Questions for Shomrim

By Leonard Cohen

And will my people build a new Dachau

And call it love,


Jewish culture

For dark-eyed children

Burning in the stars

Will all our songs screech

Like the maddened eagles of the night

Until Yiddish, Arabic, Hebrew, and Vietnamese

Are a thin thread of blood clawing up the side of

Unspeaking steel chambers

I know you, Chaverim

The lost young summer nights of our childhood

We spent on street corners looking for life

In our scanty drops of Marx and Borochov.

You taught me the Italian Symphony


And the New World

And gave a skit about blowing up Arab children.

You taught me many songs

But none so sad

As napalm falling slowly in the dark

You were our singing heroes in ’48

Do you dare ask yourselves what you are now

We, you and I, were lovers once

As only wild nights of wrestling in golden snow

Can make one love

We hiked by moonlight

And you asked me to lead the Internationale

And now my son must die

For he’s an Arab

And my mother, too, for she’s a Jew

And you and I

Can only cry and wonder

Must Jewish people

Build our Dachaus, too?

Leonard Cohen was an Anti-Zionist. This poem of Questions was for a Zionist youth movement he had formerly participated in. It was written in the 1970s and published in 2010..

Leonard Norman Cohen (September 21, 1934 – November 7, 2016) was a Canadian singer-songwriter, poet, and novelist. Themes commonly explored throughout his work include faith and mortality, isolation and depression, betrayal and redemption, social and political conflict, and sexual and romantic love, desire, regret, and loss.

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