because the American citizens get to vote and after everything that has been going they still went out and voted for Bush, again. Also when tens of thousands of Iraqis are dying each month from a war an occupying force brought over, but we turn on the TV and all we see is rants about the 'tragic death' of two or three soldiers, it makes people very angry. Those innocent civilians who died are human beings too.

Dear Gypsy,
No,we do not vote for our president. The voting thing is really just a sham. The people who elect the president of the United States belong to a body called the Electoral College. Supposedly it is easy to find out who they are, but when Walter Cronkite, a very respected journalist, tried to do so some years ago, he could not find out who the current members were. They are "elected officials" is about all we know on average. This is how it is done. Originally the U. S. Constitution said that legislators from the individual States would choose the members of the E. C. and what happens is that there is no name of any electoral college member on any ballot usually, but in theory when a state votes for president, then the state's citizens have indicated who they want for president and then the state representatives from the winning party choose who will be in the electoral college. Very confusing, but it sure gives the politicians the power to do whatever they please, and they do, just like everywhere else in the world. ( Gee, maybe those political science classes were worth it!)
The first time he was elected, Bush did not win the popular vote fairly and he did not take office for about 3 months, I think, after the election because there were so very many discrepancies in the voting. Gore, in theory, won the popular vote, but the Electoral College chose Bush. As one Supreme Court judge made very clear at the time, Americans have a lot of gall thinking they should be able to elect the president anyway. This is a Republic, not a democracy, and most people who live outside this country do not seem to realize that unless one is very, rich and has the right set of friends, they will never be elected to anything more important than dog catcher.
There were many discrepancies found in the second alleged voting process that put Bush in for a second term. Again, "Americans" did not vote for Bush, some Americans voted for him. Strangely, the only person that I know who voted for him in either election is a Saudi who has dual citizenship ( and no, the Saudi government does not know about it). It was her one and only time voting and she will never do it again.
To blame the problems in the Middle East on the American "right to vote", is totally incorrect. We, in reality have no right to vote. Only money can get a person a high government position. It costs many millions to even run for office.
Just as we may not know that much about the workings of Arab countries, please believe me, you are way off base with the American citizen and our power to influence our politicians, unless of course, we are very, very rich. it works that way everywhere, does it not? It would be like saying all Saudis are
in the pockets of the American government, or All Egyptians are, just because their governments are.
Regards,
A'isha
 

Dev

New member
I grew up in the Middle East but I speak three different languages and I know a lot about other cultures and I have friends from all over the world. Why is it that many westerners who have been learning about the Middle East, be it politics, culture, arts, have been "studying" for a long time yet they do not bother to learn how to communicate in arabic? The majority of them cannot pronounce foreign names properly. I don't see why it is ok to be that ignorant, but when someone from the other side expresses how they feel about this, that feeling is referred to as anger.

Dear Gypsy,
I don’t think I agree with you in that statement, Actually many European and American people can speak at least a couple of languages. Why they don’t bother to learn Arabic or Hindi, Well I think learning a different language is not that easy especially to understand and speak fluently when you don’t have much access to meet people who can speak the language, Or even if you have an access for how long, So I will bring it down to personal capability,

Yes, I am sure that theory applies to the eastern countries only, as the western countries have never tried to show off their war power in an agressive way!!!! As for the heritage, I am sure if they had one they would be doing the exact same thing. If someone defending his land and culture or killing for some religous belief is agressive, killing a hundred thousand innocent people for OIL is....??? Are you implying that Asian and Middle Eastern are the aggressive while in America and the west they are the 'civilized' ones? If this is true the west would be the most peacful. Despite not having wars or an outside power occupying their land, the level of crime, rape and domestic violence is reportedly the highest in western countries... not mention fatalities from drugs and violence, the divorce rates, sex, morals, racism and the list goes on... all these things are more widely spread in the United States of America and the western countries. What you are saying I hear it on CNN all the time. It is easy to say this to someone living in a country and all they have to worry about is paying rent, electric bills and the price of gas not going higher than $3 per gallon. However, there is people across the world who are starting to wake up and they will not be fooled by this anymore.
Gypsy once again I never said West don’t flaunt their power , off course they do. it’s a two way game, What I said if you look at the history of Asian countries you will find they did some horrible things to each other and they still do when they think they can. Before and during WW2 Japanese did some horrible things to the Chinese , India and Pakistan killed 100 of thousands of innocent civilians in wars, Its not a glorious history really, They can do it without the help of West. What I want to say is we cannot justify any type of killings or violations of human rights in any form or shape whether it happens in USA or Iraq or China, We cannot justify throwing agent orange on human being just like we cannot justify sneaky attacks on innocent people in London tube way. The western people are as weary as any other human beings on this planet about the current situation in Middle east, Regarding crimes and violence in Western countries seems high because they usually get reported, Honestly how many women in Egypt or in India go to the police and tell they are physically assaulted by their relatives. Not that people support rape of women but because the stigma attached to it. You and I may be lucky to live and raise our voice on different subjects but not many of my country men and women can. There are many people in West who genuinely think about a peaceful world and angry against their own governments policy on war as many Egyptian angry against Hossney Mubarak because of his policy. Iraq war is a disaster to the whole world, Like it happened in Vietnam And the American government is very much a part of it. But American government should not be solely blamed for the Iraqi chaos or any middle eastern problem. I always try my best to see problem from a universal point of view rather than believing what I want to believe.
Kind Regards
 
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Dev

New member
Dear Aisha ,
Regarding that thread I was actually more confused than anything. I suppose you are right , I should worry about their intelligence.

just as governments in your own countries do things that the people do not agree with, the same is true here in the U.S. I am an American and I am neither arrogant nor violent, nor do I feel superior to my fellow human beings on any level. Prejudice works both ways. I am a separate individual, as is everyone else here.
I am not really careful with my words , I should have mentioned when I say USA I don’t mean every citizens of USA but the government of USA and their policy.. I think I know you enough to figure it out why the FBI visit you. ;) Do you offer coffee when they arrive.

ps- Thank you for explaining the president election process
 
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Aisha Azar

New member
Americans, etc.

Dear Aisha ,
Regarding that thread I was actually more confused than anything. I suppose you are right , I should worry about their intelligence.

I am not really careful with my words , I should have mentioned when I say USA I don’t mean every citizens of USA but the government of USA and their policy.. I think I know you enough to figure it out why the FBI visit you. ;) Do you offer coffee when they arrives.
Dear Dipali,
Yeah, I think we were all a little confused by that video clip. Talk about bad fusion. I think that one wins the award on all counts!!

These days, as an American, I am very sensitive to being lumped in with the government, which is certainly not MY government, if I were to have any real influence.
RE drinking coffee with the Feds: I did offer them some the first time they came to my house. They declined, but one of them did eat some of my chocolate!! I now know NOT to let them in my house at all, as is my right, unless they have a warrant..... in theory... though the Patriot Act may have changed all that. Oh, yeah, and if you try to implement the Freedom of Information Act to see what records the FBI has on you, they will send you a polite letter saying they have no records on you, after you jump through many fine hoops trying to get the info they said they had. They make it as difficult as possible.I should be scared to death to even mention all this in public. I have also been advised that it is probably a good idea to make it as public as I can.
Regards,
A'isha
 

Dev

New member
Dear Aisha...

Sounds like Russia in 1960 or McCarthy era. In Australia we have a secret agency called asio , They have an office in Melbourne which is listed in the Yellow pages. They were almost disbanded as they really didnt have anything much to do until 9/11 ,then they got a new lease on life and are now busily checking on anybody who uses certain words on the phone or whatever they do. My relatives live in Madison -Washington area, And I am sure when we phone each other the FBI listen to it, I can hear them , truly!
 
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nicknack

New member
Actually Gypsy the most reliable number of Arab refugees in 1948 sums up to about 539,000, and the resulting refugees from the 1967 conflict is between 125,000 (Israeli estimate) and 250,000 (UNRWA estimate), there were also 17 000 Jews who became refugees from the areas of Judea and Samaria which Jordon occupied... so if you add up all the figures at the time there was basically a population exchange (although you can't call it equal as one group left of their own accord, while the other was forcefully expelled by government planned anti semitic campaigns) . The numbers you have now (the 4 million)are so because unlike every other case like this, those refugees were not absorbed into the host country, refugee status in this case is passed down from father to son to grandson, so with population growth you'll get the current 4 million. Also that number cannot be taken as accurate due to the fact that to qualify for refugee status a person had to be an Arab who entered Israel up to two years before the rebirth of the Jewish state (hence it's impossible to tell how many had been resident for over three generations, and who were recent immigrants). The UN also admits that the current total includes 1,463,064 Jordanian citizens who can at no rate be considered refugees.... The numbers are futher clouded by the fact that "UNRWA registration figures are based on information voluntarily supplied by refugees primarily for the purpose of obtaining access to Agency services, and hence cannot be considered statistically valid demographic data; the number of registered refugees present in the Agency's area of operations is almost certainly less that the population recorded." (that's a direct quote from the 97-98 report of the Commissioner-General).

And I am well aware of the problems facing the newly absorbed Ethiopian community (although I wouldn't get my facts from the BBC), a lot of new immigrants are subject to discrimination, even those of European decent, for example one of my friends who left the Ukraine at aged 7 was subject to intense bullying at school purely for speaking Russian and having a typically Russian name (he has since attempted to erase every clue to his former soviet identity, even his name). But the Ethiopian community faces more problems, coming into a modern society, retaining strict old fashioned family hierarchy, a dichotomy which has resulted in an increased level of domestic violence within the community. Another major internal problem is Ethiopian Christians attempting to come into the community and proseltysing them, this has created a rift in places with many Beta Israel protesting the return of the Falash Mura whom the missionaries often hide among. Although intergration is a slow process it's happening more and more as the second generation come into the working world.
 

nicknack

New member
I don’t think I agree with you in that statement, Actually many European and American people can speak at least a couple of languages. Why they don’t bother to learn Arabic or Hindi, Well I think learning a different language is not that easy especially to understand and speak fluently when you don’t have much access to meet people who can speak the language, Or even if you have an access for how long, So I will bring it down to personal capability,
I think it also has to do with local population too, speciffically when it comes to language learning at schools, for example a large majority of schools around the Nottingham area offer Urdu (just one example) at GCSE level (that's the exam taken at the end of comulsory education at 16), this is because we have a large muslim minority (I know there are over about 20 muslim places of worship (including those in residential buildings) in the Nottingham area) who come from Urdu (and also Gujarati) speaking areas. I'm guessing the same goes for many US schools teaching Spanish.... Due to both the predominance of the Latino community and culture.
 

gypsy8522

New member
The numbers you have now (the 4 million)are so because unlike every other case like this, those refugees were not absorbed into the host country, refugee status in this case is passed down from father to son to grandson, so with population growth you'll get the current 4 million.
The number increased over the years, that is due to the fact that the Israeli government kept 'expanding its lands' by forcing people out of their homes and building more settlements. It would be really sad if anyone tried to deny this. In this case, the accuracy of the figure doesn't really matter. What matters is that there's more than 4 million people who's homes were demolished, they are either living in refugee camps or in one of the arab countries and they are not allowed to return to live there or visit their families without being humiliated, in many cases they're denied entrance all together. The Jordanian citizens you mentioned were 'adopted' and granted citizenship by king Hussein. Only because these people live in Jordan now doesn't mean their homes didn't exist somewhere else before, and not too long ago. Anyway, I don't see why a European with no connection to Middle Eastern culture would have more of a right to own a house and live in Israel but a palestinian has only right to live as a refugee.


And I am well aware of the problems facing the newly absorbed Ethiopian community (although I wouldn't get my facts from the BBC)
I didn't get my facts from BBC, this wasn't reported on the news. I watched the documentary and heard stories from Ethiopians as they talked about the racism and name calling they experience every day of their lives. I am sure it took a lot of guts to speak up knowing the threats they could possibly be facing after that. Plus I would much rather 'get my facts' from a British news channel than watch bias crap on American networks which are funded by one specific religous group.


But the Ethiopian community faces more problems, coming into a modern society, retaining strict old fashioned family hierarchy, a dichotomy which has resulted in an increased level of domestic violence within the community.
Ethiopians are facing more problems than others mainly because they are black from african descent and because there are others who see them as 'less jewish' than themselves.


a lot of new immigrants are subject to discrimination, even those of European decent, for example one of my friends who left the Ukraine at aged 7 was subject to intense bullying at school purely for speaking Russian and having a typically Russian name (he has since attempted to erase every clue to his former soviet identity, even his name).
Eastern Europeans are many times looked at as the trash of Europe, obviously these aren't going to be the dominating group of europeans. No disrespect to any Russians reading this, but everyone knows how they are treated like second class citizens. Again, these aren't the 'Europeans' I was referring to. And this isn't about politics, its about racism that has occured and is still occuring in Israel. It is enough they claim that palestinian people have no history, so it is hardly surprising how they treat others.
 

nicknack

New member
No those numbers relate to refugees resulting from the conflicts of 1948 and 1967, and all generations born after. The Israeli government is not "expanding its lands", if they wanted a big ol chunk of desert they would have kept Sinai (even though it was a pretty effective buffer zone). Now just to make this clear I am not NOT supporting building of settlements, they are full of the right wing religous nuts that would have a lot of problems with me, people actually pay little kids to go and aggrivate the residents stirring up trouble, and even though they play a part in securing the border the part of the security budget spent protecting them could be well used elsewhere (for example education, housing, better facilities for the Bedouin, building some decent bomb shelters up north, road safety, care of the elderly..... the list goes on and on). But the fact is those settlements are built on purchased land (the majority of it bought pre 1948 from absentee land owners), they're seperated from any Arab area (mainly due to the fact that any Arabs living close by sold up and moved to Israel).... the cold hard truth is that there's nothing in the realm of international law that says it's illegal. And removing the settlements wouldn't quell the uprising, when polled 67.1% of palestinian Arabs rejected ending the uprising in return for "ending Jewish settlement". I know perfectlly well that those Jordanian citizens were palstinian Arabs, Jordan was founded as an Arab palestinian state (out of three quarters of the British Mandate of Palestine created from the Sykes-Picot agreement, in an attempt to create one Arab Palestinian state and one Jewish Palestinian state), over 70% of the population class themsleves as Arab palestinian, so why wouldn't they be too.

These days you will find the Arab population of Israel increasing, due to palestinan Arabs fleeing to Israel, mainly the homosexual community and Arab Christians which is not suprising as the Christian population of Bethlehem has gone from 80% to 20% since control of the area was handed over to the palestinian authority. Arabs in Israel have the same civil rights as everyone else, they hold seats in the Knesset, teach at top universities, go to the same universities alongside Jews, Circassions, Armenians, Bai'hai... come to Israel and see for yourself, have a walk around old Jaffa you'd be suprised at what you see (others have been like this guy Print Version - A Muslim in a Jewish Land), you'd be very welcome, as a matter of fact if I graduate from a dorm room to an apartment when I get to university there, you'd be welcome in my home.

I didn't mean to imply that you got your information from the BBC, what I meant is that everyone should take any factual BBC output with a grain of salt, they have the worst record in the history of broadcasting for bias, incompetence, cover ups (refusing to release the findings of the inquiry into the bias of their coverage (freedom of information be damned)), scapegoating (Greg Dyke being a prime example)..... they can't even provide a decent catering truck on location (seriously if anyone ever finds themselves on a bbc set, try to avoid the food unless it happens to be either a sandwich or a cup of tea).

Yes there are bigots in the country who have a problem with Ethiopians. But theirs is a minority view, and not one of mainstream society, I've never witnessed any discrimination against my Ethiopian friends when out, but then maybe we're hanging around the good neighbourhoods. And it's true what you mentioned about some people seeing the as less Jewish, this has nothing to do with skin colour and everything to do with certain religous people believing that their version of of Judaism is the only one (lord I'm looked down on by certain groups becasue I belong to a progressive community(that and I'm a mongrel)).

And which Europeans where you referring to? I don't think there are any European Ashkenazi Jews who aren't of Eastern European extraction, Ashkenazic culture outside of Europe is generically Eastern European due to the constant migration through the area (although I'm not sure where the small Italian population are catergorized).... And what's with the claim that Israelis deny arab palestinians have a history, of course they do, it's large and varied as they came from all over the middle east.... that's a lot of history.
 
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