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Mahmoud Darwish
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    (March 13, 1941-August 9, 2008)
    Born in Al-Birwa, Israel
    Published over 30 volumes of poetry including 'Wingless Birds' (1960), 'A Lover from Palestine' (1966), 'Birds Are Dying in Galilee' (1970), 'Weddings' (1977), 'Ode to Beirut' (1982), 'Psalms' (1995), 'The Adam of Two Edens: Selected Poems' (2000) and 'The Butterfly's Burden' (2007)
    Considered the national poet of Palestine
    Served on the Executive Committee of the PLO (1987-93)
    He joined the Israeli Communist party.
    He was married twice and divorced twice.
    He resigned from the PLO Executive Committee to protest the signing of the Oslo Peace Accords.
    Yitzhak Shamir read his poem 'Passers Between the Passing Words' to the Knesset to illustrate Palestinians' unwillingness to live alongside Jews: 'So leave our land/Our shore, our sea.'
    He wished that his later, metaphysical verses had gained the same acclaim as his nationalistic poems.
    His hometown was razed by the Israeli army and replaced by Jewish settlements.
    He was placed under house arrest when his poem 'Identity Card' was adopted as a protest by Palestinians living in Israel.
    He said that 'Passers Between the Passing Words' was merely a call for Israel to end the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
    His reply to accusations of antisemitism was 'I am not a lover of Israel. I have no reason to be. But I don't hate Jews.'
    When outdoor music and dancing were banned by a Hamas-controlled town, he noted, 'There are Taliban-type elements in our society, and this is a very dangerous sign.'
    He said he hoped for reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians, when 'the Jew will not be ashamed to find an Arab element in himself, and the Arab will not be ashamed to declare that he incorporates Jewish elements.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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