Tawfiq Amin Ziad is a Palestinian poet and writer, one of the pioneers of resistance poetry. He was born in May 1929 and died in July 1994. His poetic and prose works were about the homeland and the communist ideology to which he belonged as a young man, and one of his poems was turned into a revolutionary anthem.

Ziad joined the Communist Party in his youth, was a member of the Knesset (the Israeli parliament) and mayor of Nazareth. He was arrested and placed under house arrest more than once, and throughout his life he suffered harassment and persecution for reasons related to his attitudes and poetry.

He died in a tragic car accident, leaving behind a long legacy of struggle, many of his poems have been translated into different languages, and his works have been studied and analyzed by researchers.

Birth and upbringing

Tawfiq Amin Ziad was born on the seventh of May 1929, in the eastern neighborhood of the city of Nazareth, northern Palestine, to a poor labor family, whose source of livelihood was cultivating and plowing the land.

His father died when he was young, so his mother worked on preparing bread and selling it to support the family. The eldest son was one of 8 sons (4 boys and 4 girls) and bore two names (Sobhi and Tawfiq), so his father was known as "Abu Sobhi".

Ziad grew up in a poor popular environment, and was characterized by sharpness of the tongue, he expressed himself clearly, and frank to the point of embarrassment, and the owner of a joke and a cheerful mood, and commented on everything he heard, as he was stubborn and quarrelsome and violent in response to violence, the testimony of his companions.

He mastered the language of rhetoric, tended to music and painting, and the habit of reading accompanied him throughout his life, and his dream was to become a doctor and he was unable due to political and economic conditions.

He was 12 years old, when the soldiers came to look for his father's gun, and he was interrogated but did not hide it.

The building, which he entered as a child carrying food for his detained father, returned 34 years later on his shoulders when he was elected mayor of Nazareth, the capital of the Palestinian Galilee.

"Abu al-Amin" grew up as he is, under the British Mandate, and lived the Nakba in 1948, and suffered from the events related to it, and he was then 19 years old, so its tragedies remained engraved in his memory, and affected his psychological, intellectual and political formation, so he found himself in a country where he is part of an Arab minority called "Arabs 48".

He was known for his strong advocacy against Israel's policies in the Knesset, was forced out of sessions several times for his violent responses, did not delete the poem "The Great Crossing," challenged the extreme right, entered parliament despite his ban, and later named his daughter "Obour."

He loved Palestinian napkins, and his friend Faisal Taha said he collected a number of them at an event he was invited to, and his wife still kept them in his home.

In 1966, he married Naela Youssef Sabbagh in Cyprus for being a Muslim and a Christian, and they lived in a room and a half in his parents' old house, and then built his house on its roof from his wife's work compensation.

Study and scientific training

Ziad was educated in Nazareth public schools, until he received his high school diploma in 1946, and was an active, intelligent and distinguished student in expression.

He moved to the Levant and studied nursing for 3 years, then traveled on a party mission on a scholarship to the Soviet Union, studied philosophy and political economy between 1962 and 1964, and learned Russian, in addition to mastering Arabic, English and Hebrew.

He became acquainted with the literature of Marxist and international poets, which deepened his communist culture and enshrined it in his work under the banner of the Communist Party of Israel later.

Since his early youth, Ziad loved reading in various literary and scientific directions, as well as scientific subjects and excelled in mathematics.

He drew his cultural curricula from the few books that remained in the Galilee, the Triangle and mixed cities, as well as from private libraries, as he frequented the library of Simeon Nassar (brother of the communist leader Fouad Nassar) and invested his daily expenses in borrowing books.

Ziad recounted that Nassar gave him the book "The Message of Forgiveness" by Abu al-Ala al-Maari, so he had to copy it in its entirety (500 pages) in order to have his own copy at home.

He derived his first literary culture from the Arab literary community, in which Arab intellectuals lived in the occupied territories, and was acquainted with the press of the Communist Party in Haifa, represented by Al-Mahmaz magazine and Al-Ittihad newspaper, and read to many Russian writers, in the Moscow News newspaper, which Al-Jadeed magazine was reporting some of its excerpts.

Ziad was acquainted with Arab leftist thought from the magazines of the road and literature that the party obtained, and was influenced during that period by international militant figures such as Fidel Castro, Patrice Lumumba, and Che Guevara.


The son of Nazareth moved between multiple professions in his youth, so he worked in plaster (plaster), construction, throwing and painting, and in trade, so he transported goods to and from the Levant. Ghassan Kanafani said in a study that the Israeli government put pressure on a private company to fire Ziad from among its employees because of his poetry and political struggle.

Ziad participated in popular demonstrations in his youth and engaged in student struggles (Palestinian Museum Digital Archive)

He worked as a literary editor in the weekly Al-Ittihad political newspaper (the first newspaper of the Communist Party in 1944) and then in the monthly literary magazine Al-Jadeed until 1966.

In 1954, he won the membership of the Nazareth Municipal Council in his first elections. In the early seventies, the leadership of his party sent him to Prague, representing him on the editorial board of the magazine Peace and Socialist Issues, affiliated with the World Communist Movement.

He was a member of the Knesset for six electoral cycles, from 6 to 1973, for the Rakah list and later for the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality.

In early July 1975, he was elected president of the Nazareth Municipal Council, the first Arab to hold this position for nearly 3 years, and a member of the Committee for the Defense of the Palestinian Territories.

Political activism and imprisonment

Ziad's interest in politics began in high school and was influenced by the political ideas of three of his teachers, Rushdi Shaheen, Jamal Sakran, and Fouad Khoury.

He participated in several popular demonstrations in his youth, and engaged in early student struggles against the British occupation of Palestine.

He embraced the ideology of the National Liberation League (formed in 1944) in the prime of his youth, and was one of those who remained in Palestine, following the Nakba of 1948 and the establishment of the State of Israel.

In October of the same year, he joined the Israeli Communist Party (the central and historical current in the Palestinian 48 political movement) and was in charge of party scholarship students at Eastern European universities.

During the fifties, he was active in trade union work, within the framework of the Arab Workers Conference. After his dissolution in July 1953, he joined the communist bloc within the Histadrut and participated in the Third Congress of the World Trade Union Confederation in Austria.

In 1964, Ziad, who lived in a Christian center in Nazareth, was elected secretary of the Israeli Communist Party. Following the split of the party in 1965, he was among the Arab members who founded the new communist list "Rakah", which became the Israeli Communist Party in the mid-eighties. In 1981, he became a member of his political bureau, adhering to the party's principles for the rest of his life.

He was one of the founders of the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality (Hadash) in 1977, and one of the initiators of the 1983 Arab People's Congress, which was banned by military order by then-Prime Minister and Defense Minister Menachem Begin.

Through his positions, Ziad defended the issues of ignorance and detainees, and played a pivotal role in confirming a strike decision called by the Committee for the Defense of Arab Lands on March 30, 1976.

The strike was accompanied by demonstrations against the confiscation of Arab land in the Galilee and the rejection of racist Judaization projects.

The revolution continued to reject measures to impose a general tax on the Arab population and increase the municipal tax, until it culminated in strikes on the occasion of International Workers' Day.

"We have added to our people a new day of struggle and struggle," Ziad said at the time, describing the day commemorated by the Palestinian people every year as "having had a profound impact on various areas of life in the region."

This day was later considered Land Day, which was declared in 1992 as a Palestinian national holiday, and became a prominent title in the encyclopedia of the Palestinian struggle.

Ziad was imprisoned more than once between 1949 and 1967, and moved between the prisons of Tiberias, Damun, Jalameh and Ramle, known for their difficult conditions, cruelty and the rudeness of their jailers.

He was also placed under house arrest and subjected to assault on more than one occasion, including the Sabra and Shatila strike in 1982, the Peace Day strike in 1988, the Rishon Lezion strike in 1990, and the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre strike in 1994.

In May 1977, an attempt was made to assassinate him as he returned from a popular gathering in Tamra, and he miraculously survived.

The prison was a bitter experience for him, so he talked a lot about it in his poems, and critics considered that this experience was a qualitative leap in his art to a new stage in his poetic composition.

He wrote several poems while in prison, including "More Cruel Than Mahal, From Behind Bars, July 14," and "Bury Your Dead and Rise," which Israeli censorship has banned from publishing.

In addition to the poem "Throw Restrictions on Restrictions, Samar in Prison, Fighting Words, Prisoners of Freedom", which was distributed in thousands of copies in Nazareth and Galilee, and a number of its distributors were arrested.

Poetic experience

Ziad's poetic talent began since he was in school, and his first attempts were on the old poetic style since the late forties, but its topics were "the feelings of a young romantic dreamer, who has not yet been occupied by the national and political issue," as his wife said, and stated that "he used to click on the table by hand and sometimes with a pen to draw weight."

Ziad appeared as a young poet shortly after the Nakba, and then emerged as a revolutionary poet since the sixties of the last century, and issued during his experience extending to the nineties poetic works in collections that began to be issued at the time, and are still reprinted to this day.

زيّاد برفقة متروبوليت مدينة القدس إيسيذوروس (أرشيف المتحف الفلسطيني الرقمي)

وتتوزع هذه التجربة زمنيا على 3 مراحل:

مرحلة الخمسينيات:

وسمى النقاد شعرها "القصيدة السياسية" ولم ينشر زياد خلال تلك الفترة سوى عدد طفيف من القصائد. وكانت أولى قصائده "حصاد الجماجم" التي نشرت في أعقاب مجزرة "كفر قاسم" بمجلّة الجديد عام 1957.

ولم تنشر أولى مجموعاته الشعرية "شيوعيون" حتى عام 1970، لإحجام دور النشر العربية عن تقديم الشاعر عبر شعره ذي النزعة الماركسية.

وكانت المهرجانات الشعرية هذه الفترة جزءا لا يتجزأ من الخطاب السياسي، حين اتخذت الصحف الإسرائيلية قرارا بعدم نشر الإنتاج القومي للفلسطينيين.

وتناولت قصائد تلك المرحلة أحداثا عالمية وعربية لها علاقة بالموقف السوفياتي (كوبا، جيفارا، ناظم حكمت، مياكوفسكي، بور سعيد، 14 تموز، الكونغو، عبدان) وكان المضمون هو الأساس لا الشكل الفني.

مرحلة النصف الثاني من الستينيات وأوائل السبعينيات:

وسمى النقاد شعرها "القصيدة المقاومة". وبدأت كتابات الشاعر الذي شكل ذلك الثالوث الشهير في شعر المقاومة الفلسطينية، مع محمود درويش وسميح القاسم، خلال تلك الفترة بالتبدل النوعي والكمي، وتحول شعره من الأسلوب الخطابي والتقريري إلى التصوير الفني.

وكان "أشد على أياديكم" أول ديوان صدر للشاعر، كرسالة إبداعية وشعبية صورت عذابات الفلسطيني في أرضه المحتلة، وإصراره على البقاء وتحدي مخططات محو الهوية الفلسطينية.

وفي ذلك الديوان برزت ملامحه الشعرية، والتي بقيت منتظمة بخيط إبداعي في أعماله الشعرية اللاحقة، ومنها ديوان "ادفنوا أمواتكم وانهضوا" وهو من أكثر شعره تعبيرا عن جرح الهزيمة العربية (حرب/نكسة 1967) والوعي بضرورة النهوض والمقاومة.

وكذلك ديوان "سجناء الحرية" الذي كتبت قصائده الثمانية بعد نكسة 1967، وظلت ممنوعة، إلى أن نشرت بعد بضع سنوات من ذلك.

مرحلة السبعينيات:

وصف النقاد شعرها بـ "مرحلة التراث الشعبي" وكانت قصائد زياد قد وجدت تعبيراتها وصورها في التراث الأدبي الشعبي، وأغنيات شعبية تراثية، بالإضافة إلى الأمثال الشعبية.

وكان ديوان "أغنيات الثورة والغضب" مما اختلف النقاد في تقييمه، فمنهم من اعتبره أنضج أعماله الشعرية، ومنهم من قال إنه يكاد يكون صياغة جديدة لبعض مأثورات الشعر الشعبي الفلسطيني، محولا فيه القصيدة من لهجتها العامية إلى لغة فصحى.

هناك أيضا ديوان "تهليلة الموت والشهادة" وضم قصيدتين طويلتين الأولى "عمان في أيلول" والتي وصفها بأنها "قصيدة مقطوعة الرأس مع شعب بسبعة أرواح" والثانية "مئة سنة على كومونة باريس" التي روى فيها قصة العمال وبسطاء الناس الذين تصدوا لجنود الاحتلال الألماني.

مرحلة التسعينيات:

كتب فيها الكثير من القصائد المعروفة له في مجموعة "أنا من هذه المدينة" بعد توقفه عن كتابة الشعر لمدة 15 سنة "لانشغاله بالعمل السياسي والبلدي" كما قال، وقدمت زوجته هذه المجموعة.

زيّاد (الثاني من اليمين) في مؤتمر بأميركا حول القضية الفلسطينية (أرشيف المتحف الفلسطيني الرقمي)

وكان التزام هذا الشاعر الفلسطيني في عموم تجربته على 3 مستويات: البعد الوطني، القومي، الأممي العالمي.

When asked about his opinion and philosophy in poetry, he said, "I believe in what the poet Nazim Hekmet says, the poet is a political party, and he must decide based on his social circumstances where he stands, each poet represents a class, and the future is the representative of the class that will prevail, so literature, is part of the class battle, and the living writer whose literature will remain, is the writer who serves the law of evolution and fits with it."

Ziad's poems and angry poems remained present in the Palestinian and Arab scene, through the voice and music of the Egyptian artist Imam Issa, the Lebanese artist Marcel Khalifa, the Jerusalemite Mustafa al-Kurd, Hussein Nazik, and others.

His sung poems became part of the living heritage of Palestinian resistance songs, despite the shortcomings of prose and the lack of soundness of the weighted rhythm that continued to haunt most of the poetry he wrote.

Other creative fields

Ziad's interest was focused on collecting and reviving Palestinian folklore, and inspired it in contemporary literary works over a period of about 5 years, and critics considered this period one of the rich periods in his literary giving.

His book on Palestinian folk literature was the first of its kind to study this literature in the occupied territories, and he also paid attention to the study of poetic production and modern theater, and in the field of theorizing the tasks of revolutionary Arabic poetry in Palestine.

Ziad entered the world of stories to revive this heritage, and published them in Al-Jadeed magazine, then collected them in a book entitled "The State of the World" and also wrote "Pictures from Palestinian Literature" and memoirs in "Nasrawi Diary in Red Square".

He translated some works from Russian literature, and some works of the Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet, and issued a number of research, critical and heritage works, leaving other projects unfinished.

His activity was extensive for cultural seminars, most notably the Nazareth Literary Symposium, which he founded jointly with writers and poets of the occupied territories.

Poetic works

  • I tighten on your hands (Haifa 1966).
  • Bury your dead and rise up (Beirut, 1969).
  • Songs of Revolution and Anger (Beirut, 1969).
  • Omdurman: The Sickle, the Sword and the Melody (Beirut, 1970).
  • Communists (Beirut, 1970).
  • Fighter Words (Acre 1970).
  • Amman, September (Haifa, 1970).
  • Lullaby of death and martyrdom (Beirut, 1972).
  • Prisoners of Freedom and Other Forbidden Poems (Nazareth 1973).
  • Poetic works, full edition (Acre 1985).
  • I am from this homeland / poetry anthology (Palestinian Ministry of Culture – 2016).

Ziad with the late Palestinian President Arafat (Al Jazeera)

Prose works

  • On Palestinian Folk Literature / A Critical Study (Beirut, 1970).
  • Nasrawi in Red Square / Diary (Nazareth 1973).
  • Photos from Palestinian folk literature/articles previously published in Al-Fajr, Al-Jadeed newspaper (Beirut, 1994).
  • State of the World/Folklore Stories (Nazareth 1975-1980).


  • Jerusalem Medal for Culture, Arts and Letters, from the Palestine Liberation Organization, at the ceremony honoring Palestinian writers, intellectuals and poets, Cairo (1990).
  • The establishment of the "Tawfiq Ziad Foundation for National Culture and Creativity" in Nazareth in 1996, to collect his heritage and intellectual output.
  • Launch of the Tawfiq Ziad Literary Award, Ministry of Culture of the Palestinian National Authority (1995).
  • He published the booklet "The Knight" on the fortieth anniversary of his death (Municipality of Nazareth 1994).
  • Naming "Tawfiq Ziad" Street to Al-Karajat Street in Nazareth (1994).
  • Producing the first documentary work of art for his life, Al-Arz Company for Palestinian Art Production (2010).
  • His name was placed among 207 of the Encyclopedia of Creative Arabs in the twentieth century, by Khalil Ahmed Khalil.
  • Nizar Qabbani made his name on the Arab literary scene for the first time after the 1967 setback, through a poem he sang at a poetry festival in Cairo.
  • The production of the play "Hadi Al-Qavans" narrates chapters of his life of struggle, based on poems from his poetry, writings and attitudes.
  • A monument in the center of the town of Dura Hebron, decorated with his poem "Here on Your Chests We Remain", which is the work of the artist Youssef Katlo Amayreh.

They said about Tawfiq Ziad

Izz al-Din al-Manasra (in the introduction to the complete works of Ziad) "He began his political and poetic life together since the fifties, after the Nakba of 1948, and the supposed audience here, was nothing but "the rest of the land and the people" that Ziad seeks to mobilize with all his (few) forces in exchange for the slogans of the stage (Arabs, nationalists, revenge) from within the rest of occupied Palestine, Ziad raised his slogan "Communists", thinking that in the communist world there is something like a medicine for the disease endemic here.

The poet Radi Sadouk in his book Poets of Palestine in the Twentieth Century "Ziad was a poet in the fifties, and he portrayed with his poetry the suffering of this people, their struggle and their confrontation with arbitrariness and persecution under occupation."

The poet Samih al-Qasim "Ziad, our pioneer in this field (folk literature), works to revive this precious folklore, organized epics and stories from popular heroism, and worked to reformulate popular poems that almost disappeared, we are the extension of Tawfiq Ziad in this field."

Ziad in one of his popular speeches (Al Jazeera)

Musleh Kanaana in the introduction to an article (Journal of Heritage and Society, No. 47-2007) "Ziad spent his life moving between the cell, the demonstration, the march, the poem and the battle, rooted in the land of struggle and flying in the space of language on the wings of words and cries at the same time."

Writer Sorek in The Optimist: Biography of Tawfiq Ziad's Social Life "Ziad's identity as a poet, on the one hand, and the content of his poetry, on the other, are central to understanding his social and political status, and a true document of his biography."

Researcher Antoine Shalhat on the product of Ziad Shaari "I think it is necessary to recall that he was one of the generation of poets who embodied the beginnings of the Palestinian national culture movement in the 1948 territories after the Nakba, and they acted as a vessel for the preservation of national identity."

Abdul Qadir Al-Qat in his book Modern Arabic Literature "Ziad's poetry has some artistic flaws. He has a few poems in which the poet balances commitment with the exigencies of art, such as the poem "Here We Remain, On the Trunk of an Olive, The Fire of the Magi."


Ziad died on July 5, 1994, at the age of 65, in a traffic accident on his way back from a meeting in Jericho with the late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.

He was buried on July 6 in the Islamic cemetery in Nazareth, next to the tomb of poet Abd al-Rahim Mahmoud, who was martyred in 1948.