My daddy was an Arab from Beersheva
A situation so unkind
My momma was a refugee from Ramallah
Had to leave her land behind
I grew up in this refugee camp
In this unwelcome land
In this little parcel of Lebanon
We were dealt a losing hand

Then one day the soldiers came
A tired old refrain
I’ll try to tell you what happened next
But there’s no way to explain
The soldiers raped my mother
Then they killed her dead
Along with the rest of the Shatila Camp
While I hid beneath my bed

Now I’m a-wanderin’
No place to call my home
All around the world I roam

My aunt came over from Jordan
Brought me there to live
And together we’ve moved to half the world
Oh for peace what I would give
In Beirut, Greece and New York town
I’ve watched the world churn
But my home is Palestine
Someday I will return


Now here I am in Washington
Heart of the empire
That sends the ‘copters and bulldozers
That turned Ramallah into a funeral pyre
Well you’ve heard my story
And time will not allow
Soon my visa will expire
What will you do now


Sheet music can be found in Songbook Vol I (1997-2004).

“Palestine” appears on the 2003 CD, The Return, as well as on the collection of Palestine-related songs, Falasteen, Habibti (2014).

The song is based on the story of a Palestinian refugee.  It is one of several songs I’ve written on the theme of being a refugee and just wanting to go home.  I like approaching that subject in different ways, because it has tremendous personal and universal appeal, and therefore tends to inspire (and deserve) lots of exploration.  It’s also a major theme of the Palestinian national movement historically and currently — the right of return.  As things stand, only Jews have the “right of return.”  Not the Palestinians, who are actually from there, unlike the European and North American Jews “returning” to Palestine.