Palestine: Is literature in Gaza dead?

With the death of Mahmoud Darwish, the Arab world has mourned the loss of one of its greatest poets. However some Palestinians have been critical of Darwish. One Gazan blogger can't understand this, and he asks what has happened to literature and creativity in Gaza today.

In a post entitled ‘Is literature and poetry and art “haram” in Gaza?’, A Seagull from the Shore of Gaza says:

لاحظت في الاونه الاخيرة هجوم بشع علي شاعر فلسطين محمود درويش في العديد من المواقع علي شبكة الانترنت وخاصة في المواقع التي تنطلق من غزه , دون وجه حق , ولا بناء علي نقد موضوعي او ادبي كما يجب ان يكون , ولكن فقط لانه كان في حقبة سياسيه معينه. فالادب العالمي والشعر هو ملك للبشريه جميعا , وهو ليس حكرا لدين او فكر سياسي او حزب , فهو اختزال شامل لتجربة شعب او تجربه عاطفيه لشخص يعبر فيها عن مكنون مشاعره وعواطفه بشرط ان تتوفر فيها العناصر الادبية واللغوية الصحيحة وان تصل الي قلب وعقل المتلقي , اما ان ربطنا الاسلام بالشعر العربي فنجد شاعر الرسول صلي الله عليه وسلم حسان ابن تابت وفي شعر حسان الكثير والكثير جدا مما يسجل هذه الأحداث والمواقف ومما يؤرخ لحياة الرسول الكريم , وكدلك كعب ابن مالك وعبد الله بن رواحة وغيرهم الكثير .
In recent days I have noticed ugly attacks on the poet of Palestine, Mahmoud Darwish, on many websites, especially those coming out of Gaza. The attacks are without proper reason, and are not based on objective or literary criticism as they should be, but are only because Darwish belonged to a certain political era.

International literature and poetry belongs to all humanity, and is not the monopoly of a religion or political ideology or party. It should encapsulate the overall experience of the people or the emotional experience of an individual, expressing their inner feelings and emotions – of course using the appropriate linguistic and literary style, and reaching the hearts and minds of the audience.

As for the connection of Islam to Arabic poetry, we have the poet of the Prophet, Hassan bin Thabit. A great deal of Hassan’s poetry records events and situations and also the life of the Holy Prophet, as did the poetry of Ka'b bin Malik and Abdullah bin Rawahah and many others.

After examining a little of the history and background of Arabic literature, and the way literature can help people deal with and even transform their lives, Seagull turns to the situation in Gaza today:

اما شاعرنا محمود درويش رحمه الله فقد كان يعبر عن معاناة شعبه وتجربته في حقبة سياسيه معينه كغيره من شعراء فلسطين مثل سميح القاسم وفدوى طوقان وغيرهم الكثير , والشعوب تتباها بشعرائها وادبائها , ونحن في غزه نفعل عكس دلك …. لماذا ؟؟؟ والشي الغريب انه لا يوجد شعراء او ادباء او مبدعون في القصة القصيرة او في الرسم او في اي مجال ادبي اخر في قطاع غزه منذ عقود … لماذا ؟؟؟ حتي انه لا يوجد لدينا مسرح او دور للعرض السينمائي … لماذا ؟؟؟ ولا يوجد لدينا معارض سنويه للكتاب كما هو الحال في كل بلاد العالم … لماذا ؟؟؟
ادا يجب ان نعترف انه لدينا هنا مشكله في ثقافتنا وطريقة تفكرينا وان الاحتلال زرع فينا الخوف حتي وصلنا الي درجه لا نستطيع ان نعبر فيها عن انفسنا , بل اننا نبدع في تحطيم ذاتنا وتشويه كل ما هو جميل … فما هو الحل ؟
Our poet Mahmoud Darwish, may he rest in peace, expressed the suffering of his people and their experience in a particular political era, as did many other Palestinian poets such as Samih Al-Qasim and Fadwa Touqan. People take pride in their poets and writers, but we in Gaza do the opposite… Why??? The strange thing is that we have not had any poets or writers or artists or creative people in any artistic field in the Gaza Strip for decades… Why??? We don't even have a theatre or a cinema… Why??? We have no annual book fairs, as there are in every other country… Why???
We have to acknowledge that we have a problem here in our culture and way of thinking, and that the [Israeli] occupation has sown fear in us, to the point that we can not express ourselves through culture but have started destroying ourselves and reviling whatever is beautiful… What is the solution?


  • The problem is not Gaza. Gaza is currently rich with creative poets, good creative bloggers, writers, and others. The problem is with political islam in the middle east, where Gaza became the heart of . Mahmmoud Darwish was not attacked from Gaza but from islamic websites, belonging and not belonging to HAMAS. Darwish was attacked by some intelectuals, including from Qatari Aljazeera, after his criticism to Hammas bloody takeover of the Gaza Strip.

    The problem is not Gaza or elsewhere but it is a battel around the islamism and secularism in the Palestinian National Movement.

  • […] Darwish – beautifully eulogised here by Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery – a blogger in Gaza wonders what’s happened to the creative arts in the occupied […]

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