Search form

Last updated: 1 sec ago

You are here

Offbeat

Award-winning authors take on Israeli occupation in Palestine

Israeli-American novelist Ayelet Waldman, right, and her spouse American novelist Michael Chabon. (AFP)
JERUSALEM: A group of award-winning authors on Sunday launched a book highlighting Israel’s 50-year occupation of the Palestinian territories, raising money for an NGO hated by the Israeli government.
Featuring chapters penned by more than two dozen writers including Dave Eggers, Colm Toibin and Geraldine Brooks, “Kingdom of Olives and Ash” was edited by American Jewish husband and wife duo Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman.
Chabon, winner of the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for his novel “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay,” said the aim was to start a conversation about the impact of the occupation on both Israelis and Palestinians.
“We felt like we had to find some way of drawing people’s attention, at least some people’s attention, to this,” he told AFP ahead of the launch in Jerusalem Sunday evening.
By using famous authors, including the winners of three Pulitzers and a Nobel, they were aiming to “sort of trick” people “into paying attention to the occupation by baiting the trap, in a way, with the work of a really amazing writer.”
Proceeds from the book will go to Breaking the Silence, an NGO that documents alleged abuses by Israeli forces in the occupied Palestinian territories and publishes testimonies of soldiers, much to the chagrin of Israeli officials.
The book, which is published in English, French, Arabic, Hebrew, Spanish and Italian, takes the form of individual chapters by the authors, most of which center around their trips to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories in the past two years.
Chabon’s chapter touches heavily on the “arbitrary” nature of the occupation in the West Bank, with Palestinians often caught up in bureaucracy and subject to the whims of individual soldiers and commanders. The purpose, he said, was “proving to the people you are conquering that they have absolutely no control over their fate or their destiny.”
Author Dave Eggers, who visited Gaza in his chapter, details life in the Palestinian enclave and how residents try to survive in the territory often labelled the world’s largest prison.
Two million Palestinians live in the Gaza Strip, coralled by a decade-long Israeli blockade, with Egypt also sealing its border.

MORE FROM Offbeat