My heart is torn between East and West. I live somewhere between the present and the past. I don't know who I am.
To the UNRWA, Mahmoud Abbas and his fellow scumbags in the PA government: Stop trying to hijack the success of Assaf in order to polish your dirty as filth reputation. You’ve done absolutely nothing for the Palestinian people. Your fake smiles, certificates, trophies and honours aren’t impressing anyone. You’re still hated no matter how many nice press photos you take shaking hands with the winner so either go do your jobs properly or just leave the Palestinian people be.
Mohammad Assaf…..sort of.
This year’s participation of the Palestinian singer in the popular singing contest Arab Idol has afforded the show as well as the singer himself much attention. His participation in the show has caused a stir and has been extensively discussed and analysed by various reports, articles and talk shows. He’s the favourite to win the show but many contend that even if he’s not awarded the title, he has undoubtedly gained the most out of the experience.
The Gaza-based singer has risen to fame within the Arab world, less for his vocals and more as a champion and a “fresh” face for the Palestinian cause. That’s not to deny his singing ability which has been highly praised but the real problem is that we’re being led to falsely believe that a win for Mohammad Assaf is also a win for the people of Gaza and Palestine. This without a doubt has been a driving force behind many of the viewer’s decision to vote for Assaf. Even The Bank of Palestine is throwing money into his campaign, promising to match up to 350,000 texted votes – each one costing 1.50 shekels ($.40). Taking this into account, I think we’ve really got to start asking ourselves, who’s really profiting from promoting such a narrative? Surely that money could be better spent elsewhere, especially with the Palestinian government’s crippling budget deficit?
Let’s not kid ourselves, the real winners of Arab Idol, the ones really benefiting and indeed, profiting from all this are MBC themselves, their sponsors and the Saudi Arabian government alongside the Saudi chairman of MBC, Waleed Al-Ibrahim. The millions of votes that the viewers send in equate into millions of dollars. It’s their money of course and they’re free to do whatever they want with it but don’t for one second believe that your money is helping Palestine or the Palestinian cause and struggle in any way. The only struggle your money is helping to alleviate is the struggle of the big corporations and the billionaires who own them to get bigger, richer and more corrupt. So please, enough with all the “hope for Palestine” talk because the only time we seem to be good at remembering Palestine is when it’s associated with something fun and light-hearted. Assaf might win, fireworks will go off, confetti will be thrown, zaghareet will be sounded and sweets and sharbat will be passed round but after the celebrations die down, will we still remember the Palestinian cause?
I am Arab
my I.D. number, 50,000
my children, eight
and the ninth due next summer
—Does that anger you?
I work with my struggling friends in a quarry
and my children are eight.
I chip a loaf of bread for them,
clothes and notebooks
from the rocks.
I will not beg for a handout at your door
nor humble myself
on your threshold
—Does that anger you?
a name with no friendly shortcut.
A patient man, in a country
brimming with anger.
My roots have gripped this soil
since time began,
before the opening of ages
before the cypress and the olive,
before the grasses flourishes.
My father came from a line of plowmen,
and my grandfather was a peasant
who taught me about the sun’s glory
before teaching me to read.
My home is a watchman’s shack
made of reeds and sticks
—Does my condition anger you?
There is no gentle name,
write down: Arab.
The colour of my hair, jet black—
a headband over a keffiyeh
and a hand whose touch grates
rough as rock.
My address is an unarmed village
with nameless streets.
All its men are in the field and quarry
—Does that anger you?
You have stolen my ancestors vineyards
and the land I once ploughed
with my children,
leaving my grandchildren
nothing but rocks.
Will your government take
those too, as the rumour goes?
Write down, then
at the top of Page One:
I do not hate
and do not steal
but starve me, and I will eat
my assailant’s flesh.
Beware of my hunger
and of my anger.
Identity Card, Mahmoud Darwish (1964)
Written when the poet was 22 years old.
(John Asfour translation)One of my favourite poems