Palestinian Lajee Dabke troupe perform in Dundee (introduced by Rich Wiles)

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*This year 2013 the Lajee dabke troupe are back in Scotland in June. Scottish dates: Glasgow 16th, Edinburgh 18th, Aberdeen 20th, Dundee 21st, Perth 22nd then they perform in the North of Ireland. Young dancers from the Lajee cultural centre in Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem began a tour of the UK starting in Dundee, Scotland on 9th June 2012 at the Justice for Palestine Festival event hosted by Tayside for Justice in Palestine They performed Dabka dances with the women in colourful costumes and the men with the Palestinian keffiyeh scarf. In the last dance at the keffiyeh and flag of Palestine were waved. The dabkeh is an energetic dance with some agile footwork which in some parts reminds me a little of Irish dancing. Dabka is a style of traditional folk dancing typically performed at wedding and birthday ceremonies and community celebrations in Palestine prior to 1948 but since then it has become a form of resistance to the occupation. Culture, music, art, dance, poetry etc is a form of expression but it also gives hope and enjoyment to those suffering under the brutal occupation and is also a message of defiance to the occupiers that the Palestinians’ spirit will not be broken.

Palestinian young people and children are routinely arrested for attending a demonstration or simply for hanging about and they are tried as adults if they are tried at all. Many are detained indefinitely without trial like footballer Mahmoud Sarskak who was arrested and flung in jail without charge or trial. After nearly 3 years of this, he began a hunger strike which lasted 3 months after which an agreement was reached for his release. Others remain on hunger strike. See for more details.

In 1948 three quarters of a million Palestinians were driven from their homes when the Zionist state was set up. They fled to refugee camps, and even took their house keys thinking that they would be able to return after a while. But instead of getting back their homes, lands and farms, the Zionist occupation pushed further into Palestinian territory and continues to do so until there will be no Palestine left if the Zionist regime gets its way. As part of the occupation plan many Palestinian homes and farms have been destroyed and anyone who resists is killed. Even children and babies have been butchered by the occupying forces. Children throwing stones at the occupying tanks are often shot dead by the occupying soldiers. Likewise, if kids throw stones back in retaliation at illegal settlers’ kids who targetted them first, they are often shot by the military. As well as directly killing people with weapons, guns and tanks, or bulldozing houses with people still in them, various other methods are used to try and make life so unbearable for the Palestinians that they will either leave voluntarily or die in the desperately harsh conditions, for instance, raw sewage from the illegal settlements is poured onto Palestinian farms. In Gaza, raw sewage now also runs down the streets because no materials for repairing the Palestinians’ sewage treatment plant are allowed in. The drinking water supply allowed through is contaminated with high levels of nitrates and chlorides. Palestinians are persecuted whether they stay in Gaza, in the West Bank, in refugee camps. People have to wait, sometimes for hours to get through military checkpoints. Lorries transporting Palestinian produce are often refused through for days in order to let the food perish.

The Western mainstream media is complicit in covering up the ethnic cleansing. If they do report anything they selectively report the relatively few occasions when Palestinians have resisted violence with violence, compared to the daily torture and ethnic cleansing that they have to suffer at the hands of the Zionist state. They try and portray the Palestinians as Islamic extremists, but they fail to report that among the Palestinians who suffer at the hands of the Zionists are also the Palestinian Christians and moderate or secular Muslims. Christians from all over the world can easily go on pilgrimages to holy sites in East Jerusalem but Palestinian Christians need a permit to visit and very few receive permission, although their families are originally from that area.

The purpose of the Justice for Palestine Festival in Dundee and the Dabka dance group’s tour of Britain is not only for cultural and entertainment purposes but also and especially to help educate people about the illegal occupation and genocide being perpetrated on the Palestinians and the apartheid system with its high walls and checkpoints and racism towards Israeli Arabs and Blacks. Boycott, divestment and sanctions helped bring down apartheid in South Africa. You can do the same by boycotting Israeli products and culture and sport.


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