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Hear, O Israel!

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A poem on Israel by Erich Fried


When we were the oppressed,

I was one with you,

but how can we remain one

now that you have become the oppressor?

Your desire

was to become powerful, like the nations

who murdered you;

now you have, indeed, become like them.

You have outlived those

who abused you;

so why does their cruelty

possess you now?

You also commanded your victims:

"Remove your shoes!"

Like the scapegoat,

you drove them into the wilderness,

into the great mosque of death

with its burning sands.

But they would not confess the sin

you longed to impute to them:

the imprint of their naked feet

in the desert sand

will outlast the silhouettes

of your bombs and tanks.

So hear, O Israel ...

hear the whimpers of your victims

echoing your ancient sufferings ...

-- Erich Fried, 1967

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