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LEBANON: Music video shows colorful visions of Beirut cityscape

September 11, 2010 | 12:09 pm

It is a spectacular vision of a scarred but vibrant city full of odd and beautiful characters dancing and singing, and set to a catchy reggae song calling for "warlords," "corrupt politicians" and "militiamen" to go home and let Lebanon enjoy itself.

The song, "General Suleiman," by the Lebanese pop act Zeid and the Wings, was written a couple of years ago. But the video, directed by the Italian Gigi Roccati, was released about a month ago and uploaded to YouTube just a couple of weeks ago. 

"Foreign intelligence, go home!"  the song goes. "Neighbor influence, go home!"

The video has begun to go viral, especially after an Israeli news website featured it this week. 

Lebanon-zeid copy

What grabbed Israeli viewers most was the spunky political attitude in a region where political outspokenness is not risk-free. Israelis were also startled by the many physical similarities, from body language to urban scenery, from brawny beach vets to the streetside Brazilian martial arts of their northern [ed. note: previously we mistakenly wrote southern] neighbors. 

“Amazing how they look so much like us…how sad that two sides so similar are at war,” responded “Man from Tel-Aviv." 

On the YouTube page, one user wrote, "Wow, beautiful clip. For a moment, I wasn’t sure if this clip is from Tel-Aviv or Beirut.

Another visitor to YouTube described it as “a refreshing sight that causes us to think there’s someone out there who we can actually talk to.”

And yet another wrote, "Excellent, now it’s our turn to make a clip: Barak, Bibi, Lieberman, Yishai and Co.: go home!." 

According to singer/songwriter Zeid Hamdan's Facebook page, he wrote the song as a hopeful plea for peace after the May 2008 fighting in Beirut between Hezbollah and rival political factions. He says it was not meant to praise President Michel Suleiman, the former general who became the compromise head of state in a deal that ended the clashes. 

"His election carried a lot of hope," he wrote. "Gen. Suleiman represented at that time peace and stability for the country. And most of all, he appeared to be neutral. I was inspired to write this very simple and naive reggae song -- a fantasy about what the rule of Gen. Suleiman could become."

He says he didn't mean it as support for military people getting political power or for one political faction or another. The only politician he likes is Gandhi.

In fact, he notes, he ends the song by calling on Suleiman himself to "go home."

"I like the ambiguity it creates," he wrote.

-- Borzou Daragahi in Beirut and Batsheva Sobelman in Jerusalem

Video: "General Suleiman," by Zeid and the Wings. Credit: YouTube

Photo: A still from the video. Credit: YouTube

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