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Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish created a poetry of martyrdom for his people—and a political coup for the idea of the nakba

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Palestinian refugees at the Nahr al-Bared Camp in northern Lebanon, winter 1955. (UN)
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A poem is bound by language but a poetics is not. But what is a poetics? Is it a style or mood? Is it a question or answer? Or is searching for a definition for this enigmatic term akin to the infamous search for a word meaning “a word without synonyms”? Aristotle, by defining poetics as the theory of making art out of words, partitioned it from rhetoric, which he defined as the theory of turning words to governance, to politics. Though the poetic has always engaged with the political, in our day the political has ceased engaging with the poetic: Though the Soviet Union is no more and Mandelstam and Tsvetaeva are still read, and though ancient Greek and Latin are no longer spoken and Pindar and Virgil are still read, there is no doubt that what will survive today’s regimes will not be verse so much as verselike caches of random data.

Synonyms are both logical fallacies—no two words can be identical—and artistically useful (expedient, practical); synonymic poetics furthers that paradox into history, or histories. Which is to say that though the genres of tragedy and comedy transcend borders, races, and creeds, specific tragedies and comedies do not. The event one people celebrate with a victorious ode another people commemorate with an elegy of defeat.

Poetry that’s old enough, that has justified its age, tends to be credited to that greatest of versifiers, “Anonymous.” Let’s summon that God, for a moment, to bless the following scraps, translated into the neutrality of English:

How will you fill your cup
On the day of liberation? and with what?
Are you prepared, in your joy, to endure
The dark howling heard
From skulls of days glittering
In a bottomless pit?


We survived much death. We defeated forgetfulness and you said to me: We survive, but do not triumph. I said to you: Survival is the prey’s potential triumph over the hunter. Steadfastness is survival and survival is the beginning of existence. We persevered and much blood flowed on the coasts and in the deserts. Much more blood than what the name needed for its identity, or what identity needed for its name.

The first fragment is a stanza from How? written in 1943 in the Vilna Ghetto by the Yiddish poet Abraham Sutzkever. The second is from In the Presence of Absence, one of the last collections of stray sentences in paragraphs by Mahmoud Darwish, perhaps the foremost Palestinian poet of last century (published in Arabic in 2006, and this month by Archipelago Books, in a translation by Sinan Antoon).

That these two texts spring from a shared poetics can be denied only by those who read prejudicially, who judge books by covers of their own creation: When you oppress a people, when you beat and rape and kill them, the literature they write will inevitably resemble the literatures of other peoples who’ve been beaten, raped, and murdered (unless you’ve stumbled upon a happy tribe of masochists). But this shock must be admitted: The same poetics has sadly marked the literatures of Jews—not just Israelis—and Palestinians, in the same century—a poetics that fled Europe and hid, until it found another shelter.


Al-Birwa was a tiny olive, grain, and watermelon village in Western Galilee, Mandate Palestine. Darwish was born there to a Sunni Muslim family in March 1941, the same month and year the Nazis’ extermination camps became fully operational. In 1948, with war ended, war began: Darwish’s family was forced from their orchards by the nascent IDF’s Carmeli Brigade; they fled to Lebanon, to Jezzine and Damour. Later, they illegally returned to Israel—insofar as one can return to a different country—settling in Deir al-Asad, which had been renamed, in Hebrew, Shagur. (Darwish spoke fluent Hebrew.)

In 1970, Darwish, then a communist, briefly attended university in Moscow before migrating to Egypt and then to Lebanon again. There he joined the PLO, for which he coauthored the Algiers Declaration. When the PLO was expelled from Lebanon, Darwish went to Cyprus. Stints followed in Tunis and Paris. For his work in the PLO, the poet was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize, originally the Stalin Peace Prize, which he accepted as idealistically as he’d later reject the Oslo Accords (which occasioned his break with Yasser Arafat).

It was Oslo, however, in its slight easing of restrictions in the Occupied Territories, that gave Darwish a temporary reprieve: In 1996, now a poet with an international reputation and a major cardiac condition, he finally received Israeli permission to settle in Ramallah. Throughout the 1980s and ’90s, major infarcts had led to major surgeries. Though his literary heart was strong, his literal heart was weak—so went the global obituaries. In August 2008, while undergoing treatment at a hospital in Houston, he died. He’s buried in Ramallah, atop a hill called Al-Rabweh, “the hill of green grass”—a small snatch of his childhood Galilee transported to the dusty West Bank.

So do not reconcile with anything except for this obscure reason. Do not regret a war that ripened you just as August ripens pomegranates on the slopes of stolen mountains. For there is no other hell waiting for you. What once was yours is now against you.


I am already quite scarce. For years
appearing only here and there
at the edges of jungle. My awkward body,
camouflaged by reeds, clings
to the damp shadow around it.
Had I been civilized,
I would never have been able to withstand.
I am tired. Only the great fires
still drive me from hiding to hiding.

Let’s avoid turning this survey into an exercise in perversity, a childish game: I’ve chosen to quote Darwish in his prose-poems, and the others, the original Others, enjambed. The man “already quite scarce” is the Israeli poet Dan Pagis. The source for the excerpt above is a poem called The Last Ones. The initial circumstance is the language, then the name and title, and only then, the poem. Bad poetry wants for forewords, good poetry, for afterwords, whereas Pagis’ poetry, like Darwish’s, needs a more encompassing apparatus—it necessitates experience.

To read this poetry truly, one would’ve had to have written it—to have been born, as Pagis was, in Bukovina in 1930 (Bukovina was also the birthplace of Paul Celan); to have spent an early adolescence in forced-labor camps in Transnistria; to have emigrated to Israel in 1946, speaking nothing but crusts of Yiddish, Romanian, Russian, and a German poisoned by Nazism, and yet, within two decades, to have become one of the great scholars of medieval and Renaissance Hebrew. This biographical recitation won’t end with death, however (which came for Pagis in 1986), but with the reminder that nothing that’s been recounted has altered even a single word of the poem that precedes—Pagis, like Darwish, remains “uncivilized.”

The more we’re aware of martyred authorship the more our readings tend to fall into that “jungle” between the “mountains”—halfway between appreciating the art and being awed by the witness. Certainly the process of separating the aesthetic from the evidentiary cannot be as primitive as, say, determining citizenship—art cannot be fixed in time like the 1940s, nor fixed in space like Gaza, or like an Auschwitz-Birkenau Appelplatz. Studying a martyr’s poetry is the secular equivalent of studying the Bible: Some come for the truth and stay for the beauty; others come for the beauty and stay for the truth.

One wool sweater alone is not enough to befriend the winter. You will look for warmth in your books, escaping the mire into an imagined world, ink on paper. And songs you could only hear from the neighbors’ radio. Dreams would not find room in a mud house, hastily built like a chicken coop with seven dreamers crowded inside—none of whom would call the others by name since names had become numbers. Speech, dry gestures to be exchanged only when absolutely necessary, such as when you lose consciousness from malnutrition and are treated with fish oil, the civilized world’s gift to those driven out of their homes. You are forced to drink it, just as you force pain to swallow its voice by feigning contentment.

This pan-Semitic poetics I’m attempting to describe is synoptic, and territorially insatiable, annexing both the authority and the authorial liberties of scripture and commentary. It was Darwish’s brilliant conceit to create a late poetry of martyrdom that reads as an addendum to, and gloss on, all the martyrologies that came before it. It’s not that the surfeit of suffering to be found in the literature of 20th-century Jewry was Darwish’s subject, rather that that literature became, by a conversion that was as much a usurpation, his primary text—the gray ur-poetry to be appropriated, and revised, by the Palestinians’ more immediate trauma. (In the process, imagery remained intact: trees, stones, blood; only proper nouns and landscapes differed: Darwish gave us deserts, prisons, forts by seas, Jericho.)

Of course, the poets of the Holocaust themselves sourced from earlier poetries of affliction: Yiddish poets in particular rendered the archaic laments of Hebrew and Aramaic into a living European idiom. Kalonymus ben Judah’s “Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears,” written in the Rhineland following the slaughter of the First Crusade, was an adaptation of a stanza from the Book of Jeremiah. Psalm 137’s “waters of Babylon” have been fluenced, by obvious metaphor, into every age’s Rhine, and Vistula—and Jordan.

(Dahlia Ravikovitch, a native Israeli of Darwish’s generation, ruthlessly evoked this Psalm in her 1986 poem, You Can’t Kill A Baby Twice:

By the sewage puddles of Sabra and Shatila,
there you transported human beings
in impressive quantity
from the world of the living to the world
of everlasting light.)

To absorb this tradition, Darwish had to deny its parochialism: He accused his oppressors by recalling their oppressors, the enemies of his enemy who were never his “friends.” After having assimilated the Russians and Surrealists, Apollinaire, Mallarmé, Verlaine, Rimbaud, Avicenna, and the classical Arabic court poets—not to neglect Muhammad, who received the Quran from the Angel Gabriel, who himself was but the amanuensis of Allah—would it be so strange for Darwish, long in a short life, to have found his best models here, among the Jewish poets—their corpora of corpses? His words raised the words of the dead at Metz, Speyer, Worms, Mainz, Cologne, at Belzec and Treblinka, into warnings to their modern descendants; he rewrote the Deuteronomic injunction, “remember,” to refer to the present: Look, See, Hear, Listen.

It’s only now, with Jewish literature cleaving to either American pieties or Israeli anomie, that Darwish’s stunning poetics can be revealed—through the sheer egality of its referents—as a political coup: Because of his poetry, the Holocaust and al-nakba, the destruction—as the Palestinians call the founding of Israel—can now be compared. Not in the numbers of the victims, neither in the intentions of the victimizers—rather in how the individual human howl is, and will be, worded.

And so much blood flowed that tracking blood, our blood, became the enemy’s reassuring guide, afraid of what he had done to us, not of what we might do to him. We, who have no existence in “the Promised Land,” became the ghost of the murdered who haunted the killer in both wakefulness and sleep, and the realm in-between, leaving him troubled and despondent. The insomniac screams: Have they not died yet? No, because the ghost reaches the age of being weaned, then comes adulthood, resistance, and return. Airplanes pursue the ghost in the air. Tanks pursue the ghost on land. Submarines pursue the ghost in the sea. The ghost grows up and occupies the killer’s consciousness until it drives him insane.

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A fine collection of Mahmoud Darwish’s poetry translated into English which I think is still in print is “Unfortunately It Was Paradise.” I enjoyed this essay. Thanks.

and Mr. Cohen willfully participates in the poetics of Judaization, whereby a Palestinian man’s verse is subordinated to the art of the Jews in the language of their exile. Well written, but at the core, nothing new.

By turning the Nakba into a inter-Jewish discussion, we rob it of its sting.

I’m not a literature person but I think it would have been more appropriate to compare Darwish to Bialik (“The City of Slaughter”) since historically they are both “national” poets. The holocaust poet you chose deals with the future – not the genocide – whereas Darwish talks of the present – the Nakbah. Were you to use a poet (like Bialik) who refers to the present, I think your comparison would be more problematic as the despair and horror of the Jewish experience was in a different scale.

Descend then, to the cellars of the town,
There where the virginal daughters of thy folk were fouled,
Where seven heathen flung a woman down,
The daughter in the presence of her mother,
The mother in the presence of her daughter,
Before slaughter, during slaughter, and after slaughter!
Touch with thy hand the cushion stained; touch
The pillow incarnadined:
This is the place the wild ones of the wood, the beasts of the field
With bloody axes in their paws compelled thy daughters yield:
Beasted and swined!
Note also, do not fail to note,
In that dark corner, and behind that cask
Crouched husbands, bridegrooms, brothers, peering from the cracks,
Watching the sacred bodies struggling underneath
The bestial breath,
Stifled in filth, and swallowing their blood!
Watching from the darkness and its mesh
The lecherous rabble portioning for booty
Their kindred and their flesh!
Crushed in their shame, they saw it all;
They did not stir nor move;
They did not pluck their eyes out; they
Beat not their brains against the wall!
Perhaps, perhaps each watcher had it in his heart to pray:
A miracle, O Lord — and spare my skin this day!

Matt Solomon says:

Pontificating that only prejudice can cause one to distinguish between the poems is to thoroughly disregard historical context. Though Palestinians suffered subsequent to Israel’s independence the cause was much different than the Jewish experience of the holocaust; the former caused by Arab rejection of the nascent Jewish State(in no small part to Palestinian though the nation did not exist) and outright Nazi racism intending to eradicate Jews from the world.
Cohen’s claim that each side suffered identical miseries is absurd. Oppression? Beatings?Rape? Murder? Cohen is describing the Hebron Massacre of 1929
Cohen describes “poetics” as an independent spirit that migrates from one host to another, again equating the Palestinian suffering with the Holocaust, reiterating this perverse equation in his conclusion bears witness to his absence of empathy to Jewish suffering not an enlightened worldview, accepting the suffering of another. In fact, Palestinian suffering is greatly a history of their own making, with the assistance of their Arab brothers. To measure their blood as an indictment against Israel is to neglect the terrorism and suicidal-martyrdom that is their legacy.
Cohen may one day yet fulfill the patrimony of his name and serve in on the Temple Mount but would it be in Al Aqsa or the rebuilt Holy Temple? By his words and sympathies, he will stand with Darwish and the like in denial of history.

Shmuel Lifshitz says:

“Because of his poetry, the Holocaust and al-nakba, the destruction—as the Palestinians call the founding of Israel—can now be compared. Not in the numbers of the victims, neither in the intentions of the victimizers—rather in how the individual human howl is, and will be, worded.”
The nakba is the produst of the arab intention to abort Israel into the sea.The individual suffering of the arabs is the result of their actions and their howl should be directer to their dirigents which are still looking for more suffering and revenge.

“neither in the intentions of the victimizers” – ah, but there’s the rub, isn’t it? In the case of Hitler, there was to some extent a blindsiding. When he initially came to power, there may not have been a certainty of his intentions for the Jews. But where no Palestinian (and I use the word advisedly) will acknowledge openly and fully the right of Israel and Jews to exist, there can only be limited accommodation. The accommodation? No Palestinian group will denounce another group that has said their ultimate aim is to wipe Israel off the map, but Israel has never defined its existence in terms of wiping Palestinians off the map (renaming them, maybe), and it also cannot complacently accept a situation that will eventually do the same to themselves by demographics.

So the answer becomes – they have right to live, but not where they’re increasing numbers will make Israel into something other than what it was created to be. And their co-religionists aren’t interested in helping them, and never have been. Are any of the Arab countries a destination for asylum seekers?

I haven’t read much Darwish so can’t comment on the appropriateness of the comparisons. But to say that “a poem is bound by language but a poetics is not” isn’t true – for how can a poetics be “a poetics from nowhere,” without the frame of reference of the original language? To read Pagis’ poetry “truly,” one would need to read it in Hebrew.

Translation is becoming more and more appreciated now as an end in itself, a legitimate creative endeavor. A fine thing. But having Darwish and Pagis available in English (also something to appreciate) leads to Cohen’s misstep. English is not “neutral,” any more than Hebrew or Arabic are neutral.

To understand whether we can compare Darwish to Sutzkever or Pagis, we need more than the ability to generalize tales of suffering. Poetics depends on how this suffering is expressed – in what language it is expressed, and what influences and works in that and other languages inform that expression.

Matt Solomon says:

Cohen’s piece is narcissism plain and simple: pretty words with no substance. It does not address the truth and accepts Darwish as an historian, which a poet is not. Cohen is absolutely disingenuous from the start, demanding that we accept his terms and equivocations: “Prejudice”; “shock”But this shock must be admitted: “The same poetics has sadly marked the literatures of Jews—not just Israelis—and Palestinians, in the same century—a poetics that fled Europe and hid, until it found another shelter.”

Further, the poems he presents to open this article do not compare favorably: Sutzkever’s IS a poem with imagery and space for the reader to contemplate; Darwish’s is a paragraph requiring no imagination and little interaction with the reader.

I bet Cohen has tenure somewhere.

All who commented are to be praised. I always love to read the letters to the editor regarding articles I read in the NYT or comments from Tablet articles.
In this case Jonathan exposed us to a poem that made us all, I think, cry. Thank You ALL.
Sy Fort Lee NJ

Not all victims are created, or remembered, equally. Anyone know any poetry by ethnic Germans expelled from Eastern Europe–at the same time as the Palestinians? Anyone know any poetry by the Hindus and Muslims who fled their homes at partition? No and no. Why? Because they had a “state” of their countrymen they could go to (and in the German case, because they “deserved” it).
The Palestinians, of course, have chosen to remain stateless for over 70 years, because it would require recognizing Jewish self-determination.
And Darwish is a prime example. He could have lived in the Galilee, if that was what was important to him. He could have tried to build a Palestinian state in the West Bank, if that was what was important to him. But no, compromise is impossible. As he says, “Don’t regret a war that ripened you.” And in that vain, people who make their beds can sleep in them, and we can save our tears for those whose suffering was not self-initiated, whose weakness was punished without cause.

How could you miss this poem?

In March 1988, I read in the daily Maariv Darwish’s poem “Those Who Pass Between Fleeting Words,” in which he writes:

“O those who pass between fleeting words /
Carry your names, and be gone /
Rid our time of your hours, and be gone /
Steal what you will from the blueness of the sea /
And the sand of memory /
Take what pictures you will, so that you understand /
That which you never will: /
How a stone from our land builds the ceiling of our sky /
… From you steel and fire, from us our flesh /
From you yet another tank, from us stones /
From you teargas, from us rain /
… As bitter dust, go where you wish, but /
Do not pass between us like flying insects /
… Pile your illusions in a deserted pit, and be gone /
… And we have what you lack / A bleeding homeland of a bleeding people …”

And he concludes:

“It is time for you to be gone /
Live wherever you like, but do not live among us /
It is time for you to be gone /
Die wherever you like, but do not die among us /
… So leave our country /
Our land, our sea /
Our wheat, our salt, our wounds /
Everything, and leave /
The memories of memory /
those who pass between fleeting words!”*

The poem sent shock waves among Israelis, particularly on the left, many of whom viewed Mahmoud Darwish as a poet expressing the afflictions of his people, but recognizing Israel’s existence and aspiring, despite everything, to a brotherhood of nations in this bleeding land.

A grotesque Islamic Arab counterfeit of The Jews’ Suffering : Arabs playing the martyrs
at the hands of their own Arab brothers, as wicked men ruled by wicked men, while accusing Israel for their plight.

I’m sorry but this is an obscene comparison. The Palestinian Nabks was self-created. As the PA chairman himself recently admitted it was a mistake not to accept the UN division plan of 1947. Instead they tried to wipe out the Jews, and the fact is that in every place that the Arabs forces captured, all Jews living there were either killed or expelled. Their great “tragedy” is that they didn’t fulfill their ambition of murdering all the Jews. It’s time they stopped playing the victim.

Yes, Joshua, war is hell–no doubt–and once bullets start to fly and comrades start to die, there are never perfect saints nor sinners in any conflict.

But the fact is that had Arabs been willing to grant that other non-Arab peoples–scores of millions of them, subjugated by the Arabs themselves (Kurds, Copts, “Berbers,” black Africans, “kilab yahud” (native “Jew dogs”), and others as well were also entitled to their own shares of political justice, tragedies such as you describe would not have occurred.Had not Arabs invaded a minuscule, resurrected Israel in 1948, none of what you write about would have occurred.

Now, I suggest you next write about the poetry of some 35 million native Amazigh and Kabyle people in North Africa–the “Berbers”–who have had their own cultures and languages outlawed by the Arabs or consider the forced Arabization of all of those opther scores of millions of non-Arab peoples and their lands mentioned above as well.

For starters, try reading my own new book on the subject–in a dozen universities so far, including the American Univ. of Beirut, right in Hizbullah’s backyard.

Lee Jaffe says:

The equivalency Cohen tries to draw here works only of you believe that historical equation that Israel = Nazi Germany. Cohen needs to ignore that Darwish had his choice of models and linking his people’s plight to another’s was a good rhetorical move. But we don’t have to accept his math.

DARWISH’S poetry is based on the big lie that there is diference between the Shoah and the so called Nkba.

A moments reflection should tell you how preposterous this view is and it has nothing to do with which narative one believes.

In 1948 a half million “Palestinian” A rabs went zinti exile neqxt door. Today there are a milion and a half Palestinians in Israel and another 5 million in self imposed exile.

As for Jews there are stil fewer Jews today. Sixty years after the Holocaust there are still fewer Jews in the world today than there were

The opposite is true about ths Arabs.

Also fewer arabadied in thdwars between Arabs and Jews than did civil wars Algeria, not too mention all the other inter Arab wars.

Mahmoud’s poetry idz based on a big lie.

Jozhua Cohen either does not know history or he is bding an Israel hater.

Sorry about the misspellings.

Dani ben Lev says:

you lost me at the Vilna/Palestine comparison, factually pulled out of your anus and morally reprehensible. Most of the Baltic Jews were murdered in extermination camps. Where as Mr. Darwish appears to have enjoyed a cosmopolitan life along the eastern Med.

Jules “appraisals” amounts to repeating his antisemitic prejudices.

To him Jews have stopped being welcomed “in the world” this is exactly what antisemites postings say, asif Jews were ever welcomed.

Over half million MIzrachi Jews expelled from ARab countries show how wslcome they ever were.

Btw what is Andrews other n some JUles?

By Andrew reckoning the proportion of Jews killed in 1948 wa as many times greated than that of the Arabs. Then one should look at the percentage of Israelis killed by Palestinian Arab terorists.

Andrews likez to play the merry fool. No

Had the Gazans not engaged in terrorizing Israeli civilians with rockdt fire and before that with suicide bombers there would not have been any need for Israel to defend itself against Hamas.

Andrew is one of those Jew haters who find it eazy to justify the killing of jew.

Our merry Andrews

I am typing on a TAblet and its clear that I am still not sure how it works.

Anyway ANdrew and Jules like to use word like peace and justice but this applies to everyone except Jews.

Arabs, Muslims, pro Palestinians can attack Jews with impunity, but jews have no right to defend themselves in these posters universe.

andrew r says:

“By Andrew reckoning the proportion of Jews killed in 1948 wa as many times greated than that of the Arabs. Then one should look at the percentage of Israelis killed by Palestinian Arab terorists.”

Let’s keep the original point in mind here: The Israeli-Palestinian conflict should not be ignored because the raw fatalities are higher elsewhere. Especially because Israel needs outside funding to do its thing. Considering why Palestinians are killed by Israelis, so Israel can be a Jewish state, even one is too many. So Palestinians don’t have to tolerate Zionism anymore than Americans put up with 9-11.

If you’re going to ask someone to not care about a few fatalities, you have to ask everyone.

Arnon the pathology of inanities at any poster who crosses through the cross hairs of your defamatory artillery are truly intellectually dishonest and atrocious.

Work on your aim as it should be of some worry to you because you do not by most obvious accounts put your idle brain to much work. Your epithets are as ugly as your racially charged rants, and I do not waltz, nor do I dance, in any kind of falling off fool’s underpants.

You though it should be noted do…to your own self felt sense of goofy naked blind pride, carry on as you wish, put don’t put me in for the stupid ride.

andrew r says:

“Arnon the pathology of inanities”

There’s nothing new here, either. In 3 June 1916, Moshe Olgin wrote an anti-Zionist article in the Forward (“They are the established inhabitants of Palestine who arrived hundreds of years before the arrival of the Zionist settlers.”) Ben-Gurion’s angry reaction to the article: “an appeal for a pogrom against the Jews of Palestine,” nevermind that most Palestinians could most certainly not read Yiddish. (Ben-Gurion and the Palestinians p. 17)

Dani ben Lev says:

The reality is that the anti-Zionist discourse is a rather US-Hebrew one. Here in Israel this sort of hair splitting is alien, for the realities on the ground are well removed form the mental masturbation of the US’s far left. But it’s good to know that you have the time and luxury to fawn over these details. There is nothing like a middle class that makes itself feel better through its helper-syndrome.
Goodness if only we had the time.
I need to hustle.
Heading to Florentine.

jacon.arnon says:

Andrew your subequent post contradicts what you said originally about “propottion” in casualty rates.

To me the whole point was pointless.

When it comes to Israel antisemitic critics always change the rules and judge them in ways they wouldn’t other people.

jacon.arnon says:

Andrew your equation of Zinosm to 9/11 is your own fantasy.

Like a good little antisemite you have just de-humanized each and every Israeli Jew.

Nothing you say can be taken seriously.

9/11 is comparable to Palestinian Arab suicide attacks on Jews, period.

Suicide attacks are only comparable to other suicide attacks.

jacon.arnon says:

WShat can one do to a crazy antisemitic uncle Jules?

Read Sartre’s Antisemite and Jew and you will see a portraid of uncle Jules.

Shalom Freedman says:

Joshua Cohen has chosen to write about two poets, Laor and Darwish who are united by their common hatred of Israel.
In this article he skips over Darwish’s political views while giving his own rather obscene political message i.e. that the sufferings suffered by the Arabs in 1947-48 are similar in character to those suffered by the Jews in the Shoah. All suffering may have something in common with all other suffering, and sufferings of exile and homelessness of one person or people may bear similarity to sufferings of exile and homelessness of another, but the kinds of suffering, humiliation, torture, murder the Jews suffered in the Shoah are so beyond anything the Palestinian Arabs suffered that to make the comparison is to show insensitity at best and evil- heartedness at worst.
Clever Mr. Cohen may be, but decent and fair he is not.


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Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish created a poetry of martyrdom for his people—and a political coup for the idea of the nakba