At the Station of a Train Which Fell Off the Map

Mahmoud Darwish (1942–2008)

by Mahmoud Darwish
published in MER248

Grass, dry air, thorns, and cactus on the tracks
There, the shape of the object in the absurdity of non-shape is chewing its own shadow
There is nothingness there, tied and surrounded by its opposite
Two doves flying
over the roof of an abandoned room at the station
The station is like a tattoo which has dissolved into the body of the place
There are also two thin cypresses, like two long needles
embroidering a lime-yellow cloud
And there is a tourist photographing two scenes:


(1999, an excerpt)

by Mahmoud Darwish
published in MER248

I will walk in my footsteps down the old path through the sea air
no woman will see me passing under her balcony
I have of memories only those necessary for the long journey
Days contain all they need of tomorrows
I was smaller than my eyelashes and my two dimples
So take my sleepiness
and hide me in the story of the tender evening
Hide me under one of the two date palms
and teach me poetry
So I can learn how to walk beside Homer
So I can add to the story a description of Akka

In the Labyrinth of Solitude

Time, Violence and the Eternal Frontier

by Peter Lagerquist
published in MER248

Our territory is inhabited by a number of races speaking different languages and living on different historical levels…. A variety of epochs live side by side in the same areas or a very few miles apart, ignoring or devouring one another…. Past epochs never vanish completely, and blood still drips from all their wounds, even the most ancient.

—Octavio Paz, Labyrinth of Solitude

From the Editor

published in MER248

It’s easy to forget, but the United States has a pressing year-end deadline to meet in Israel-Palestine as well as in Iraq. At Annapolis in November 2007, President George W. Bush, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas pledged to “make every effort” to hammer out a comprehensive peace accord “before the end of 2008.” For Bush, the joint statement underlined a previous vow, uttered soon after the 2004 election, “to use the next four years to spend the capital of the United States” on creating a Palestinian state.

Locked In, Locked Out of Work

by Jennifer Olmsted
published in MER253

Article VI, Item 2 of the 1993 Oslo accords concluded between Israel and the Palestinians states, “After the entry into force of this Declaration of Principles and the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and Jericho area, with the view to promoting economic development in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, authority will be transferred to the Palestinians in the following spheres: education and culture, health, social welfare, direct taxation and tourism.”

Beyond Compare

by Julie Peteet
published in MER253

“Rolling into Gaza I had a feeling of homecoming,” writes the novelist Alice Walker. “There is a flavor to the ghetto. To the bantustan. To the ‘rez.’ To the ‘colored section.’” In a poetic vein, Walker captures the confinement and marginality one senses in the Gaza Strip, and its familiarity to those who have lived in segregated spaces in the United States and South Africa. It is the latter parallel that has captured the collective imagination in the early 2000s.

"Creeping Apartheid" in Israel-Palestine

by Oren Yiftachel
published in MER253

On July 5, 2009, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, said something that had many rubbing their eyes in disbelief. Reviewing his government’s first 100 days, he pronounced, “We have managed to create a national agreement about the concept of ‘two states for two peoples.’” Can it be that the hardline leader of the Likud, known for opposing almost every withdrawal from occupied territory Israel has ever undertaken, now believes in a peaceful two-state solution?

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