Dan Almagor has been described as a "giant of Israeli popular culture." He is an Israeli professor of Hebrew literature who is famous
throughout Occupied Palestine as a lyricist and TV show host. He was
commissioned by the Israeli government to write military songs, and his early
work often celebrated "Israeli macho culture and military heroism."
But he has become a stern critic of the deeply rooted racism he sees in Israeli
society, not only against Palestinians, but also against Yemenite and Ethiopian Jews.
He is best known for bringing the musical Fiddler on the Roof
to Israel. But he sees strong parallels between Israel's
treatment of Palestinians in Gaza and the Tsar’s soldiers treatment of the Jews
of Anatevka. In an interview with The Jewish Chronicle he said:
“To this very day, tears fill my eyes each time I see the officer tell Tevye and
the other Jews that he’s sorry, but they should evacuate their homes within
three days. Even a
genius author such as Shalom Aleichem had never thought that the great-grandsons
of Tevye and his fellow Anatevka deportees would one day discover a much
simpler, humanistic, method to convey such a message: a phone ring and a
recorded message, announcing: ‘You have 10 minutes to evacuate your homes.’”
After the outbreak of the first intifada in late 1980s, Almagor responded to reports
of acts of brutality and murder by the Israeli military by writing the poem below. “I
suddenly realised that we’re doing there the very things which, as I was told
throughout my entire childhood, were done to us Jews,” he says.
After he read the poem at a rally in a 1989 rally, he received dozens of death
threats and his car was set on fire.
We Shoot Children Too, Don't We
Most of these people truly desire
To harvest their olive trees
As they have for hundreds of years.
Most of these people truly desire to raise their kids
Not to throw stones
Or Molotov cocktails,
But to study in peace,
To play in peace,
And to raise a flag.
Their own flag.
And facing that flag, to cry
As we did, that night, then, excited as we were.
And we have no, have no, have no
Right in the world
To rob them of this desire.
These tears, which always, always
Come after all the others.
Let us start preparing our defense.
We will need it soon enough.
All those who actually did it,
And those who still do.
And those who hushed it up,
And those who still do.
And those who said nothing,
And those who clucked their tongues, saying
"Something must be done, really;
(But not tonight. I have a concert,
Yes, we'll all get our summons one day
For the Colonels' trials.
The Colonel's trials are coming,
Their time will come, it must be so.
The trials of the Generals, the Colonels,
The division, the battalion,
And the platoon commanders.
There is no escaping it.
This is how history works.
What shall we say?
What will the Colonels, the Captains, the
What will they say
Of those terrible beatings,
Of houses blown up,
And most of all, the humiliation.
Of patients forced to wipe the writing
off the walls.
Of old men forced to take down a flag
From an electric pole,
Who were electrocuted, or fell
And broke their legs.
Of the old water carrier
Whom soldiers ordered off his donkey
And rode on his back, just for fun.
Mean, arrogant, and dumb.
Who do we think we are?
Who gave us the right
To be so deaf, so dumb?
Ignoring the obvious: They are as human
As we are, as we are.
At least as human as we used to be
Only forty-one years ago.
No less diligent, no less smart.
As sensitive, as full of hope.
They love their wives and children
As we do, no less.
And our children now shoot theirs
With lead, plastic bullets, and gas.
The Palestinian state will come to pass.
Not a poet wrote this.
And seasons may come, and seasons may go,
And life goes on as we very well know.
Weddings, and births, and deaths all the same-
But just the shame of it. The shame.