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‘At the end of every sentence you say in Hebrew sits an Arab with a Nargilah’

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Yesterday I did a blogpost quoting from journalist Noam Sheizaf’s blog. I saw Sheizaf in Israel last month and he told me a line of poetry with political resonance about the connection of Israelis to Palestinians. I’ve been thinking about it ever since, and well, I emailed Sheizaf a week or so back and he cited it for me:

The words are from Meir Ariel’s song, "shir keev." In the song, the singer’s girl falls for "a young well-educated Arab" she meets in a theater group. One night the singer and the Arab get drunk together, and the Arab looks the Jew in the eyes and says:

בסוף כל משפט שאתם אומרים בעברית יושב ערבי עם נרגילה, אפילו אם הוא מתחיל בסיביר או בהוליווד עם הבא נגילה

"at the end of every sentence you say in Hebrew sits an Arab with a Nargilah (hookah)
even if it starts in Sibirya or in Hollywood with Hava Nagila"

I think it’s the best political line written in Hebrew. It says everything about our life here – that they will be related to the political situation with the Palestinians forever, regardless of where this conflict goes. Jews can tell themselves whatever they want, they can even make Holywood myths about it, but at the ends, there will always be the Palestinians.

I’d add that this line touches on what Cicero (via Ralph Nader lately) meant when he defined freedom as participation in power. Palestinians have never had freedom. Israelis have arrogated all the political power. It cannot last. It cannot last.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of Mondoweiss.net and founded the site in 2005-06.

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