A group of Palestinian guys from Beit Jalla in the West Bank, Palestine have decided to take a chance on peace – by swing dancing with Israelis.
Watch the heart-warming video below.
With some encouragement from an ex-Berliner named Bibi who moved to Tel Aviv the Palestinians have started to swing dance together with the Israelis who already have a formed group. The Palestinians and Israelis now have regular sessions in Beit Jalla, at Hosh Jasmin, an organic farm outside of Bethlehem.
Peace, love and Lindy Hop!
The Palestinians started dancing with the Israelis during the Israeli war with Gaza and have decided to take a chance and “swing” in the name of peace.
The guys, in their 20s, are hoping to start dancing in Tel Aviv.
The Israelis and Palestinians are now swinging together, and through Indiegogo are trying to raise a mere $3500 to bring the guys over to a swing festival in Ireland in October to be with the Israeli group and to meet people around the world to dance.
The swing dancers have already raised one quarter of their goal.
“The organizers of the Cork Jazz Dance Exchange (CJDX), a big swing festival in Ireland, have invited us and some dancers from the Israeli community to come to their festival on October 2014 and experience what it’s like to be part of the global swing community and dance together, as ‘Swing for Peace’.
“They have dedicated one night of this festival for a special fundraiser for the education of refugee children in the Middle East and would love to have us there to promote a peaceful way of dealing with the conflict.”
How swing dancing for peace began
Bibi, the initiator of the project says: “When I met Henry, a German teacher living in Beit Jalla, at a swing event in Tel Aviv I was partly joking when I said: so lets do swing dancing in Beit Jalla. But then we had a coffee with his friend Andrea, a German teacher in Bethlehem, and she really loved the idea.
“It took us a while to get the first lesson started. First we did not find enough people, then Henry wanted to go on holiday, then we did not find a place – but eventually we did. I had some much fun teaching them. And every time I do, I enjoy it more. The students are wonderful and the lessons are so much fun; very relaxed and our emphasis is on having a good time.
“I can’t get enough seeing the group dance by now. And the best time is after the lesson, when we all sit together, eat the amazing food of Hosh Yasmin and drink home made Arak or Taybeh beer from the region,” says Bibi.
Hussam, from Beit Jalla, participating in the swing says: “I have heard about swing dancing from a friend, and when I got to know what is swing dancing it motivated me to follow the training each week and love to dance more and meet new friends, both Palestinians and Israeli.
“A dance for peace and a dance for justice”
“As Palestinians, we have made swing dancing to be a dance for exchange, a dance for peace and justice…swing dancing became as a small tool for seeking peace in the Holy Land.”
A couple of months ago I interviewed ballroom dance world champion Pierre Dulaine about dance as a vehicle for peace. He runs international dance exchange programs to teach kids tolerance.
Originally from Jaffa, he has created peace between Israeli Arabs and Jews by teaching them how to ballroom dance together. See the video below:
Thanks to hipsters (you can find plenty of them in Tel Aviv), swing dancing is seeing a revival around the globe. Swing dance developed along with jazz music in the 1920s to1950s, with the best known among the swing dances being the Lindy Hop.
Ask your grandmother to show you the moves!
Want to send some Palestinian guys to Ireland so they can swing for peace? Donate to the Indiegogo campaign here.
Thanks to Dana Meirson for the tip, and documentation.