Political song: the cultural and popular bond between Lebanon and Palestine
Abido Bacha, Palestinian TV writer and director, and theater critic
I did not have to climb a flight of stairs to become Palestinian, not because I am liberal but because I am free. I am a man who discovered his freedom between his two lives: a life as old as the bombarded Palestinian protests; and as old as the war on the refugee camps in 1973. There can be no neutrality or avoidance after that.
Although the humiliation of Palestinians occurred for the first time in my life when I was six or nine years old, I no longer remember. But I do remember that they were humiliated for the second time when I was sixteen years old.
Palestinians did not need a panicking passenger aboard what seems a dismissal from existence. The subjugation of Palestinians drove me to their ammunition stores, not to the Palestinian Authority hotels. Neither an initial meeting nor a final meeting is required for me to become Palestinian.
They swept the country, passing through its villages of death and collecting massive gains. It begins by reclaiming life and ends with living multiple lives in a single life. Through war: a war of partnership between national forces and the Palestinian resistance.
The Lebanese people have lived a compounded life through which intellectuals, guitarists, cameramen, filmmakers, and playwrights have run and run. Playwrights of a theater far removed from the crossword policies and from artists, novelists and storytellers who follow their political parties, not their state after it shot itself in the head then escaped in a car driven by a member of the rightist gangs. The country has covered its people with sorrow, wreckage, fear and anger.
Only the dead have shown no anger at the events or the Authority’s reasoning to reclaim the ‘Israeli right’ outside Palestine. However, no one can yet tamper with memory nor with the tasks assigned by life. No one can shake the Palestinian magic, and what magic to begin with!
I still remember my sigh atop Shalaboun Hill in Bint Jbeil town; I witnessed the top of the glowing thread of Palestine under the light of the Israeli military searchlights. The scene provoked an idea, an ordeal, not a truce.
There, there’s no place for a man standing on an adjacent sidewalk to an adjacent sidewalk adjacent to the adjacent sidewalk. There, to open the doors wide open into Palestine, Palestine will always own a part of me.
A part of me was left with Palestinians before their existence was ruined in 1982. It’s because they gave Beirut its vast expansion; they supported Beirut’s cosmopolitanism and missions and its reconnection with its past as well as the warmth of companionship as much as it has given them. They gave Beirut Darwish-Al Qasem, Emile Habibi, Naji Al Ali, and part of its new sensitivities and modernism and post-modernism.
It happened within its ideologies, science, culture, flame, openness and revolutionary brotherhood. The political song paralyzed the state and its conspiracy to assassinate civilian characteristics to rest at the political party’s top. The political song connected poetry with resistance philosophies and everyday activities, and cultural dynamics. That was the first significant burden on the shoulders of Palestinian poetry. No one objected to the brotherhood between Palestinian poetry and Lebanese composers and singers. Palestinian poetry is the foremost guide to the political song, followed by southern poetry, followed by the critics of intermarriage between eloquence and music: those promoters of dialects and spoken languages.
The political song is made up of life. It created sufficient but not natural change when it plucked all meanings of the new regime’s openness to the modern theme. It’s a world with no diaries and a world of keys. A world of armed compositions with Marcel Khalife since his ‘Promises from the Storm,’ Ahmed Kaabour after ‘I Call on You,’ Khaled Al Hobar following ‘We Will Plant Seeds in Chiyah,’ Ghazi Mekdashi with “Record this! I am Arab,” and Al Ghandour, Osama Hallak, Al Hafi, Hanan Mayas, and Sami Hawat.
If I may say so, those people said it right!
Ruthlessly, they occupied the skies after the ground put its faith in them. Culture protected politics with unwritten security. Since politicians have not exerted any effort against culture and its glory, they could cope with it neither through strategies nor respect. The latter insisted on keeping the city’s status quo of backward affairs – such as weapons, security, and oil. Meanwhile, another event: the civil war loomed.
The beautiful song had no guidance, even for the purpose of utilizing it. Like that, political songs, theater, and cinema crossed through everything under the political parties’ power after trespassing the state powers. This is what changed it from a whim into a world where everyone emerged in a way that baffled its protagonists. They maintained their cultural and political value (their idea) of its freedom. Such change made it into a project that conserves several issues, including its advancement and progress as an open space and a public place for the city’s residents, Lebanon, and the Arab States.
However, many attempts emerged from learning to drive between the lines in narrow spaces away from laws and regulations. But, out of ignorance, some of them stood at the side of the song’s road or by its windows.
Such an achievement occurred in a wave driven by force, not the quivering moment of its on-spot birthing. The political song was not adopted in Syria or Tunisia, or Morocco. Several bands carrying different banners emerged, disregarding political songs – leading examples include Nass El Ghiwane and Jil Jilala.
Some people, however, insist that central administrations cannot lead to the presence of meaningful classic products, especially in the absence of conditions, terms, support, and competencies. This way, no one could demonize the political song, especially with the Lebanese and Palestinian history of excellence in using it through time. They are always ready to capture the scene because they rescinded the right to live far away from destruction and the idea of change in characteristics, notwithstanding that such concepts might lead to their death.
Wars leave their profound impact on people’s souls and belongings – they are stage companions. Not everyone survived, and no one was in denial. However, those spared, carrying their wounds as tattoos or images in their heads, understand that the political song is stored by and has penetrated wars. That is why it oozed from the pores and the souls, living in them or having them live within. It does not let go, and they cannot part with it; since it is part of the memory’s storm. It’s a memory that still looks onto loved ones, companions, and friends who carried it in their souls and dreams on top of fighters and under their arms during head-to-head clashes.
For those who dreamt of a different Lebanon and the return to Palestine, for those who read, not only the fire showers but also the story and circumstances of the song, it’s a song kept away from withering on the high grass because its owners constructed it and, through it, achieved the popular connection strength between Lebanon and Palestine after they grasped the profundity of the Palestinian cause via open relationships.
The impact of violence lies here. Here lies social discrimination through processes that did not occur as during the civil war. It appeared with the connection between feelings, and everything happened in front of the people’s eyes.
The buildup breached their personalities, causing their belief system to be dominated by avoiding past events and pushing oneself into danger because it is exposed to a slow death. History delivers no peace of mind, neither do current circumstances.
Sadat in Jerusalem, speaking as if he owns the DNA of the human race. He did not shake the stereotypical image of the relations with Israel when he shook the foundations, operations, and structures of the Arab lands.
The narrative was shaken opposite the duplicity of the dictator who conspired with Israel and Zionism through a new check cashed into the accounts of the Imperialistic West. He was not deterred by the people in power’s disposition when the Lebanese drew a pact with the Palestinians to cross all the stages with their entirety of images and expressions.
It involved the occupancy of the land and the production of surprises and measured recklessness to allow things and shapes and tools and humans to invite each other to communicate – not out of the desire for a new cycle of improvisation but a revolution of improvised protection. That is what Beirut has always sought – out of a passion for more improvements; eloquence starts performing. All this is to protect the cause from falling into a state of self-sufficiency or confiscation or assault through appropriation, as Mr Sadat has done. He pushed his truths into the largest fraud operation in history.
The political song is the child of circumstances, not visions or soundly laid-out plans. It is the child of the interference in events, the self-withdrawal opposite self-confidence. Everybody realized that nothing may reside in flesh and bones, and everyone will fall if the organizations keep lacking the warmth of relationships in the character-forming equation. There’s no room for correctness within the ongoing occupation of Palestine. This is not an investment; on the contrary, it is treason.
There’s no denying that there is some sort of joy in the emergence of artistic spontaneity into mastering pattern-making. It would be a wide pattern, a strong pattern, an unmatched pattern even if repeated.
I know that what I am saying will stir the rage of fundamentalists on both sides. Still, self-reflection will lead us into the inside of the artistic operations and political and ideological background of the joint social, political and ideological of the Lebanese and Palestinians.
Each party depends on what the other party says. Each party depends on identification unless feared to be done by others because of the artistic operations intermingling with reality—one thing and its exact self; what we cannot overcome. The same way grass grows as vigorously as ‘Ahmed Al Araby’, ‘Ahmed Al Zaatar,’ ‘Adwaa Street,’ ‘Record this! I am Arab,’ ‘I Asked the Nile to Dismount,’ and ‘Right of Return.’
Everything that was created in Lebanon was already made in Palestine. They meet in plain sight, not in secret, away from misleading narratives. We are connected to the thought link to Palestine and its Arab profundity. Here, the space for freedom provides hopes for a renaissance.
We were not scared – nor were we shaken – by the idea of punishing free-thinking and disciplining youth.
Not only the Palestinian people were forced to leave their lands after misery took its toll following the displacement. The freedom to connect to the Palestinian cause means that the spaces allowed for pressure and increasing change in favor of the states against the corrupt, oppressive, and authoritarian regimes. The companionship of friends is the biggest gain.
If the other regimes abide by their missions; if they are governed by freedom and democratic will, they would have opened all their frontlines against Israel; not necessarily in armed battles, but in the cultural, economic, and ideological support. And because none of that happened, the city revolted against its rulers and decision-makers. Central authorities retreated opposite the unity of reality, destiny, and chants between the Lebanese and Palestinian people in one of the most incredible civil partnerships in the history of nations.
Through objective analysis and apart from the cultural suppression by the regime, loyal professionals shall unite against the unplugging of ventilators.
With the absolute truth, from the Japanese Red Army to the Baader–Meinhof Group and the revolutionary priority and liberation movements worldwide, it’s a remarkable parade for freedom away from markets.
The Palestinian cause exerts a huge burden against the Arab axis dysfunctionality: an ignition of paused dialogues, the launch of the ideological struggle based on the struggle between the Eastern and Western blocs and the unification of vision regarding renaissance and independence.
It’s a battle for culture, knowledge, and new political awareness. The dream of both a state and renaissance or the pursuit of only renaissance and no state. It is the safest fight – if the Lebanese people are not afraid of joining it – because it will result in unrivalled events.
The political song is a marvel of war, as we do not rise as the children of a barbarous age but as orphaned children of a revolution. All because we cannot detach ourselves from our attraction to Palestine through joint development in life.
We have overcome fundamentalist regimes, groups, associations, organizations, and authorities with emotional and mental tendencies filed under noble beliefs. It involves pure souls and salvation from human vulnerability, revolting against the status quo, fully aware of the rebellion’s results.
We rejected the scrutiny of results and surrendered to rules. This way, we challenged the self to achieve justice. The world put us to a problematic test without shame when its troops attacked us, and we found ourselves against it without success.
Palestinians left Lebanon on boats east- and west-bound. But we leftists, we lost so much.
We lost the political song; in its situation and darkness after it was accused of inciting the resurgence of war.
The narrator has spoken, and there’s no justification following the release of the film.