Monday, June 7, 2010
My Happiness Bears no Relation by Adina Hoffman
Taha Muhammad Ali a poet from Nazareth, perhaps you have never heard of him or his story. Had it not been for this wonderful book by Adina Hoffman, an AMerican Jew who made Aliya to Israel, I would not hhave known about him either. When one thinks of Palestinian poets one thinks of Mahmoud Darwish, Samih Quassim or even Rashid Hussein.
Taha started out in the small largely unheard of village called Suffuria. A Palestinian village build on the biblical village Sephoris. It has been inhabited since Canaanite times and the people who dwelt there may well have been related to ancient Canaanites. Before Taha was born his mother and father had several children die during child birht. Most were males and the mother and father had named or at least tried to name them Taha. Finally this one survived. Taha always had good busines skills. He would convince a merchant to give him some eggs, usually on credit and at the end of the day after Taha had sold them he would pay back the farmer. He was in away the bread winner of the family. He later expanded into sellig candies and sodas. Village life was rather nice until world political winds finally blew in on his town.
Once while tending the families sheep four Israeli war planes flew over his village and bombed it. The whole village pretty much fled and taha's family went to Lebanon. It was there that they lived in Tents but even their Taha's busines acumen came in handy. He ended up selling rations and was profitabl up to the point that while they were in Quarone they were able to rent an apartment. Later on the family would return to what is now called Israel.
The ISraeli never did allow the residents of Saffuria to return to their village. Instead many chose to live in Reina and other surrounding villages. For along time they were not permitted to own id and technically were not allowed inside of Israel. THose caught without IDs wold be expelled to Jordan. This happened to Taha one time and he just snuck back in. Eventually they were given ids but the palestinians in the North were subjet top conmsant curfew and travel restircitions. Up until 1966 they were living under Martial Law. THe Shin bety would often harrass poets and ohter intellectual members of the poetic resistance. Mahmoud Darwish later left as a result.
For most of his life Taha ran a souvenir shop in Nazareth. Writing poetry and publsihing his works did not come until; later let us ssay he started getting big at around 57 years old. As he got bigger he started traveling and people enjoyed his poetry. He was niether bitter about his past and his poetry was not the poetry of resistance. Rather it was down to Earth and human. THe 1947 Nakhba cause untold pain to many people. AMira Taha's intended had to remain in Lebanon. They never got married. THE residents of Saffuria got a fraction of the land they used to own.
Adina is one of many American/ ISraeli Jews who are informing the public about the plight of the Palestinians.
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