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Swim against the current, his life and his death

2020-06-04T07:42:46.569Z

Jalal BanaThe tragic death of ballet dancer Ayman Safiya, who drifted and drowned last week after trying to save a company he spent on the beach in Atlit, has opened up a big window into the world of the proud Israeli Arab community. Its people live in the reality of a "known secret". In areas such as Haifa and Tel Aviv, they lead an open life, but outside of these circles they are known to have left their ...



The tragic death of ballet dancer Ayman Safiya, who drifted and drowned last week after trying to save a company he spent on the beach in Atlit, has opened up a big window into the world of the proud Israeli Arab community. Its people live in the reality of a "known secret". In areas such as Haifa and Tel Aviv, they lead an open life, but outside of these circles they are known to have left their homes in the Galilee, Triangle and Negev villages because of "the issue". 

Ayman Safiya was a member of Kfar Yasif. I too am a native of this special village, whose name goes before it as a bastion of modernity and liberality in Arab society. 50 years ago, he was the first Middle Eastern village to elect a woman - Violet Khoury - to head the local council. In the 1990s, the village held a world record in the percentage of educated in relation to the number of its inhabitants, and interfaith marriage was part of the landscape. 

Sepia, an exceptional artist in his qualities, swam against the current, his life and his death. With stubbornness and determination, he broke all the conventions imposed by a conservative society on her sons. He chose to come out of the closet a few years ago, and talked about it with great openness and pride. He also chose an art considered out of bounds for men: dance. He has developed an international career, and is considered a pioneer in the Arab world in ballet. 

His tragic death revealed a sensitive sadness in Arab society in Israel. On the one hand exposure and openness to everything the global village has to offer, on the other, social and religious conservatism. Although his funeral was one of the largest in the history of the Galilee, despite the restrictions on the number of participants due to the corona, already with the disappearance at sea, began to emerge on social networks, from north to south, expressions condemning his gender choices. Throughout the search, many expressed pain and sympathy with family grief, but unfortunately, homophobia and hatred also flourished in the networks. For fear of criticism, Muslim clerics in Kfar Yasif refused to conduct the funeral service before the burial. The family had to make a courageous decision - and upheld the church's mourning practices, not the mosque. 

The double marginality imposed on the proud Jewish community is difficult. Although many are considered prominent and successful - artists, musicians, journalists, jurists, and educators - they encounter difficulties within their communities and are sometimes outcast, while not always finding their place in the proud Jewish community. 

The process of social development and modernization has always been met with a conservative reaction. It begins with resistance from the "gatekeepers" in the religious or educational establishment, and sometimes also manifests itself in the social environment. But Ayman Safiya, in his death and life, changed something in the Arab public consciousness, especially among young people, who appreciated his art and identified with his human story. In his short life, he filled the world of many with great inspiration. Of blessed memory. 

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Source: israelhayom

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