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Asian Publishers have Joined a push to Contradict the Western Narrative on Palestine

Explore Palestinian literature with the #ReadPalestine initiative, offering free downloads and challenging narratives through global solidarity in the literary community.
on Dec 01, 2023
Asian Publishers have Joined a push to Contradict the Western Narrative on Palestine | Frontlist

As part of a global push launched this week to encourage people to read Palestinian literature and history, Asian publishers seek to contradict the Western media narrative.

It was created by Publishers for Palestine, a global solidarity collective of over 350 publishers who have called for an end to all violence against Palestinians and for Tel Aviv and its allies to be held accountable for war crimes in the aftermath of last month's deadly Israeli assault on Gaza.

More than 30 works of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have been made accessible for free download by the collective, which includes more than 70 Asian publishers.

"The initiative aims to be an amplifier for the Palestinian cause within the literary community, particularly in the West," Kawah Buku's Iskandar Kamel told Arab News.

"It is entirely unacceptable that they have muted themselves and chosen to align with genocidaires, adopting an apolitical stance and neutrality in the face of atrocities." This is especially significant given that they have been preaching to the Global South about human rights and liberal principles the entire time."

Kamel used the largest annual book show in Frankfurt as an example, citing the cancellation last month of an awards ceremony honouring Palestinian writer Adania Shibli.

"Publishers, bookstores, authors, and the entire literary community cannot remain apolitical; it is not an option." "It is our responsibility to contribute," he remarked.

Ronny Agustinus, head editor of the Indonesian publishing house Marjin Kiri, is a member of the International Alliance of Independent Publishers, which wrote a statement criticising the Frankfurt event's cancellation.

"Because there are so many misunderstandings about Palestine from various parties, it becomes important to share studies and reading materials as thoroughly and as much as possible about Palestine so that we can get the whole picture," he went on to say.

"Literature can paint the reality of Palestinian lives poignantly and evocatively."

The free ebook list for #ReadPalestine includes "Wild Thorns," a novel by Sahar Khalifeh about life in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and "Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear," a poem by Mosab Abu Toha, whose kidnapping by Israeli troops made international headlines earlier this month. Following an international outcry, he was later released.  

"Writers and publishers carry histories and narratives, as well as truth." Western media is extremely powerful, and it has influenced many people, including writers. We can combat this with our books and writings," said Faye Cura of the Philippines-based Gantala Press.

Cura's favourite Palestinian writers are female writers.

"Many people have preconceived notions about Muslim women, believing they are 'conservative,' 'passive,''silent,' and so on." "Women writers definitely resist all of that, painting a stronger, more powerful image of the Palestinian woman," she said. 
She hopes that #ReadPalestine will foster strong relationships between writers, translators, artists, and publishers all around the world, allowing the "conversation and resistance to continue until liberation."

According to Malaysian publisher The Patriots, discussing the Palestinian struggle is also the literary community's responsibility.

"We are all disappointed by the ongoing cancel culture against Palestinian literature." It is a violation of free speech," The Patriots declared in a statement to Arab News.

"We hope that this initiative, at the very least, will derail this hostile attempt." Palestinians cannot, should not, and must not be silenced."  

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