Posts tagged ‘Israel’

Flowers of War



 22 July, 2014….. The Wahington Post:


Gaza deaths: ‘ Women and children first’.

For this Ameican Jew, a nightmare…  from which I am trying to make something.

This is a transformation of a well-known Israeli song:




Evening of Warflowers (A Hebrew Melody)


Evening and flowers of fire:
Let us go out to the fields,
far from the scent of tank-treads,
metal and burning flesh.

Night is slowly falling
over my glowing heart.
Let me whisper you a song
of lovers that never part.

Dawn and the mourning dove:
your hair alight like phosphorus.
If I cannot lie with you, my love,
then I will lie to both of us.





For echoes of other struggles, you can watch performances of the song I disfigured:

Miriam Makeba    

and  Harry Belafonte 

were both dedicated political activists as well as great popular performers.



That The Washington Post features the ‘kiiled breakdown’ graphic may be a sign of a sea change in “mainstream” perceptions of this calamity. If you want the whole WaPo thing from today, it’s  HERE

  But remember the graphic when you read about Hamas’s intransigence (first paragraph) and Israeli claims that the goal of their assault is “the return of the quiet in the whole of Israel”  (5th paragrap, right after Gaza deaths.). And “weep, for you may touch them not”  as Wilfred Owen wrote just before he, too, was killed in the Great War.




The Washington Post and Israel

Today’s lead Washington Post editorial rejoices over the withdrawl of the putatively pro-Arab Charles Freeman as appointed head of Obama’s National Intelligence council. As the post now has online “debates” with the editorial board, I jumped in to say “shame on you” to the Post:

First read Post editorials every day, noticing the even tone and careful writing, even on positions you oppose. Then notice the patronizing slop that begins with “latest failed nominee peddles a conspiracy theory” in this editorial

Why? Because all debates start with assumptions of what is reasonable and respectable. And the best “spin” is that which reinforces a desired environment of assumptions.

It is only in the past few years that challenging what the Israeli Government and AIPAC et al. say is good for Israel has become even half-respectable. That is why the editorial can smugly equate the Israel Lobby (supporting muscular democracy — for Israeli Jews) and “Americans who support Israel” (I am one), going on to call Freeman’s statement “grotesque libel”.

And so the usually impeccably dressed editorial board drops its pants on this issue. It’s a good sign that consummate professionals and old-timers like Pincus and Broder can keep their heads — and belts — when the topic is Israel/Palestine.

The real story is a vicious tragedy in which the leaders on both sides embrace arrogance, hatred, and violence. American cheerleading for “Israel” a la the Post editorial makes things worse — but American political support and money have almost always sustained the catastrophe.

Perhaps Freeman meant “change” on this fundamental level. Then perhaps he was unseated by the combination of fear, influence and self-righteousness that can reasonably be called “the Israel Lobby.”


Onions and Lemons   (Gaza: January, 2009)


I went to the market
and all I could find there
was onions and lemons,

said Um Adel Abu Nahil,
resident of a Gaza camp,
trapped between Israeli tanks
and page A14, column 5
of this morning’s newspaper.

I went to breathe
but all I could find,

said another, was fire.

Every poet in Israel
lay down by the riverside
and beat their electronic swords
into shares of the New Israel Fund.

Thousands of Gazans became poets
and lay down in the dust,
waiting for water. The least
among them, children unlike yours and mine,
the blessed of the shelled Earth, the salt
of the blood-drinking Kevlar warriors,
lay down beside the corpses of their mothers.

I would gladly give up my home
a woman told me last week
and my land, in Maryland,
if I could trade it for peace over there.

A woman as kind as you or I, perhaps,
but wiser than a thousand ministers or
as was said of Hiroshima:
brighter than a million suns.

To kill, we send other peoples sons
for the most part. Blessed are the Refusers
for they shall see some bored officer,
or some conflicted officer, or some superior fool
commander with the commandment: Thou shalt kill.

You may leave your conscience at home,
but you shall go and lie down in the dust
with the children of Palestine, and embrace
their many aunts and uncles; they are the Chosen.

Honest journalists shall commit suicide
and be resurrected as witnesses. Poets
who cannot bite their tongues will be dragged
by their tongues, by Israeli colonels,
until we are turned completely inside out
so that all may see our revolting insides.

I would give my house. I have given my heart.
Neither giving nor forgiving will sate the beast of war.
We went down on the knees of our tongues in the desert
and tried not to look at the children with their dead eyes
and their dead mothers and their tortured fathers
and their enraged uncles. Would those children permit us
to become their aunts and uncles? No.
They have Abu Nahil. They have onion fields.
They have a vast paradise of lemons.

They have the self-righteous leaders
of “the only democracy in the Middle East.”
They’ve had a succession of US Presidents
and Secretaries of State, one at a time,
proffering their good offices in places
where even a gravedigger would hide his shovel in shame.

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