Looking out, cheering on: Global leftist vocabularies among Palestinian citizens of Israel

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


In early 1969, 28-year-old poet and political activist Samih al-Qasim penned a review of a poetry collection written by his fellow Palestinian citizen of Israel, 50-year-old writer and journalist Michel Haddad. Haddad’s collection, the first book of Arabic prose poetry to be published in Israel, utilized a modernist style and invoked a celebration of the individual spirit that was popular in Western literary circles. But Qasim, who had been strongly influenced by the socialist realist approach to literature promoted by the Soviet Union, found Haddad’s apolitical poetry distasteful. “We live in a society dominated by bourgeois thought and bourgeois tastes,” Qasim wrote in his review. “In such a society, truly humanistic art defies the terroristic campaign … that claims ideology and politicization corrupt art.” Citing Chilean poet-diplomat Pablo Neruda and German poet-playwright Bertolt Brecht as examples, Qasim insisted there existed a rich global tradition of cultural producers who “proved to the world that art with a cause is the only long-lasting art. And they proved that ideological [underpinnings] tend to bestow upon artistic works tremendous fervor and attention.” 1 Qasim’s criticism of modernism and his defense of cultural productions that expressed clear political views illustrate the ways in which the intense and highly charged global discussions regarding the role of art in political struggles reverberated far beyond the intellectual centers typically associated with the global 1960s. By linking local cultural production to global trends, Qasim, along with Mahmoud Darwish and other young poets who had recently come to dominate the Arab literary scene, sought to place their cultural productions within a broader global context.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Global 1960s
Subtitle of host publicationConvention, Contest and Counterculture
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781351780223
ISBN (Print)9781138709416
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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