In Jerusalem... a poem by Mahmoud Darwish

This is worth sharing...

As you read it think what is like to be a member of an oppressed and hated Palestinian in your own occupied land.

In Jerusalem


In Jerusalem, and I mean within the ancient walls,
I walk from one epoch to another without a memory
to guide me. The prophets over there are sharing
the history of the holy … ascending to heaven
and returning less discouraged and melancholy, because love
and peace are holy and are coming to town.
I was walking down a slope and thinking to myself: How
do the narrators disagree over what light said about a stone?
Is it from a dimly lit stone that wars flare up?
I walk in my sleep. I stare in my sleep. I see
no one behind me. I see no one ahead of me.
All this light is for me. I walk. I become lighter. I fly
then I become another. Transfigured. Words
sprout like grass from Isaiah's messenger
mouth: "If you don't believe you won't be safe."
I walk as if I were another. And my wound a white
biblical rose. And my hands like two doves
on the cross hovering and carrying the earth.
I don't walk, I fly, I become another,
transfigured. No place and no time. So who am I?
I am no I in ascension's presence. But I
think to myself: Alone, the prophet Muhammad
spoke classical Arabic. "And then what?"
Then what? A woman soldier shouted:
Is that you again? Didn't I kill you?
I said: You killed me … and I forgot, like you, to die.

Mahmoud Darwish, "In Jerusalem" from The Butterfly's Burden, translated by Fady Joudah.  

Copyright © 2007 by Mahmoud Darwish.

Image result for palestinian heart

Now a bit of a woman I adore...

Views: 374

Comment by koshersalaami on December 17, 2017 at 10:47am

Most of Darwish's poem could have been written by a Jew once. 

If I were that woman I would react a lot like she has, but the only way she will go back to that land between Yaffa and Haifa is if there are two states at peace to the extent that she can go back and buy it. She hasn't figured out the road there, at least not as of 2011. 

The Israelis are a country of people who have survived being dispossessed of their homes and their descendants, and most are the descendants of generations who in turn survived being dispossessed of their homes. Their attitudes are partially shaped by this. The last time most of them had ancestral homes they cared about in a primal way was when they lived on that land between Yaffa and Haifa before they were thrown out. Right or wrong, it's how they think. 

The Israelis and Palestinians want something from each other and neither understands the bargaining chip they hold. Both bargaining chips are relatively cheap to the holders but screamingly valuable to the other side. The described encounter illustrates both. A woman giving birth is treated with profound disrespect while armed soldiers live in fear of her baby. That's Israel/Palestine in a nutshell. 

The Israelis don't understand the feeling of being disrespected because they live in a respect-rich environment, so they don't understand the concept of respect as a primal issue. The Palestinians don't understand the feeling of a real risk of their entire population being massacred (if they stayed put they'd be left alone and they know it, not that I'm suggesting it's that easy), so they don't understand the concept of survival as a primal issue. 

When respect is traded for survival is when we get two states in peace. If the trade is serious enough, the Israeli-Palestinian border will be about as significant as our border with Canada. 

The other way the Palestinians get serious leverage is by accepting Jews for citizenship. The fact that they won't or can't illustrates a critical dimension of the problem. 

Comment by Safe Bet's Amy on December 17, 2017 at 11:30am

"The Palestinians don't understand the feeling of a real risk of their entire population being massacred (if they stayed put they'd be left alone and they know it, not that I'm suggesting it's that easy)..."

Wow.  Now ^^THERE^^ is some hasbara bullshit if I've ever seen it!

Just for those who don't automatically believe your propaganda, I'll point out the fact that Israel and it's well paid shock troops (aka "Settlers") are systematically destroying Palestinian homes, crops and orchards to both oppress the inhabitants (and make them move AGAIN) and steal even MORE land from the Palestinian people.

"For many years, house demolitions have been routine in what is known, since the Oslo agreements, as Area C—that is, over 60 percent of the West Bank, where nearly all Israeli settlements in the territories are located."

Bulldozing the Peace Process in Israel

BTW, don't even get me started on your crap about "that she can go back and buy it".  The concept that someone has to "buy back" land that was stolen from them is ridiculous.  

There is also that little APARTHEID issue of "right of return ONLY if you're Jewish" crap.  If she ever dared try that the absolute best she could expect is to be refused entry into Occupied Palestine.  Most likely she would end up with the THOUSANDS of political prisoners (including hundreds of children) who are wasting away in Israeli prisons.

P.S.  I'd dare say that the Palestinians get the "real risk of their entire population being massacred". The daily bombings of Gaza, the REAL risk of being murdered in cold blood at an Israel check point and the REAL risk of a settler fire bombing your home and burning your children to death probably drives that home pretty damn well.

Comment by koshersalaami on December 17, 2017 at 2:20pm


The Israeli Government has never attempted the wholesale slaughter of the Palestinian population. Any other conclusion is pure bullshit. When they killed the most Palestinians, at least recently, was in Gaza during the fighting. Even at its worst, the casualty figures were way, way too low to indicate wholesale massacre. In the first two weeks Israel averaged less than one Gazan fatality for every six air strikes. Israeli civilians could have done better than that dropping bowling balls from Piper Cubs. These are the world's best pilots flying F16's over a densely populated city with no air defenses. It took them two weeks to kill about 200 people. If massacre was the object they could have done that in under ten minutes. 

When did I say she should have to buy it back? "Should" never entered my comment. I observed that that's the only way she'll get that land. I'm probably right about that. 

My previous comment contains no advocacy, which pretty much makes the Hasbara accusation moot. It's all observations and analysis. 

Comment by Tom Cordle on December 17, 2017 at 7:51pm

The concept that someone has to "buy back" land that was stolen from them is ridiculous."

Agreed, but that doubly-despicable idea isn't unique to the Israelis. In fact, it's not a stretch to suggest the Israelis are simply following our own example with the Indians. From the very founding of this country, the plan was to screw the Indians out of their lands and send them packing west of the Mississippi. Indeed, that was one reason for the Louisiana Purchase.

Obviously, the removal of the Indians wasn't public policy in 1803 – that would come later, but Jefferson made his intentions perfectly clear in a private letter to William Henry Harrison:

"...we shall push our trading uses, and be glad to see the good and influential individuals among them run in debt, because we observe that when these debts get beyond what the individuals can pay, they become willing to lop them off by a cession of lands ... In this way our settlements will gradually circumscribe and approach the Indians, and they will in time either incorporate with us as citizens of the United States, or remove beyond the Mississippi."

To be far more fair than he deserves, Andrew Jackson – who is usually blamed for the removal of Indians in the East, was no longer President during the actual removal. But he did promote the Indian Removal Act and signed it into law.

When the Cherokee were removed from their ancestral lands, in what came to be known as the Trail of Tears, a relative handful escaped into the mountains of western North Carolina and hid-out in a place called the Qalla. The US government didn't pursue them because there were so few and the terrain so difficult that capturing or killing them would have proven too costly.

Over the years, the Cherokee were able to buy back some of their lost lands, in particular, lands White's didn't want because they weren't suitable for cultivation. There was a catch, though; the transactions had to be made through the White husband of one of the Cherokee women, since a Cherokee was forbidden by law from owning property. Those lands now constitute the reservation of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation.

Any parallels drawn between those events and the events in Israel/Palestine are purely intentional. And as Santayana warned, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."


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