Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has compared the broadcast of poetry by Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish on Israeli radio to glorifying Adolf Hitler‚Äôs “Mein Kampf,” the Ministry of Defense said on Thursday.
On Tuesday, Israeli army radio broadcast works by the iconic Palestinian writer as part of its “University on Air” program, including Darwish‚Äôs famous poem ‚ÄúIdentity Card,‚ÄĚ which drew the ire of Lieberman and other Israeli officials.
Ma’an News Agency reports that, in a meeting with Army Radio chief Yaron Dekel, Lieberman said that broadcasting the poem contravened the station‚Äôs mission to ‚Äústrengthen solidarity in society, not to deepen rifts, and certainly not to offend public sensibilities.‚ÄĚ
Lieberman added that Darwish‚Äôs poems could not ‚Äúbe part of the Israeli narrative program‚ÄĚ aired on the station, adding: ‚ÄúBy that same logic, we can also add to the Israeli narrative Mufti al-Husseini, or broadcast a glorification of the literary merits of ‚ÄėMein Kampf,‚Äô‚ÄĚ referring to the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem in the 1920s and 1930s — whom Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu controversially blamed in October for the ¬†Jewish holocaust.
‚ÄúIdentity Card,‚ÄĚ written in 1964, details the indignities of life subjected to the bureaucracy of the Israeli occupation, and includes the lines ‚ÄúI do not hate people/Nor do I encroach/But if I become hungry/The usurper’s flesh will be my food,‚ÄĚ presumably the part targeted by Lieberman.
According to the Ministry of Defense statement, Lieberman said that there was ‚Äúa big difference between freedom of expression and freedom of incitement.‚ÄĚ
Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit called Lieberman ‚Äúto remind him he has no authority to intervene in Army Radio‚Äôs programming.‚ÄĚ
Originally under suspicion over charges of money-laundering and bribery, Lieberman was formally indicted in December of 2012, on lesser charges of fraud and breach of trust.
On Wednesday, Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev called the broadcast of Darwish‚Äôs poems ‚Äúdangerous,‚ÄĚ adding that Army Radio ‚Äúcannot allow itself to glorify the anti-Israel historical tale, as Mahmoud Darwish is not an Israeli, his poems are not Israeli, and they go against the main values of Israeli society.‚ÄĚ
Darwish, who died in 2008, is also known as Palestine’s national poet, and stands as one of the most prominent figures of modern Palestinian literature. He has long been criticized by Israeli political figures for his stance against the occupation.
Related¬†interest: 08/04/14 ‚ÄúConcentrate‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúExterminate‚ÄĚ: Israel Parliament Deputy Speaker‚Äôs Gaza Genocide Plan
Chris Carlson is a student of religion at Mount Mercy University, United States, and has been a regular volunteer with the IMEMC since 2013. He assisted in providing extensive coverage of the 2014 Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip and continues, into the present day, with the issues at hand. He can be reached via email at c h r i s @ i m e m c . o r g.