Light in Gaza: Writings Born of Fire brings together sixteen essays and poems by twelve Palestinian writers. The book includes political essays, personal narratives, economic analysis, and poetry. The book is edited by American Friends Service Committee staff Jehad Abusalim, Jennifer Bing, and Mike Merryman-Lotze and published by Haymarket Books.
Gaza is home to two million people, and it continues to face suffocating conditions imposed by Israel. For sixteen years, Palestinians in Gaza have lived under a brutal blockade, isolated from the rest of Palestine and the world. This distinctive anthology imagines what the future of Gaza could be, while reaffirming the critical role of Gaza in Palestinian identity, history, and struggle for liberation. The New York Times describes it as a “searing collection anthologizes works by Palestinians from Gaza — some residents, some refugees — describing their lives under occupation and amid the ongoing struggle for freedom.”
The book is an urgent and powerful intervention into an important political moment and movement. In her review of Light in Gaza, historian, author, and activist Barbara Ransby writes, "Gaza is often referred to as an 'open-air prison,' because it is so hard for messages, images or bodies to get out, or for resources to get in. Light in Gaza breaks through the prison walls and gives us a unique opportunity to hear and learn from those living under Israeli occupation in Gaza. Their voices are filled with pain, loss, frustration, anger, but most of all, hope. This powerful and beautifully crafted collection is one that readers must engage with heads and hearts wide open."
AFSC is excited to host a speaking tour featuring Asmaa Abu Mezied and Yousef Aljamal, contributors to the Light in Gaza anthology in the following U.S. cities in October.
Monday, October 17: Chicago
Grace Place Sanctuary: 637 S. Dearborn, Chicago, IL 60605
6:30 p.m. CT
Program moderated by Leena Odeh, community weaver and founding member of the Palestinian Feminist Collective.
Featured guests: Asmaa Abu Mezied and Yousef Aljamal
Co-sponsoring groups: Haymarket Books, American Muslims for Palestine, Chicago Area Peace Action, Committee for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace-Chicago, US Palestinian Community Network
Wednesday, October 19: Washington, D.C.
Palestine Center: 2425 Virginia Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20037
1 p.m. ET
Featuring guest speakers: Jehad Abusalim, Asmaa Abu Mezied, and Yousef Aljamal
This event will be livestreamed on YouTube and Facebook via Palestine Center.
Busboys and Poets: 450 K St NW, Washington, DC 20001
5:30 p.m. — 7:30 p.m. ET
Featuring guest speakers: Dorgham Abusalim, Jehad Abusalim, Asmaa Abu Mezied, Yousef Aljamal
Moderated by Andrew Kadi, an organizer in support of Palestinian rights and working on civil society initiatives among Palestinians.
Friday, October 21: Philadephia, PA
Germantown Mennonite Church: 21 West Washington Lane, Philadelphia, PA 19144
7 p.m. — 9 p.m. ET (Doors open at 6:30)
Featuring guest speakers: Asmaa Abu Mezied and Yousef Aljamal
Co-sponsors: Haymarket Books, Harriett's Books, Al-Bustan - Seeds of Culture, Jewish Voice for Peace - Philadelphia, Christian Jewish Allies for a Just Peace in Israel-Palestine
Sunday, October 23: Brooklyn, NY
Brooklyn Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, 110 Schermerhorn Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201
12:45 p.m. — 2:30 p.m. ET
Featuring guest speakers: Asmaa Abu Mezied, Yousef Aljamal, Shireen Akram-Boshar and Serena Awad
Guests are welcome to join Quaker worship at 11am, followed by a social hour prior to the program.
Monday, October 24: New York, NY
NYU Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near East Studies, Richard Ettinghausen Library - 225 Sullivan St. or online.
5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.ET
To register online: register here
The book panel will be followed by a light reception
Co-sponsors in development
Wednesday, October 26: Boston, MA
The Community Church of Boston: 565 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02116
7 p.m. — 8:30 p.m. ET
Featuring speakers: Jehad Abusalim, Asmaa Abu Mezied, Yousef Aljamal
Co-sponsors: American Friends Service Committee, Alliance for Water Justice in Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace - Boston, Massachusetts Peace Action, the Transnational Literature Series at Brookline Booksmith (books sold by Brookline Booksmith)
Thursday, October 27: Boston, MA
The Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University: Room 102, 38 Kirkland St, Cambridge, MA 02138
12:30 p.m. — 2:30 p.m. ET
Co-sponsors: Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Middle East Forum and the Religion, Conflict, and Peace Initiative, Religion and Public Life, Harvard Divinity School
Tuesday, November 1: Decatur, GA
Charis Books & More and Claris Circle: 184 S. Candler St. Decatur, GA 30030
In-person and virtual event
7:30 p.m. — 8:30 p.m. ET
Light in Gaza: Writings Born of Fire – Yousef M. Aljamal in conversation with Dr. Ilise Benshushan Cohen
See bookstore website for covid protocols.
All attendees and employees will be masked.
ABOUT THE SPEAKERS:
Asmaa AbuMezied is economic development and gender expert working to address issues of gender, development, and climate change. Her main area of focus is women's economic justice through gendered economic policies, women's rights in economic sectors, unpaid care and domestic work campaigning, inclusive markets, and feminist economics in fragile and conflict areas. Asmaa is a beginner gardener in the Gaza Strip and is interested in the intersection of Palestinian political, agricultural, and environmental identities. Asmaa is a policy member and a current fellow at Al Shabaka, a Palestinian Think Tank. She was an Atlas Corps Fellow with U.S. President Obama’s Emerging Global Leaders, a Gaza Hub-Global Shaper Alumna in the initiative of the World Economic Forum, and a 2021 Mozilla Foundation Wrangler at "Tech for Social Activism" space.
Yousef M. Aljamal is a Palestinian refugee from Al-Nusierat refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. He has obtained an MA degree from the Department of International and Strategic Studies Department at the University of Malaya. He is now a PhD Candidate at the Middle East Institute at Sakarya University in Turkey. Aljamal, besides his research interests in diaspora, security, and indigenous studies, has contributed to a number of books which highlight the Palestinian narrative. He translated two books on Palestinian prisoners entitled The Prisoners' Diaries: Palestinian Voices from the Israeli Gulag (2013), and Dreaming of Freedom: Palestinian Child Prisoners Speak (2016). He also co-edited the book A Shared Struggle Stories of Palestinian and Irish Hunger Strikers (2021). Aljamal has published a number of journal articles on topics that include Palestinians in the diaspora, travel restrictions imposed on Palestinians, and struggles for liberation. Over the years, he has spoken at various forums and platforms to highlight the plight of Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation.