Three poems against genocide

Sam Friedman

Summary: Three poems reflecting on current struggles against genocide – Editors

Introduction to Three poems against genocide

Sometimes, political leaders actually mean what they say. Usually, in my experience, they actually intend to carry out their words when they say they are going to annihilate the population somewhere like Gaza or Ukraine, and when they justify these actions by describing their intended victims as animals or Nazis or barbarians. Often, they claim their destructive actions are blessed by God.

We saw this as the United States tried to extirpate the indigenous “Indians” and claimed it was sanctioned by the Pilgrims’ God or by Manifest Destiny. We saw this as King Leopold of Belgium massacred millions in southern Africa, and as the British conducted massacres around the world and provoked famines that killed millions in India and elsewhere, with the British invoking both God and the free market.

We see it in the articles Putin wrote and the speeches he gave in the period leading up to the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and that he and his supporters have uttered many times since. We see this in the language of Netanyahu and his Cabinet as they describe Palestinians as animals, and invoke their Lord as they cut off food and water to Gaza.

Similar actions to destroy populations or cultures are taking place elsewhere on Earth, as against the Rohingya, the Uighurs, and the Kurds.

These poems have been written from my intense desire to support the oppressed. I have dear friends in Ukraine and Russia, and friends of mine have lost family members in Palestine. Other friends are survivors of the Euro-American massacres of indigenous Americans or of slavery. Distant relatives of mine were murdered during the Holocaust. These poems reflect all of that. They also reflect my own experiences during decades of social struggle to end the capitalist system and its integrally connected imperials and racisms that create these horrors, and my admiration and respect and love for those people, many of them Palestinian or Jewish, who oppose these attempted genocides in the encampments at American and other educational systems, in Gaza and the rest of Palestine, in Ukraine, in Russia, and everywhere else.


Self. Determinations

Once, I knew the open road,
with windows open,
the wheat green, an endless Ukrainian sky,
hills faint
dead ahead,
Odesa beyond
with its beachside lunches
and an opera house
beside my hotel.

Yesterday, Ania stopped by our house
at the end of her road in the USA.
Tonight, she flies to Warsaw
through open skies,
then days-long trains to Kyiv.

In a few days, she will caravan towards the front,
the road ahead straight between forests and wheat fields,
a road no longer open.

In villages near the front,
flak-jacketed, helmeted,
she will give medicines and an open ear
to grief-wrinkled women,
their children killed
their homes battered,
and hear tales of their determination
to live Ukrainian lives.


Pogroms across America*

Nightly, on the news,
I see cops brutalizing protesting

I watch Jonathan Greenblatt and other Jewish “leaders”
applaud the beatings of these Jews,
call them “anti-Semitic,”
degrade Palestinians,
and root for the brutality of
modern Cossacks in blue.

They join the anti-Semites of the Macho-Christian Right,
the President,
and politicians of a multitude of ilks,
to wax orgasmic about Israel’s
final solution
for its “Arab problem.”

And I know which side I am on
as they scream “anti-Semite”
at students who deserve badges of honor,
trample “Never Again” in the dust of Gaza,
and cheer on the cops
to make pogroms blossom across America.

*Jonathan Greenblatt is the Director of the Anti-Defamation League



Once upon a time, synagogues and yeshivas
taught abhorrence of
taught the horrors enacted by those who preached
taught the Covenants of Moses:
not to covet,
not to kill,
not to worship false idols.

Today, most of these selfsame synagogues and yeshivas
“stand with Israel,”
cheer as bombs and starvation
clear Gaza of life,
clear its streets for beach resorts and yeshivas,
donate cash to settlers
who kill,
who covet,
who worship their idol-ized flag
in blue and white.

Once, these congregations aspired
to obey the Commandments,
to be a light unto the nations,
to celebrate Life,

But today,

who would believe it?

And so

our youth set up encampments against
genocide and the theft of coveted land

and many Jewish “leaders” curse them as




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  1. Paula Berinstein

    These poems are so eloquent and moving. I get goosebumps reading them. Thank you for publishing these necessary works.

  2. Salim Haidrani

    ‘Negations’ is a bomb on US imperialism which continues to provide weapons and resources to clear Gaza from the human earth.

    Palestinians’ spirit for survival in 21st century has been now documented on mobiles, media and on TV screens all over the world.

    Israel has lost its moral authority as a Jewish Nation because Judaism has not been able to stop the killing of young children and Palestinian women in their homes in Gaza.

    This is a meaningful poetry of resistance to record the Literary Protest by a poet and an intellectual in 21st century to show how Israeli Army behaved with Homeless Palestinians.