Peace to everyone. Special Greetings and Eid Mubarak to all my Muslim and Arab Friends. May 30 is one of the most important of Muslim Holidays—the Eid at the end of Ramadan. May 15th was also “Nakba Day,” the anniversary of the start of the catastrophe that still leaves five generations of Palestinians today living as refugees or in exile or under occupation in their own homeland.
I hope Americans who feel they are suffering dreadfully from roughly 10 weeks of “social distancing” and some short lockdowns will take a moment to extend their empathy to the people of Palestine. These people have basically been living in “lockdown” since 1947. Years of martial law, travel bans, occupation by a hostile military/police force, arbitrary curfews, countless checkpoints, and occasional outright military assaults are all part of their daily life. This has all been routine for decades. It has been supported by the US financially, militarily, and diplomatically from the start. Now they have to suffer through the coronavirus too. I hope people can extend their imagination for a moment to try to envision what that might feel like. If you do, then try to find something you can do to help.
A few years ago, I wrote this poem, which I dedicate to the people of Palestine and my other Arab and Muslim friends.
Sharing the Losses
Every day you lose your country
I lose my country too
Both of us in bits and pieces
Day by day, land and values
Undermined, eroded, and displaced
Defiled, chewed up, spit out, erased
Your country’s losses come by violence and force,
By lies and hypocritical decrees and fire
Mine by my country’s ignorance and malaise,
By its simple, stubborn, failure to see—and liars
And the theft of your country’s land and lives,
While my country balks, and stutters, and stands aside
(always to one side)
(always to one side)
Corrupts, erodes, and cheapens in my land
What sometimes let us stand with pride
They are quite different losses, yes—
You land up in exile, I seem to stay at home and yet
I am, for that, not at ease here either anymore,
Find myself a stranger, can never quite forget…
No our losses can’t compare—I’m far removed from the fires you go through
And yet, at the bone, a home is more than safe and muffled sleep
No, I can’t speak with your voice
That breaks with the weight of stolen lives and land
And likewise you can’t speak with mine, that shakes
With its old notions of honor stained and bent and in decline
So even distance, absence, different worlds can’t keep our voices,
Joined by these deep mutual roots, from a sometimes rhyme
And we needn’t share a language
Need never even have seen each other’s lands to know
That everyday you lose your country, I lose my country too
That if one day you find your country gone, you will find me there with you
In whatever kind of place a life of exile continues in
There we will speak in one tongue,
As we share our mutual losses
Note: If you are interested in local events in Oregon in support of peace in Palestine, then you might look at the website of “Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights” (AUPHR).
For more comprehensive national and international news on this issue one of the best sources of information is: Mondoweiss.