In One World

In 1948 I fled my village
The Stern Gang drove my family from the lands
We ran into the desert
Where I’ve spent these decades living by my hands
Life in Haifa wasn’t easy
But so much better than this hellhole with the soldiers and barbed wire
And the closures, and the hunger
The humiliation and the checkpoints, the machine gun fire

And each day I wonder after Haifa
The home that we abandoned when the Zionists had won
Is there a family with a child
Does it’s father love it as I loved my only son
Before the soldiers shot him down
Riddled him with bullets in his back and in his head
Home in Haifa, in my house
Does someone’s father know the pain there is in an empty bed

In 1960 I fled my country
Left the Tigris River for this foreign place
I had to leave home, I didn’t want to
But they were rounding up the leftists and the papers had my face
And my son, a student leader
On the streets of Baghdad was nowhere to be found
So I walked through the mountains
Just the shirt upon my back, knowing not where I was bound

Now here I am, this town of Haifa
In this little house, but at least I’m still alive
And each night I wonder how is Baghdad
Would I recognize my friends if any did indeed survive
It took a long time, but I made a home here
And I wished my son could be here in this town upon the shore
I was with my wife, it was the Sabbath
When an old Arab couple knocked upon our door

We asked them in, gave them tea
For that’s what you do with strangers, and we could see they meant no harm
They told their story, we told ours
Us of our life in Baghdad, them of their family farm
And of this house, which they once lived in
Where once they raised a family, long before their hair turned grey
Of their son, and the troopers
And of ours, who we cry for every day

So much in common, so much gone bad
So much running, and never coming home
You can hear the cards falling down
See the faces of the children, forever forced to roam And here we were, in this house Fearing that tomorrow would be just like yesterday
So much resentment, so much at stake
And I really don’t remember who was the first to say

In one world
In one village
In one home
Let us live together

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“In One World” originally appears on the 2002 CD, Hang A Flag In The Window.

I read an article in the Palestine Chronicle about a Palestinian family visiting the house from which they had been forcibly expelled in 1948.  They got along well with the current residents of their house, who were Jews from Iraq.  Both families were refugees.  In reality, they did not end up sharing the house, as they do in the song.  That part is artistic license.  (The license is in my pocket if you want to see it.)

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