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The Palestinian poet who inspired JK Rowling’s stance on Israel

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The Harry Potter author quoted Mahmoud Darwish as she explained her opposition to a cultural boycott. But does his life and work fit with her message?

JK Rowling has long possessed the mythical philosopher’s knack of turning every stone she touches to gold, so when she cited the work of a Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish as a political inspiration, you know he’s a made man.

Except that, in the Arab world, Darwish, who died at the age of 67 in 2008, needs no magic boost: long regarded as Palestine’s national poet, he has given voice to suffering with poems such as Identity Card (Write down! / I am an Arab / And my identity card number is fifty thousand / I have eight children / And the ninth will come after a summer / Will you be angry?) and Under Seige (Here on the slopes of hills, facing the dusk and the cannon of time / Close to the gardens of broken shadows, / We do what prisoners do, / And what the jobless do: / We cultivate hope).

Related: JK Rowling explains refusal to join cultural boycott of Israel

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