They call me Nekba,
named for the catastrophe born on the same day as I.
64 years of fighting the threat of genocide
has left me un-spooled, like the thread I use
to embroider pillows and thobes
with passion and the hope
that one day I will again feel at home
on this land that my grandfather tilled with his hands
under the umbrage of a gold- leafed dome..
And all I’ve inherited is internal displacement:
like my gut in my throat
when I hear of olive trees,
older than you and me by centuries,
uprooted like so many families
relinquished to refugee
camps where there is no defense.
Though in the West Bank we are restrained by a fence
thick enough to drown the sounds of our sorrows,
and muffle the marching beat of endless feet
martyred in neat piles
which the media sweeps so slyly
under the rug of humanity.
The insanity of your alleged “birthright”,
Israeli’s minting fresh citizens:
you import entitlement
and market it as democracy!
And though your apartheid apathy
acknowledges 1 million of my friends
as second-class citizens
among you, 4 million more are caught in between,
unaccounted for in your governmental scheme.
And that doesn’t include the millions still who can only dream
of one day reclaiming their ancestry:
frozen in the struggle to remain Palestinian and present,
to retain the essence
of zaatar w zaytoon,
il loz w laymoon..
In the spirit of those lost,
the Arab spring thaws
the sting of aching jaws letting cries of “Freedom!”
ring through bullet-battered walls.
But the numbers dead here still spiral like some stupefying defect:
1 missing, 1 lost, 2 killed, 3 buried, 5, 8, 13..
we’ve grown accustomed to this pattern of killing!
But when does the sequence end?
Tell me Israel, through which ethical lens
does your ethnic cleansing make sense?
The irony is a bit much for me to tolerate:
while Palestinian children are dying,
your IDF soldiers are toasting “l’chaim!”
Our sons and daughters detained prisoners of war
starving for your empathy,
living on salt and water,
and I don’t mean tears alone...
So tell me how, Danny Ayalon,
can you deny that Palestine ever existed?
How can you say, with a straight face, that before ‘48
there was nothing here but the potential for a Jewish state?
Before you fed us your hate
we ate like kings in the fertile crescent--
doctors, lawyers and musicians!
Our land was golden, the most bountiful, and open!
You’ve defiled our stunning cities and our wholesome history.
And yet, I’ll grant you amnesty,
you orphan-making orphans,
because you have never known
the sanctuary of a home and
it’s no wonder you want this land for your own.
Our mountains and coastline, lush green and stones,
which still stand to rebel
against your bomb shells,
are a sight to remind you that your might
does not negate our right to life.
And I must admit I was jealous
when I heard you sent love letters to Iran!
Made me wonder, when did I ever do you wrong?
Made me wonder, what possesses a throng
of Americans to suit up and serve
to protect another homeland which they don’t deserve.
With only weapons in the water, only ammo in the bread,
I was knocked out from rage with stars of David round my head,
last time I yelled,
“Hey Ariel Pharaoh, will you let my people go?”
Because this land is holy, and was so
before your uranium blasts,
and at the end of the day we share the same Semetic past..
But in the 1950’s your discriminatory policies
helped you confiscate our land, classifying us as absentees,
though we never left sight of home.
It was only out of reach,
as we stood helpless caught in your checkpoints, present absentees,
and watched as Jewish families
commandeered Palestinian homes
with food still cooking hot on the stove,
beds made and bills paid, and pets sullen on the floor
sniffing out the stranger who just walked through door.
We never abandoned our Falastin,
and now as refugees
we carry her spirit internationally.
And Israel, we refute
your dumbing down of this occupation
to call it a “dispute”,
though it’s not just a semantic issue.
So I will continue
amidst your tanks and settlements:
separating, segregating, discriminating in your racist strategy..
Netenyahu, who “chose” you to inflict so much suffering unto me?
Israel, I dream of peace,
which is no substitute for justice:
Israel with your barbed wire hugs, and
Israel with your uranium love, and
Israel with your bullet-proof apathy,
Israel with your affinity for make believe.
Israel I am waiting for your liberating compassion,
for you to discover your love
of Palestinian bedouins and Bashas.
For this love cannot be contained,
(which is why love doesn’t die when bodies don’t remain)
which is why love is all that’s left
though my heart has hardened
like the stone pit of an olive.
Don’t you see, Israel?
The only way I know to give you my very best
is to rip open my vest, reach into my chest,
dislodge this now calcified organ,
kiss my fist, and with a wish
send it flying over the wall
towards your settlements (which haven’t settled anything at all)
and hope you receive my good intent.
You see I don’t resent you,
we’d never move passed this if I did--
my life has passed and I just want a better future for my kids.
This rock was meant for nothing more
than to knock some sense into you..
Why continue war?!
We are one human race,
there are no "walls" in space,
and if you could just see my face..
the daughter of a catastrophe--
Perhaps it may inspire some humanity,
Israel, all I do is give you time
but until you get in line,
I’ll keep throwing these
love letters from Palestine.