Write Down, I Am an Arab — Palestinian National Poet, Mahmoud Darwish

Write Down, I am an Arab, is a documentary by Ibtisam Mara’ana Menuhin about Mahmood Darwish, one of the Middle East’s most prolific and loved contemporary poets. Born in Palestine in 1941 in the village of al-Birwa, Darwish witnessed the razing of his village and home by Israeli forces in 1948. Following this, his family fled to Lebanon and returned later to Acre eventually settling in Deir al-Asad. He studied for one year in Moscow then moved to Cairo. He then spent twenty-six years in exile living between Paris and Beirut during which time he wrote many anthologies of poetry. He died in Houston, Texas in 2008. This is a partial list of his honors and awards:

  • Ibn Sina Prize (Avicenna Prize, UNESCO)
  • 1969 Lotus prize from the Union of Afro-Asian Writers (Egypt)
  • Knight of Arts and Belles Lettres medal in 1997 (France)
  • 2001 Lannan Foundation Prize for Cultural Freedom (USA)
  • Moroccan Wissam of Intellectual Merit (Morocco)
  • Stalin Peace Prize (former USSR)


This is the poem, but the way, that stoked the anger of Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev this past July when Israel’s Army Radio Station broadcast broadcast a discussion of Darwish and his poem.

“He wrote about me, about you, about Palestine, about al-Birwa, about the occupation, about the victims, and he wrote about human beings,” says one of the interviewees about Mahmoud Darwish. Write Down, I Am an Arab is the winner of the Audience Award at Doc Aviv Film Festival, 2014. Learn more about filmmaker/documentarian Ibtisam Mara’ana Menuhin here.

The documentary’s name is excerpted from Darwish’s renown poem, Identity Card:

Write down!
I am an Arab
And my identity card number is fifty thousand
I have eight children
And the ninth will come after a summer
Will you be angry?

Write down!
I am an Arab
Employed with fellow workers at a quarry
I have eight children
I get them bread
Garments and books
from the rocks …
I do not supplicate charity at your doors
Nor do I belittle myself at the footsteps of your chamber
So will you be angry?

Write down!
I am an Arab
I have a name without a title
Patient in a country
Where people are enraged
My roots
Were entrenched before the birth of time
And before the opening of the eras
Before the pines, and the olive trees
And before the grass grew

My father … descends from the family of the plow
Not from a privileged class
And my grandfather … was a farmer
Neither well-bred, nor well-born!
Teaches me the pride of the sun
Before teaching me how to read
And my house is like a watchman’s hut
Made of branches and cane
Are you satisfied with my status?
I have a name without a title!

Write down!
I am an Arab
You have stolen the orchards of my ancestors
And the land which I cultivated
Along with my children
And you left nothing for us
Except for these rocks …
So will the State take them
As it has been said?!

Write down on the top of the first page:
I do not hate people
Nor do I encroach
But if I become hungry
The usurper’s flesh will be my food
Beware …
Beware …
Of my hunger
And my anger!

Electronic Intifada

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