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Gaza: something to read and lots of things to do

Sunday, February 1, 2009 by Marianne Elliott

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In response to my last book extract, which was about my time in Gaza, a few people have asked me for recommendations of good books that could help them learn more about the situation in Gaza or for ideas for what they could do to help.

The first book I always recommend is Drinking the Sea at Gaza, by Amira Hass. Amira is likely to appear in my book since she is one of the more extraordinary characters I met in my time in Gaza. A Jewish Israeli journalist, Amira chose to live and work in in the Gaza Strip in order to be able to report accurately about the Israeli occupation of Gaza in the Israeli press. She is one of the bravest women I've ever met and she was a good friend of Khalid, from my book extract last week. Please read her book, or at least do a Google search of the articles she has been writing for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz over recent months.

Another book worth readings is Sara Roy's 'Failing Peace: Gaza and the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict'. Sara Roy is a senior research scholar at Harvard's Center for Middle
Eastern Studies and has been writing about Gaza for more than 15 years. Like Amira, Sara is the daughter of Holocaust survivors and although I certainly don't think that is a necessary pre-qualification to be able to write about Gaza, it has given both these women a particular insight and perspective on the Israeli occupation that I think is worth seeking out.

In fact, since most people don't have time to read a whole book, please at least read this speech by Sara Roy. In my book she, like Amira, is a woman of enormous moral courage and I wish more people in the world had access to the writings of these two women.

The third "must-read" on my list is Edward Said. He has written so many books, essays and articles that I would find it hard to select just one. Instead I recommend that you explore his writing a little bit, he writes not only about Palestine but also more generally about the relationship between the West and the 'Orient'. His book 'Orientalism' had an enormous impact in academic circles but is also quite accessible and interesting to a lay reader.

I could go on all day with ideas about reading, the main point is to research your reading list. Find out who the author is, where does he/she come from? What kinds of institutions or publications does he/she write for? Who is the publisher? Who owns the publisher? Know as much as you can about the implicit biases of the text and then read with that in mind. As I see it, we are all learning to be intelligent, critical readers anyway as the internet opens up more and more avenues through which to access information, the provenance of which may not always be clear. Good luck!

Actually – reading about Gaza in order to better informed about the situation is the first of the actions that Laila, over at Raising Yousef and Noor, has proposed in her fantastic list of ten things you can do to help people in Gaza. So I recommend strongly that you check that out and see if there is anything that sounds right for you.

Plus: Come back tomorrow for a new book extract!


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2 Responses to "Gaza: something to read and lots of things to do"

  1. a says:

    There’s so much controversy surrounding the subject, and I’ve come across some biased articles that turn a blind eye to the Palestinian side…it really put me off searching for more stuff.
    I’ve read The Question of Palestine by Edward Said, and that’s it. So thanks for the reading suggestions!

  2. Swirly says:

    Great information!! I’m going to put it on my Five Things list next week. xoxo

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