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The computer underlines the word

In red– wrong, no such word.

But there is such a word

(See Wikipedia).

Words are made up

Make themselves up

Words are wild

Words are actors.


Pallywood means Palestinian propaganda.

I like the word, brainchild of historian Richard Landes,

Because it hints at a light-hearted core

In his bleak imaginings of the Palestinians.

(Israel, high-tech, prosperous, the only democracy

In the Middle East, more deserving of the annual

Allowance from its special friends in Washington

Than Puerto Rico and shithole states,

Israel does not need propaganda.)

My bringing up of this snide term of endearment

Is prompted by a recent inconclusive investigation

By an Israeli multidisciplinary committee

Of a medley of Palestinian blonds acting

As a family defending village land.


I can empathize with the suspicions

Of the members of the committee.

A whole family of blonds would be European,

At least of European origin,

As asserted in the published part of its report.

Palestinian families, we know, are dark,

Like, say, my family, even though my mother was blond.

We are Arabs, and Arab genes revert to their darkness,

Never mind my uncle Shaakir’s all-blond family,


Which only proves every rule has a blond exception.


Palestinians like playing with words,

Like actors. Remember Edward Said,

Whose organic name was Muhammad,

Not Edward. And he knew it.

He had lobbied his father to name him Edward

Because he wanted to be a European,

And more precisely, a European organic intellectual

Who speaks truth to power. Imagine.

In reality, Edward was his blond nom de guerre

When Palestinians were genuine

Terrorists, strutting in olive oil-green fatigues.


Today, Pallywood pictures them as genuine victims.

A brazen case in point is the clip from the village

Of al-Nabi Saleh, the Prophet Saleh

(No doubt, a fictional place name,

Has anyone ever heard of a prophet Saleh?),

Built tactlessly in the middle of Israeli settlements.

There a blond girl was prompted to play

The daughter of blond parents

And with her small hand slap

The half-bared soldier’s face

Because he re-acts with restraint

While being filmed by a crowd of cell phones.

The sequel was predictable:


The army will cuff the girl’s reckless hands

And the courts corral her into jail

As they did a million others before

With no discrimination as to age

Or gender, only national origin.

And the reel will go viral

And the village be embraced

As the blond victim, darling

Of human rights believers, far left academics, doped artists,

Over-rated writers, self-serving foreign aid agents, anti-Semites,

Jews not in love with Israel, endangered liberation theologians,

Nostalgic labor leaders—the usual suspects.


Palestinians, it must be conceded,

are actors ad absurdum,

and can’t get off the stage.

Didn’t they sell their dear land to Jews

For a handful of sterling pounds?

Didn’t they abandon their homes in 1948?

And would do it again, if forced to?


See, trouble looms

Palestinians are acting.

Sharif S. Elmusa

Sharif S. Elmusa is a poet, scholar and translator. Apart from his academic publications on the culture and politics of the environment, and his translations of Arabic poetry and fiction, he is the co-editor with Greg Orfalea of as Grape Leaves: A Century of Arab-American Poetry. He is also the author of a book of poems Flawed Landscape. His poems and essays have appeared in The Massachusetts Review, Mizna, The Indian Quarterly (India),,, and other publications. Last October he was invited to the Belfast, Maine, Poetry Festival where he collaborated with visual artist Susan Smith on a multimedia show, “In That Flawed Landscape.” Elmusa received his Ph.D, from M.I.T. and taught at the American University in Cairo for many years, at Georgetown University, Qatar, and at Yale University. He is Palestinian by birth, American by citizenship.

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12 Responses

  1. gamal on February 2, 2018, 9:29 pm

    ad absurdum, in context is very clever, perhaps a hakka for the made up Prophet, who warned about the limits of power and the illusion of dominion,

    would anyone in the west have noticed this child if she were black or meek, i enjoyed the interplay of the impossible and the inevitable dear Dr.

    Palestinians made up but an inevitable reality all the same, there’s nothing to aad.

    let us not discount the possibility of sudden calamity, ar rajfah, as sayhah, this is our lot.

  2. JosephA on February 3, 2018, 12:39 am

    I smiled several times while enjoying your poem. Thank you very much!

  3. on February 3, 2018, 9:49 am

    Thank you Sharif

  4. chocopie on February 3, 2018, 9:24 pm

    Wonderful and bitingly clever poem. Thank you, it was a pleasure reading it.

  5. Sulphurdunn on February 4, 2018, 10:56 am

    I have a bad feeling that if the spot light goes away the Israelis will hurt this blond kid real bad if they haven’t already.

  6. tony greenstein on February 4, 2018, 2:32 pm

    I’m sure the poem is fine HOWEVER the term ‘Pally’ is like ‘Paki’ and it is a racist term for Palestinians. Pls don’t use it

  7. DaBakr on February 6, 2018, 3:46 am

    A very good read (& good poem) on the conflict and the many facades it has taken that both complicate and further define the issues at the same time. ‘absurd’ is,of course, the natural ‘go to’ term especially when the subject concerns jews in general and the I/p in particular. but there is enough pathos, black humour, guilt and shame expressed that this poem cannot be easily dismissed as just palestinian pr. (& i just read elsewhere on this site a contributor explain pallywood as meaning palestinian propaganda. no mention of its equal and opposing force: hasbara, which is the root cause for, not the idea of propaganda, but the idea to give specific propaganda a catchy name.

    When the core group of die-hard anti-israeli zionist hating bloggers understood that we have no real word in hebrew for ‘propaganda’ and that hasbara literally means something like ‘version’ they took on a much more ominous translation incorporating everything from travel brochures to presidential press releases as all being under the one umbrella. and so, the term hasbara took on a sinister meaning (to them)which was then expanded into derogatory pronouns like ‘hasbarist’ or ‘hasbrat’. because the subject was jews and zionism nobody got very upset and so hasbara is now generally embraced by all sides. that ddoes not mean that anybody agrees about just exactly what is hasbara in the first place? when i say israel is where the city of david is it is not hasbara in any sense to me. but on this site? strictly hasbara. and on sites like MW the minute hasbara is attached to ANY statement of fact it is immediately dismissed as a sinister zionist ploy. and is the author really saying that palestinian propaganda doesn’t exist?

    So, is it really so surprising that after decades of conflict somebody would assign a word for pro palestinian hasbara that was catchy enough for the lurid msm? I would think not. pallywood did not just emerge from the mist. bollywood was around for years and there are other totally innocuous ‘woods’ like pollywood, trollywood, etc.
    . but pallywood is probably the only nick name take on hollywood with such political Overtones and dimensions. and it’s also no question that while the inventor of the phrase may not have intended there was a bipartisan but surely pro israeli pro-zionist who first started to push the term as a new take or nick name for the so-called’palestinian narrative industry (And “narrative” deserves its own special artical to explain how this has also taken on profound and confusing meaning when applied to the i/p).

    . the most simple solution afaic would be to just stick to the source, “hasbara” and call any ‘version’ that promotes the palestinian pov as simply: palestinian hasbara and dismiss it the same way MW folks dismiss hasbara. however i suspect that along with everything else israeli, the arabs are far too proud to use jew terminology and would prefer their own unique nick name. there must be some creative palestinian that could apply a name to palestinian narrative. Wait. oh, you say that simply “the truth” will suffice? take a number jack. we have been saying for years that hasbara is used to disparage israel when it simply means that this is our truth, our story, our history. and again,”truth” and who owns it is an entire blog site on its own. anybody still believing at this point that they are simply stating the “truth” should be sent immediately to the nearest left wing university film department to watch ‘Rashamon’* as mandatory for any conflict resolution.

    *( one of the greatest films of all time and i say this knowing that most people on this site would have no problem agreeing and if they did…id say they have no appreciation for the art of film. there are even quite a few ‘hasbara’ remakes of kurosawas master work. some worse then others. some american and others in assorted nations. if someone cannot understand how this film applies to protracted conflict like the i/p then there is very little to discuss except the ultimate ‘winners-write-the-history’s end game. and even for those that do may come down to this anyway.
    let’s hope that absurdist humor, humility, hard choices and harsh reality prevails and that some deal, obviously interim, will be struck that avoids the disaster that waits right behind the next beautiful cloud.

    the only reason that ‘pal’ or ‘pali’ is considered offensive is because the hysterical hard left reads all kinds of sinister right wing conspiracies into everything they think of. Afaic, the only offensive thing about not being able to write “pal” as short for palestinian. (not that unlike
    ‘jew’) is the chore of having to spell palestinian out however many times needed to make it past overly sensitive moderators’ . there is nothing inherently offensive about ‘pal’ and it means nothing derogatory at all and simply refers to the first three letters in the name. but then, the left has set the terms of what’s socially acceptable and we all, basically, comply like sheep. I have no excuse for not writing pal but I don’t unless palestinians come forward to say they aren’t offended. and just because ‘pakis’ in GB was derogatory doesn’t make it so here. no comparison.

    • eljay on February 6, 2018, 9:07 am

      || @Daak @ February 6, 2018, 3:46 am ||

      Whether or not a “real word in hebrew for ‘propaganda’” exists, Zionists know full well what propaganda is and how to employ it:

      … when i say israel is where the city of david is …

      || … and is the author really saying that palestinian propaganda doesn’t exist? … ||

      I have no doubt that Palestinian propaganda exists. Its existence doesn’t negate the existence of Zionist / Israeli / “Jewish State” propaganda.

    • Mooser on February 6, 2018, 1:51 pm

      “Whether or not a “real word in hebrew for ‘propaganda’” exists, Zionists know full well what propaganda is and how to employ it”

      And as “Dabakr” shows us, they pay by the column-inch. He makes a living, if his fingers don’t give out. If they do, he’ll sue Mondo.

      • gamal on February 6, 2018, 4:20 pm

        “if his fingers don’t give out. If they do, he’ll sue Mondo”

        Carmel tunnel syndrome is the bane of hasbara work.

      • chocopie on February 7, 2018, 2:03 am

        Seriously, he must be saving up to buy something big and needs the overtime, what the heck was that he posted?

  8. Ossinev on February 6, 2018, 9:20 am

    “the only reason that ‘pal’ or ‘pali’ is considered offensive is because the hysterical hard left reads all kinds of sinister right wing conspiracies into everything they think of”

    Are you speaking on behalf of all Yids or just yourself ?

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