Continuing the Debate About Darwish

Haim Watzman

Yisrael and Shalom,

In response to your comments on my post “Mahmoud Darwish, Zionist Poet,” if you read more carefully, you’ll see that:
a) I don’t put down the Jew, but rather express my admiration for Greenberg’s poetry;
b) I except myself from Darwish’s politics, while expressing admiration for his poetry;
c) I suggest that both poets are important figures in their national cultures, and that they need to be read and understood by the opposing nation.

Regarding the quotes you adduce, the context of the poem from the First Intifada indicates that the “land” he wants the Jews to get out of is probably the West Bank and Gaza Strip. However, even if, when writing it, in the emotional turbulence of a quite justified Palestinian uprising against Israeli oppression, he meant he wanted the Jews out of all of the Land, that doesn’t obviate the fact in his political, as opposed to poetic, statements he consistently favored compromise and coexistence. But neither his poetic outbursts nor his political opinions are relevant to the literary value of his poetry and to the importance of it being read and understood by Jews and Zionists.

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