By Palestine Chronicle Staff
Following Israel’s offensive on Gaza in 2008-9, Refaat Alareer, a lecturer at the Islamic University of Gaza started requesting that his students write short stories as a means of releasing their anger and frustration.
During the offensive, he would tell his children stories that his grandmother told him while growing up. He collected these stories and published them in a book entitled: Gaza Writes Back: Short Stories from Young Writers in Gaza, Palestine.
The following report directed and recently published by Ahmad Abdall of Al Jazeera’s “The Initiative” tells the story behind Gaza Writes Back.
“Gaza Writes Back was an attempt to provide a testimony for future generations. This testimony appears in the form of short stories because they outlive every other experience and transcend time, place and race,” Refaat Alareer told the Palestine Chronicle.
“But it’s also a book of literature, the kind that comes at times of desperation to try to make sense of life and existence, and to resist all attempts to bury Palestine and smother her voices,” he added.
Alareer stressed the role of storytelling in keeping the Palestinian memory fresh. During a TEDx event organized in Gaza in 2015, Alareer asked the audience to go home, approach their parents and talk to them.
He said, “Let us seek their stories, and when they tell us these stories, let us tell their stories to our little ones. Because if we don’t do that, and the story stops there, we are betraying ourselves; we are betraying the story; we are betraying our parents and grandparents; and we are betraying our homeland.”