Israel’s genocidal assault on Gaza has devastated all aspects of life in the region.
The starving, traumatized survivors of relentless Israeli airstrikes spend their days digging through rubble with their bare hands. Health care workers and journalists are targeted by drone strikes and picked off by IDF snipers with chilling impunity. The region’s cultural sector, including its library infrastructure, has been decimated. Over 70% of Gaza’s 439,000 homes and over half of its buildings have been damaged or destroyed. Citrus trees, olive groves, and greenhouses have been obliterated. 30,000 people have been killed. 10,000 of the dead are children.
In this hellish climate—as the specter of famine looms and Israeli politicians continue to flaunt their macabre intentions without fear of repercussions, or even rebuke, from their US counterparts—it becomes almost impossible to imagine Gaza as a place where life, let alone culture, can once again flourish, but it’s important to remember that it can, and it will.
One of the people committed to that resurrection is Mosab Abu Toha, the Palestinian poet, New Yorker contributor, and founder of the first English language library in Gaza. (Abu Toha, as you may recall, was kidnapped by Israeli forces on November 19th while trying to enter Egypt at the Rafah checkpoint. After being beaten, interrogated, and stripped of his possessions, Abu Toha was released two days later, and he and his family eventually made it to Egypt on December 3rd.)
Tomorrow, January 6, in an event organized by Massachusetts indie bookstore Brookline Booksmith, Abu Toha and 24 other prominent writers (including Kaveh Akbar, Rabih Alameddine, Hala Alyan, Fatima Bhutto, Ilya Kaminsky, Eileen Myles, and Viet Thanh Nguyen) will stage a reading in support of the Edward Said Libraries in Gaza.
During this virtual event, which is free to attend and will be streaming on YouTube from 12PM EST, each writer will offer a short reading “in a show of solidarity with the literary and reading communities of Palestine, and a confirmation of the vital nature of literature and access to written culture.”
Brookline Booksmith will be running a book donation drive via the store’s website, and 100% of donated funds will be used to purchase and ship books to the Edward Said Libraries upon reconstruction.
If you can, please consider tuning in and donating to this very worthy cause.