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  • The Mahmoud Darwish Poem That Enraged Lieberman and Regev - Poem of the Week - Haaretz

    Aux chiottes Lieberman, aux chiottes.

    ID Card

    Mahmoud Darwish

    Write it down! I’m an Arab
    My card number is 50000
    My children number eight
    And after this summer, a ninth on his way.
    Does this make you rage?
    I am an Arab.
    With my quarry comrades I labor hard
    My children number eight
    I tug their bread, their clothes
    And their notebooks
    From within the rock
    I don’t beg at your door
    I don’t cower on your threshold
    So does this make you rage?
    Write it down!
    I am an Arab.
    I am a name with no honorific.
    Patient in a land
    Where everything lives in bursting rage
    My roots were planted before time was born
    Before history began
    Before the cypress and the olive trees
    Before grass sprouted
    My father is from the plough clan
    Not from the noble class
    My grandfather was a peasant farmer
    Had no pedigree
    Taught me the pride of the sun
    Before teaching me to read
    A shack to guard groves is my home,
    Made of branches and reeds
    Are you pleased with my status?
    I am a name with no honorific.
    Write it down!
    I am an Arab.
    Hair color: charcoal
    Eye color: brown
    A cord around the quffiyeh on my head
    My hand as hard as rock
    That scratches if you touch it
    My address:
    I am from a forgotten abandoned village
    Its streets nameless
    All its men in the fields and quarries
    Does this make you rage?
    Write it down!
    I am an Arab.
    You have stolen my ancestors’ groves
    And the land we cultivated
    I and all my children
    Leaving nothing for us and all my grandchildren
    Except these rocks
    Will your government take them
    Like people say?
    Write down on the top of the first page:
    I do not hate people
    And I do not steal from anyone
    But if I starve
    I will eat my oppressor’s flesh
    Beware, beware of my starving
    And my rage.

    1964. Translated from Arabic by Salman Masalha and Vivian Eden

    In yet another swipe by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government at freedom of the press, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman summoned Army Radio commander Yaron Dekel for a dressing-down over the broadcast last week of a discussion of this poem by Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish – in a series on formative Israeli texts on the station’s “University on the Air” program.

    Earlier, Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev slammed the radio station, which has been on the government’s hit list for a while, for having “gone off the rails.”

    #darwish for ever

    • Inscris « Je suis Arabe », Mahmoud Darwich

      Inscris !
      Je suis Arabe
      Le numéro de ma carte : cinquante mille
      Nombre d’enfants : huit
      Et le neuvième. . . arrivera après l’été !
      Et te voilà furieux !

      Inscris !
      Je suis Arabe
      Je travaille à la carrière avec mes compagnons de peine
      Et j’ai huit bambins
      Leur galette de pain
      Les vêtements, leur cahier d’écolier
      Je les tire des rochers. . .
      Oh ! je n’irai pas quémander l’aumône à ta porte
      Je ne me fais pas tout petit au porche de ton palais
      Et te voilà furieux !

      Inscris !
      Je suis Arabe
      Sans nom de famille – je suis mon prénom
      « Patient infiniment » dans un pays où tous
      Vivent sur les braises de la Colère
      Mes racines. . .
      Avant la naissance du temps elles prirent pied
      Avant l’effusion de la durée
      Avant le cyprès et l’olivier
      . . .avant l’éclosion de l’herbe
      Mon père. . . est d’une famille de laboureurs
      N’a rien avec messieurs les notables
      Mon grand-père était paysan – être
      Sans valeur – ni ascendance.
      Ma maison, une hutte de gardien
      En troncs et en roseaux
      Voilà qui je suis – cela te plaît-il ?
      Sans nom de famille, je ne suis que mon prénom.

      Inscris !
      Je suis Arabe
      Mes cheveux. . . couleur du charbon
      Mes yeux. . . couleur de café
      Signes particuliers :
      Sur la tête un kefiyyé avec son cordon bien serré
      Et ma paume est dure comme une pierre
      . . .elle écorche celui qui la serre
      La nourriture que je préfère c’est
      L’huile d’olive et le thym

      Mon adresse :
      Je suis d’un village isolé. . .
      Où les rues n’ont plus de noms
      Et tous les hommes. . . à la carrière comme au champ
      Aiment bien le communisme
      Inscris !
      Je suis Arabe
      Et te voilà furieux !

      Que je suis Arabe
      Que tu as rafflé les vignes de mes pères
      Et la terre que je cultivais
      Moi et mes enfants ensemble
      Tu nous as tout pris hormis
      Pour la survie de mes petits-fils
      Les rochers que voici
      Mais votre gouvernement va les saisir aussi
      . . .à ce que l’on dit !


      Inscris !
      En tête du premier feuillet
      Que je n’ai pas de haine pour les hommes
      Que je n’assaille personne mais que
      Si j’ai faim
      Je mange la chair de mon Usurpateur
      Gare ! Gare ! Gare
      À ma fureur !

    • The Late Palestinian National Poet Will Continue to Haunt Israel

      Mahmoud Darwish insists on mentioning what Israelis don’t want to acknowledge: A great sin took place here when the State of Israel was founded in 1948.
      Gideon Levy Jul 23, 2016 11:53 PM

      The specter of Palestinian national poet Mahmoud Darwish will never leave us. Every few years, a witch hunt will erupt over his poetry, stirring emotions and riling Israelis until they compare him to Hitler. It subsides but then revives again. There’s no escaping it. None of the ghosts of the 1948 War of Independence will leave us until we recognize the guilt, acknowledge the sin and take responsibility for it by apologizing, paying compensation and, above all, changing ourselves. Until then, the ghosts will continue to torment us and not give us rest.

      The most recent Darwish scandal, which was fanned by two ignorant ministers – Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, whom it’s doubtful ever read a Darwish poem – is another link in the chain. Even in their ignorance, the two knew whom to attack. They knew that, more than any other figure, Darwish hits Israeli society’s most sensitive nerve and drives Israelis crazy every time. They always try to cover up any way they can – concealing, denying, lying and repressing – but always without success.

      Darwish touches on the original sin, which makes him Hitler. He exposes the gaping wound, which makes him off-limits. If Israelis had been convinced that there was no sin and no bleeding wound, they wouldn’t have been so afraid of his poetry. If they were convinced that everything had been done properly back then, in 1948, and that nothing could have been different, Darwish would have been left to the realm of literature departments.

      But the late poet insists on mentioning what Israelis don’t want to know: a great sin took place here. The establishment of Israel – just as it was – was accompanied by the unforgiveable crime of ethnic cleansing of wide parts of the country. No Jewish National Fund grove can cover up the moral ruins on which the state was built. Israel added insult to injury by not allowing the Palestinians who were expelled or fled to return. A thousand historical testimonies, which we also avoid like fire, are not equal to one line of Darwish poetry: “Where will you take me, my father?”

      I will never forget that punch to the stomach, or rather, the dagger to my heart, from the Spring 1996 issue of the Hebrew journal Hadarim, edited by Halit Yeshurun. A dozen pages of Darwish poems from “Why Did You Leave the Horse Alone?” (translated into Hebrew by Anton Shammas): “And who will live in the house after us, my father? / The house, my son, will remain as it was! / Why did you leave the horse alone? / To keep the house company, my son. / When their residents go, the houses will die. / Together we will hold on / until we return. / When, my father? / Tomorrow, my son, and perhaps in another day or two! / That tomorrow trailed behind them, chewing the wind / in the endless winter nights.”

      I didn’t know at the time, and don’t know today, what we as Israelis do with those lines. With: “In our hut, the enemy rids himself of his rifle / which he lays on my grandfather’s chair. He eats of our bread / like guests do, and without being moved. Grabs a little nap / on the bamboo chair.”

      Or: “Ask how my home is doing, foreign sir. / My small coffee cups / of our bitter coffee / still left as they were. Will it enter your nose / the scent of our fingers on the cups?” Or: “And I will carry the yearning / until / my beginning and until its beginning / and I will go on my way / until my end and until its end”!

      Darwish’s end came too early, unfortunately, and some time ago, in 2008. But it was not the end of his poetry – just ask Regev and Lieberman. The year 1948 was also some time ago but, just like Darwish’s poetry, it has never ended, not even for a moment. Israel has never altered its conduct – not its violent and overbearing approach to the Palestinians, who were born here, not their dispossession, the occupation and sometimes also their expulsions.

      In 2016, Israel is handling the Palestinians exactly like it did in 1948. That’s why Darwish isn’t leaving Israel alone, and that’s why he’s so frightening to the country: He confronts Israel with the most primordial truth about itself.