i can’t help it. i don’t care how far you think the analogy extends itself.
when i see you making that bus driver climb up and down
on and off the roof of his bus
for your amusement
for hours in the hot sun
i think of how we once had to dance and sing for them
while they shot our parents.
when i see you keep that woman
and her husband
at the checkpoint while she’s in labor and you stand there
listening to her scream
watching as she gives birth
on the back seat of a taxi
i think of the walls around our own ghetto
and how we had to crawl through the sewers
looking for rats to eat
while we could hear their children playing
on the other side.
when i see you crush that house and kill that woman
and her baby
with your armored bulldozer
because they didn’t have a permit
i think of the way we were once forced to leave our homes
at the point of a gun.
and when i hear your general say
that in order to deal with the intifada
you must learn from the tactics of another general
one mr. stroop
i think of how they bombed our buildings
shot us as we fell from the roofs.
and i remember
how we wished we could kill their babies, too.
and i feel sick.
sick of your displaced anger
sick of your self-deception
sick of your attempts to deceive the rest of the world
sick of your accusations of anti-semitism
sick of your occupation
sick of your apartheid state
sick of zionism.
because standing here
in auschwitz, birkenau and warsaw
i see jenin, jaffa and rafah.
and i think of our ancestors
the jewish palestinians
who spoke so eloquently
in their arabic language.
but the dead cannot speak.
and now i find myself
again behind the wall of a ghetto
standing with millions of other palestinians.
and i find myself shouting
thawra! thawra! hatta al-naser!
tomorrow in jerusalem!
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“Return” is a spoken word piece that appears on the 2003 CD, The Return, and on the Palestine-themed collection of songs, Falasteen, Habibti (CD and Bandcamp album, 2014).
This is the only non-rhyming spoken word piece I’ve ever recorded. When I wrote I was obviously thinking once again of some of the many shocking things that the apartheid state of Israel has in common with Nazi Germany. I had recently been reading books on the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (the Bravest Battle), the history of Nazi Germany (the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich), and the history of Zionism and the state of Israel (the Absence of Peace by Nicholas Guyatt).