Political Discourse and Slogans of Palestine

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a long-standing dispute over land in the Middle East, primarily involving Israel and the Palestinian territories. It originated in the early 20th century from competing nationalist movements among Jews and Arabs. The conflict intensified with the establishment of Israel in 1948, which led to multiple wars, displacement of Palestinians, and ongoing disputes over borders, the status of Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees, and security. The situation remains unresolved and highly contentious.

Palestinian political discourse centers on themes of national identity, resistance, and the quest for statehood. Key issues include the rights to self-determination, the return of refugees, the status of Jerusalem, and opposition to Israeli occupation and settlement activities. The discourse frequently addresses the hardships of displacement and the significance of martyrdom in the struggle for independence. Overall, it reflects a narrative of resilience and the demand for international recognition and justice.

A Palestinian flag

Important concepts

Here’s some useful terminology to know if you’re interested in Palestinian politics:

قَصْفْ (bombardment/shelling) highlights the impact of Israeli military strikes, emphasizing Palestinian suffering and the need for international support and resolution.

نُزُوْحْ (exodus) refers to the mass departure of Palestinians from their homes, especially during significant historical events like the 1948 Nakba. This term highlights the displacement and ongoing plight of Palestinian refugees, underscoring demands for the right of return and restitution in discussions of peace and statehood.

تَهْجِيْرْ (displacement) and إِخْلَاْءْ (evacuation) refer to the historical and ongoing forced removal of Palestinians from their homes, often used to highlight grievances and injustices suffered under Israeli policies.

شُهَدَاءْ (martyrs) or شَهِيْدْ (martyr) represents Palestinian individuals who have died in the context of the conflict. This term is used to honor their sacrifice and underscore the legitimacy and moral high ground of the Palestinian cause. Many believe that these شُهَدَاء go to paradise, where they can enjoy a better life.

مّقَاْوَمَة (resistance) encompasses various forms of struggle against Israeli occupation. It includes both armed resistance and non-violent actions such as protests, international advocacy, and cultural preservation. This term symbolizes the ongoing fight for Palestinian rights, sovereignty, and the assertion of national identity, and is pivotal in rallying support and solidarity from within the Palestinian community and internationally.

الْأَقْصَى (Al-Aqsa Mosque) holds profound significance as both a religious and national symbol. Located in Jerusalem, it represents Palestinian cultural and spiritual heritage and is a focal point in the Palestinian identity. The site is often at the center of tensions and conflicts due to its sacred status in Islam and its location within a contested area. Al-Aqsa’s prominence in discourse underscores the importance of Jerusalem and its holy sites in the broader Palestinian struggle for sovereignty and self-determination. The Palestinian dialect of the Arabic language further enriches the narratives and expressions centered around Al-Aqsa, reflecting its deep cultural resonance within the community.

الْقُدْسُ (Jerusalem) is seen not only as a key religious site due to the presence of significant Islamic and Christian holy places, but also as a symbol of Palestinian national identity and aspirations for statehood. The status of Jerusalem remains one of the most contentious issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with most Palestinians considering it, or at least part of it, the capital-in-waiting for a future Palestinian state.

Jerusalem during the sunset, a city view

نكبة (catastrophe) refers to the 1948 displacement of Palestinians during the establishment of Israel.

حق العودة (Right of Return) is the demand that Palestinian refugees and their descendants be able to return to their original homes.

استيطان (settlement) refers to Israeli communities built on occupied Palestinian land.

احتلال (occupation) in the context of Israel’s control over the Palestinian territories varies by perspective. Typically, it refers to the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Golan Heights, territories captured in the 1967 war. Moderates limit the term to these areas, but some extremists extend it to all Israel, reflecting a rejection of Israel’s statehood.

دولة (state) pertains to the aspiration for an independent Palestinian state.

مفاوضات (negotiations) refers to peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis.

أمن (security) is a key concern in discussions of state-building and conflict resolution.

مقاطعة (boycott) is part of a strategy to non-violently oppose Israeli policies.

هدنة (ceasefire) is used in the context of temporary peace agreements between Hamas and Israel.

Fidaa al-Aqsa, Fidaa Filasteen!

فِدَا is another common word you’ll hear in the Palestinian context. Some common phrases involving this word Palestine are:

      • فِدَا الأَقْصَى (Fidaa al-Aqsa), which means that the security of al-Aqsa mosque is paramount. (literally: Sacrifice for al-Aqsa).

      • فِدَاْ فِلَسْطِيْن (Fidaa Filasteen),  which means that Palestine is paramount. (literally: Sacrifice for Palestine).

    The word فِدَاْ is also used when a Palestinian is killed or his house is destroyed. The family or friends of the killed Palestinian or the owners of the house may say: ‘فِدَا الأَقْصَى، فِدَاْ فِلَسْطِيْن، فِدَا القُدْسْ’ (in other words, the death or destruction represents a noble sacrifice for Al-Aqsa, Palestine, and Jerusalem).

    The word  فِدَاْ is common in the Levant and is expressed in non political contexts as well, such as when something unfortunate or serious happens. The emphasis is on the safety of the person or thing in relation to this sacrifice, and an expression of endearment and is used to express love and concern for someone. Take the following dialogue as an example:

    Daughter:

    ماما كَسَرْت الصَّحِن
    Mom, I broke the plate!

    Mother:

    فِدَاكْ حَبِيْبِي
    No problem, the important thing is that you are well, my dear

    This also occurs when a Palestinian is killed or his house is destroyed. The family or friends of the killed Palestinian or the owners of the house may say: ‘فِدَا الأَقْصَى، فِدَاْ فِلَسْطِيْن، فِدَا القُدْسْ’ (in other words, we sacrifice for Al-Aqsa, Palestine, and Jerusalem).

    In Classical Arabic, فِدَاء refers to the act of making a payment, often in money or similar compensation, to redeem others or as a form of atonement for failing to fulfill religious duties, where one compensates by paying a penalty or similar restitution.

    Vocabulary and concepts surrounding al-shaHeed (martyr)

    شَهِيْدْ: A martyr. Someone who dies in the way of Allah. 

    As for the martyr, sometimes they refer to them as “العَرِيْس” (bridegroom) instead of “الشَهِيْدْ”, and instead of saying “جَنَازَة” (funeral), they often say “زَفَّة,” which is the procession of a wedding. This is because they believe that a martyr goes to paradise الجَنَّة and marries the حُوْرُ العَيْنِ who are described as beautiful women (large-eyed) in paradise, according to what is mentioned in the Quran. Despite the sorrow and pain experienced by their family, there is a sense of satisfaction and pride accompanying the acknowledgment of this testimony.

    By the way, are you familiar with “زَلَاغِيْطْ” or “زَغَارِيْدْ” (ululations)? They are a common tradition among Arabs to express joy on happy occasions. “زَلَاغِيْطْ” involve making unique and cheerful sounds, often produced by women rapidly moving their tongues. 

    Here are some examples of الْزَلْغُوْطَة in the Arab world:

    https://youtu.be/r2ZBgVVJINQ?si=Qr8y-NcudnvNw4U-

    https://youtu.be/ZXZ1TJ-9Y6Y?si=PI0V6TmQKbNf0-m1

    In Palestine, it’s not surprising to hear زَلَاغِيْطْ at the funeral of a martyr, such as in this example:

    https://youtu.be/SALsRIyvSNE?si=CaEW4y915WFLvGdi

    Common chants “هُتَافَاتْ” at martyrs’ funerals

    يا أُمّ الشَّهِيد نِيَّالِك يَارِيت أُمِّي بَدَالِك
    “O mother of the martyr, how fortunate you are. I wish my mother were in your place.”

    يا شَهِيد اِرْتَاح اِرْتَاح واِحْنَا نْوَاصِل الكِفَاح
    “O martyr, rest, rest, and we will continue the struggle.”

    بالرُّوح بالدَّم نَفْدِيك يَا شَهِيد
    “We can die for you, martyr” (literally: With our soul, with our blood, we redeem you, O martyr)

    بالرُّوح بالدَم نَفْدِيكِ يَا فِلَسْطِين
    “We can die for you, Palestine” (literally: With our soul, with our blood, we redeem you, O Palestine)

    لا إله إلا الله والشَّهِيد حَبِيب الله
    “There is no god but Allah, and the martyr is beloved by Allah.”

    يا أم الشَّهِيد زَغْرَدِي كُل الشَّبَاب ولَادِك
    “O mother of the martyr, rejoice! All the young ones are your children.”

    يا شَبَاب انْضَمُّوا انْضَمُّوا والشَّهِيد ضَحَّى بدَمُّه
    “Youth, join, join, for the martyr sacrificed his blood.”

    لا تِبْكُوا عَلَى الشَّهِيد عِنْد الله مَوْلُود جديد
    “Do not cry for the martyr; in the eyes of Allah, they are newly born.”

    يا شَبَاب انْضَمُّوا إِلَيْنَا والشَّهِيد غَالِي عَلَيْنَا
    “Youth, join us, and the martyr is precious to us.”

    باب الأقصى مِن حَديد مَا يُفْتَحُه إِلَّا الشَّهِيد
    “The gate of Al-Aqsa is made of iron, only the martyr can open it.”

    يا شَهِيد يا مَجْرُوح دَمَّك عُمْرُه مَا بَيْرُوح
    “O martyr, O wounded one, your blood will never be in vain.”

    يا شَهِيد اسْتَنَّا اسْتَنَّا خُذْنِي مَعَاك عَلَى الجَنَّة
    “O martyr, wait for us, wait for us, take me with you to paradise.”

    Other chants at Palestinian protests

    اللهُ أَكْبَرْ.. اللهُ أَكْبَرْ      
    “God is great… God is great”

     ثَوْرَة ثَوْرَة عَالمُحْتَلْ وغِيْرْ المُصْحَفْ مَا فِيْهْ حَلْ
    “Revolution, revolution against the occupier, and there is no solution other than the Quran.”

     لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا الله  والصَهْيُونِيْ عَدُوْ الله
    “There is no god but Allah, and the Zionist is an enemy of Allah.”

    اللهُ أَكْبَرْ بِسْمِ الله اللهُ أَكْبَرْ بِسْمْ الله
    “God is great, in the name of Allah, God is great, in the name of Allah.”

    كُلْ الشَعْبْ كْبَارْ وِصْغَارْ والجَمِيْعْ بِيِرْمِيْ حْجْارْ     
    “All the people, young and old, everyone is throwing stones.”

    ويا لِلْعَارْ يَا لِلْعَارْ اليَهُودْ بْتُطْلُقْ نَارْ
    “What a shame, what a shame, the Jews are shooting.”

     حِطُّوا المَيَّه عالنْحَاسْ واِحْنَا ولَادِكْ يَا حَمَاسْ
    “Pour the water on the brass, and we are the children of you ‘Hamas.’”

    أعْلَنَّاهَا سَوِيِّة جَمِيْعْنَا فَلَسْطِيْنِيِة
    “We declared it together, all of us are Palestinian.”

    إِسْلَامْ ومَسِيْحِيِّه بْغَزِّه والضِفِّه الغَرْبِيِّه
    “Islam and Christianity in Gaza and the West Bank.”

    وحْدِة وِحْدِة وَطَنِيِّة وانْتِفَاضِتْنَا شَعْبِيِّة
    “Unity, unity, national unity. Our uprising is popular.”

    لَكُلْ القِوَى الثَوْرِيِّة وبَدْهَا دَوْلِة وْهَوِيِّة
    “For all revolutionary forces wanting a state and identity.”

    مِنَ النَهْر إِلَى البَحْر
    “From the river to the sea.”

    مِنْ المَيَّا لِلمَيَّا فِلَسْطِيْن عَرَبِيّة
    “From water to water, Palestine is Arab.”

    In conclusion, the political discourse and slogans of Palestine reflect a deep-rooted narrative of struggle, resistance, and aspiration toward sovereignty within a complex and historically charged conflict. Key terms such as “قصف” (bombardment), “نزوح” (exodus), “تهجير” (displacement), and “مقاومة” (resistance) not only define the contours of Palestinian resistance but also underscore the profound impact of the conflict on daily life and national consciousness. Moreover, the sanctity and significance of symbols like “الأقصى” (Al-Aqsa Mosque) and “القدس” (Jerusalem) amplify the cultural and religious motivations behind the political struggle, illustrating how intertwined the fight for national identity is with the preservation of heritage and the pursuit of justice. This discourse, rich with emotive power and historical depth, continues to mobilize generations of Palestinians and shapes the dialogue around Palestine’s future and its place in the world.

    Keep an eye on the Playaling’s blog. We are here to help you learn Arabic, but also to deepen your connection with Arabic culture and history!

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