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What People are Saying About This
A moving and powerful volume of poetry dedicated to the
voiceless victims of war, military occupation, and political
attorney, civil rights activist and past President of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
It is vital that the voices of Palestinians--both in their
homeland and in the exile of their diaspora--be heard in the world. It
is not enough for Americans, who pay the financial cost of their
occupation and dispossession, to turn away. Palestinian poets like Rana
El-Khatib--following an earlier generation that included Mahmoud Darwish
and Fadwa Touqan--can force them to confront a painful reality.
ormer ABC News Chief Middle East Correspondent and author of Tribes with Flags and Money for Old Rope
Very few observers of the Middle East scene in general and
Palestine in particular have been able to express the sorrow, anger, and
pain that the people themselves are going through. Beyond the flood of
words in academic articles and scholarly books, the poet's eye and heart
are much more acute and alert to the individual story and to the human
being behind the grand story and drama.
senior lecturer of Political Science at Haifa University, president of the Emil Touma Insitute for Palestinian Studies in Haifa, and author of The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1948-1951, The Israel/Palestine Question, and The History of Modern Palestine
This book is a unique example of the inseparability of "the personal" and "the political" for people struggling against injustice and for their allies.
Rana's poems originate from her own experience as a second-generation uprooted Palestinian refugee, whose father survived the 1948 catastrophe. Yet, the story of her dad's displacement and the loss of their home in Haifa, which she captures in several poems including "Native Son" and "Real Estate Broker," is not merely a personal tragedy. It echoes countless stories of Palestinian refugees, 600,000 to 720,000 of them, who lost their homes in 1948. They kept the keys, some artifacts they were able to salvage, and vivid memories, which they shared with their children. For Palestinian refugees, "home" exists in the past and, in moments of hope, in the future.
When I first met Rana and told her that I lived in Haifa for a decade, she told me about her father's home there, her eyes sparkling with a mixture of sadness and excitement. Then came the plans of us traveling to Haifa together to try and find her family's home. While I was not able to stand next to Rana in front of her dad's house, I traveled there in my mind on numerous occasions, sometimes with my father.
I, too am a second generation refugee, a daughter of a Holocaust survivor who never fully recovered from the personal and collective trauma of that horrific moment in history. My father shared with us, almost on a daily basis, stories about the trials and tribulations of life in the concentration camp, of his survival strategies and especially of the terrible moment in which he witnessed his dad being beaten to death by a Ukrainian farmer. Like other Jews who survived the Holocaust, my father subscribed to a narrow interpretation of the phrase "Never Again." For him, the establishment of the state of Israel and displacement and suppression of Palestinians were unavoidable in the quest of securing the existence of the Jewish people.
Despite the fact that Israel has become one of the strongest military powers in the world, my father still sees himself as a victim. He fails to understand how someone can compare the tragedy of the Holocaust to any other tragedy, let alone that of the Palestinians. What would he do if he visited Rana's family home in Haifa?
With a rare mixture of empathy, compassion and frustration, Rana's poetry grapples with the sad fact of the victims becoming victimizers. Her powerful poems put a human face on the history and contemporary struggles of Palestinians. Rana's subversive use of the term "terrorist" in the title of the book invites readers to rethink their stereotypes about Palestinians, which have been cultivated over time by the American political system as well as by the mainstream popular culture in this country.
Poetry has been used throughout history by many subjugated people to resist dehumanization and to reach out to people and educate them about struggles for justice, equality, and liberation. This book is a great contribution to this rich tradition.