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LETTER TO MY FRIEND … a poem by Phil Woods.

August 28, 2017

Aseel Abu Oun, 8 years old, run over by an Israeli settler in Foroush Beit Dajan village, near Nablus, West Bank, Palestine.

LETTER TO MY FRIEND by Phil Woods

“Those who do not advocate a ‘solution’ of the Palestinian problem through dispersion and expulsion promise the native inhabitants a grim future in their ancient homeland . . .. ‘when we have settled the land, all that the Arabs will be able to do about it will be to scurry around like roaches in a bottle.’”*

 

Suffering does not automatically

make a people noble, nor

automatically make them Just.

 

Imagine a Scale. On it

we will determine:

Who has suffered more?

A Peaceful world cannot be

made this way.

 

Do I recognize the extraordinary

suffering of the Jewish people?

It is inescapable. And every time

I learn more—the pogroms—

it’s always worse than I imagined.

 

Out of what ashes & pain

can we build justice?

1919, in the same building

in London what do the still

Victorian Brits do?

In one room they make false

promises to the Arabs

who helped fight the Turks.

And down the hall

long-suffering Jews

are promised a restored homeland.

And all the while

the Masters of Empire

are smiling & lying.

Why? The sons of Cecil Rhodes &

friends plan to stay in India

Forever.

Palestine is merely a useful

Steppingstone

to supply the Raj.

 

It’s God’s Will. It’s Destiny.

Never mind that Gandhi

has already informed London,

“Your time is up!”

 

Little brown man in a dipper,

what does he know?”

 

So, the great student of the Kabala

wrote to Hannah Arendt,

“You expect too much from us.”

She opted for the Universal. He for his

long-suffering people. She said it

will lead to evil intoxications:  Nationalism,

being Sparta, a barricaded Hell

in a hostile neighborhood.

 

I know, after the Holocaust what

would you do? A home—yours

to defend & define. Find strength

  1. A place where you don’t

count on those who have always

—Every single time—betrayed

& sold you out. I know this agony.

 

So, you lie. Palestinians are not

a People. They never had a

Homeland. And, besides, “It’s

in Jordan.”

 

“The expansion crept slowly, inch

by inch, step by step,

‘another acre, another goat,’

another olive grove to claim or burn.

 

An American Jew tells a Lakota,

“We deserve our original homeland.”

The Lakota says, “I agree. When

are you leaving for Europe?”

 

A long suffering people wants a

Jewish homeland & displaces

another long-suffering group

long under a foreign thumb.

 

The scholar says, “Since you both

have a legitimate claim to same

Land, maybe you have to share

It.” No, that’s taboo. Better

to manipulate the hapless American

Empire. Better to blackmail the

Yankees into supporting our

neo-colonial project. Of course,

It sure helps to have Islamic

fanatics with ancient dreams

of restoring the Islamic Golden Age.

 

Get the Yankees all fired up

with Clash of Civilization wine.

Let them think supporting the

settlements will also restore

Pax Americana. Let the Bible

Thumpers think you have the

red carpet out for J.C. at the

Temple Mount. As long as the

checks keep coming & the

weapons flow treat the Americans

like mushrooms. Feed them

Bullshit & keep them in the dark.

 

The suffering scale tips

this way & that,

But so far, never tips

toward justice—

for justice means Compromise.

Quotations are from The Selected Writings of Eqbal Ahmad, 2006

“Those who do not advocate a ‘solution’ of the Palestinian problem through dispersion and expulsion promise the native inhabitants a grim future in their ancient homeland . . .. ‘when we have settled the land, all that the Arabs will be able to do about it will be to scurry around like roaches in a bottle.’”*

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Phil Woods is a Denver-based poet and member of the Oscar Romero Troop in Denver. We have been friends for forty five years…maybe longer. 

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