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August 14, 2008

The laureate of all Arabs

by Ahdaf Soueif

Ahdaf Soueif

Mahmoud Darwish is dead, but the voice of the Palestinian resistance will live on in all of us

* The Guardian,
* Tuesday August 12 2008

None of us really thought he’d die. Our loss is great, we tell each other. In our minds we think of Edward Said, of Haider Abdel-Shafi, of Faisal Husseini, and even – yes – of Yasser Arafat. The “big men” of Palestine. And now, Mahmoud Darwish.

He was seven when – in the Nakba of 1948 – he fled from Birweh, his village in the Galilee. At the age of 12, living in Deir el-Asad, in what had become Israel, with a reputation as a precocious child poet, he was asked to compose a poem for a public reading. The occasion was the celebration of Israel’s “Independence Day” and the poem he read described the feelings of a child who returns to his town to find other people sleeping in his bed, tilling his father’s lands. He was summoned to the military governor who told him that if he continued to write subversive material his father’s work permit would be revoked. That incident set the tone, I think, for Darwish’s life.


Darwish: again, and again

from Angry Arab

Darwish’s prose is as beautiful as his poetry, but in different ways. What I love about him is that this poet speaks Arabic in a very concise way when being interviewed. I watched an interview with him from 2002, and he was magnificent. He said that while Israel imposes a siege on the Palestinian people, the U.S. (after Sep. 11) imposes a siege on the world. He talked about his poem State of Siege. He made me re-read it: it is incredible. There is a passage there when he calls on the occupier to try to some Arabic coffee: and you read the passage and it is a poetic expression of that famous section about master and slave in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Mind. He said that it is not possible to make peace with a state that have not been able in 60 years to make peace with “its” Arab citizens of the state. He said that Israel only extends its tanks and jets. He said that the debate in the Knesset about the use of his poetry in school curricula indicated that weakness of the identity of the state. He also made the important point about the culpability of Israeli society: that Israelis democratically elect those governments that practice war crimes as a matter of policy. I have always believed this to be true: Israel its supporters can’t have it both ways. Can’t insist on bragging about the democracy of Israel (for its Jewish citizens only of course) and yet expect us to absolve the voters of Israel from the moral, ethical, political, and even legal responsibility for the crimes that are committed by the successive governments of Israel.
Posted by As’ad at 7:22 AM

And also, later : Instead of writing about shoes and Arab culture, why don’t these foreign correspondents write about the place of poetry in Arab culture? At least classical Orientalists, like Philip Hitti (who I still like to read), used to write about that. I can’t imagine a funeral like that for a poet in the U.S. Is Donald Rumsfeld considered a poet?

I would add Scotts to Arabs for their love of poetry but may be not on the same scale.

Dicing with death for Gaza: Day 12

Wed, 13 Aug 2008 11:51:02 GMT
By Yvonne Ridley, Press TV

By the time you read this, our two boats, the Free Gaza and SS Liberty should
be sailing from Chania’s old port in Crete despite a gloomy forecast of storms

Our captains have decided it is time to quit our dock for security reasons and
so we are heading along the Crete coastline on our way to pick up the rest of
our passengers who have been waiting patiently in Cyprus.

We could be in for a rough ride, but without going into too much detail, we
probably are more at risk by not moving.

Israel has a history of using Mossad and Kidon to sabotage and destroy peaceful
operations designed to help or show solidarity towards Palestinians.

From Crete we will head towards larnaca, Cyprus to pick up the rest of our
group and then we are bound for Gaza to break the medieval siege imposed by

Media interest is once again gathering momentum and there are those who want to
join us on board while others are considering hiring their own boats … the
more the merrier. Wouldn’t it be great if we had a huge flotilla?

However, there are concerns from the media because Israel has a history of
shooting, killing, and arresting journalists who try to report the truth about
the brutal occupation of Palestine.

I was reminded of this only this morning as I read a release a few minutes ago
from Reporters Without Borders. The human rights group was condemning today’s
announcement by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) to detain Ibrahim Hamad, a
soundman employed by the Palestinian news agency Ramattan, for six months
without bringing charges and without taking him before any court.

Hamad was arrested by Israeli soldiers at his home in Qalandiyah, near the West
Bank city of Ramallah, on July 15. “The Israeli military may not under any
circumstances arrest journalists or media assistants without giving a
reason,” Reporters Without Borders said.
“If they think a journalist has done something wrong, they must say what it
is and they must explain why they are arresting him. We call for Hamad’s
immediate release.”

When reached by Reporters Without Borders, the management of Ramattan firmly
condemned his arrest and called for his release.

They also called on the Israeli authorities to explain why they are holding
him. “This is not the first time that one of our employees has been arrested
by the Israeli military,” the agency said.

Israeli boasts it is a democracy … these are not the actions of a democratic
state. These are the actions of a brutal state which tries to crush those
dedicated to telling the truth about the full horrors of the Zionist regime and
its determination to see through its deliberate and slow genocide of the
Palestinian people.

We will be able to see in a few days time exactly how the Israelis react to a
group of peaceful activists who want to sail into Gaza armed with nothing more
than love and support for their Palestinian brothers and sisters.

If Israel is really a free and open democracy then its Navy will let us past,
Mossad will stop trying to sabotage our journey and all of the journalists on
board, including myself, will be able to report the truth about what is
happening in the world’s largest open air prison called Gaza.

In the meantime, I would urge the IOF to release our brother Ibrahim Hamad and
allow him to continue his media work.

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