Peace Between German and Arabic
From a linguistic point of view, my daily life is mainly affected by
Arabic and German, but Hebrew and English are also part of it. At home
I speak Arabic and German with my family, just I do mainly in my work
as a lecturer of Arabic. So I regularly cross the bridge between both
languages without knowing exactly which language I think in, dream in,
or love in. The key thing is the situation in which I happen to be in
at the moment; then one or the other language turns on without a
warning – and that’s a good thing.
German language in 1981 at the Frankfurt Airport, at the
beginning of my
journey into a foreign land. I came as a tourist and soon decided to
stay here. Precisely twenty years after I emigrated from Palestine; I began to
in German. Yet, even as a teenager, I wrote poetry, short stories, and
essays in my mother tongue.
after so many years, it is no longer a problem not to write in Arabic.
Essentially, it is about how far I, as a writer, am willing to go
beyond the boundaries of my own language – meaning, mother
tongue – to
think, feel, and dare to write in another language. However, in order
to do that, it is necessary that a person shows a willingness to
overcome internal barriers, to open up to other cultures and languages,
to explore them. In my case I can claim to have left the Rubicon behind
German is a
well-structured, scientific language – I like to write in
musically speaking – meaning, as far as its sound goes
– Arabic is more
melodic and emotional. You can hear examples of this in my readings,
when I read in both Arabic and German. There, my audience is carried
along by the music of the languages.
writings usually claim to touch people’s hearts, to make them
sad, to inspire them to think. That is also what I claim to do. When I
write, I thing in images, and for that I at first do not need any
language, any writing instrument. And when the hour of birth comes for
a text or a poem, then I use one or another language as the medium that
gives form to my images, my ideas.
Some of my
pomes are begun in
Arabic, some in German. After a few lines, other words, phrases, or
even images from the other languages suddenly begin to flow into the
poem. At this moment I allow myself a break, which sometimes lasts for
days or weeks, until I intuitively decide which language I will use to
continue to “paint” my pictures. The text then
arises from this
mixture. I try to translate German phrases or images freely, in an
unconventional manner, into Arabic – and vice-versa, although
metaphors in Arabic are more flexible. Occasionally I enrich the German
poems with Arabic word or phrases.
follow the wars in our
region and over all the world, and the resulting destruction and
devastation, the death and suffering of innocent people, and the flight
of the defenceless, then I am more than ever convinced that poetry in
specific, as well as literature and art in general, represent the more
human face of our world in all of its diversity. Certainly, I see in
them a way to make connections among the different peoples, cultures,
and religions. What else do we have?
There is no
than peace, freedom and equality for all people. I try to convey this
massage through my poetry – not just on paper, but also in
I respect and accept my fellow human beings and their individual
lifestyles and ways of thought, because tolerance is the perquisite for
better coexistence. Without peace and freedom, our world is poorer, and
without love, our lives are empty.
“peace”, I do not mean the
political dimension of the word, by the way, but rather the peace we
have every day with ourselves, the peace we have with people with whom
we share bread and a glass of water, the peace we have with our
neighbours and with everyone else who has a different point of view.
And last, but not least, with the languages that are close to us and
accompany us everywhere.
languages are like
my mirror and my homeland: everywhere the wind carries my voice
without them, I have no homeland. I am closely bound to the languages I
use every day. A vivacious friendship, which also occasionally suffers
It is, in
how both languages can “cuddle” with each other. I
am convinced that
the mixture of languages - their contact – enhances daily
moreover, bridges the gap between peoples and cultures. In the eyes of
doubters, these views might seem to be mere fantasies. But what would
our lives be like without dreams?
from the interview, which was published in Krystian Woznicki(Ed.): McDeutsch,
culture Kadmos Berlin Verlag, 2007, as well as in the mini-digital
feature Berlin Gazette (www.berlinergazette.de).