This is Not a Border: Reportage & Reflection from the Palestine Festival of Literature

by Ahdaf Soueif (Editor), Omar Robert Hamilton (Editor)

Writers are in a unique position in society – their gift is to help us feel emotions. They weave stories for us that make us angry. That can make us feel joy. That tear ourselves up inside with sadness. We revere writers for bringing us these emotions. They help us understand the world around us, and even understand ourselves better. What better people in the world to help you get a bit of the feeling of what Palestine under Israeli military occupation is like.

The Palestine Festival of Literature, established in 2008, brings writers to Palestine to share the power of literature. Although it is difficult to organize such an event, as even moving from one city to another may entail hours and hours going through checkpoints, it sounds like an amazing experience for the writers, the organizers, and the participants. I think it's lovely they are fighting guns, with literature and fighting hate with hope.

I really can't explain it better than the authors in the book so I'll give you some passages that resonated with me:

The historical suffering of Jewish people is real, but it is no less real than, and does not in any way justify, the present oppression of Palestinians by Israeli Jews. – Teju Cole

It was Palestine's great misfortune that it fed so many fantasies and answered to do many emotional needs. For centuries people had pinned their dreams and delusions on its land, seen it as their salvation, and tried to make it exclusively their own. If only it had been an ordinary place, without special house or a sacred geography, without telling or scripture, then perhaps we, its people, might have been left in peace. – Ghada Karmi

It's not a wall. It's a security barrier, a separation fence, an immigration control, a complex collection of cement and barbed wire and ditches and patrol roads, it's an apartheid wall of racial segregation. – Omar Robert Hamilton

THIS POEM WILL NOT END APARTHEID by Remi Kanazi

this poem will not end apartheid

my words, no matter how beautiful clever or carefully strung together will not end the occupation allow the return of refugees or create equality within Israeli society

the status quo is a fantasy telling us it's ok to sit on our hands call political art propaganda rather than calling those who politicise our lives propagandists

every American should ask this question why are mortars and missiles devastating open-air prisons with money that should be paying for our medical expenses?

to the academics and pseudo leftists i appreciate your books on Israeli massacres but you refuse to take bullets out of Israeli guns with your stances

the problem is not just the occupation or putting a better face on Zionism because 750,000 Palestinians were displaced

before those settlements were constructed half of them before Israel was created

we don't need another book explaining the situation we need a lesson plan to stop the next bomb from dropping

silence is complicity over-intellectualisation tells us to theorise on the power of art while farmers are kicked off land children are stoned on the way to school people are caged in beaten and split from loved ones blasted and broken in blockaded dungeons bought and paid for with our tax dollars we are part of the problem that is not theoretical

it is time to boycott all Israeli products and go to the root of the conflict

every 729 cultural institution and dialogue farce from Sabra to Ahava

If you only read one book about Palestine, this is the book to read. I read other books and learned lots of things about the system, but if you want to 'feel' it, read this to start.

Rating: ★★★★★ Book #6 in my My 2020 Reading Challenge

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