Friday, October 7, 2011

History Lesson poem on Palestine

Today, I went out with a poetry crew to put poetry into the streets and other places where people gather in the city. Once a year, in early October, joining other cities in Canada, poets roam the streets, cafes, parks, schools, libraries and other places, dropping lines randomly on unsuspecting people. It's called Random Acts of Poetry.

On Sunday, while I was walking Tassu a few lines popped into my head; I thought, hmm. This is my poem. This is where I start.

Yesterday I sat down at my laptop at 9 a.m. and stayed there til 9 p.m. and wrote my poem. "Don't bother me," I told my family, when they called me to come eat, "I'm writing a poem about Palestine." I pedalled off for an hour to teach a yoga class, then pedalled back and continued writing my history lesson on Palestine in poetic form. My language is straightforward and my rhyme simple, sometimes full rhyme, but also slant or half rhyme, too. Although other years I read a different poem at each stop, this year I decided to bring only this one poem with me to the four stops on the route I was scheduled to participate in. I decided I will encode Palestine's history onto the streets of my town, voice its history to the listening ears of folks in my town, most who know only the Israeli version of the so-called "Palestine/Israel conflict."

Our first stop was Calico's Coffee Shop. What a coincidence that a Zionist-defending female Jewish rabbi from Israel, from Jerusalem, just happened be in the coffee shop when we walked in. Below is my poem that made her so angry. One thing I forgot to tell her as she berated me loudly, that here in Canada, unlike Israel, we are allowed to speak our mind about Palestine in public places. She should not bring her Israeli style silencing to Canada. It won't work here. We can defend Palestine and be pro-Palestinian; it's a constitutional basic human right in Canada. Hopefully, Israel one day will see that this right extends to all people, not just a "chosen few," but all people--especially Palestinians.

63 lines for 63 long years; or, “Don’t Stand in the Doorway, Come in.”

Israel is the state, Palestine is the land
If you don’t know the history, let me lend you a hand.

In the beginning, here’s my word:
Don’t confuse Israelites or Hebrews with the Israeli Jewish population
The first two are Biblical, but the last, a result of Zionist nationalization.

Jews are Semites, but Palestinians are too
So if you accuse me of being anti-Semitic, exactly against who?

European Zionists created Israel in 1948
But they had been preparing for years for a settler state.

A nationalist movement, it is unjust that Zionism sought to install
a Jewish-only state where Palestinians were the majority above all.

Zionist plans for the Palestinian people as written by Herzl and Jabotinsky:
violent colonization, dispossession, dispersal and death if they don’t flee.

Were others involved in this heinous plan for expulsion and dislocation?
Yes, feudal landowners who were Arabs, PM Smuts of South Africa, Lord Palmerston, the British, the Balfour Declaration—there’s a long list of damnation.

Economic relations, racism against Jews, and the tragedy of the Holocaust, too,
helped Zionists replace the Palestinian population with a settler community that was new.

Were there Jewish people in Palestine before ‘48?
Yes, Mizrahi, Arab Jews and Palestinians of Jewish faith.

Understanding the Israel/Palestine conflict is not complicated
It’s the story of colonization through Palestinian oppression, simply stated.

In finding the truth religious fundamentalism is surely a concern here
Especially the homegrown type: right wing Evangelical Christian Zionist fervour.

Let me state: a two state solution is not the solution
It will continue persecution, extrajudicial execution, racism, and more bandustans,
What is needed is just resolution: retribution, right of return, and redistribution of land.

A two state solution will retain all the problems, this means prisons,
illegal settlements, Jewish only highways, sniper towers and militarism.

And let’s not forget water; while an Israeli family takes a dip in their swimming pool,
A Palestinian farmer has no water for trees and crops; don’t you think it’s a bit cruel?

Speaking of trees, olive trees are uprooted daily by Canadian made machines
On an ethical level, I ask you to question what this means.

And did you know, Diefenbaker Parkway and Canada Park are built on occupied land,
funded by Canadian tax dollars? Tell me, shouldn’t this be banned?

Canada, the US and Britain say they speak out for international law and democracy,
But their one-sided ideological & economic support of Israel reveals severe hypocrisy.

1.6 million Palestinians live in the Gaza Strip, which is the same size as our Giant,
Surely you would agree that a density per km of 4073 would make anyone defiant.

Palestinians in the West Bank number 2.3 million, inside Israel another 1.4 million
many millions more in the diaspora, and refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.

A total of 11 million Palestinians are seeking a homeland, a state,
Where they’ll have their freedom instead of Israel dictate.

Arrest without trial, demolition of homes, other human rights negation,
expulsion, land appropriation, depopulation, checkpoint humiliation—
these are only part of Palestinian subjugation.

From refugee crisis creation to Jerusalem confiscation,
The Palestinians have survived, resisting devastation.

All the Israeli state methods of separation and occupation
won’t stop the Palestinians from seeking their liberation.

Their struggles, the Intifada, the uprising, has been 63 years long
But they pass their resistance to the children through stories and song

and Darwish:
You who stand in the doorway, come in,
Drink Arabic coffee with us
And you will sense that you are like us
You who stand in the doorways of houses
Come out of our morningtimes,
We shall feel reassured to be
like you!
The Berlin Wall came down and apartheid in South Africa did decline
But, my friend, where is your voice against the Apartheid Wall in Palestine?

Don’t forget also to join the BDS campaign
that is, boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel’s capital gain.

And, a history lesson without the stories of people is only a part
so I suggest the novel Mornings in Jenin as a good place to start.

Electronic Intifada, Palestine Chronicle, and If Americans Knew
can tell you some more—just skip mainstream news, hit the net, the truth will come through.

Say it loud, speak it proud, speak it loud, say it proud
Long live Palestine. Free Palestine


Merche Pallarés said...

Very good! and what a coincidence that a woman (?) rabbi was present to listen. I can imagine she must have been fuming! Hugs, M.

marja-leena said...

Very powerful! I hope this is read and heard by many out there.

And yes, what a coincidence with the rabbi. I know through blogs another recently ordained female rabbi, poet and blogger, very unlike the one you met:

Anonymous said...


Are you familiar with Resistance Art?

The 2012 calendar, Colors from Palestine, is dedicated to Mahmoud Darwish and contains lovely pictures by Palestinian artists.

I expect you know about the work of the courageous Gaza volunteer, Eva Bartlett. She's giving a talk in Toronto next week. Wish I could attend. I went to her presentation in Hamilton 10 days ago. WOW! I'm so happy I decided to postpone by drive home to Nova Scotia by a couple of days. The day before I went to Michael Parenti's lecture at U of T.

I do love checking out your blog. Kiitos! (and while in TO I bought some piirakkas and Geisha, my favourite chocolates.)


Roby said...

Why do you hate Jews? Did some Jewish guy not call you the next day? Get over it and get a clue.

Anonymous said...

so i check into your site and for years now it continues to be a hate site. Too bad you have such an outlook. Will only make war in this world.

northshorewoman said...

thx, MP, ML and AK

I will look up the calendar and post it in my office for inspiration.

to the 2 anonymouses,

I don't hate anyone. My hate is reserved for war, occupation, injustice, and the kind of capitalism that kills.

Check out Jews for Justice and other Jewish people working for meaningful change. Until those with privilege acknowledge the blood on their hands, the chance of working together across differences is slim.