Beware Of My Starving/ and My Rage

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rael’s ultranationalist defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, managed to offend both Palestinians and free-speech advocates on Thursday, comparing the Palestinians’ national poet to Adolf Hitler and threatening the independence of Israel’s Army Radio station. - See more at:

Once more, Israel veers ever farther from the beacon of democracy it ludicrously claims to be: Its ultra-nationalist Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has vilified the work of the revered Poet of Palestine Mahmoud Darwish, comparing it to Hitler's “Mein Kampf.” Liberman joined other outraged right-wingers in denouncing an educational program on Israel Army Radio that included one of Darwish’s most famous poems "ID Card," whose opening lines  - "Write it down! I am an Arab" - became the title of a documentary on him.

Liberman's threats against a program right-wingers feel isn't as consistently racist and Zionist as it should be join Israel's growing repression, atmosphere of fear, and resulting curtailment of free speech, from the Education Ministry's rewriting of civics textbooks to emphasize Jewish tradition/nationhood and nigh on eliminate Arabs from its narrative to insistence on loyalty oaths from its Arab citizens to threats to expel Palestinian lawmakers. As part of that trend, Liberman's action also  joins assaults on other cultural and artistic institutions. “The poet’s freedom to write what he wants is the cornerstone of democracy,” argues Israeli poet Ronny Someck - especially given that Darwish’s poems served as “the first bolt of the bridge we want to build between Jews and Arabs.”


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Many feel that the deeply humanistic Darwish, who died in 2008, would indeed be appalled by the current state of Israel. A victim of the 1948 Nakba and internationally acclaimed political and cultural figure, Darwish moving and compassionately chronicled the Palestinian experience of exile, living over the years in Galilee, Moscow, Cairo, Beirut, Tunis, Paris, Amman and Ramallah as well as serving multiple sentences in Israeli prisons. He was known as Palestine's Poet of Exile, its Wandering Poet, its Prophet of Humanism, who rejected the Occupation - "Those Who Pass Between Fleeting Words" - mourned the loss of his homeland - "You left nothing for us/except these rocks" - found freedom in defiance, but never stooped to blind dehumanized hatred of his oppressor. "How large the revolution," he wrote. "How narrow the journey/ How grand the idea/How small the state!"

He wrote ID Card in 1964. If Israel is to save itself, it needs to hear and heed it.

Write down !
I am an Arab
And my identity card number is fifty thousand
I have eight children
And the ninth will come after a summer
Will you be angry?

Write down!
I am an Arab
Employed with fellow workers at a quarry
I have eight children
I get them bread
Garments and books
from the rocks..
I do not supplicate charity at your doors
Nor do I belittle myself at the footsteps of your chamber
So will you be angry?

Write down!
I am an Arab
I have a name without a title
Patient in a country
Where people are enraged
My roots
Were entrenched before the birth of time
And before the opening of the eras
Before the pines, and the olive trees
And before the grass grew.
My father.. descends from the family of the plow
Not from a privileged class
And my grandfather..was a farmer
Neither well-bred, nor well-born!
Teaches me the pride of the sun
Before teaching me how to read
And my house is like a watchman's hut
Made of branches and cane
Are you satisfied with my status?
I have a name without a title!

Write down!
I am an Arab
You have stolen the orchards of my ancestors
And the land which I cultivated
Along with my children
And you left nothing for us
Except for these rocks..
So will the State take them
As it has been said?!

Write down on the top of the first page:
I do not hate people
Nor do I encroach
But if I become hungry
The usurper's flesh will be my food
Of my hunger
And my rage!

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