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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

February 14, 2003

Nelson writes:


A friend of mine who happens to be an excellent poet and an excellent person sent me a text against the war written by Senator Robert Byrd of Virginia, and asked me to move it further if I agreed with it. After following closely all the posturing of so many of my most mediocre colleagues in the Anglo-Saxon world and elsewhere, I have to confess that his mail, by an admirable poet, left me pretty saddened. I deplore the standpoint taken by almost all poets I admire, but I will continue to admire their work as far as it continues to deserve literary, poetic and esthetic admiration. I'm under no illusion, however, that the professional differentiation I will go on making between the other poets' works and their politics will be neither reciprocated nor extended to poets like me who, because they see the political landscape of the world in other terms, are, I'm in no doubt about it, in the absolute minority in the literary community. On the other hand, it is also true that I couldn't care less about it. Here is the answer I sent him today.

All best
Nelson Ascher

" Having lived in a military dictatorship myself and knowing through my parents about their experience with much worse dictatorships (fascist and communist Hungary, Nazi Germany), having seen innocent people murdered by religious fanatics in NY, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa, Indonesia etc., having visited synagogues burned down recently in Europe, and after having seen below my own Parisian window people marching with openly anti-Semitic slogans, I think you'll understand me if I'll ask you a small favor. It is the following: please direct me to sites where I can find poets fighting against tyranny, dictatorship, Muslim fundamentalism, fascistic Arab nationalism, against people who praise and/or promote the intentional murder of civilians because, for instance, they are Americans, Australians, Brits, Jews. I'd like to know if there is any site with poets fighting for justice for the Kurds and the punishment of those guilty for their massacre. I'd also like to know if there's any site where poets write and fight against the bizarre and sadistic North Korean dictatorship. Once I had dinner with script writer Jean Claude Carriere and a friend of his, an exiled Iranian writer with whom he translated medieval Persian poetry into French. They both explained to me that the only way to imagine the Iranian parliament would be to think of an European one where there'd be places only for bishops and cardinals. Surely, thus, in the US there must also be sites with poets fighting against such a regime. Am I wrong? I'd also like to know if there's any site with poets writing about the crimes of the Belgians, older ones like Congo, more recent ones, like the murder of Patrice Lumumba, and pretty new ones, like their guilt in the genocide in Rwanda. By the way, any chance of finding a web site with poets protesting against Russian crimes in Chechnya, Chinese ones in Tibet, French ones all over Africa, the French backing of military dictatorship in Algeria, the Rwandan genocide, and their military intervention in the Ivory Coast? A country with so many excellent poets like the US surely has poets worrying about all these things, doesn't it? Humbly, I myself, in Brazil, had time to write in my newspaper against so many tyrants, from Pinochet to Castro, I had also time to write about all the massacres perpetrated in the Arab world besides Sabra and Chattila. So, I believe, there must be lots of poets writing and protesting against all of this. I cannot imagine that thousands of poets are obsessed only with writing about Bush or trying to save one more tyrant's skin. Coming to think of it, I can remember many great poets who wrote in praise of Stalin, Lenin, Hitler, Franco, Mussolini, Mao, for god's sake, even Enver Hodja. But I find it not only hard to remember any who wrote against any of the above without in the same breath praising some of the others, but I don't remember any great poet who wrote consistently good odes in praise of good old bourgeois democracy. But maybe I'll find the site for which they've been writing. As a Trotskyite since my teens I cannot but fight fascism, be it black, red or green. Oh yes, I do know about things that are worse than war: my two grandfathers and my paternal grandmother, I'm sure, would have loved the chance to die fighting in a war instead of being killed in the way they were. "