israel poetry

LEBANON. Qana. July 30, 2008. In this photograph, Qana, where 28 civilians were killed during an Israeli air strike.

There’s no one
In the village
Not a human
Nor a stone
There’s no one
In the village
Children are gone
And a mother rocks
herself to sleep
Let it come down
Let her weep

The dead lay in strange shapes

Some stay buried
Others crawl free
Baby didn’t make it
Screaming debris
And a mother rocks
Herself to sleep
Let it come down
Let her weep

The dead lay in strange shapes

Limp little dolls
Caked in mud
Small, small hands
Found in the road
Their talking about
War aims
What a phrase
Bombs that fall
American made
The new middle east
The rice woman squeaks

The dead lay in strange shapes

Little bodies
Little bodies
Tied head and feet
Wrapped in plastic
Laid out in the street
The new middle east
The rice woman squeaks

The dead lay in strange shapes

Water to wine
Wine to blood
Ahh Qana
The miracle
Is love

“Qana” by Patti Smith

Photograph: Paolo Pellegrin/Magnum


“We want to tell them about the complicated side of Israel, but we need to do this gently.” She says.

I wonder if

The IDF are gentle

When they beat a Palestinian child’s father to death.

I wonder how

Palestinian mothers can be gentle

When they hide their sons from the military on their roof tops.

When they are shot, do the bullets hit them gently? Do they situate themselves in nonlethal places?

When they realize “I am different”, and that this affords them differential treatment, is this a gentle thing?

Does it land like a dove’s feather in their hand?

How is it to be soft

in a world that was not made

with you in mind?

My nephew Itai and I
are walking around
the Clock Square
in Jaffa.
More than 80 years separate us
from Oum Kalthoum
who performed here on a stage
and I’m trying to discover if the applause
got tangled in the clotheslines.
But where is Oum Kulthoum
and where are we
and opposite us there’s a shopkeeper, talking.
And my nephew Itai asks in trepidation
Adi, is he an Arab?

An Arab, I reply.
In Jaffa there are Arabs who live here.
And are they good Arabs or bad Arabs?
he asks breathlessly, tightening his hand in mine.
Fear presses his lips together.
In every nation there are good people and bad people
I reply.

He huddles closer to me
and I realize that reassurance is needed
Good, I add.

And how do you know they are Arabs?
He pursues his investigation,
his eyes following a dove
strutting in front of a restaurant door.
Ordinarily, he’d be chasing it
and scaring it.
Now it’s part of a horror story.
Of course I know,
they are speaking Arabic
I reply
in the confident tone of someone
who knows the answer
isn’t quite right.
With that antenna kids have
he senses his aunt is herself confused
and his vigilance seeps into the sidewalk.
Don’t worry, they are like us
I extend him a lifeline.

So sometimes people think we are Arabs
and they are Jews?
His words make flocks of bird fly though my body
ripping my blood vessels in the commotion
and I want to tell him about my Grandmother Sham’a
and Uncle Moussa and Uncle Daoud and Uncle Awad
But at the age of six he already has
Grandmother Ziona
Grandmother Yaffa
lots of uncles
and fear and war
he received as a gift
from the state.

—  Adi Keissar
Let’s give the world to the children just for one day; like a balloon in bright and striking colours to play with. Let them play! Singing among the stars. Let’s give the world to the children, like a huge apple like a warm loaf of bread, at least for one day let them have enough. Let’s give the world to the children! At least, for one day let the world learn friendship; children will get the world from our hands [and] plant immortal trees. 

*Ahmad reuniting with his friends. Ahmad’s entire family were killed after Israeli settlers burned down their home.
You’re psychopathic, sober drunken madness, like the Joker laughing in the distance. You came to me in a time of need and I gave you my assistance. I lowered my resistance in the face of your persistence, but little did I know that your intentions were malignant. We bore children of our own, who’ve grown to call this home. But you’d rather take the credit and say you did it all alone. You took all my clothes and my shoes, and now you reap the fruit; you burned my gardens and stole my food, kicked me when I was bruised. Now you’re making up stories in the news, and instead of giving me a choice, you’re handing me a noose. Our neighbours complain of all our fighting, but you always point the finger. And though I respectfully asked you to leave, you always prefer to linger. You see, I enlisted in your academy, but instead of building me you shattered me. Though I knew you always doubted me, I just wanted to make you proud of me. You were part of my anatomy, but you grew to be a tumour, Israel, so I have to cut you out of me. — Palestine.
—  Nav K, letter from Palestine, pt. 2
Tell me, you’re from Israel?
Yes, I’m from there.
Oh, and where in Israel do you live?
Jerusalem. For the last few years I’ve lived there.
Oh, Jerusalem is such a beautiful city.
Yes, of course, a beautiful city.
And do you…you’re from West…or East…
That’s a tough question, depends on who’s drawing the map.
You’re funny, and do you, I mean, do you speak Hebrew?
Yes, of course.
I mean, that’s your mother tongue?
Not really. My mother’s tongue is Arabic, but now she speaks Hebrew fine.
Oh, ‘Ze Yofi,’ I learned that in the kibbutz.
Not bad at all.
And you are, I mean, you’re Israeli, right?
Yes, of course.
Your family is observant?
Pretty much.
Do they keep the Sabbath?
Me, no, depends, actually…
Do you eat pork?
No, that, no.
Excuse me for prying, but I just have to ask you, are you Jewish or Arab?
I’m an Arab Jew.
You’re funny.
No, I’m quite serious.
Arab Jew? I’ve never heard of that.
It’s simple: Just the way you say you’re an American Jew. Here, try to say “Europeans Jews.”
European Jews.
Now, say “Arab Jews.”
You can’t compare, European Jews is something else.
How come?
Because “Jew” just doesn’t go with “Arab,” it just doesn’t go. It doesn’t even sound right.
Depends on your ear.
Look, I’ve got nothing against Arabs. I even have friends who are Arabs, but how can you say “Arab Jew” when all the Arabs want is to destroy the Jews?
And how can you say “European Jew” when the Europeans have already destroyed the Jews?
—  “Getting to Know a Friendly American Jewish woman: Conversation (translated into Hebrew)” / Sami Shalom Chetrit
I love you, I hate you, you’re someone I relate to. And that’s one fact I hate, too, that violence is what made you. I lived alone before you came along, then there was a spark. And then we started living together and everything fell apart. You just wanted all my space, my livingroom and my kitchen. If we could just negotiate I swear things could be different. But then you ran and told all your friends about how I beat you, and without even hearing my story everyone is convinced that I should leave you. We started pointing fingers but you’ve already won, with your entire group of friends versus my corner with only one. But what’s worse is you’re the type to hurt another when they’re down. You’ve done it so much in fact that I’m convinced I belong on the ground. You see, I heard you had a past but it didn’t last, and you came to me for something better. So I gave you a place to stay and in return, you took all the credit and turned me into a debtor. You’re fluent in the language of ruin and whoever trusts you is completely asinine. Israel, you’re fucking crazy – signed truly yours, Palestine.
—  Nav K, letter from Palestine, pt. 1
Listen, O Liberty, and harken unto us. Turn your gaze towards us, O mother of the earth’s inhabitants. For we are not the offspring of your rival. Speak with the tongue of any one of us; for from one spark the draw straw catches fire. Awaken the sound of your wings the spirit of one of our men; for from one cloud one lightning flash illuminates valley-lanes and mountain- tops. Disperse with your resolve these dark clouds. Descend as a thunderbolt. Destroy like a catapult the props of those thrones erected on bones and skulls; plated with the gold of taxes and bribery; soaked in blood and tears. Listen to us, O Liberty. Have compassion on us, O Daughter of Athens. Rescue us, O Sister of Rome. Save us, O Companion of Moses. Come to our aid, O beloved of Mohammad. Teach us, O bride of Jesus. Strengthen our hearts that we may live; or strengthen the arms of our enemies against us that we may wither, perish and find peace. - Khalil Gibran

Farah Chamma - The Nationality | فرح شما - الجنسية

عيد غزة

Is there a break for Palestinians on Eid?

Will blood run again
in the rocks(yes not hearts)
of the Zionists and feel kind of humane?

Will the the world take any action against this horrible genocide that is happening against the people in Gaza?

Will the Arab leaders do anything, or they’ll be having meat, rice, and biscuits while there’re rivers of spilled blood in Gaza?

Will they have new outfits for Eid or just white grave clothes?

Is there a break for Palestinians on Eid?

✎Hadeia Adel.

you linger upon these walls
like a shadow cast by the light
of a summer moon, pulling
the more i push away,
a tide reluctant to embrace
the false promise of unity.
it is this semblance of harmony
that does to us more harm,
the guise of innocence
in a world habituated to
divide and rule. why is it
upon me that you wish to
establish your reign? i, a nation
of ruin, decimation, famine;
what has the moon to gain
from an ocean that knows
only how to drown in itself?
—  nav k

When I told my mom that the US should speak on Gaza’s behalf, she said, “For what? It’s not our problem.”

She’s right. It’s not our problem. It’s never our problem. Just like when Hitler nearly wiped out a whole damn race, the United States didn’t even care to blink in their direction. It wasn’t a problem until they attacked our own, but who would dare to attack a nation with one of the biggest military forces? They’d rather pray on the weak.

People keep saying Gaza isn’t our problem as if wasn’t millions of children, men, women, human beings weren’t dying before they got the chance to even wake up. Hell, we might as well hang up Israeli’s flag along with a sign that says I STAND WITH YOU, cause if we’re not helping to make a difference, to save those peoples lives, we’re just as bad as the guy who are killing. I mean, isn’t that why people who willing watched their friend murder go to jail as well? Because it’s wrong?

This world has gotten too comfortable with genocide. That’s why white men think they’re inferior because their people came over and nearly wiped out a whole fucking race as well. You know what they say, if you don’t learn from your past, it’s bound to repeat itself.

We’re trained not to teach children the difference between a gun shot and fireworks so when they hear a life being snatched out of it’s own hand, our mothers say, “Oh, that was just a bunch of reckless teenagers setting off fire works.”

We’re grown too comfortable with covering murder with red carpets or the Top 40 and people wonder why this generation is so big on romanticizing death, as if we were not taught to love it before we could fear it.

—  WAKE UP CALL ON GAZA’S BEHALF. (via lipstickstainer)
Poetry: "أمير الحرب / The Warlord" | Joel Amat Güell

أمير الحرب / The Warlord" by Joel Amat Güell

In the beach four kids are playing,
not aware the end is nigh,
in the beach four kids are running
as the first bomb drops nearby.

Four innocent lives are taken,
in the name of a sacred land,
four families are now broken,
no one lends a helping hand.

Stones against the bullets,
stones against the tanks,
innocent corpses filling caskets,
innocent corpses in the riverbanks.

Aladdin became Jaffar,
Snow White became the witch,
the hare now eats the jaguar,
a logger is killed by the beech.

You escaped the gas chamber,
only to sit on the other side,
you’re now the executioner,
perpetrator of this genocide.

Once you’ve destroyed all the beauty,
of the land you want to own,
you’ll be the landlord of a cemetery,
full of graves without tombstones.

you keep appearing in my mind
like it’s normal to be caught up in memory,
to feel the vividness of summer heat
in the beginning of springtime.

i keep seeing you everywhere:
city gates and cobblestones
ringing with an age i will never reach
brick and concrete buildings remind me of you.

sometimes i see pictures of oil lamps,
shards of pottery,
roman glass and roman coins
sometimes in class we talk about gethsemane
mount of olives
and suddenly, all i can see is you—
no, wait—
suddenly, all i can FEEL is you.

holy holy holy city
sometimes i wonder if a part of me didn’t burn when i was in you.
i went away more lost; more found.
i remember touching the western wall and thinking—
if there were anywhere a higher power would be,
it’d be here.

sometimes i wonder if i’ll ever have words enough
to write this poem.
indescribable, holy.
i will never know the Sacred better than when i was with you.
that Mystery scares me
more than words can tell.

—  love letters to cities: jerusalem, Drea O.