It is a misfortune for anyone to be homeless. And it’s likely that there is nothing worse than being homeless, for it simply means you don’t have a place to sleep in. I know nobody who doesn’t have a place to sleep in, but I do know many who have a worse misfortune than this little plight of homelessness. I am one of them. It is to be ‘homelandess’—I doubt you ever heard about it. So let’s call it ‘countryless’, or ‘nationless’. (didn’t make a difference, did it? never mind, I won’t repeat it very often).
My concise Oxford dictionary states that a homeless person is that who is of no fixed abode. It’s necessary, therefore, for one to have a place to eat, sleep, and live under which roof so as not to be stigmatised as ‘homeless’. And it’s as well necessary for one to have a homeland to belong to so as not to be of the second case. But what if this homeland no more exists? What if it is substituted by another homeland which is allegedly more national to its inhabitants that the former to its?—Well, obviously these people will no longer have a homeland of their own and become ‘homelandess’. There is yet an escape from this quandary: it is to create a new homeland to live in.
It can be effortlessly discerned that there is no such thing as ‘Palestine’ in the vocabulary of international policy; that is, the sort of Palestine which is internationally recognised so that it is on the list and no longer deliberately omitted when I roll down the list of countries before I complete my registration on the web for some membership. There is no such Palestine. Yet, as defiant as we are, the Palestinians do have that country which is no better described than what Wikipedia, or a Palestinian for the most part, succinctly puts it “a conventional name used, among others, to describe a geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands”— Not only the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, for that is not Palestine, but “the Palestinian Authority” or “The Palestinian Territories”. Just entirely and completely erroneous and undesirable Oslo-accords repercussions which most if not all the Palestinians won’t concede to.
That attempt to create a homeland to the Palestinians wasn’t the sole one but incredibly the most failing. It bluntly relinquished almost 71% of the whole Palestinian land. The “peace negotiations” are undergoing at the moment between the Israeli government and the Palestinian government (pardon me, and the Palestinians) with one of its primary objectives that is to establish a Palestinian state on the borders of 1967. Let me not address the contingency of the success of these farcical negotiations, but in case, the two sides do succeed to reach an agreement “it’s gonna be a real big failure”. . .but how so?
Well, there is more vivid a picture of Palestine their in her inhabitants’ minds. It is untouchable but felt. It’s unseen but fancied. It’s like an idea. Though you cannot kiss it, it is very powerful and perpetual. Not concrete, but real, genuine and true. It is their to be unforgotten, to be remembered. That is the Palestine of Lyrics.
Palestinian National Lyrics are consecrated to the Palestinians, simply because they compensate them for their loss, the loss of their homeland, the loss of their beloved ones, their blood, their olive trees, for the loss of themselves. Palestinian national lyrics along with their unshakable faith in their cause constitute that graceful picture of Palestine: the Palestine which no egregious force whatsoever can rob them of.
Still remember the solution to ‘homelandessness’? I said it is to create a new homeland for yourself and live there, in this new homeland. This is almost what the Palestinians did. They have created a new homeland: an new Palestine: a Palestine of Lyrics.
But alas, and as the case would suggest, they were obviously unable to live in that intangible Palestine. So they just made it live inside them.
A few are those who pass a day without listening to “Homeland, I have chosen you!”, “I walk upright!”, “Mawtini”, “Flower of Cities”, “Lilies of Jerusalem”, “I sing for you!”, “The mask had fallen!”, “A Passport”, “We never forget”, and the list goes on. . .
Explaining how it feels when you listen to these lyrics is inconceivable. It only conjures up an avalanche of fabulous portraits of the homeland I have never been to or even seen with my eyes, not even in pictures, just accompanied with a torrent of inexpressibly paradoxical sensations of poignancy and nostalgia.
Neither a disgraceful label of ‘Palestinian Territories’ nor a passionless ‘The Palestinian Authority’ will satiate my ardent hankering for a homeland. It is only a Palestine of Lyrics, whether she is my homeland or I am her homeland, is the sole Palestine I am happy to have as a compensation for the Palestine we lost years and years ago.
PS: While writing this, I, more than once, indirectly quoted Alan Moore, the writer of V for Vendetta.
Mohammed Rabah Suliman