I wanted to share this poem during the week of Yom Ha’Atzma’ut.
Yehuda Amichai (1924-2000) always, in my opinion, managed to capture the complexity of Israel. This is particularly poignant as the poet captures the experience of one man. Last Shabbat I learned with our B’nei Mitzvah families about Israel, our experiences there, our understanding of it and the chronology that propelled the past 71 years. This weekend accusatory posters emerged over London. We are never far from complex reactions to Israel.
Tourists by Yehuda Amichai
Visits of condolence is all we get from them.
They squat at the Holocaust Memorial,
They put on grave faces at the Wailing Wall
And they laugh behind heavy curtains
In their hotels.
They have their pictures taken
Together with our famous dead
At Rachel’s Tomb and Herzl’s Tomb
And on Ammunition Hill.
They weep over our sweet boys
And lust after our tough girls
And hang up their underwear
To dry quickly
In cool, blue bathrooms.
Once I sat on the steps by agate at David’s Tower,
I placed my two heavy baskets at my side. A group of tourists
was standing around their guide and I became their target marker. “You see
that man with the baskets? Just right of his head there’s an arch
from the Roman period. Just right of his head.” “But he’s moving, he’s moving!”
I said to myself: redemption will come only if their guide tells them,
“You see that arch from the Roman period? It’s not important: but next to it,
left and down a bit, there sits a man who’s bought fruit and vegetables for his family.”
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