How a Palestinian poet used the power of rhetoric to center the Palestinian narrative

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How a Palestinian poet used the power of rhetoric to center the Palestinian narrative

In 1948, when he was six years old, the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, born in the village of Berweh, witnessed firsthand the total annihilation of his home following the creation of the Israeli state. Although the village is now visibly absent, the pain of its loss is still felt in every word, metaphor and description.

Through her poetry, the Palestinian experience is seen not just through Israel’s tales of violence and conflict, but through the real and harrowing experience of exile and loss. To the outside world, the Palestinian struggle is just a journalistic report on the events and the number of casualties, but the truth is that it goes beyond the recurring random events of the conflict.

Like the South African writer Nadine Gordimer describe, journalistic truth is different from inner testimony, because while journalism reports the daily event, the writer’s inner testimony deepens “toward the goal of truth” in a “time when between slogans and truth is an abyss “. The writer or poet can grasp the deeper meaning of human experience that cannot simply be extracted from factual reporting, as it produces a more intense awareness of the cruelty of events.

There are two sides to the nation: the visible and the invisible. Obviously, nations rise and fall, flags change, street names are erased and entire buildings can turn to dust. But for Palestinians, who can no longer rely on human expressions of nationality, they are bound by cords of memory, attachment and suffering. While the visible marks of a nation on earth may fade, there are still nations that live deep within the psyche of every human who experiences the same nation wars, victories, and stories.

These other invisible expressions of a nation, which live in the hearts and minds of Palestinians, are not designed by architects, engineers and politicians. Instead, they are designed by writers, poets and artists, who breathe life and consciousness into names, symbols and concrete buildings. The power of rhetoric can extend beyond the songs, speeches and words of leaders, but can also shape realities and control narratives.

After the 1967 defeat, Mahmoud Darwish’s poetry overturned the Israeli narrative that the history of the Palestinian cause is only one of conflict and violence, but that there can also be dialogue, peace and understanding. In his poem, ‘A soldier dreaming of white tulips‘, Darwish engages in a dialogue with an Israeli soldier and reveals a parallel world of empathy and communication amid the intensity of hostile emotions between the two sides.

To subvert the grand narrative of Israel’s rulers, Arab poets have used their own rhetorical power to challenge and overthrow the myths that underpin the Six Day War narrative and the ideologies that spawned it. The distorted picture of the Palestinian struggle becomes clearer and more vivid through the words of poets such as Mahmoud Darwish, who played an important role in creating meaning, sparking debate and turning the eyes of the world to the plight of the Palestinian people.

Although a number of reviews have criticized the poem for attempting to humanize an Israeli soldier, others have argued that it resists conforming to Israel’s national narrative that portrays Palestinians as violent and that there is no hope for a nation Palestinian. Evoking hope after defeat, the poem describes the dream of an Israeli soldier who dreams of peace and can communicate and understand the Palestinian poet.

“He dreams of white tulips, of an olive branch, of lemon blossoms,” he says of the Israeli soldier, breathing life into the symbols of Palestine and the hope of it becoming a state.

When the Palestinian poet in the poem asks the soldier what he knows about the land, he replies, “I don’t know it, nor do I feel it in my flesh and blood.” Not only does this reveal a different image of the Israeli soldier, which provides a hopeful narrative of Israelis’ chances of understanding the Palestinian cause more clearly, but it also reinforces the narrative that Israel’s idea of ​​the nation n is not rooted in emotional belonging, but in one’s material existence.

While the Palestinian is attached to his homeland as if it were a living creature, the Israeli weld is attached to the artificial aspects of a nation, such as buildings and streets.

Although the world is currently rife with more violence and conflict than dialogue, literature serves as a gateway to better understand the human experience through authentic and honest conversations about pain and hostility. Darwish’s poetic journey disrupts the narrative that the pain of exile is an endless tunnel, but there is hope for empathy and connection.

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