Rianne Van Doeveren

Rianne Van Doeveren (Alternative Information Center - AIC): Rianne was born and raised in The Hague. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science at Leiden University. After her undergraduate studies she earned a scholarship to pursue a Master’s degree in international relations and diplomacy at Leiden University and Clingendael (The Netherlands Institute for International Affairs). She studied abroad in South Africa at Stellenbosch University. In South Africa, where she taught at a pre-primary school in the township Kayamandi. After her fellowship, Rianne wrote: "I could not have gained the deep level of understanding that I have developed of this region and occupation (it is hard to simply call it a conflict now) without this fellowship. It has proved to be worth more than my academic education thus far since it brought me back to reality and the importance of the actual events on the ground."

Palestine Lost its Poet: Mahmoud Darwish

13 Aug

They Would Love To See Me Dead

They would love to see me dead, so they say:

He belongs to us, he is ours.

For twenty years I have heard their footsteps on the walls of the night.

They open no door, yet here they are now.

I see three of them: A poet, a killer, and a reader of books.

Will you have some wine? I asked.

Yes, they answered.

When do you plan to shoot me? I asked.

Take it easy, they answered.

They lined up their glasses all in a row and started singing for the people.

I asked: When will you begin my assassination?

Already done, they said … Why did you send your shoes on ahead to your soul?

So it can wander the face of the earth, I said.

The earth is wickedly dark, so why is your poem so white?

Because my heart is teeming with thirty seas, I answered.

They asked: Why do you love French wine?

Because I ought to love the most beautiful women, I answered.

They asked: How would you like your death?

Blue, like stars pouring from a window—would you like more wine?

Yes, we’ll drink, they said.

Please take your time. I want you to kill me slowly so I can write my last

poem to my heart’s wife.

They laughed, and took from me only the words dedicated to my heart’s wife.

– Mahmoud Darwish

It is saturday evening when the Youth Summercamp of the Alternative Information Center is in full swing. Over a 100 youth between 16 and 19 from all over the Westbank and what is termed the ‘Arab ’48’ or ‘Palestinian Israelis’ have come together for an educational summercamp. Unfortunetly we did not succeed in bringing youth from Gaza as well.

After an early (yes truly early, as in starting at 4.00 am in the morning) walk along the Wall and the Green Line refreshment is found in a swimming pool in the afternoon. The day is supposed to be closed with music. Naturally music, because music is an interlinked part of Palestine and seemingly an intrinsic part of Palestinians themselves.

Tonight a special kind of music was prepared: youth from Al Azza Refugee Camp practised to combine their Palestinian folkloristic music with that of a Southern Italian musician who visited especially for the occassion. The result was a new mix of cultures that found a common language even though the words originate from two different ones.

Not long before we were supposed to witness this new meeting-point of language we heard the news that one of the greatest masters of language has passed away: Mahmoud Darwish.

He is a world famous writer and poet who has brought the Palestinian cause to the attention of many and who gave a voice to a people who felt that they had become voiceless.

The youth of Al Azza who had practised for a week told me that they could not play after hearing this news, but eventually they saw that their newly found language could not be left unheard and they decided to continue in Mahmoud Darwish’s honour.

This tragedy was the only thing that could silence 100 excited young people for a moment untill the room burst with the national anthem. Mahmoud Darwish lives amongst them.

And alive he suddenly was…someone from the audience received the call that Mahmoud Darwish was still alive but in a very bad condition. Again the room burst: with a loud applause and a sense of relief.

Coincidence or not, this moment of relief and joy lasted only about as long as the specially created music filled the room: after a concert that managed to make all Palestinians sing Italian and make all Internationals attempt to produce something close to Arabic we learned that Mahmoud Darwish had truly left us.

Still he, the master of language, gave us a frail moment to witness that language succeeded to bridge cultures and enlighten hearts.

Today, thousands gathered in Ramallah to attend his funeral.

Posted By Rianne Van Doeveren

Posted Aug 13th, 2008


  • Stephen Twilley

    September 22, 2009


    Dear Rianne Van Doeveren,

    I’m writing on behalf of the academic journal Public Culture to ask if you can tell me the source of the incredible overhead image of Darwish’s funeral? We may be interested in using it as a cover, but we’d have to track down a high-quality version and the rights holder. Any help would be very much appreciated.

    Thank you,

    Stephen Twilley
    Assistant Editor

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