Laor’s version of history is to be incensed that history should even have versions. His disdain for the very concept of myriad concepts is informed by a vicious integrity—by his credentials not only as a conscientious objector but also as the son of refugees from the Shoah—and reinforced by his poetic practice. For him, the essential truth underlying historical ambiguity can be found only in and through common language, and one wonders, reading him, whether the ultimate synoptic history of Israel and Palestine would not be a poet’s history, a linguistic history—a version that can be all versions, once the vocabulary has been agreed upon: vocabulary having to do with, for example, the sanctity of “life,” or chayyim, a word that in Hebrew is uniquely plural, and so, as Laor reminds us, cannot be lived by one person, or one nation, alone.

Joshua Cohen, “Lines of Occupation”