By Khalid Amayreh
Last week, a few ultra-liberal women in Ramallah, apparently in cooperation with some western funded NGOs, organized a dancing contest as well as a fashion parade. According to the Maan news agency, Palestinian, western as well as Israeli women participated in the events.
The two events were viewed by many Palestinians as an a moral provocation to the conservative Palestinian society.
One Palestinian imam and Friday speaker in Ramallah labeled the events "promiscuous and permissive."
He called the few organizers "agents of Israeli and western immorality."
"These agents of western and Zionist immorality are trying to introduce this filth in order to corrupt our boys and girls. These people are more dangerous to Palestine, its honorable people and just cause than the Israeli army"
Organizers sought to defend their activities, saying that the Palestinian law guaranteed them full freedom of expression.
One woman named Amal described the dancing festivity as "a sublime soul-booster activity."
Another fanatical secularist described opponents of dancing and fashion parades as "representing darkness."
However, the Minister of Wakf and Islamic Affairs in Ramallah, Mahmoud al-Habash denounced the events as "contrary to Islam and injurious to the honor of the Palestinian people."
Habash, a Fatah leader, said the events were cheap and immoral activities aimed at corrupting Palestinian youth.
The Mufti of Palestine Sheikh Muhammed Husein reacted similarly, calling the events "a moral cancer."
Aziz Duweik. Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council. Also denounced the events as "scandalous, salacious and lustful."
"I am sure that shaking bodies in this lustful manner will not liberate Jerusalem. I think the opposite is true.
"The question that begs itself is what sort of values the organizers and sponsors are trying to foster and spread among Palestinian youths."
The Palestinian Authority (PA) remained silent, refusing to okay or condemn the events, attended by a small number of westernized women.
PA reticence is likely to be interpreted as a tacit approval of the "sinful acts," as many ordinary Palestinians see the events.
Hamas' leaders in both Gaza and the West Bank strongly denounced the "whoring events," calling upon the Ramallah government to "protect the moral fabric of the Palestinian people."
"Today, it is pornographic dancing and lustful fashion parades. Tomorrow these decadent women will pitch prostitution houses. Palestinians must move to stop this abomination before it is too late," said Ahmed al-Sharif, an Islamist speaker in the southern West Bank.
The strongest reaction to the events came from Hizbul-Tahrir, an Islamic political party advocating the reinstitution of the caliphate.
A spokesman for the party said that the fact that the PA government allowed "the promiscuous events to go through "exposed and indicted the Palestinian leadership."
"They (PA) are full partner to these shameful and shameless events. And they say they will establish a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
"But how is it possible that we can establish a state with naked breasts and topless women. What sort of moral narcotics these people are trying to spread in Palestine," said Muhamed Abu Arqoub, a spokesman for the Islamist party in Hebron .
Abu Arqoub said it was no coincidence that the PA security apparatus would vehemently prevent demonstrations against Israel and its guardian ally, the United States, while giving "Zionist agents (the organizers of the events) full freedom to eject their moral poison."
Liberal NGOs in the occupied territories receive generous contributions from American and western governments. It is widely believed that the undeclared goal behind the funding is to undermine the moral fabric of the largely conservative Palestinian society.
A few years ago, Israeli President Shimon Peres lamented the spread of Hijab or modest attire among Palestinian women, suggesting that this showed that peace between Israelis and Palestinians still had a long way to go.