Roe v Wade: Pelosi recites Israeli poem in response to Supreme Court reversal
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has ignited outrage on social media after reciting lines from an Israeli poem in response to the US Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v Wade, revoking the constitutional right of women to terminate pregnancies.
The poem, which was translated into English, is called Ein Li Eretz Acheret or “I have no other country.”
It was written by Israeli poet Ehud Manor in 1982 when Israel’s right-wing Likud-led government invaded neighbouring Lebanon.
In her response to the Supreme Court’s decision on Friday, Pelosi said “I am personally overwhelmed.”
Upon introducing the poem Pelosi mentioned that she met the poet’s wife, Ofra Fuchs, when she visited Israel.
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“I have no other country even though my land is burning,” Pelosi recited. “Here is my home. I will not be silent for my country has changed her face. I shall not give up on her. I shall remind her and sing into her ears until she opens her eyes.”
“Clearly we hoped that the Supreme Court would open its eyes,” Pelosi said after reciting lines from the poem.
Social media users were quick to react to Pelosi's choice of poem.
A number said the decision to choose the poem was indicative of the brand of "liberal feminism" that Pelosi adhered to, lacking any understanding of wider issues or critique of state power.
This poem was written for soldiers of a military that, in addition to occupying Palestine, went onto occupy Lebanon & massacred tens of thousands of civilians - including Palestinian refugees.— Sana Saeed (@SanaSaeed) June 24, 2022
No better summary of 'liberal feminism' than this moment. https://t.co/tcS4tXZPmf
Liberal feminism is responding to fundamental reproductive rights being stripped with a poem about how a soldier should still be proud of their country despite murdering Palestinians. Liberation will not come until settler colonialism and patriachy is dismantled everywhere https://t.co/9IG4nT0mo8— Amal أمل🍉 (@levantinegworll) June 25, 2022
Another social media user called Pelosi’s use of this particular poem, “tone deafly offensive”.
Others approached the issue with humour, highlighting the poem’s colonialist undertones.
Everyone: what a horrible day for women— #EndTheSiegeOnGaza (@AdalahJustice) June 24, 2022
Nancy Pelosi: here's a poem about Israeli settler colonialism that you might enjoy https://t.co/bKwBW81lp1
Meanwhile, the NGO Jewish Voice for Peace wrote that “it is absurd, yet fitting, that Pelosi chose to read this poem.”
Absurd yet fitting that Pelosi reads Israeli poetry expressing “love” for the settler-colonial nation despite the violence inherent to it.— JVP #SaveMasaferYatta (@jvplive) June 24, 2022
Our liberation movements can only win by divesting from systems that are oppressive by nature - not by hoping they “open their eyes.” https://t.co/iRDDV1tpZ6
Some disregarded the poem’s political background and instead lambasted Pelosi for choosing such a moment to recite a poem, a move many saw as performative.
Imagine being in charge of one of the most powerful legislative bodies in the world, and having a personal net worth of over a hundred million dollars, and your reaction to massive civil rights curtailment is to read a fucking poem. https://t.co/vxPeuL9tPM— Jeremy Morbyn (@The_Evan) June 26, 2022
Now is not the time for a poem, @TeamPelosi. Now is the time for action! You had 2 months since the draft leaked. Your 2 month plan of attack is to read a poem?! https://t.co/wOnGtlya8i— Mary (@mary3114) June 26, 2022
This is not the first time that Pelosi has chosen to recite lines from Manor’s poem. In January 2021 the US Speaker quoted the same poem in an attempt to influence the Republicans in Congress to vote in favour of impeaching Donald Trump.
Pelosi was first introduced to the poem in 2016 when she was seated at a table next to Isaac Herzog during an annual convention of Israeli and American political and national security leaders.
Pelosi wrote down lines of Manor’s poem after Herzog recited it to her in consolation after Trump was elected as president.
Ehud Manor is considered by some to be one of Israel's greatest lyricists, winning the Israel Prize in 1998 for his contributions to Israeli music. He has written the lyrics to over 1,200 songs.
This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.
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