This is a short note on Mahmoud Darwish after his premature dead. It is not an obituary, and it is not an analysis of his poetry. I am only a casual reader, impressed by some of his poems mirroring his feelings and those of most Palestinians.
A ‘reading’ of Mahmoud Darwish poetry can be done in one of two ways: to forget the causes of the Israel- Arab conflicts and to consider only their consequences, or to remember the causes and the consequences together, and to arrive at the conclusion that the Palestine side, with the help of other Arab countries, are a major and integral part of the Palestinian tragedy. If you prefer the second way, then Mahmoud Darwish expulsion from Israel as a kid in 1948, was caused by the then overall situation, when at the initial point of the Israel-Arab conflict, the Arab countries attacked Israel with only one goal to ‘trow her into the sea forever’.
If you prefer the first way, then the exile the sorrow and tragedy of the Palestinians are an immaculate conception without cause. Mahmud Darwish choice was in many ways ’the immaculate conception’.
In the course of Mahmoud Darwish’s life, this goal, to ‘trow Israel into the sea forever’ was never abandoned by the Palestinians. Today Israel is on firm shore and the Palestinians are divided into “two states”, Mahmoud Abbas’s West Bank state and the Hamas’s Gaza Strip state. Reading his poetry, with in the foreground and in the background, the long range goal of Israel’s overthrow by any means and the view of no causes, are the twin roads leading to the Palestinians suffering, fuelling his activist poetry, coronating him as the national poet of the suffering Palestinian people..the poet Naomi Shihab Nye once said of him:
Poet Naomi Shihab Nye
…”Mahmoud Darwish is the Essential Breath of the Palestinian people, the eloquent witness of exile and belonging, exquisitely tuned singer of images that invoke, link, and shine a brilliant light into the world’s whole heart. What he speaks has been embraced by readers around the world-his in an utterly necessary voice, unforgettable once discovered.”… see here.
But much later, in 2007, he says this, I quote….
..” ‘We woke up from a coma to see a monocolored flag (of Hamas) do away with the four-color flag (of Palestine),’ Darwish said before some 2,000 people who attended the reading in the northern port city of Haifa. ‘We have triumphed,’ he said with thick irony. ‘Gaza won its independence from the West Bank. One people now have two states, two prisons who don’t greet each other. We are victims dressed in executioners’ clothing. We have triumphed knowing that it is the occupier who really won.’ “… see here.
Here Israel is the occupier. Again a de facto statement, forgetting why Israel is in the West Bank, and why Mahmoud Abbas, ironically, needs the Israeli army to prevent the remains of the future Palestinian modern state from falling in the hands of the Hamas. Mahmoud Darwish’s dream of an independent Palestine was surely not that of an Islamic (Hamas) Palestine, ruled by the Iranian will of expansion.
To conclude here are Mahmoud Darwish’s own words:
…”With all his criticism, he remained hopeful that peace between Israel and the Palestinians was attainable. “I do not despair,” he told Haaretz. “I am patient and am waiting for a profound revolution in the consciousness of the Israelis. The Arabs are ready to accept a strong Israel with nuclear arms – all it has to do is open the gates of its fortress and make peace.”… see here.