Speaking as an American Jew, Darwish’s poetry gave me an invaluable entry point into the Palestinian cultural soul. I do believe that in addition to his importance as the unofficial Palestinian poet laureate (he grappled publicly with the experience of his people’s exile long before it made the world headlines) he was an artist who transcended his own unique historical time and circumstance. Darwish was truly an artist whose art made a difference in the world.
It’s also important to note that while Darwish was fiercely devoted to his homeland and his cause, his poetry also opened up a significant place of connection between Palestinian and Israeli culture. Darwish himself expressed appreciation, for example, for the poetry of Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai – and as recently as 2000, Israel’s then education minister, Yossi Sarid, proposed including some of Darwish’s poems in the Israeli high school curriculum.