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Mahmoud Darwish on Israel's 53rd "Anniversary"
by KSamman
12 May 2001 00:29 UTC
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Subj: [GNAA] Mahmoud Darwish: Not to begin at the end
Date: 5/11/01 11:25:39 PM
From:    zdamuni@msn.com (Zahi Damuni)
Reply-to:    GNAA@yahoogroups.com
To:    Al-Awda-Seattle@yahoogroups.com (Al-Awda-Seattle)


Below is a translation of the full text, written in Arabic by Mahmoud
Darwish, that will be broadcast on 15 May, the 53rd anniversary of the
creation of the State of Israel, and the beginning of the Palestinian Nakba.
The day will be marked by mass demonstrations throughout the Palestinian

Al-Ahram Weekly On-line
10 - 16 May 2001

Today is the great day of remembrance. We are not looking back to dig up the
evidence of a past crime, for the Nakba is an extended present that promises
to continue in the future. We do not need anything to help us remember the
human tragedy we have been living for the past 53 years: we continue to live
in the here and now. We continue to resist its consequences, here and now,
on the land of our homeland, the only homeland we have.

Nor will we forget what was done to us on this land of grief and what
continues to be done. And this is not because collective and individual
memory is fertile, is capable of recalling our sad lives, but because the
tragic and heroic story of the land and the people continues to be told in
blood -- in the open conflict between what they want us to be and what we
want to be.

As the Israeli engineers of the Nakba announce on this day of remembrance
that the 1948 War has not yet ended, they unmask, and scandalously so, only
the mirage of their peace, a mirage that appeared over the last decade with
its suggestion of a promise of the possibility of bringing an end to the
conflict, an end that would be based on [two peoples] sharing the same land;
they unmask, too, and scandalously so, the incompatibility of the Zionist
project -- so long as that project's aim of exterminating the Palestinian
people remains on the agenda -- with peace.

For the Palestinians the meaning of this war consists in their being
subjected to continual uprooting, in their transformation into refugees on
their own land and beyond it, in the attempt, following the occupation of
their land and history, to banish their existence, to turn their existence
from an unequivocal entity in space and time to redundant shadows exiled
from space and time.

But the Nakba-makers have not managed to break the will of the Palestinian
people or efface their national identity -- not by displacement, not by
massacres, not by the transformation of illusion into reality or by the
falsification of history. After five decades they have managed neither to
force us into absence and oblivion nor to divorce Palestinian reality from
world consciousness through their false mythologies and the fabrication of a
moral immunity bestowing upon the victim of the past the right to create his
own victims. There is no such thing as a sacred executioner.

Today the memory of the Nakba comes at the height of the Palestinian
struggle in defence of their being, of their natural right to freedom and
self-determination on a part of their historical homeland, and this after
conceding more than was ever necessary for international legitimacy to make
peace possible. When the moment of truth drew near, the true essence of the
Israeli concept of peace was unmasked: continued occupation under another
name, under better conditions [for the occupier], and at a lower cost.

The Intifada -- yesterday, today, tomorrow -- is the natural and legitimate
expression of resistance against slavery, against an occupation
characterised by the ugliest form of apartheid, one that seeks, under the
cover of an elusive peace process, to dispossess the Palestinians of their
land and the source of their livelihood, and to restrict them to isolated
reservations besieged by settlements and by-passes, until the day comes
when, after consenting to "end their demands and struggle," they are allowed
to call their cages a state.

The Intifada is, in essence, a popular and civil movement. It does not
constitute a break with the notion of peace but seeks to salvage this notion
from the injustices of racism, returning it to its true parents, justice and
freedom, by preventing Israel's colonialist project from continuing in the
West Bank and Gaza under the cover of a peace process Israeli leaders have
emptied of any content.

Our wounded hands are yet capable of extracting the wilting olive branch
from the rubble of massacred groves, but only if the Israelis attain the age
of reason and concede our legitimate national rights, defined by
international resolutions foremost among which are: the right of return,
complete withdrawal from Palestinian land occupied in 1967, and the right to
self-determination and an independent sovereign state with Jerusalem as its
capital. For just as there can be no peace with occupation, neither can
there be one between masters and slaves.

The international community cannot -- as it did in the year of Nakba -- turn
a blind eye to what is happening in the land of Palestine for much longer.
Israeli aggression is still besieging Palestinian society, still killing and
assassinating with the excess of destructive power it commands over an
unarmed people, a people defending all that remains of their imperiled
existence, the rubble of their houses, their olive groves threatened with
yet more uprooting.

The nature of the war declared on the Palestinian people will be determined
by the international attention it attracts, for it embodies the struggle
between conflicting international values: on the one hand are the forces
that aim to enable colonialist Zionism and apartheid to live on under new
names and formulas, on the other forces that insist on the necessity of
justice and truth in this part of the world.

The involvement of other states and peoples in the confrontation raging in
Palestine today, and their standing by a Palestinian people deprived of
normal life, proves not only that these states and peoples are committed to
political stability in the Middle East as a means of protecting their
interests but tests, too, a moral position that, in turn, examines the
credibility of freedom, justice and equality in the lives and cultures of
these peoples.

International protection against the brutal terrorism practised against them
by the Israeli regime --which seems to place itself above international law
and order-- has, for the Palestinians, become an urgent necessity. It is
necessary not only to purge the sin of the past but also to prevent the
perpetration of future sins, the adding of yet another chapter to the book
of the Nakba. But instead of acknowledging its responsibility for the Naqba
and the tragedy of the refugees -- a necessary prerequisite for any
political settlement -- Israel is enlarging the Book of the Nakba, reversing
the struggle back to its original cultural premise, its initial
battlefield -- reminding us that no story can begin at the end.

We have not forgotten the beginning, not the keys to our houses, the street
lamps lit by our blood, not the martyrs who nourished the unity of land,
people and history, not the living who were born on the road that can only,
as long as the spirit of the homeland remains alive inside us, lead to a
homeland of the spirit.

We shall forget neither yesterday nor tomorrow. Tomorrow begins now. It
begins with an insistence that the road be travelled to the end, the road of
freedom, the road of resistance, travelled all the way till the eternal
twins -- freedom and peace -- meet.

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