and listening to the voices ……

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Erich Fried

 

 

When we were the persecuted

I was one of you

How can I remain one

when you become the persecutors?

 

Your longing was

to become like other nations

who murdered you

Now you have become like them

 

You have outlived those

who were cruel to you

Does their cruelty live on

in you now?

 

You ordered the defeated :

‘Take off your boots’

Like the scapegoat you drove them into the wilderness

Into the great mosque of death

Whose sandals are of sand

 

But they did not take upon them the sin

You wished to lay on them

The imprint of their naked feet in the desert sand

Outlasts the traces of your bombs and your tanks

 

[ referring to the instruction given after the six day war to Egyptian prisoners to walk home through

the burning sand without boots ]

The poem is written by Erich Fried after the Six Days war in 1967. He is Jewish, born in Austria, exiled to Great Britain when the Nazis overtook the country, and because of the background of his own experiences with an extremist regime he became one of the harshest critics of Zionism – a mix of theocracy and racism. He is one of the most important post-modern poets of German language.

 

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