Arab Issues 

We Shoot Children Too, Don't We 

 

   

The following is an excerpt from a poem that caused a sensation when it was read at a Tel Aviv event marking the first year of the Intifada. The poet is an Israeli professor of Hebrew literature and he is famous throughout Occupied Palestine as a lyricist and TV show host. He was commissioned by the Israeli government to write many of its military songs.

We Shoot Children Too, Don't We 

By Dan Almagor

Most of these people truly desire
To harvest their olive trees
As they have for hundreds of years.
Most of these people truly desire to raise their kids
Not to throw stones
Or Molotov cocktails,
But to study in peace,
To play in peace,
And to raise a flag.
Their own flag.
And facing that flag, to cry
As we did, that night, then, excited as we were.
And we have no, have no, have no
Right in the world
To rob them of this desire.
This flag,
These tears.
These tears, which always, always
Come after all the others.

Let us start preparing our defense.
We will need it soon enough.
All those who actually did it,
And those who still do.
And those who hushed it up,
And those who still do.
And those who said nothing,
And those who clucked their tongues, saying
"Something must be done, really;
(But not tonight. I have a concert,
A gala,
A birthday!)"
Yes, we'll all get our summons one day
For the Colonels' trials.
The Colonel's trials are coming,
Their time will come, it must be so.
The trials of the Generals, the Colonels,
The division, the battalion,
And the platoon commanders.
There is no escaping it.
This is how history works.
What shall we say?
What will the Colonels, the Captains, the
Corporals say?
What will they say
Of those terrible beatings,
The brutality,
Of houses blown up,
And most of all, the humiliation.
That humiliation.
Of patients forced to wipe the writing
off the walls.
Of old men forced to take down a flag
From an electric pole,
Who were electrocuted, or fell
And broke their legs.
Of the old water carrier
Whom soldiers ordered off his donkey
And rode on his back, just for fun.

Mean, arrogant, and dumb.
Who do we think we are?
Who gave us the right
To be so deaf, so dumb?
Ignoring the obvious: They are as human
As we are, as we are.
At least as human as we used to be
Only forty-one years ago.
No less diligent, no less smart.
As sensitive, as full of hope.
They love their wives and children
As we do, no less.
And our children now shoot theirs
With lead, plastic bullets, and gas.

The Palestinian state will come to pass.
It will.
Not a poet wrote this.
History will.
And seasons may come, and seasons may go,
And life goes on as we very well know.
Weddings, and births, and deaths all the same-
But just the shame of it. The shame.

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