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When You Remember

A poem By Bob Green

Marhaba Ya Rifka! Hello! Marhaba Yoram, Malka, Avishai,
Marhaba K’tsia, Marion, Yehoshua, Yaël.
Keef hal-ak? How are you?
Beloved friends of my father and mother for 50 years –
When will I visit you in Tel Aviv? In Zichron Ya’aqov?
When will I walk in your vineyards? Meet your grandchildren?
Meet the son-in-law in the blue jeans business?
When you remember Deir Yassin
And why do I address you in halting Arabic?
Surely I can say “Shalom, Ma sh’lom cha?” in Hebrew?
This would show the respect I long to feel
We could embrace at the airport
Dine again under arbors laden with next year’s wine
We would again pass silently among memories
Enshrined at Yad Vashem
When you remember Deir Yassin
We can eat oranges from trees my mother planted
as you watched in 1953.
When you remember Deir Yassin.
We can talk about your friends and family
About David Shoham’s precious Absalom
Slain in a war against neighboring states
About Yehoshua’s first wife Ruthie,
Dead in an airport attack in the `60’s
We can talk about your friend David Tithare
Who sat me on his lap when I was six
And bragged of slitting Palestinian throats
In Jerusalem, when he was chief of police
In 1948.
All this we can do
When you remember Deir Yassin.

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