Fairuz often performs songs relevant to the situation of Palestinians and Zahrat al-Mada’in (Flower among Cities) is no different. It surrounds the problem of Jerusalem, which typically represents loss to Palestinians. For example, the lyrics include lines such as “crying for those who have been displaced, for the children without homes, for those who resisted and fell at the gates.” This obviously refers to how Palestinians lost Jerusalem to Israel in the Six-Day War, along with many other cities. However, the song also includes lines such as “the child is in the cave with his mother Mary,” which refers to the importance of Jerusalem to Christians. These multiple messages are an example of polysemy. Despite this polysemy, lyrics such as “Jerusalem is ours” and “by our hands we will restore the splendor of Jerusalem” suggest hope for the future where Palestinians will once again be in, what they consider, their rightful home. Therefore, this song strongly supports the Palestinian cause, which is one of the reasons Fairuz became so popular among Palestinians.
Musically, I noticed that, unlike Umm Kulthum or Abd al-Halim Hafez, there are backup singers. The power of their many voices enhances some lines such as “justice fell at the gates,” giving the impression that numerous people hold the same opinion about Israel taking Jerusalem. Again, this promotes the Palestinian cause.
Here is a link to a live performance of this song with English subtitles.