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Charis welcomes Yousef M. Aljamal in conversation with Dr. Ilise Benshushan Cohen for a discussion of Light in Gaza: Writings Born of Fire. Imagining the future of Gaza beyond the cruelties of occupation and Apartheid, Light in Gaza is a powerful contribution to understanding Palestinian experience. This event is co-sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and the Jewish Voice for Peace-Atlanta Chapter. The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) promotes a world free of violence, inequality, and oppression. The Jewish Voice for Peace-Atlanta Chapter is a multiethnic, multiracial and multigenerational community that shares the common goal of combating oppression and occupation under the current state of international politics. They primarily focus on bringing attention to, and locally building the movement to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine and continued colonization, and the associated violations of international human rights and forms of state violence and racism toward citizens and non-citizens. They highlight the direct and indirect connections between state violence against Palestinians, other communities of color, in Israel/ Palestine and the U.S. They do this in multiple places by mobilizing support for Palestine solidarity and working to change the hearts, minds, and actions of the local Jewish and broader community.
Gaza, home to two million people, continues to face suffocating conditions imposed by Israel. This distinctive anthology imagines what the future of Gaza could be, while reaffirming the critical role of Gaza in Palestinian identity, history, and struggle for liberation.
Light in Gaza is a seminal, moving and wide-ranging anthology of Palestinian writers and artists. It constitutes a collective effort to organize and center Palestinian voices in the ongoing struggle. As political discourse shifts toward futurism as a means of reimagining a better way of living, beyond the violence and limitations of colonialism, Light in Gaza is an urgent and powerful intervention into an important political moment.
Yousef M. Aljamal is a Palestinian refugee from Al-Nusierat refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. He has obtained an MA degree from the Department of International and Strategic Studies Department at the University of Malaya. He is now a PhD Candidate at the Middle East Institute at Sakarya University in Turkey. Aljamal, besides his research interests in diaspora, security, and indigenous studies, has contributed to a number of books which highlight the Palestinian narrative. He translated two books on Palestinian prisoners entitled The Prisoners Diaries: Palestinian Voices from the Israeli Gulag (2013), and Dreaming of Freedom: Palestinian Child Prisoners Speak (2016). He also co-edited the book A Shared Struggle Stories of Palestinian and Irish Hunger Strikers (2021). Aljamal has published a number of journal articles on topics that include Palestinians in the diaspora, travel restrictions imposed on Palestinians, and struggles for liberation. Over the years, he has spoken at various forums and platforms to highlight the plight of Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation.
Dr. Ilise Benshushan Cohen, Atlanta, has been an activist, organizer and educator on Palestine and Israel for three decades. Her doctorate in post-colonial anthropology expanded her scholarship on systematic discrimination and state violence to include Mizrahi Jews in Israel. As a Sephardic Jewish woman, she was excited to be a cofounder and co-ordinator of the first US Jews of Color, Sephardi and Mizrahi caucus, and was part of the leadership team for Sedq, an international Jewish network focused on Palestinian freedom. Ilise has written numerous articles and contributed to the anthologies On Antisemitism: Solidarity and the Struggle for Justice and Reclaiming Judaism from Zionism: Stories of Personal Transformation. Ilise is co-founder of the Atlanta chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace and lives in Decatur with her family.
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Imagining the future of Gaza beyond the cruelties of occupation and Apartheid, Light in Gaza is a powerful contribution to understanding Palestinian experience.
"Dreaming of Freedom" presents poignant firsthand accounts of Palestinian minors held in Israeli detention facilities in the occupied West Bank.