Mahmoud Darwish, a renowned Palestinian poet, one of the intellectual figures known as the voice of the Palestinians in Diaspora and under occupation, died on Saturday evening at age 67 at the Memorial Hermann hospital in Houston – Texas in the United States.
He underwent an open heart surgery and Thursday and remained in a critical condition until he died on Saturday.
Darwish is a Palestinian cultural icon well respected among the Palestinian and Arab people and well-known among international supporters of the Palestinian cause.
His poetry is considered the voice of all Palestinians, the voice of resistance against the occupation and the voice that rejects infighting.
His works were translated into more than twenty languages and he also won several international prizes.
The IMEMC expresses its deep sadness and sorrow over the departure of the great poet, the man, and the intellectual figure.
Darwish was born in 1942 in Al Birwa village, east of Acre in Palestine. After Israel was created in Palestine in 1948 his family became refugees in Lebanon for one year and returned to Acre (Akka) area and settled in Deir Al Asad.
He published his first book of poetry when he was only nineteen; it was called Wingless Birds (Asafeer Bila Ajniha).
He also co-edited several newspapers that belong to the Israeli Communist Party and co-edited Al Fajir (the Dawn) newspaper.
He was repeatedly harassed and imprisoned by Israel and he left to Moscow in 1970, and in 1971 he moved to Egypt and worked for Al Ahram (the Pyramids) newspaper.
In 1973 he moved to Lebanon and worked as the editor of Palestinian Affairs (Shu'un Filistiniyya) newspaper, and also worked as the director of the Palestinian Research Center which belongs to the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO).
In 1981 he founded Al Karmel Journal and worked as its editor. In 1987 he was elected as the Executive Director of the PLO, but resigned later on in objection to the Oslo Agreement. He repeatedly demanded the Palestinian leadership to have a tough and fair position in the peace talks.
He entered the county again in 1995 after obtaining a visa to visit his mother. He moved to the West Bank and obtained a permit from the Israeli Authorities to remain in the country, and lived in Ramallah.
In 2000, the then Israeli education minister, Yossi Sarid, suggested that some of Darwish’s poems should be included in the high school curriculum in Israel, but the suggestion was rejected by the then Prime Minister, Ehud Barak.
In 2001, Darwish won the Lannan Prize for Cultural Freedom, he prize recognizes people whose extraordinary and courageous work celebrates the human right to freedom of imagination, inquiry, and expression. As defined by the foundation, cultural freedom is the right of individuals and communities to define and protect valued and diverse ways of life currently threatened by globalization.
Darwish words and poems recited his strong belonging to the Arab and Palestinian identity; his works became a “threat” to the Israeli occupation and made him a target of harassment by the Israeli Authorities.
To learn more about this great intellectual and poet, please visit the link below;