Israeli Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, has compared the broadcast of poetry by Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish, on Israeli radio to glorifying Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf,” the Ministry of Defense said on Thursday.
On Tuesday, Israeli army radio broadcast works by the iconic Palestinian writer as part of its “University on Air” program, including Darwish’s famous poem “Identity Card,” which roused the anger of Lieberman and other Israeli officials.
In a meeting with Army Radio chief, Yaron Dekel, Lieberman said that broadcasting the poem contravened the station’s mission to “strengthen solidarity in society, not to deepen rifts, and certainly not to offend public sensibilities.”
Lieberman lamented the fact that “someone who writes texts against Zionism, which are used to this very day as fuel for terror attacks against Israel, gets the honor of his creations being included by the station as part of ‘canonical’ Israeli texts.
Lieberman added that Darwish’s poems could not “be part of the Israeli narrative program” aired on the station, adding: “By that same logic, we can also add to the Israeli narrative Mufti al-Husseini, or broadcast a glorification of the literary merits of ‘Mein Kampf,’”.
He was referring to the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem in the 1920s and 1930s, whom Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, controversially blamed in October for the Holocaust.
During the show, broadcast on Monday night, host Kobi Meidan was discussing one of the Palestinian poet’s more famous poems, “Identity Card,” written in 1964. In the poem, Darwish describes the thoughts and feelings of an Arab standing at a checkpoint in front of a soldier, as well as the indignities of life subjected to the bureaucracy of the Israeli occupation.
Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Israeli Attorney General, Avichai Mendelblit, called Lieberman “to remind him he has no authority to intervene in Army Radio’s programming.”
— Haaretz.com (@haaretzcom) July 21, 2016
On Wednesday, Israeli Culture Minister, Miri Regev, called the broadcast of Darwish’s poems “dangerous,” adding that Army Radio “cannot allow itself to glorify the anti-Israel historical tale, as Mahmoud Darwish is not an Israeli, his poems are not Israeli, and they go against the main values of Israeli society.”
Darwish was born in 1941 in a village in the western Galilee and then moved to Haifa. He later left the country and passed away in 2008 in Houston.
Liberman summoned Israel Army Radio’s civilian chief, Yaron Dekel, after broadcast of program on Mahmoud Darwish… https://t.co/HYOOtNuJZp
— Marian Houk (@Marianhouk) July 21, 2016
He is also known as Palestine’s national poet, and stands as one of the most prominent figures of modern Palestinian literature. He has long been criticized by Israeli political figures for his stance against the occupation, as expressed in his poem “Identity Card”:
I am an Arab
And my identity card number is fifty thousand
I have eight children
And the ninth will come after a summer
Will you be angry?”
“I do not hate people
Nor do I encroach
But if I become hungry
The usurper’s flesh will be my food
Of my hunger
And my anger!”
(PC, MA’AN, YNET)