by Kamal Nasser
translation by Michael R. Burch
I will tell you a story ...
a story that lived in the dreams of my people,
a story that comes from the world of tents.
It is a story inspired by hunger and embellished by dark nights of terror.
It is the story of my country, a handful of refugees.
Every twenty of them have a pound of flour between them
and a few promises of relief ... gifts and parcels.
It is the story of the suffering ones
who stood waiting in line ten years,
in tears and agony,
in hardship and yearning.
It is a story of a people who were misled,
who were thrown into the mazes of the years.
And yet they stood defiant,
disrobed yet united
as they trudged from the light to their tents:
the revolution of return
into the world of darkness.
Kamal Nasser was a much-admired Palestinian poet and Palestinian Christian, who due to his renowned integrity was known as "The Conscience." He was a member of Jordan's parliament in 1956. He was murdered in 1973 by an Israeli death squad whose most notorious member was future Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. Barak (born Ehud Brog) later ruled as Israel’s tenth Prime Minister from 1999 to 2001. His adopted Hebrew name Barak means "lightning." As a younger man, Brog/Barak was a member of a secret assassination unit that liquidated Palestinians in Lebanon and the occupied territories. In the 1973 covert mission Operation Spring of Youth in Beirut, which was part of the larger Operation Wrath of God, he disguised himself as a woman in order to assassinate Palestinians. The raid resulted in the deaths of two women, one of them an elderly Italian. Two Lebanese policemen were also killed, along with the poet Kamal Nasser.
Nasser was the PLO's most prominent Christian and he enjoyed "great appeal" in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq "both as a distinguished poet and likeable personality." He was the “conscience of the Palestinian revolution,” according to Nazih Abul-Nidal, who worked with him on the magazine Filastin al-Thawra. Nasser “had the most democratic outlook of all Palestinian leaders at the time,” he recalls. He respected opposing views, admired the commitment of young people, and was a major recruitment asset for the Palestinian revolution. “That is why he was put high on the hit-list.” The previous year, the Israelis had murdered another renowned Palestinian writer and activist in Beirut, Ghassan Kanafani, by *****-trapping his car. Nasser’s successor, Majed Abu Sharar, was also assassinated by Israelis, in Rome in 1981 while attending a conference in solidarity with the Palestinian people.
Keywords/Tags: Kamal Nasser, Palestinian, Palestine, PLO, Conscience, Ramallah, Christian, religion, poet, Arab, Arabic, Arab Spring, betrayal, conflict, courage, devotion