Lieberman: Palestinian National Poet Mahmoud Darwish’s Verse is ‘Mein Kampf’

By IMEMC News | – –

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has compared the broadcast of poetry by Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish on Israeli radio to glorifying Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf,” the Ministry of Defense said on Thursday.

On Tuesday, Israeli army radio broadcast works by the iconic Palestinian writer as part of its “University on Air” program, including Darwish’s famous poem “Identity Card,” which drew the ire of Lieberman and other Israeli officials.

Ma’an News Agency reports that, in a meeting with Army Radio chief Yaron Dekel, Lieberman said that broadcasting the poem contravened the station’s mission to “strengthen solidarity in society, not to deepen rifts, and certainly not to offend public sensibilities.”

Lieberman added that Darwish’s poems could not “be part of the Israeli narrative program” aired on the station, adding: “By that same logic, we can also add to the Israeli narrative Mufti al-Husseini, or broadcast a glorification of the literary merits of ‘Mein Kampf,’” referring to the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem in the 1920s and 1930s — whom Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu controversially blamed in October for the Jewish holocaust.

“Identity Card,” written in 1964, details the indignities of life subjected to the bureaucracy of the Israeli occupation, and includes the lines “I do not hate people/Nor do I encroach/But if I become hungry/The usurper’s flesh will be my food,” presumably the part targeted by Lieberman.

According to the Ministry of Defense statement, Lieberman said that there was “a big difference between freedom of expression and freedom of incitement.”

Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit called Lieberman “to remind him he has no authority to intervene in Army Radio’s programming.”

Born in Moldova, Avigdor Lieberman is one of the only foreign ministers in the world who does not live in territory officially recognized as his own country. Originally under suspicion over charges of money-laundering and bribery, Lieberman was formally indicted in December of 2012, on lesser charges of fraud and breach of trust.

His party was recently the focus of a corruption probe within the Israeli political spectrum, and, more recently, Lieberman’s life was threatened with an assassination attempt.

On Wednesday, Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev called the broadcast of Darwish’s poems “dangerous,” adding that Army Radio “cannot allow itself to glorify the anti-Israel historical tale, as Mahmoud Darwish is not an Israeli, his poems are not Israeli, and they go against the main values of Israeli society.”

Darwish, who died in 2008, is also known as Palestine’s national poet, and stands as one of the most prominent figures of modern Palestinian literature. He has long been criticized by Israeli political figures for his stance against the occupation.



Related video added by Juan Cole:

Aljazeera English: “Inside Story – Mahmoud Darwish remembered – 14 Aug 08 – Part 1”

4 Responses

  1. Dear Professor Cole

    It adds just an extra tang of enjoyment to reading Qabaani over breakfast.

    “We are accused of terrorism
    if we defended land
    and the honor of dust
    if we revolted against the rape of people
    and our rape
    if we defended the last palm trees in our desert
    the last stars in our sky
    the last syllabi of our names
    the last milk in our mothers’ bossoms
    if this was our sin
    how beautiful is terrorism.

    I am with terrorism
    if it is able to save me
    from the immigrants from Russia
    Romania, Hungaria, and Poland

    They settled in Palestine
    set foot on our shoulders
    to steal the minarets of al-Quds
    and the door of Aqsa
    to steal the arabesques
    and the domes.”

    link to

    and the poignant

    Children Bearing Stones
    Nizar Qabbani

    With stones in their hands, they defy the world
    and come to us like good tidings.
    They burst with anger and love, and they fall
    while we remain a herd of polar bears: a body armored against weather.

    Like mussels we sit in cafes,
    one hunts for a business venture
    one for another billion and a fourth wife, breasts polished by civilization.
    One stalks London for a lofty mansion, one traffics in arms
    one seeks revenge in nightclubs
    one plots for a throne, a private army, and princedom.

    Ah, generation of betrayal, of surrogate and indecent men,
    generations of leftovers, we’ll be swept away
    never mind the slow pace of history
    by the children bearing rocks.

    Anything that upsets Lieberman and Miri Regev must be good

  2. Isis Kovacs

    Darwish would roll his eyes. His museum is a magical place; hard to imagine a poet more beloved by the people.

  3. As for Minister Lieberman comparing dissenters to Nazis, he’s the one issuing Special Identification for a conquered race, forever. Would he object to a crescent and moon sewn on one’s clothing?

    To use Minister Regev’s own logic, Darwish was not an Israeli, therefore he must be the citizen of some country. Can Israel tell us where that country is, besides under the boots of Israeli occupiers?

  4. I had not known that Minister Lieberman was a student of poetry. I wonder what he thinks of Yehuda Amichai.

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