Monday, August 11, 2008

The Colonizer and the Colonized

Many young Palestinian women and men are losing assured places in international universities because the Israeli government is refusing them the right of passage out of Gaza. No argument can be made in support of this heart-breaking stance. As a writer, a teacher, as someone for whom education meant all in my life, I ask you to be part of this campaign to end this most cruel and un-Jewish embargo on the right to learn. Go to to sign a petition. And more, think about the impact of all these cumulative acts of institutionalized cruelty on the Israeli psyche, on all of us.

I want to thank every one who has written me to tell me of the typing error that made linking to petition site impossible. I know you are there. I will take up writing again--but first I want to commemorate the passing of Mahmoud Darwish, the Palestinian poet who wrote of exile and yearning for place, for a return to his heart-known land. I did not know of this poet before his death; La Professora and I went with Alex to a viewing of two excellent films, "The Land Speaks Arabic," and "The East Jerusalem Story," sponsored by Women for Palestine and Australians for Palestine and there Sonya, a tireless repesentative of Women for Palestine, called our attention to the death of the poet with a short film she had made in his honor, so for the first time I heard his words. I have come to realize that we must know each other's poets, that it is easy to dehumanize a people when their beloved poets are hidden behind our walls of cultural certainty. How little I know of Palestinian culture, I realized, of Arabic culture generally. I have heard the war cries from both sides; now is the time for the poets.

Darwish was born in a Palestinian village destroyed and "cleansed" by the Israeli army.
In Jerusalem
by Mahmoud Darwish (1941-2008)
Translated by Fady Joudah
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 re turning 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 m 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 believe."
I walk as if I were another. And my wound a white
biical rose. And my hands like two doves
on the cross hovering and carrying the earth.
I don't walk, I fly, 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 Mohammed
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.

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