An Open Letter from Participants in the Palestine Festival of Literature

Molly Crabapple

Illustration by Molly Crabapple

We are writers and artists who have been to Palestine to participate in the Palestine Festival of Literature. We now call for the international community to commit to ending the catastrophe unfolding in Gaza and to finally pursuing a comprehensive and just political solution in Palestine. We have exercised our privilege as international visitors to move around historic Palestine in ways that most Palestinians are unable to. We have met and been hosted by Palestinian artists, human rights workers, writers, historians, and activists. We have stood on stage with them. Many of these people, including the festival organizers based in Palestine, are in fear for their lives right now. One festival organizer is locked down with their child in Ramallah, sharing updates about the people killed by armed settlers last night. One partner in Gaza, a magazine editor, is no longer answering messages.

Israel has imposed what it calls a “complete siege” and told 1.1 million people in Gaza to evacuate within twenty-four hours. To where? After six days of bombing that have already killed 2,215 people, 724 of them children, in the fourth major aerial bombardment in the sixteenth year of closure the question—to where?—rings unanswerable around the world. When Israel’s top general refers to Palestinians as “human animals” and the US State Department deletes a statement calling for “a ceasefire,” then we fear we are watching an ethnic cleansing on a scale unseen in decades.

The governments of the USA, UK, France and others are participating in this crime by ramping up military support for Israel as it wages a war that its officials have plainly stated aims to turn Gaza into a city of tents, or even worse, empty of its people. A population of over two million people, mostly from families that were made refugees in 1948, half of whom are children, have been living under an Israeli and Egyptian blockade since 2007, and to many of them, being told to leave again is not an option. On Saturday, after sixteen years of siege, Hamas militants broke out of Gaza. More than 1,300 Israelis were subsequently killed with over one hundred more taken hostage—some of them friends and family of signatories to this letter. We deplore the loss of all innocent life and now, as we write this letter, Israel is executing the largest expulsion of Palestinians since 1948 as it bombs Gazans without discrimination.

Our words feel small in this terrifying escalation. After so many years and so many deaths we must all, together, say this has to end, and that it can only end with a free Palestine.

Ta-Nehisi Coates
Molly Crabapple
Natalie Diaz
Maaza Mengiste
Anjali Kamat
Solmaz Sharif
Leanne Betasamosake Simpson
Preti Taneja
Mirza Waheed
Zukiswa Wanner
Eve L. Ewing
Benjamin Moser
Jehan Bseiso
Annie Baker
Ashish George
Jacques Testard
Rickey Laurentiis
Subhi Hadidi
Mahdi Sabbagh
Omar Robert Hamilton
Yasmin El-Rifae
Beesan Ramadan
Sabrina Mahfouz
China Miéville
Kamila Shamsie
Madiha Tahir
Remi Kanazi
Nancy Kricorian
Selma Dabbagh
Richard Ford
Kristina Ford
Eileen Myles
Dirk Wanrooij
Marcia Lynx Qualey
Leopold Lambert
Ritu Menon
Tania Nasr
Omar El Khairy
Mabel O. Wilson
Ismail Khalidi
Rachel Holmes
Kamila Shamsie
Remi Kanazi
Madiha Tahir
Josh Begley
Christina B. Handhart
Susan Abulhawa
Ru Freeman
Nick Estes
Samia Henni
Jillian Eddelstein
Mohamed Hanif
Suad Amiry
Youssef Rakha
Robin Yassin-Kassab
Felicity Scott
Adam Foulds
Sarah Carr
Ed Pavlić
Bhakti Shringarpure
Jay Gao
Victoria Brittain
Tania Nasir
Esther Freud
Ghada Karmi
Brigid Keenan
Ben Ehrenreich
Victoria Adukwei Bulley
Isabella Hammad
Ahdaf Soueif
John McCarthy
Nathan Hamilton
Gillian Slovo
Jack Shenker
Alexandra Pringle 
Mohammed El-Kurd
Sharif Abdel Kouddous
Khalid Abdalla
Natasha Soobramanien 
Luke Williams
Bibi Bakare-Yusuf
Maan Abu Taleb
Suheir Hammad
Malika Booker
William Dalrymple
Susannah Clapp
Ibtisam Azem
Suzanne Joinson

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