Watch Mahershala Ali’s Powerful Rendition of “Longing for Haifa” by Mohammed Al-Qudwa

“Longing for Haifa” was written by Mohammed al-Qudwa, a young Palestinian poet living in Gaza.

Watch Mahershala Ali’s Powerful Rendition of “Longing for Haifa” by Mohammed Al-Qudwa
Mahershala Ali at the 89th Oscars in 2017. Photo source: Walt Disney Television

The Palestine Festival of Literature (PalFest), a literary festival that takes place annually across the West Bank, recently posted a video of Oscar-winning actor Mahershala Ali reading the poem “Longing for Haifa” in the name of cease-fire.

“Longing for Haifa” was written by Mohammed al-Qudwa, a young Palestinian poet living in Gaza. He performed the poem at the most recent PalFest, and he posts many of his poems to his Instagram account. Al-Qudwa is currently trying to raise money to get his family out of Gaza and into Egypt. You can support his campaign here.

Ali is a member of Artists4Ceasefire, a group of hundreds in the entertainment industry calling on the U.S. government to demand a cease-fire in Gaza. Before reading the poem, Ali said, “If we work for a cease-fire and freedom for Palestine, one of the many things we can do is help families who are trying to reach safety today.”

Watch Ali perform an English translation of “Longing for Haifa” below.

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"Longing for Haifa"

By Mohammed al-Qudwa

I miss Haifa.
I comb with my eyes
Sea foam for the last time
I wait for a ship or
A sail
Or even the stalk of an orange tree
I want to cross to break the barriers of the sea
That my orange should grows fruit
to be eaten by the deep.
Perhaps it will save from the depths of a shark.
I smile at the sea for the last time
or the one just before.
I wait for Noah’s miracle
The sea started to move with me.
To pull me towards the sun.
where everyday I hear calling for help
for the last time.
How many times have I compared them,
the sea to my beloved.
Those first threads, that each morning stream like hair to her waist.
How many times did she believe me?
She knew from my coastal town
that we cannot see those dawns.
The sea still tears me apart
Steals my limbs from me.
I use one arm to swim
The other to push away the waves
In spite of all this, I will cross.
I will leave for tomorrow an orange
That the sea pushes out to shore.
Perhaps it will land at Haifa
And I can take root and grow there again.
The sea cannot stop my love of her hair
nor make me forget the last sound of the sun.

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