Natan Zach / In Memory of the Boy Mohammed al-Dura

Zach, one of Israel's leading poets and Israel Prize laureate, wrote a poem in memory of the 12-year-old Palestinian boy killed on September 30, 2000.

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In Memory of the Boy Mohammed al-Dura

Once upon a time in the world, or more
Precisely in the holy land that,
Whether or not it wants to be,
Is a part of this world, lived
A boy named Mohammed al-Dura.

And this boy, an Arab of course,
Whether or not he wanted to,
Disappeared. And now, 13 years
After his mysterious disappearance,
The sole remaining question is whether
He existed, that is − was alive − or,
By his nature, died.

Investigators of such events, who are better
Informed about this than we are,
Add: And if, heaven forbid, he did die,
Who helped him die and that in his father’s
Arms, for all aid requires a
Permit. And if indeed the aid was
Authorized by a committee, as customary,
And the boy really did die, was he shot
Or did he come down with colon cancer
Or some bug, for children don’t die
Just like that and especially not
In the holy land.

And of course the law

Permits shooting only of fathers. And law
Is no laughing matter.
Whereas I with my own eyes
Watched on the apparatus called television
The Israeli commander put up a wall
To prove whether the angle of fire is right
Or maybe not and therefore is guiltless.

For in our country angles, too, talk if
Only tangentially. Like the wall called
The Wailing Wall, whose tears have yet
To be seen, in the way of all fairy tales.
And if indeed the angle is not clear
We must bring his father, if he’s still alive.

And who beside us will interject
That he saw what he saw and this
As well: Who authorized him to hold
His chosen son at a time of shooting?

For in a decent country, like ours, everything needs
Investigation, in case of any trouble that might
Come along and always does come along
Precisely when everyone is hoping
It won’t.

In any case, new forms must be completed
With precise answers to all the questions
That have arisen and the ones that haven’t
Yet. Unless they already come
Under the statute of limitations, as
Opposed to the status of human
Sleep, or fornication.

Translated from Hebrew by Vivian Eden

Baraa al-Dura, sister of Mohammed al-Dura poses with a picture of Mohammed at her home in Bureij Refugee Camp in the Gaza Strip, Monday, May 20, 2013Credit: AP

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