The role of dabke in preserving Palestinian culture in Argentina – Middle East Monitor

Being a Palestinian refugee is not a matter of choice, but working for Palestine is. Millions of Palestinians found themselves uprooted after the Nakba in 1948 and the June 1967 war. Argentina is one of the countries that now has a Palestinian diaspora community. Moving and trying to adapt to a new country makes the preservation of culture and heritage very important. Performing the traditional dabke dance is part of the process of preserving Palestinian identity.

What does dabke mean to Palestinians in the Diaspora? For Christian Abu Ghattas, the director of Jabal Al Zaitun, the Argentinian dabke group that explores identity, culture and resistance through dance, the performances help Palestinian refugees feel more connected to their homeland. The music itself is a powerful expression of this connection.

“Dabke has a different energy that is different from other dance forms,” Abu Ghattas told me. “The dissemination of our folklore and our traditions, the beauty of our music, our food, our embroidery and all the rest of our identity is essential. The resistance of our people is a necessity wherever we are, because the occupying power is trying to erase everything about Palestine and its people.”

Jabal Al-Zaitun was established in 2018 with the help of the Palestinian Ambassador to Buenos Aires, Husni Abdel Wahed, who supported the initiative and brought this project to life from the start. As far as performers go, synchronized moves and jumps aren’t just a nice way to dance; there is a very important message behind every dabke step.

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“Our team is a faithful reflection of Argentina’s solidarity with our cause,” explained Abu Ghattas. “The members of Jabal Al-Zaitun are made up of citizens of Palestinian origin and other Argentines who have adopted our culture and our cause as their own. Their efforts make us proud of our Palestinian origins.”

Dabke is, however, much more than a cultural expression. It speaks the language of shared suffering, while delivering a message that Palestinian culture, resistance and existence remain alive. The main objective of Jabal Al-Zaitun is to spread Palestinian culture to all corners of Argentina and the rest of South America through the dabke and the costumes worn by the dancers, each element of which reflects the history of the land region and its inhabitants.

“Dabke is our way of rejecting Israel’s occupation and confiscation of Palestinian lands,” Abu Ghattas said. “Israeli authorities are violating international laws and conventions, including our legitimate right of return, by building illegal settlements on our land. The occupation is also trying to steal our culture, claiming that food, music, traditional songs and Palestinian embroidered clothing is of Israeli origin.”

Argentina has a small Palestinian community within its large Arab community. The majority of Palestinian immigrants live in Buenos Aires. “Our community in Argentina may be small but it is very active. They work tirelessly to spread the Palestinian cause through human rights organizations and political groups that have an effect on society. Argentine civilian.”

Argentina recognized the State of Palestine on the 1967 Green Line (1949 armistice) eleven years ago. The government recognized Palestine as a “free and independent state” just days after neighboring Brazil made the same announcement in 2010. The Palestinian community in Argentina commemorates the decision on December 6 each year.

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Concluding our conversation, Christian Abu Ghattas confirmed that his organization and its dabke dancers are determined to deliver the message to the people of Argentina and South America that Palestinians cannot and will not forget their culture and heritage. .

“We have Palestinian blood, pride and dignity, so we must work to protect it. We must spread our traditions, our music, our dance, our history, our culture and our clothes despite the negative propaganda against us. I want to see my homeland free so that I can one day go to my grandfather’s land in Beit Jala.”

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