Mois Benarroch: "My Aliya" (From Hebrew)

Mois Benarroch, a Moroccan-born Jew who came to Israel at the age of 13, writes  from the perspective of an outsider, as a Sephardic Jew confronted with Ashkenazi prestige,  as a Moroccan poet in exile, as a Jew alienated from " the image of the new Jew that was imposed…by Zionism." 

My Aliya
By Mois Benarroch
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

The time has come to talk about this.

I didn't come. I was brought by my parents.
I didn't adjust. I just pretended.
I didn't turn Zionist. Almost the reverse.
I'm shouting because I have nowhere to go.
Despite all the above, I do care.
Do not ask me how.
If I weren't a Jew, I'd be an Anti-Semite.
I know this isn't nice to hear.
It isn't nice to say either. 

The Original:

עליתי לארץ
מואיז בן הראש.

הגיע הזמן לדבר על זה:
לא באתי. הוריי האביאו אותי.
לו היתאקלמתי, עשיתי כאילו.
לא הפכתי לציוני. כמעט ההפך.
אני צועק כי אין לי לאן ללכת
למרות כל האמור לעיל אכפת לי.
אל תשאלו אותי איך.
אמ לא הייתי יהודי, הייתי אנטישמי
אני יודע שזה לא נעים לשמוע
זה גם לא נעים לומר.


  1. what a great poem. so precise. but I always get the feeling that in Hebrew you can say a lot in a poem in very little space, while in English there is somehow a need to stretch it out in order to get a similar effect.

  2. I've sacrificed things. I realize that the punch of the last two lines is hard to fully convey largely because the texture of גם in that context is hard to reproduce. Also the pun of הפכתי and ההפך would have been cumbersome (I'd have had to do something like "I wasn't converted into a Zionist. Almost the converse.") 

    But what does it seem like I've "stretched out" here? 

  3. Actually, I think you did a good job keeping it concise. I just get the feeling sometimes that concise in English feels constrained while in Hebrew it is much more natural. I guess it's just one of the general problems of translating poetry...


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