Abdur-Rahim Jackson, 31, was not on the Nefesh 2 Nefesh flight, when he arrived at Ben Gurion Airport this week. No, this famous dancer was traveling with New York’s famed Alvin Ailey dance troupe, as it arrived in Israel to perform in Tel Aviv. Ailey, celbrating its 50th anniversary is in Israel for the nation’s 60th. Jackson, an African American graduate of Julliard, was forced to dance twice at the airport for security officials, who were perhaps confused by his first name.
After passing the security check, Jackson was taken to a secure area and questioned for an hour about his first name. Jackson told Israel’s Yediot Ahronoth newspaper, “They repeatedly asked me what my father’s name is, â€¦and why they gave me this name.” Jackson handed them a brochure from the troupe the contained pictures of him dancing. One security official then asked Jackson to dance for them. Jackson was then asked to repeat the performance for a female security guard.
Jackson – engaged to fellow Alvin Ailey dancer Olivia Bowman, who is part Jewish – said he was not raised a Muslim.
Well at least he was not forced to recite the Shema, as I was once asked to do at the border with Sinai in 1985.
Jackson and the Alvin Ailey group performed last night at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center. Tel Aviv Mayor Ronald Huldai plans to attend the show, as does Shimon Peres
The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater grew from the now fabled performance in March 1958, at the 92nd Street Young Men’s Hebrew Association in New York. Led by Alvin Ailey and a group of young African-American modern dancers, that performance changed forever the perception of American dance. The Israel Airports Authority said, “The details of the incident are unknown to us, and no corroboration was found in the investigation we conducted.