50 Years of Occupation Book Project

Issa Amro & authors at an old entrance to Shuhada Street, Hebron. Credit: Oren Ziv/ActiveStills

Since November 2014, I’ve been working with authors Ayelet Waldman and Michael Chabon and activists from Breaking the Silence on coordinating a book project to mark 50 years of Occupation (June 2017). The project went public last week, with the arrival of the first delegation of authors.

You can read more about the project in: The GuardianHaaretzThe Latin American Herald Tribune; The Times of Israel; Ynet; and elsewhere. Here is a short TV piece (Hebrew) about the project by Channel 2’s Ohad Hemo.

There will be some 25 authors taking part in the project, all in all, and they will come to Israel-Palestine in small groups for week-long intensive explorations of the realities of the occupation. The first delegation last week included Eimear McBride, Taiye Selasi, Ala Hlehel and Hari Kunzru. (Here is an interview with Eimear McBride in the Irish Times).

Eimear McBride, Hari Kunzru, Taiye Selasi and Ala Hlehel with Yehuda Shaul of Breaking the Silence. Credit: Oren Ziv/ ActiveStills

I am incredibly excited that the delegation component is finally underway. That said, it’ll also be quite intensive, and I’ll likely be blogging only sporadically for the next while.


Update, April 19th, 2016: Just finished the second delegation, with Ayelet Waldman, Michael Chabon, Dave Eggers, Geraldine Brooks, Helon Habila, Eva Menasse and Rachel Kushner. Some more media coverage of this trip and the project has appeared in the Washington Post, the Jewish Daily Forward, ABC Australia, Sueddeutsche (not online), Public Radio International; here is an in-depth interview with Michael Chabon in the Forward, and more is on the way. You can also follow the project as it unfolds on Twitter and Instagram at #btswrites.

Update, June 3rd, 2016. Here is a big piece in Haaretz’s weekend magazine, interviewing Ayelet Waldman and Michael Chabon about their work on the project.

Helon Habila, Eva Menasse and Rachel Kushner with Hanna Barag of MachsomWatch at the Qalandiya Checkpoint. Credit: Oren Ziv / ActiveStills
Dave Eggers, Geraldine Brooks, Michael Chabon, Eva Menasse, Ayelet Waldman and Rachel Kushner with activist Bassem Tamimi in Nabi Saleh. Credit: Oren Ziv / ActiveStills


Update, June 4th, 2016. Fantastic week with Porochista Khakpour and Assaf Gavron!

Porochista Khakpour and Assaf Gavron with community activist Fatmeh Nawaja in Susiya. Credit: Oren Ziv / ActiveStills.


Update, June 11th, 2016: Another wonderful group: Maylis de Kerangal, Emily Raboteau, Lorraine Adams, Arnon Grunberg and Lars Saabye Christensen. A televised interview with Grunberg came out in the Dutch Nieuwsuur.

Maylis de Kerangal and Sundus al-Azzeh at the Youth Against Settlements center in H2, Hebron. Credit: Oren Ziv / ActiveStills
Emily Raboteau, Lars Saabye Christensen, Arnon Grunberg and Lorraine Adams with Yehuda Shaul and Harvard grad student Imani Franklin. Credit: Oren Ziv / ActiveStills
Emily Raboteau and community activist Lama Hourani in Ramallah. Credit: Shiraz Greenbaum / ActiveStills


Update, June 19th, 2016. Mario Vargas Llosa was here last week; there are a number of pieces about his visit, including in The Telegraph; here is a piece he wrote, including a video made by the folks at El Pais (which shows some of the delegation, and has a few interview clips with me and Yehuda Shaul and others). Additionally, Mario wrotes a series of his own reflections for El Pais, here and here, and was interviewed by Yedioth Aharonot (Hebrew).

Mario Vargas Llosa with me and community organizer Zuheir Rajabi in Batan al-Hawa, Silwan. Credit: Oren Ziv / ActiveStills.


Update July 10th, 2016. Just spent a really beautiful week with authors Jacqueline Woodson, Madeleine Thien, Colm Toibin. An interview with Colm Toibin appeared in AP. Alongside essays from Raja Shehadeh, Colum McCann, Fida Jiryis, and others, all of the authors have now spent time on the ground and their essays have begun rolling in. Next, onto the book-part of the project! More soon.

Jacqueline Woodson reads (and I simultaneously translate to Hebrew and Arabic) at the bilingual school in Jerusalem. Credit: Oren Ziv / ActiveStills
Madeleine Thien, Jacqueline Woodson and Colm Toibin with activist Issa Amro and Juliet Widoff, Jacqueline’s partner, in H2, Hebron.