Featuring Palestinian Voices, Part 2

In this second installment of Palestinian voices to heed, we’re reflecting on the rich tradition of literature in laying the facts bare and speaking truth to power — especially feminist literature. Notably, core feminist writers Angela Davis and bell hooks signed the Statement in Solidarity with the Palestinian People of Gaza in 2014, “call[ing] upon all people of conscience to stand with Palestine.”

Today also marks the beginning of #ReadPalestine Week, with Publishers for Palestine offering e-book titles on Palestine for free download from November 29 – December 5, 2023. Please do check out their work after reading our compilation!

As we continue to read these writings by Palestinian journalists, writers, academics, and thinkers, we urge you to demand a ceasefire and end to the occupation of Palestine, and learn more about actions to take in solidarity with Palestine

 


 

A litany of refusals to become ghostly” by Rasha Abdulhadi in The Offing

“all the children are dying or they are in protest
all the children are dead or they are reading poems at the border
all the children are dead or they are taking pieces of the wall home in their pockets
all the children are dead or they are flying kites against fighter jets
all the children are dying or they are becoming the adults who are dead”

 

“A Wall of Fire Smashed Into Me”: Dispatches From a Month in Gaza” by Atef Abu Saif, via The Nation

“During the first Intifada, I was shot by the Israeli soldiers. Bullet fragments were lodged in my liver. I was 15 years old at the time. . . . The British surgeon calmed my mother down and told her her boy would survive. Every time I find death standing in front of me, in the middle of the road, like I did at this moment, I try to gather my courage and convince myself I’m going to survive, just the way the British surgeon told my mum I would. This time is different. This time I can’t convince myself.”

 

‘They Don’t Want People to Know We Exist’” by Issa, as told to Alex Shams, via New York Magazine

“On October 7, Israeli soldiers arrested me and held me for ten hours. They tied me up so hard I lost feeling in my arms and fainted twice. I was dragged by the neck, and they shut my mouth while threatening to shoot and rape me. They put me in a room with air conditioning blasting so high I thought I would die from the cold.”

 

Phobia” by Najwan Darwish, translated by Ahmad Diab, via Wasafiri Magazine

“They will evict me from the city before the dark

They say I did not pay my air bills,

I did not pay the price of light”

 

No Pride with Genocide!” by Queers in Palestine 

“The images of the Israel Pride Flag and the other with the text, “In the name of love” send a clear message: Israel will not allow queer liberation unless it’s through its settler-colonial genocidal project. To that, we say No! We queer Palestinians have a vibrant, diverse liberation movement that is part of the Palestinian anti-colonial movement. For decades, we have been tirelessly working on carving up and maintaining a space for Palestinian queer life amongst our communities and not despite them.”

 

Can You Tell Us Why This Is Happening?by Sara Besaiso, via N+1 Magazine

“The neighborhood where I live was bombed with white phosphorus, which violates international humanitarian law. But nothing is too illegal to be used on us Gazans. We are not Europeans after all. . . . I am 16 years old and I have lived through seven wars.”

 

Only an American” by Mandy Shunnarah, via Protean Magazine

Just like the Brits to rename our country

with a P: a letter we don’t have, a sound

our tongues wrestle to say. It’s not Palestine

like old buddy, old pal, old friend, but Falastin.

They’d know Arabic is phonetic if they could

read, but that’s an occupier for you—unwelcome

guest. We have names impossible to mispronounce

& yet they expect the world to say it their way.”

 

Dispatch from Feda Ziad, in Protean Mag’s “Letters From Gaza, Part 5,” in partnership with the Institute for Palestine Studies

“Don’t take photos of the moon with your phone as was your habit, because a plane might think you are documenting its crimes and bomb you and whoever you are with. Then it is you who becomes its next war crime.”

[Translated by Rasha Moumneh. This testimony first appeared on the Institute for Palestine Studies’s Arabic language blog on November 2nd, 2023.]

 

[The settler] took a step back and fired one bullet into [my husband’s] stomach” by Mariam (pseudonym), as told to Shira Wolkenfeld as part of Dispatches from the West Bank, via Jewish Currents

“Only later did I learn that one of my husband’s cousins had taken a video of the shooting. I’ll never be able to wipe the image from my mind. As my husband was leaving the mosque after Friday prayers, an armed settler approached him on the main street of Tuwani. He pushed his rifle into Zakariyah’s chest. Then he took a step back and fired one bullet into his stomach.”

 

Birth Rightby Zaina Alsous, via the Asian American Writers’ Workshop’s The Margins

To be read from right to left, after Marwa Helal

“?memory of figment a merely not are you know you do How

monthly escape linings my
paradise of ink the is blood this
penumbra of cadence the
residue a leave unbloomed the even
inheritance of figment a is violence
refused the and refusal of inheritance
screaming alive out came I
pleases he as leaves and enters God”

 

Why do we have to live this” by Abdallah Hasaneen, via Mondoweiss

“What is better? If I sleep on the ground floor, the three-story building will fall over me, but if I sleep on the third floor, only the roof will fall over me. It’s easier for the firefighters and civil rescue team to get to me, right?” 

“Are we going to die starving?” 

“If they want all of us dead, why don’t they throw a nuclear bomb and kill us all at once so it ends with less pain, so we don’t have to say goodbye to anyone, or mourn anyone?”

 

New and Gently Used Hijab” by Sahar Mustafah, via Room Magazine

“She’d sat with her husband, evening after evening, watching Al Jazeera satellite news, making sure the twins were asleep before inviting the images of dead children into her living room. War had still been distant to her, despite the uncensored carnage she could easily access with a click of a remote control. But now, death and destruction became as palpable as the cardboard boxes, the tape dispensers, the hundreds of scarves splayed across the donation tables.”

 

The Agony of Waiting for a Ceasefire That Never Comes,” by Mosab Abu Toha, via The New Yorker

“If not for the war, I would be playing soccer with my friends twice a week. I would be watching movies with my wife. I would be reading the books on my shelves. I would be taking my kids to the playground, and to the beach. I would be riding my bike with my son, Yazzan, on the beach road. But now there are no books and no shelves and no beach road.”

[Note: Mosab Abu Toha was kidnapped by the Israel Occupying Forces, then released after being beaten.] 

 

Naturalized” by Hala Alyan, via Jewish Currents

“That number isn’t a number.

That number is a first word, a nickname, a birthday song in June.

I shouldn’t have to tell you that. Here’s your testimony,

here’s your beach vacation. Imagine:

I stop running when I’m tired. Imagine:

There’s still the month of June. Tell me,

what op-ed will grant the dead their dying?

What editor? What red-line? What pocket?

What earth. What shake. What silence.”

 


 

For further reading, we recommend:

Let us be steadfast in demanding a ceasefire and end to the occupation, and learning about actions to take in solidarity with Palestine

 

Header image: “From the Revolution to the Intifada, a Long Way of Innovation“, a Poster by the Roots Foundation, 1988. Via the Ali Kazak Collection in the Palestinian Museum Digital Archive.

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