A massacre is not a massacre
Ghassan Hage

Occupation is not occupation (Anne Paq/ActiveStills)
I don’t write poems but, in any case, poems are not poems.

Long ago, I was made to understand that Palestine was not Palestine;
I was also informed that Palestinians were not Palestinians;
They also explained to me that ethnic cleansing was not ethnic cleansing.

And when naive old me saw freedom fighters they patiently showed me that they were not freedom fighters, and that resistance was not resistance.
And when, stupidly, I noticed arrogance, oppression and humiliation they benevolently enlightened me so I can see that arrogance was not arrogance, oppression was not oppression, and humiliation was not humiliation.

I saw misery, racism, inhumanity and a concentration camp.
But they told me that they were experts in misery, racism, inhumanity and concentration camps and I have to take their word for it: this was not misery, racism, inhumanity and a concentration camp.
Over the years they’ve taught me so many things: invasion was not invasion, occupation was not occupation, colonialism was not colonialism and apartheid was not apartheid.

They opened my simple mind to even more complex truths that my poor brain could not on its own compute like: “having nuclear weapons” was not “having nuclear weapons,” “not having weapons of mass destruction” was “having weapons of mass destruction.”

And, democracy (in the Gaza Strip) was not democracy.
Having second class citizens (in Israel) was democracy.
So you’ll excuse me if I am not surprised to learn today that there were more things that I thought were evident that are not: peace activists are not peace activists, piracy is not piracy, the massacre of unarmed people is not the massacre of unarmed people.

I have such a limited brain and my ignorance is unlimited.
And they’re so fucking intelligent. Really.

Ghassan Hage is professor of anthropology and social theory at the University of Melbourne.

Written FOR


  1. June 4, 2010 at 14:08

    Thank you Prof. Hage !

    What kind of Truth is it that crushes the freedom to seek the truth?

    Peace is patriotic.

    Michael Santomauro
    New York City
    Call anytime: 917-974-6367

  2. brother and sister said,

    June 5, 2010 at 15:15

    to palestine
    my heart goes out to you
    the suffering of your people
    by the hate israel use
    your my brothers and sisters
    you always was and will always be
    hearts are slowly rising
    around the western sea’s
    israel slowly dieing
    for the hate that it pursue
    for the corruption and its evil
    for its suppremacist world view
    because you are my brother
    I know you just want peace
    I will write as much as I can
    I feel that deep need
    and send some love to all of you
    the real proper kind
    that stuff that keeps you smiling
    whilst all around is confined.
    one day they will be finished
    I hope it will be soon
    and all the brothers and sisters
    can stand
    as one whole living truth.


  3. Sariade said,

    June 5, 2010 at 19:24

    I just saw your poem at So simple and so true. Thank you for this heartfelt work.

  4. Ken said,

    June 5, 2010 at 21:11

    And all of our fights are with people smart enough to see both sides of a one-sided issue.

    Quite insightful, insulting to the morons who refuse to see, and possibly a succinct, righteously abrasive wake-up call we have all needed.

    Today a good thing happened in women’s tennis. It can effect a mood. Even for people who don’t follow or care. Tennis is becoming more and more corporate, establishment, celebrity… And this was REAL, and thrilling, and only good.

    Good and bad (evil) are tipping the scales, and today good got some weight behind it.

    Let us all wake up to good, and that is truth and understanding. Evil is maintaining a lie and double-standards.

  5. Joe Boysen said,

    June 6, 2010 at 00:14

    Dear Professor Ghassan Hage, U of Melbourne, Israeli Occupied Australia,

    I salute you! You are my brother, OUR brother. God bless you. I will try to propagate by email your “Not A Poem” masterpiece which I have received via our great American patriot internet freedom fighter Michael Santomauro ~ ReporterNotebook ~ in New York, Carol Bradford in Boston, USS Liberty pre June 8, 1967 Massacre veteran John Gidusko, and others. If only we Anti-Zionists and Ancestral Palestine Loyalists would UNITE our efforts, and if ONLY our Arab-Americans and Muslim- Americans would rise up like the LIONS they are descended from and DO THEIR PART in this Global Intifada against lawless Racist Apartheid EVIL, we could DEFEAT these squalid, thieving descendants of peddlers and swine. Inshallah. Jesus, Mary, Joseph. God HELP US!!! Joe Boysen, Notorious Philosemite ~ 95% are Arabs,, California (805)773-3920 KEEP UP THE FIGHT!! “Rise and rise and rise again, until lambs become lions.” Ridley Scott’s new “Robin Hood” movie telling. Go Palestine! F%#(K) Israel.

  6. Faye Hinze said,

    June 12, 2010 at 21:59

    All commnts are right on.

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