Note: I didn’t write this, and it’s not really poetry. But Galeano’s prose is damn good, and I’m slightly proud of the translation, so here goes.
Eduardo Galeano: If I were Palestinian
Translated by Anschel Schaffer-Cohen
Since 1948, the Palestinians have lived condemned to perpetual humiliation. They can’t even breath without permission. They’ve lost their homeland, their lands, their water, their freedom, their everything. They don’t even have the right to elect their leaders.
When they vote for someone they shouldn’t, they’re punished. Gaza is being punished. It was turned into a trap without an exit ever since Hamas cleanly won the 2006 elections. Something similar happened in 1932, when the Communist Party triumphed in the Salvadoran elections. Bathed in blood, the Salvadorans purified themselves of their poor conduct, and from then on they lived subjected to military dictatorships. Democracy is a luxury that not everyone deserves. They are the children of impotence, these home-made rockets which Hamas militants, corraled in Gaza, fire with clumsy aim at land that had been Palestinian and was usurped by Israeli occupation.
And despair, at the ear of suicidal insanity, is the mother of the threats that deny Israel’s right to exist, shouted without any effect, while a very effective war of extermination has been denying, for years, Palestine’s right to exist.
Even now there’s not much Palestine left.
Bit by bit, Israel is erasing it from the map.
Settlers invade, and through them soldiers fix the border.
Bullets sanctify plunder, in legitimate defense.
There is no aggressive war that doesn’t call itself defensive.
Hitler invaded Poland to keep Poland from invading Germany.
Bush invaded Iraq to keep Iraq from invading the world.
In every one of its defensive wars, Israel has swallowed another piece of Palestine, and lunchtime isn’t over.