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Thursday, December 29, 2005


What Spielberg Left Out, Said Reveals: Putting Kamal Nasir in Context

In Stephen Spielberg's Munich, according to As'ad Abukhalil "Israeli killers are conscientious and humane people, while Palestinians are no matter what--killers."

Did Stephen Spielberg's "soulful" movie assassins murder the poet Kamal Nasir as Edward Said tells it?

Sina Rahmani reviewing Edward Said's film The Last Interview comments on Edward Said's account of his friend Kamal Nasir's death:

"Another saddening story he [Said] tells is that of the death of PLO spokesmen Kamal Nasir. Nasir was babysitting for a relative of Said who had gone with Said to Jordan to bury an aunt who had recently passed away. That very night that the two of them had left for Jordan, Nasir was assassinated by an Israeli strike team lead by Ehud Barak, who would become Prime Minister more than two decades later. Exemplifying the vindictiveness of the Israeli attitude towards Palestinians, the eloquent poet and writer Nasir was found riddled with bullets in his mouth and his right hand."

Abukhalil goes on: "This movie could easily have been a paid Israeli advertisement for its killing machine. In fact, it could be a recruitment movie for Israeli killing squads. I mean that. In fact, it is a celebretary movie of Israeli murder of Palestinians. Israel killing is always moral, and always careful, and always on target."

According to Abukhalil, "Do you know that not a single Palestinian in the movie appeared unarmed? They all were terrorists, and their murder had to be justified, and Spielberg did a great service for the state of Israel in that regard."

"This story is personal for me, of course. I see them as human beings, and not as armed and vengeful characters that they appear in Spielberg’s movie."

Several years ago I asked my father about Mahmoud Darwish. He had not heard of him. I was pretty hard on my dad. "Have you heard of Kamal Nasir?" he retorted. "He was a friend of mine. He was a poet gunned down in front of his wife in his apartment in Beirut by Ehud Barak dressed up like a woman." If I recall, my father seemed to put particular emphasis on "in front of his wife."

Abukhalil asks, "Why is Munich more famous than the savage bombardment of Palestinian refugee camps back in February prior to Munich? And why did the letter bombs to three Palestinian writers not get any world attention? Why did American liberals and PEN not notice it back then?"

Some of the people that Israeli assassins killed were three PLO officials, again one of whom was the poet and PLO spokesman Kamil Nasser, who had nothing to do with the what occurred in Munich [I will be providing portraits of some of the others in later posts]. The Nassers are known throughout Palestine as academics; Kamal's cousin, Hanna, president of Bir Zeit University, was illegally deported from his homeland, and spent nineteen years in exile.

To put Kamal Nasir in context for the few readers of this blog; lamentably this won't reach the millions that will be taken in by Spielberg's humanisation of the assassins and his dehumanisation of Palestinians, his poetry:

From the poem "Letter to Fadwa"

If my songs should reach you
despite the narrow skies around me,
remember that I will return to life,
to the quest for liberty,
remember that my people may call on my soul
and feel it rising again from the folds of the earth.

and from "Kamel Nasir's Last Poem," translated by Abdel Wahab Elmesseri

Beloved, if perchance word of my death reaches you
As, alone, you fondle my only child
Eagerly awaiting my return,
Shed no tears in sorrow for me
For in my homeland
Life is degradation and wounds
And in my eyes the call of danger rings.
Beloved, if word of my death reaches you
And the lovers cry out:
The loyal one has departed, his visage gone forever,
And fragrance has died within the bosom of the flower
Shed no tears...smile on life
And tell my only one, my loved one,
The dark recesses of your father's being
Have been touched by visions of his people.
Splintered thoughts bestowed his path
As he witnessed the wounds of oppression.
In revolt, he set himself a goal
He became a martyr, sublimated his being
even changed his prayers
Deepened their features and improvised
And in the long struggle his blood flowed
His lofty vision unfolded shaking even destiny.
If news reaches you, and friends come to you,
Their eyes filled with cautious concern
Smile to them in kindness
For my death will bring life to all;
My people's dreams are my shrine
at which I pray, for which I live.
The ecstacy of creation warms my being, shouting of joy,
Filling me with love, as day follows day,
Enveloping my struggling soul and body.
Immortalized am I in the hearts of friends
I live only in others' thoughts and memories.
Beloved, if word reaches you and you fear for me
Should you shudder and your cheeks grow pale
As pale as the face of the moon,
Allow it not to look upon you, nor
feast on the beauty of your gaze
For I am jealous of the light of the moon.
Tell my only one, for I love him,
That I have tasted the joy of giving
And my heart relishes the wounds of sacrifice.
There is nothing left for him
Save the sighs from my song...Save the remnants of my lute
Lying piled and scattered in our house.
Tell my only one if he ever visits my grave
And yearns for my memory,
Tell him one day that I shall return
--to pick the fruits.

Rahmani, Sina "Edward Said: The Last Interview, and: Selves and Others: A Portrait of Edward Said, and: The Battle of Algiers (review)"
Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East - Volume 25, Number 2, 2005, pp. 512-514
Duke University Press

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