In what I suspect is an attempt to show how the people of Gaza are just like you and me, a group called The Palestinian Authority for Youth Empowerment has come out with this flash mob video at Gaza port.
I have no problem with it. For one, it gives a glimpse at the ridiculousness of the idea that Gaza is some kind of open-air “concentration camp.” And it sure beats the last music video to come out of Gaza.
But I also appreciate it for another reason.
The music accompaniment is “Shamstep” by a band called 47SOUL. No prizes for guessing that the name is derived from the year 1947, the year the UN partition plan of Palestine was introduced, which they see as “the last year in which their grandparents were able to move freely within their homeland.” Here’s more about the band members.
The four members that make up 47SOUL all originate from Bilad Al Sham (Land of the North), or more commonly known as the Levant, an area which now is made up of Syria, Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon.
There are more articles referring to them as originating from Bilad al-Sham, and they themselves mention this on their website.
And here’s the irony. The term Bilad al-Sham hints towards their true origins.
Bilad al-Sham (Arabic: بلاد الشام, “the country of Syria”) was a Rashidun, Umayyad and later Abbasid Caliphate province in the region of Syria. It incorporated former Byzantine territories of the Diocese of the East, organized soon after the Muslim conquest of Syria in the mid-7th century, which was completed at the decisive Battle of Yarmouk.
Today, when people say “al-Sham,” they typically refer to the region containing Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, parts of Jordan, parts of Iraq, and parts of Turkey.
Bilad al-Sham (also transliterated Bilad-ush-Sham, Cham under French influence etc.) can be used as a general name for the whole Levant or “Greater Syria” region (without special reference to the early historical caliphal province). The region is sometimes defined as the area that was dominated by Damascus, long an important regional centre—in fact, the Arabic word al-Sham الشام standing on its own can refer to the city of Damascus.
And for those averse to Wikipedia:
Historically and up until Syria became a French mandate, Syria was synonymous with the Levant, or Bilad-Al-Sham. It included Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan and Alexandretta (now part of Turkey). Needless to say modern Syria does not include these territories any more, thanks to France and the UK and their Sykes-Picot Agreement.
When Prince Faisal of the Hedjaz, who I posted about recently here, established the first Arab government in Damascus in October 1918 following WWI, he created local governments across the Bilad Al-Sham before he was proclaimed king of “Great Syria” in 1920.
In other words, Bilad Al-Sham is a reminder that the Arabs living in the Palestine area were not considered as a separate nation, but rather part of this Greater Syria region. A Palestinian nationalism slowly arose around this time, mainly as a response to Zionism.
So I would suggest 47Soul have unwittingly reminded everyone of the colonial roots of the Arabs in the region, and that the idea of a distinctive, indigenous palestinian nation is bogus.