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Mahmoud Darwish, died on August 9, 2008

2008-08-11
Mahmoud Darwish, whose prose gave voice to the Palestinian experience of exile, occupation and infighting, died on August 9, 2008 following open heart surgery at a Houston hospital in Texas, he was 67.
Mahmoud Darwish emerges a Palestinian cultural icon who eloquently described his people‘s struggle for independence, and as a vocal critic of both the Israeli occupation and the Palestinian leadership. He gave voice to the Palestinian dreams of statehood, crafted their declaration of independence and helped forge a Palestinian national identity. The office of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared three days of national mourning The Palestinian television interrupted programs to air reading from his work..
Darwish was born in the Palestinian village of Birweh near Haifa to a large Muslim family in Palestine, which was destroyed in the 1948 war. In 1948, Darwish was among that half of the Arab population of Palestine driven from their homes, in his family‘s case near the port of Haifa. He was jailed several times by the Israeli occupation military forces. Darwish, a heavy smoker who had twice before undergone major heart surgery. He married and divorced twice but does not have any children.

Darwish left Israel in the 1970s to study in the former Soviet Union, and from there he exile in to Cairo, Beirut, Tunis and Paris. Darwish moved to the West Bank city of Ramallah in 1996. He joined the Palestine Liberation Organization, but resigned in 1993 in protest over the interim peace accords. Darwish served on the executive committee of the PLO and wrote the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in 1988, read by the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat when he declared statehood.
In the 1960s, Darwish gained prominence after the publication of his first poetry collection, "Bird without Wings." which included the poem "Identity Card". Many of his poems have been put into music.  He wrote another 21 collections, the last, "The Impression of Butterflies," in 2008. His work is widely admired on the Arab and Palestinian street. In Israel, it evokes different feelings. The predominant Palestinian poet, work has been translated into more than 20 languages and won numerous international awards; he emerged as a Palestinian cultural icon eloquently describing his people‘s struggle for independence. He wrote another 21 collections, the last in 2008, "The Impression of Butterflies."


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