By Tariq Shadid
There are several ways of expressing a desire for change, and one of these can be through the arts. In the current turmoil of the Middle East, there are also voices that look beyond the mere toppling of regimes, and are expressing their deep concern at the price being paid by ordinary citizens in civil wars and other phenomena of sectarian strife that have become widespread in the region.
It should not come as a surprise that some of these voices come from Palestine, as it has become obvious how the region’s unrest has led to diminished attention for the decades-long plight of the Palestinian people. Besides this, the past years have also split up Palestinian unity along sectarian lines, thus weakening the solid unified stance of the Palestinian people against the illegal Israeli occupation.
I am a Palestinian surgeon and hobbyist musician known by my artist handle ‘Doc Jazz’, and I run a website known as The Musical Intifada, which showcases my large collection of songs supporting the Palestinian cause. I recently wrote a song in Arabic that calls out for unity, and against settling sectarian differences through violence. The song was called ‘Al Jeel Al Jadeed‘, which is Arabic for ‘The New Generation’.
My message was picked up by young Palestinians from Gaza who are known for their activities in social media, among others Shahd and Majed Abusalama, Walaa al Ghussein and Eman Sourani, and a music video was put together for the song. This was largely filmed in Gaza, and directed by inspiring Palestinian artist Shahd Abusalama, in cooperation with cameramen Yazan Abu Dawood and Omar Shala. In total, around 20 youths from Gaza cooperated in the making of the video clip, and their names are listed in the credit roll at the end of it.
The result is a modern and radiant call for unity, providing a fresh, hopeful and positive angle on the situation. It was warmly received by the international community of Palestine-sympathizers, hitting the 5,000 view mark after only 24 hours of its appearance on Youtube. The unusual funky sound of the music, at least by the standards of mainstream Arabic music, proved to be no obstacle for its popularity, rather the opposite.
As is clear from the words of the song, the focus of it steers away from the political dimensions of the issue, and rather focuses on the human element. It calls upon people to embrace one another as equals despite their differences, and to resort to dialogue to settle internal matters instead of embracing methods that include weapons and other forms of violent confrontation.
The song came with translations in Dutch and English, but soon received spontaneous translations in Spanish and French from its supporters in the international community. These were added in Closed Captions (CC) subtitles to the video, enabling listeners from outside of the Arabic world to follow the song and its meanings.
I hope the message will be understood in its proper context. We have a struggle to wage against a belligerent, expansionist and racist entity that calls itself ‘Israel’. Without unity, there is not much we can achieve.
Let us stop giving the Zionist entity the pleasure and advantage of watching us going at each other’s throats, and embrace one another in Palestinian and Arab unity, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health.
– Tariq Shadid is a surgeon living in the Arab Gulf who has been contributing articles to the Palestine Chronicle for many years. Some of these essays have been bundled in the book ‘Understanding Palestine’, which is available on Amazon.com. He also is the founder of the website ‘Musical Intifada’ featuring his songs about the Palestinian cause, on www.docjazz.com. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.