A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

A7ba2i: Julia Boutros sings Nasrallah

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on November 3, 2006

 

Last week a friend mentioned that Julia Boutros has released a new song, a fundraiser for victims of the summer war. Boutros’ voice was one of those heard often during the civil war, and her latest piece is just as au courant: she sings the words of Hasan Nasrallah, set to poetry by Ghassan Matar.

I googled for the song, titled A7ba2i (my beloved ones) after the endearment Nasrallah used in addressing Hizbullah soldiers, and found it … with the first listing the FPM forums website. hmm. I find the FPM forums fascinating. I first encountered them while trawling for discussions on the contentious overseas citizenship/absentee voting issues as part of a larger research project. I don’t agree with everything they say, but I admire the commitment, energy, and dynamism of the tayyarists.

The warmth with which the posters to this forum received Boutros’ new song reinforces what became apparent during the summer – that the Aoun-Nasrallah agreement is one that is spreading beyond the za3im level to involve each man’s followers.

The forum lists lyrics and a link for downloading: http://www.lfpm.org/forum/showthread.php?t=18754. The video is available at : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-UFyYWvAss&eurl=.

The generally hardline ynetnews site (Yedioth Aharanot’s website) has a reprint of an Agence France Press article on the popularity and evolution of Hizbullah music since the summer war. The full article is available here: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3318140,00.html, but for me the most interesting section was the last, which discussed the Wilaya troupe:

“Since the end of the war, the troupe has toured abroad in Kuwait and Bahrain — a first for the men who have performed together since 1988.

“The people didn’t look at us as only a Hizbullah troupe, in their eyes we were the incarnation of (Hizbullah leader Hassan) Nasrallah,” says Kazan. “We are proud to represent the name of the resistance.”

Describing their music as chanting rather than singing, Kazan says that Hizbullah fighters returning from the front told him that they used to fire off their lyrics at hidden Israeli troops.

“These chants are a means of spiritual motivation for the fighters, it’s a different kind of weapon,” says the jovial-looking Kazan, adding that while Arab pop music is about love between a man and a woman, his chants are about “a dialogue between God and man.”

“We use drums, synthesizers, trumpets, clarinets, but not tambourines or derbakehs (a small underarm drum) because they evoke belly dancing. We don’t want people to think about dancing, so if it looks like they might, we’ll slow the music down.”

“Of course I want our chants to be known but not everywhere or at any cost. For instance, I don’t think they should be played in nightclubs.”

 

Most of the performers are classically trained at the Beirut Conservatory, and Ghamlush says many songs are inspired by classical composers such as Russia’s Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

Manager Hassan Ghamlush says he has no objection to pop stars releasing their own patriotic songs, such as the latest offering by Julia Boutros — a Christian — complete with a video of her walking through the ruins of southern Lebanon as Hizbullah fighters emerge triumphantly from the woods.

“We don’t compare ourselves to them, but we don’t mind competition if it’s for the same cause. A part of the population might not like what we do and prefer what Julia is doing.”

Wearing a stylishly trimmed beard, Ghamlush accuses Western media of distorting the reality of Hizbullah.

“They think we are ignorant and backward but we are cultured. We love life, music and art, we don’t just live for martyrdom and death. But we do want to live with dignity and pride.””

American media follow the administration in referring to Hizbullah almost without exception as a ‘radical Islamist group’, and frequently compare it to al-Qaeda. Ghamlush’s statement to me illustrates the grave flaws in the American understanding of Hizbullah and why it appeals to so many, in Lebanon and abroad. Its not that I think American policy must embrace Hizbullah, but that by ignoring its real existence and the reasons for its appeal in favor of a phantom we make policy based on illusion, and delusion.

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