Ian Duhig – A Café Waiter In Tel Aviv

A Café Waiter In Tel Aviv

O to be a café waiter in Tel Aviv! – Kafka

Round Kraków my grandfather dug lime,
practiced pilpul till the Cossack pogroms.
He fled west for Mendelssohn’s Haskalah
and fitted in— he met Marx—do you know
‘On the Jewish Question’? Money is the god
of Israel in face of which no other gods exist.

Framing these codes I have kept before me
the laws of Ezra and Nehemiah…Thus spake
the drafter of the Nuremberg Race Purity Laws.
Everybody know the rest. Jackboots in the night.
Webs of railway tracks circled the deathcamps.
The family dispersed, we couldn’t trust Europe.

It is not more land we need but more Jews!
Ben-Gurion had cried. Smuggled in by night,
they bussed us round to break up Arab strikes,
harass their wives at markets, burn their crops
and worse: sometimes we would just disappear
whole villages. Resettlement, it’s always called.

Netanyahu’s favourite poet Bialik said he hated
Arabs because they look so like oriental Jews.
I’m haunted by his lines from ‘On the Slaughter’:
these: The vengeance for a small child’s blood
Satan himself never dreamed. Some dream it.
I’m sorry: I bore you, waiter. More coffee please.