April 13, 2024

US authors urge PEN America to take stronger stance on Israel’s killing of Palestinians in Gaza


LONDON: A number of authors within the US have criticized PEN America, a nongovernmental group that advocates for freedom of expression, for its stance on the struggle in Gaza, after the group expressed “hope” {that a} ceasefire could be reached within the embattled Palestinian enclave.


It comes after greater than 500 writers and literary professionals signed a strongly-worded open letter to the group urging it to reply to “the extraordinary risk that Israel’s genocide of Palestinians represents for the lives of writers in Palestine and to freedom of expression in every single place.”


The letter, dated Feb. 3, condemned PEN America for remaining “silent” concerning the “Palestinian journalists, writers and poets murdered by Israel” apart from in “press releases buried on its web site.”


PEN America issued a press release on Feb. 7, saying it was “anguished concerning the direct impression of the present battle between Israel and Hamas on writers, artists, tradition.”


It added: “We hope that the multinational negotiations now underneath approach will result in a mutually agreed upon ceasefire, ending lethal airstrikes, and {that a} decision may be reached that can save lives within the area, protect wealthy and different cultures, and pave the way in which towards an enduring peace that permits freedom and creativity for all.”


However among the writers discovered this response unsatisfactory.


In a message posted on social media platform X, novelist Eman Quotah wrote: “Don’t ‘hope’ for a ceasefire, PEN America, CALL for one like different PEN Facilities have executed.”


The signatories of the Feb. 3 letter mentioned PEN America “ought to disband” if it “can’t dwell as much as its mission of defending, platforming and amplifying these writers made most marginalized by nefarious forces.”


They demanded that the group “wakes up from its personal silent, tepid, neither-here-nor-there self-congratulatory center of the highway” and do the “naked minimal” by taking “an precise stand in opposition to an precise genocide.”


The Committee to Defend Journalists has mentioned that 85 journalists and media employees, 78 of them Palestinians, are confirmed to have died in Gaza since Oct. 7, when Israel launched its bombing marketing campaign within the territory in retaliation for lethal Hamas assaults in southern Israel.


The onslaught has additionally killed a number of poets and writers, together with Refaat Alareer, sometimes called “the voice of Gaza.”