The situation in Gaza continues to deteriorate. At the time of this writing, some 4,200 people have been killed in Gaza in the last ten days—including over 1,000 children—hundreds of them in a horrifying explosion at the Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City on Tuesday. According to Israeli authorities, there are also at least 199 people, captured by Hamas during the brutal October 7 attacks, who are currently being held hostage in Gaza, including children and the elderly.
Today, President Biden is in Israel; in a speech, he “announced $100 million in aid to help civilians in Gaza and the West Bank and said he had secured a commitment from Israel’s government to allow food, water and medicine to be delivered to Palestinians in Gaza from Egypt in a humanitarian effort overseen by the United Nations and others.”
However, despite the U.N. Secretary-General’s calls for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” as well as global protests and outcry—including a large group of Jewish demonstrators outside the White House—the United States has refused to call for a ceasefire; in fact, today, the U.S. vetoed a U.N. resolution “that would have condemned violence against all civilians in the Israel-Hamas war including ‘the heinous terrorists attacks by Hamas’ against Israel, and would have urged humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza.”
Here are a few recent pieces from around the internet that the Literary Hub staff has been reading about the worsening crisis and its many reverberations:
“Explanations Are Not Excuses,” Sarah Schulman, New York Magazine
Selective recognition is the way we maintain our own sense of goodness. Today, we see this process of denial in every aspect of our lives. In this moment, it has become a tool to justify the sustained murder of thousands in Gaza, where the current death toll sits at over 2,600 people. As Israel began its relentless retaliation last week, an accompanying image of Israeli and American moral cleanliness was put swiftly into action. This is called “manufactured consent” — Noam Chomsky’s term for a system-supported propaganda by which authorities and media agree on a simplified reality, and it becomes the assumptive truth. We’ve seen this erasure of history in the uniform responses by western world leaders, university administrations, heads of foundations, and even book fairs over the past week.
“Letter From the Editor: ‘We Cannot Cross Until We Carry Each Other’,” Arielle Angel, Jewish Currents
Already complex and fragile relationships between Palestinian and left-wing Jewish activists—as well as factions within both of these groups—are being challenged as we struggle to derive the same meaning from the images coming across our screens. Friends and colleagues on all sides find themselves hurt by one another’s public reactions, or by their silence. . . . It is a situation none of us have ever before confronted in earnest, amid a long history of vastly disproportionate death tolls. And now, when we need it most, we find ourselves struggling with a lack of emotional and political vocabulary.
“Against the Imposters,” M. Muhannad Ayyash, The Baffler
The story of the Palestinian struggle is of course a complex one; the rise of Hamas within Palestinian political life alone has been the subject of many books and articles. And many Palestinians are opposed to Hamas on a number of issues and from a variety of perspectives, myself included. But what all these Western imposters have never understood is that we understand our struggle as a people’s struggle, not the struggle of this or that political faction. Across all our big and sharp differences, we know that we are all together in the end because it is all of the Palestinian people who are under brutal occupation and assault, aspiring for the same freedom and liberation. Palestinians, of course, share their experience of colonial violence with many communities and peoples from across the world, both historically and into the present. But we also understand that we are indeed alone in experiencing the specific structures of Israeli settler-colonial violence, and that we therefore must always stand together and help each other as people. Our collectivity as a people is our support and our guide.
“These New Ghosts,” Rob Delaney, Tribune
Can you kill anyone to fix this? Who? Where are they? Do you bring your other children with you to do it? Or do you get a babysitter for your other kids so you can go try and kill them? Is your babysitter alive? If you can’t kill your child’s murderer specifically, is there someone else you could kill? Would it feel good then and there, like working out or taking a shit? If so, how long would it take the feeling to dissipate?
The shocking and tragic events that began on October 7th and are ongoing today have had repercussions all over the globe, including within the publishing world. Award-winning Palestinian author Adania Shibli, who was a finalist for the 2020 National Book Award for her book Minor Detail (New Directions/Fitzcarraldo, translated by Elisabeth Jaquette), was to receive Germany’s 2023 LiBeraturpreis for the same book, published in German as Eine Nebensache (Berenberg Verlag, translated by Günther Orth) at the 2023 Frankfurt Book Fair, which begins this week.
On October 13, the organizers of the prize, Litprom, which is funded in part by the German government and the Frankfurt Book Fair, released a statement saying that the prize-giving ceremony would no longer take place at the book fair.
“Doomsday Diaries,” Sarah Aziza, The Baffler
I wake strangely early on October 7, groggy from a late night out. In my kitchen, I set my teapot to boil and the radio to BBC. A moment later I hear a news bulletin beginning with “Palestinian fighters from Gaza have crossed into Israel . . .” I turn in the direction of the disembodied sound. I am used to waking to news of violence in the West Bank—at least one morning each week seems to begin this way, with a story of settler attacks or another Israel Defense Force raid. In fact, Labib Dumaidi, a nineteen-year-old Palestinian university student, was shot yesterday during another pogrom in Huwara in the West Bank. But this report is something different, and my mind struggles to grasp the words. Gaza? How?
“Gaza: The Cost of Escalation,” Ben Rhodes, New York Review of Books
We don’t yet know how events will unfold. But the history of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, the Middle East, and the US’s own recent experience suggests that violence is likely to beget more violence, that trauma will beget more trauma. It is easier to start or escalate wars than to end them, and the consequences of war are always unpredictable. Short-term victories can engender longer-term challenges. Victors on the battlefield can lose something of themselves at home.
“A letter to the friendships I have lost and will lose,” Ijeoma Oluo, Behind the Book
This letter is to my friends. To the people in my social circles. The people in my writing and activism communities. The people I know or have felt kinship with online or in person. This is to the people who have sent me messages voicing their disappointment and dismay at what I have been saying. And to those who have said nothing, and are instead deciding right now to fade away from my life for good.
I know that my immediate focus on the safety of people in Gaza in the aftermath of the Hamas attacks seems to be in poor taste to many.
I know that my refusal to include denouncements of Hamas in my posts and videos talking about what is happening in Gaza seems cold and uncaring at best, antisemitic at worst.
I know that the passion I have towards freeing the Palestinian people seems grotesque in response to your pain.
I know this because you have told me, because many of you are sharing such sentiments in your messages and your status updates.
But this is what I must do.
“An Open Letter on the Situation in Palestine,” The London Review of Books
The deliberate killing of civilians is always an atrocity. It is a violation of international law and an outrage against the sanctity of human life. In Gaza, neither the occupying power, Israel, nor the armed groups of the people under occupation, the Palestinians, can ever be justified in targeting defenceless people. We can only express our grief and heartbreak for the victims of these most recent tragedies, and for their families, both Palestinians and Israelis. . . .
We call on our governments to demand an immediate ceasefire and the unimpeded admission of humanitarian aid into Gaza. We also demand an end to all arms shipments and military funding, supplies that can only exacerbate the humanitarian catastrophe at hand. Although these measures will not be enough to secure true justice, liberation and equality for all in the region, they represent an urgent and indispensable first step. We plead for an end to all violence, an end to all oppression and denial of human rights, and a path towards a just and sustainable peace for all.
Think of all the calla lilies.
Think of all the words that rhyme with calla.
Isn’t it a miracle that they come back?
The flowers. The dead. I watch a woman
bury her child. How? I lost a fetus
and couldn’t eat breakfast for a week.
I watch a woman and the watching is a crime,
so I return my eyes. The sea foams like a dog.
What’s five thousand miles between friends?
“How Social Media Abdicated Responsibility for the News,” Kyle Chayka, The New Yorker
An “algorithmically driven fog of war” is how one journalist described the deluge of disinformation and mislabelled footage on X. Videos from a paragliding accident in South Korea in June of this year, the Syrian civil war in 2014, and a combat video game called Arma 3 have all been falsely labelled as scenes from Israel or Gaza. (Inquiries I sent to X were met with an e-mail reading, “Busy now, please check back later.”) On October 8th, Musk posted a tweet recommending two accounts to follow for information on the conflict, @WarMonitors and @sentdefender, neither of which is a formal media company, but both are paid X subscribers. Later that day, after users pointed out that both accounts regularly post falsities, Musk deleted the recommendation. Where Twitter was once one of the better-moderated digital platforms, X is most trustworthy as a source for finding out what its owner wants you to see.
“Here’s how you can help people in Gaza right now,” Dan Sheehan, Literary Hub
The devastating humanitarian crisis in Gaza is deepening, with Israel cutting off access to food, water, fuel and electricity for the besieged enclave’s 2.3 million residents and unleashing wave after wave of air strikes that Palestinian authorities say have killed more than 2,800 people (including at least 724 children) and injured more than 10,000.
The situation is dire, but here’s what you can do right now to support the people of Gaza.