“Post-Nakba, Post-Auschwitz Poetics”: Transcending Narratives of Affliction in Mahmoud Darwish’s and Yehuda Amichai’s Poetry

Lobna Ben Salem


Palestinians and Israelis are increasingly engaged in a “distasteful competition over who
suffered most” (Polonsky and Michlic 2004, 9), producing nationalist discourses that hinge on
the heroic sublimation of their victimhood. Mahmoud Darwish and Yehuda Amichai offer
alternative (poetic) discourses that transcend historical and social zones of contestation to
posit universal humanism as a viable ethical option in face of religious and political divides.
The later poetry of Darwish and Amichai transcends the heroic glorification of victimhood
into an assertion of the humanity of both enemy and victim; hence, deconstructing the
mutually exclusive identity formation of “perpetrator” and “perpetrated” and acknowledging
the universality of the human experience. This paper attempts to identify a resonance between
Darwish and Amichai over challenging the binaries and exclusive claims generated by victim
discourses, and the repercussion of such “political” and “aesthetic” stance.


Humanism – victimhood – poetry – Mahmoud Darwish – Yehuda Amichai _______________

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