Novelists shed light on decades of ‘devastation’ in Palestine

A Palestinian schoolgirl walks carefully next to an Israeli tank during clashes near her school in the northern West Bank town of Nablus, in this April 19, 2003 photo. (AP)

Close to two dozen novelists from around the world are travelling to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza this year to gather information for a book set to be published in 2017, that will mark the 50th anniversary of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.

The book will contain a series of essays the writers hope will create a political splash, after five decades of violence that has kept the peace process on ice.

Israeli American project leader and novelist, Ayelet Waldman, told Al Arabiya English that as a writer she strongly believes the power of narrative can shed light on the wider aspect of the issues caused by the occupation and reach out to the wider masses.

“We hope that by telling stories we can show people what it's like to live under occupation. We don't imagine this book will change the world. Only that it will be one more crack in a wall that must come down,” Waldman said.

The book will mark five decades since the occupation of the Palestinian territories by Israeli after the 1967 six-day war, also known as the Arab-Israeli war.

The writers will be working with “Breaking the Silence”, a group of current and former Israeli soldiers who oppose the occupation and have organized the tours. Waldman explained that occupation is devastating and has destructive affects both for the oppressed and the oppressors.

“It destroys not merely the people under its boot, but those who do the oppressing, that so long as it continues there is no hope for a long-term solution to the crisis,” she said.

Human Rights Watch describes the occupation as having “severe discriminatory restrictions on Palestinians’ human rights”, which supports unlawful settlements in the occupied West Bank, in which security forces use “excessive force” against them.

During Waldman’s recent visit to Israel, she said people opened their homes to her and her husband - who co-leads the project - and told them their stories with “incredible generosity.”

With the ongoing hostilities between the Israelis and Palestinians, Waldman and her husband witness examples of the aggression faced by the Palestinians. Waldman explained one of her interviews was disrupted by a group of soldiers, whose goal - according to her - was to harass the nonviolent protester he was interviewing.

“I've met such remarkable peace activists. People from Hebron, Silwan and other places who struggle daily and maintain their dignity and their commitment to nonviolence and peace,” she said.

According to Waldman it’s not just Israeli NGO’s or the Palestinians who want to end the occupation. She says a number of people in the Jewish community disagree with the injustice carried out under the occupation.

“I've met elderly Jewish women devoted to ending the occupation who wake up in the middle of the night to go to the checkpoints and bear witness to the misery and try to intervene, no matter that they know their efforts will by and large be pointless.” She said.

The inspiration behind the idea for the book Waldman explained are the courage of the people that she and her husband have already met. She says that these people do not only believe that “coexistence isn't merely possible, but necessary.”

“They really are a light in the darkness” She added.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 12:05 - GMT 09:05
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