You Want to Quibble Over Whether or Not It’s Genocide?

Then let’s forget the word entirely
it’s a made up modern word
for what’s been done by tribes since before before
made up by Raphael Lemkin
to name what was happening to us
which until then
was known as the crime of barbarity
now genocide
which I know
I agreed not to mention
but it was done to us
and now we’re doing it to the next guy
the Palestinians
if we are allowed that word
like the word ‘Jew’ or really, “Juden”
a word that was supposed to be wiped out
with us
but wasn’t
but our lives
one thousand years in Europe
our home
cleansed of us
and they said we were not a true people
“a people class” said Lenin
“a disease” said others
and now we’re doing it to the next guy
OK, no gas ovens
that we know of
but poison gas aplenty
torture rooms
a special hanging called “a Palestinian hanging”
that now the Americans use
hang a human
by the wrists
tied together
back behind
till they crush their own lungs
over hours
maybe a few days
and die in horror
done so much
it’s called “a Palestinian hanging”
and steal the land
and wall them in
and starve their babies
beat the pregnant women in front of their children
their mothers
their husbands
and the land, stealing it, walling it, pissing on it,
wiping out the place names.
I can’t find my grandmother’s village
on a map of Belarus, what she called “White Russia.”
It was called “Kapulya,” “near Minsk,”
but it’s not there.
as isn’t Palestine.

Robert Green is a former Board member of Deir Yassin Remembered and a distant relative of David Ben Gurion. Read other articles by Robert, or visit Robert's website.

8 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. John Halle said on March 4th, 2008 at 7:13am #

    Beautiful work. Thanks so much.

    A student of mine from Ramallah came to class yesterday ashen faced.

    I didn’t have the heart to ask.

    And who can she talk to? At a presumably “liberal” college, no one dares utter a peep. Of course, there’s always a hearty amen chorus waiting to be assembled to condemn genocide in Sudan or the Balkans.

    Damn those who are perpetrating and financing this atrocity.

    Damn those who apologize for it.

    Damn them to hell.

  2. jaime said on March 4th, 2008 at 8:31am #

    It’s Hamas’ war.
    They started it.
    They can end it whenever they choose to.
    Or it could be ended for them.

  3. Gary Corseri said on March 4th, 2008 at 11:14am #

    Excellent poem.

    Thank you, Robert Green.

    There is a first-rate article by Uri Avnery of Gush Shalom (Peace Now), which I caught posted at today. It describes much of the reasons behind the current (and long-term) slaughter in Palestine. (Much better described than the childish, adolescent finger-pointing illogic and threatening nonsense in the letter above).

    If you seek truth, rectify the names, Confucius advised. Mr. Green has penetrated the mist of language in order to reveal truth in a powerful way.

  4. scott said on March 4th, 2008 at 11:42am #

    Hamas did not start this war. Israel stole land and bulldozed town homes of people who had lived there for generations. They built a wall around palistine inside of palistine and sniper people daily. They killed over 100 civilians this weekend. Of course some are driven to fight back and blow themselves up out of desperation not because they hate freedom. These people have no power, gas , water what would you do if a country did these things to you?

  5. D. R. Munro said on March 4th, 2008 at 2:16pm #

    Nice poem.

    Ignore Jamie, it only knows how to post knee-jerk reactions and quote the Jerusalem Post.

  6. LanceThruster said on March 4th, 2008 at 4:30pm #

    I feel as powerless as the Palestinians, and yet at least no one is firing high explosives at me. My sincere regrets at the brutalization and murder of the Gazans that is enabled by my own criminal government.

  7. jaime said on March 4th, 2008 at 5:26pm #

    “Ignore Jamie, it only knows how to post knee-jerk reactions and quote the Jerusalem Post.”

    The Gazans and Hamas started this round of conflict. Everybody knows that.

  8. D.R. Munro said on March 4th, 2008 at 9:15pm #

    “this round of conflict”

    Perhaps that is true, but if I threw you against a wall, surely you would hit back?