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Why this Palestinian poet still sparks controversy in Israel

For many Israelis, Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish is the symbol of Palestinian resistance and struggle, who, even after his death, keeps raising strong emotions among Israelis across the political spectrum.
A candle is placed in front of a picture of late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, during a candle-lit vigil in Amman August 11, 2008. Darwish, whose poetry encapsulated the Palestinian cause, will be buried in the West Bank on Wednesday, a day later than planned, Palestinian officials said. REUTERS/Ali Jarekji  (JORDAN) - RTR20XLG
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March 13 marked the 75th anniversary of Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, who passed away on Aug. 9, 2008. A special event was held in Tel Aviv to commemorate the anniversary with the participation of both Jewish and Arab musicians, poets and actors.

Darwish, who published dozens of poetry books, all revolving around the central motif of Palestinian yearning for independence, is well-known in some sectors of Israeli society — even more so than many of his Israeli counterparts. His efforts as a public figure tower over his endeavors as a poet. He was a Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) activist and was seen as a major political symbol. In the eyes of many, he represented the moderate Palestinian voice — the one that Israelis called a "partner" to the dialogue — before allegedly adopting a radical stance. In 1988, the translation into Hebrew of his poem "Passers between the passing words" was published, calling on the Israelis to leave the country and "Live wherever you like." Following the publication, Darwish became an emotionally charged symbol, on both sides of the Israeli political map.

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