Nazih Khere


Those who were baptized in the Jordan said:

This is my land!

And those who fell tonight on the bridges said:

This is my land!

And those who wept on the roofs of Jerusalem said: This is my land!

But I

was simply someone who said this is my land.


The poets speak in literary evenings

the people speak about artificial relationships

everyone says that our holy land

belongs entirely to our Lord

And then our Lord suddenly appears

in the guise of a fighter on the roofs of Jerusalem

like someone who had crossed the Jordan,

wet from baptism


Don't be amazed!

I am the strange contradiction between a thousand opinions

and a thousand lies

in all the splintered fences

I am the contradiction in the balance between the old and the new

the contradiction between the fortune teller and the tale

I always dreamed of being a communist comrade

or an obturate prodigal, slow of understanding

in order to return for a moment that peace to my mind

Then I will be the stranger

and perhaps one who belongs

When I sleep in my Israeli belonging

and wake at times in my Palestinian sorrow

in my Arab distress

and my Druse chagrin

then what do you want me to say,

that these are all my identity?

Let it be so:

But my friend the communist at hearing this

will say to me:

You must read Lenin

to return the peace among your separate selves

or between your self and your God!


My Jewish friend hearing these things

will say to me:

straighten your uniform

without it you'll look

like one of the minorities

or a street worker in Haifa.

And when my bearded friend from Um El-Fachem sees me

(in uniform or not) he will say:

None of you will produce a righteous man -

You will remain a Druse, you will remain a traitor,

even if you soften my wounds in the oil of longing

this is but your atonement for an eternal crime.

And despite all this

I will not hate any one of them

as long as there is within me

that which seeks out my sins

that they may rejoice in failure.


Oh the people of the contradiction-filled homeland

where people go out to look at the Gilboa Iris

and then to war,

I will give you my soul as a sacrificial lamb

as I have always been

and my bitter flesh will fill with opiates

I hate to browse in the Arab history books

which assigns people by nations

More than that I despise the Hebrew newspaper

which makes from every new immigrant

a more preferred citizen than me.

Oh the people of the contradiction-filled homeland

when my bitter flesh will fill with opiates

you shall consume me and fall

but I... at my death another woman

will give birth to me

and I will skip from the Carmel mountains to the Shoof Mountains

accompanied by five horseback riders

and five swords

and they will ensure my peace

between the Barada river, the Hermon and the Carmel!





by Karen Alkalay-Gut