“When it comes, it brings with it a smell, a fragrance even. You learn to recognize it as a kid growing up in these narrow streets. You develop a knack for detecting it, tasting it in the air. You can almost see it. Like a witch’s familiar, it lurks in the shadows, follows you at a distance wherever you go. If you retain this skill, you can tell that it’s coming – hours, sometimes days, before it actually arrives. You don’t mistake it. حرب. Harb. War.“ (p. 1)
With these words, Dr. Atef Abu Saif, a well-known writer from the Gaza Strip, begins his literary diary about the latest Israeli war against Gaza during the summer of 2014. His book, entitled “The Drone Eats with Me. Diaries from a City under Fire” in 2014was published in English by Comma Press. The Unionsverlag provided the German translation (“Frühstück mit der Drone”) in September 2015. The Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung Regional Office Palestine (RLS) had already cooperated with Atef Abu Saif, who also is a political scientist at Al-Azhar University in Gaza, on a political study he wrote, entitled “Sleepless in Gaza. Israeli Drone War on the Gaza Strip.”
RLS invited Abu Saif for a book reading at its headquarters in Berlin, and one of its local offices in Rostock on September 16th and 17th, 2015 in order to ensure that addressing the issue of Gaza is not exclusively done during times of war, and that it should be a continuing concern for the international community. The book reading was of great interest to the audience. There were lots of people attending the event and participating in a lively and productive debate about the situation in Gaza, during and after the war.
Journalists from the German TV channel ARD met with Abu Saif during his visit to Berlin and produced an interesting feature about him and his book for its program “title – thesen – temperamente” (27.09.2015).
The book reading was linked to the opening of the photo-exhibition entitled “Kids of Gaza” which was created by youth from Gaza. The pictures are a result of a project cooperation between the RLS and the Culture and Free Thought Association (CFTA), a community-based organization in the city of Khan Younis, in the Gaza Strip.
Bessan Shehada, RLS project coordinator in Gaza, said in her opening speech: “This exhibition today aims to show you a little bit of how Gaza’s children see life from their own perspective, by showing pictures and photographs taken by children themselves portraying poverty, unemployment, and their uncertain future. These pictures tell the stories of Gaza children who survived three wars in less than six years, and the only thing they know very well is violence. The violence is creating and fomentingextremism, and it is the time for the world to realize that the cycle of violence must end. (…) This activity, the exhibition, is part of comprehensive psychosocial and educational support that CFTA provides to hundreds of children in Gaza by providing them with a safe and friendly space to learn, develop their talents, have fun, and live a normal life in a completely abnormal situation. CFTA seeks to help children and young teenagers affected by the conflicts to restore hope.” (…) This exhibition is a wakeup call to the world to act immediately to bring the deterioration and violence to an end to enable the children of Gaza to live in peace and prosperity like other children in the world. Children of Gaza deserve a better future and a better life.”
(Katja Hermann, director, RLS Regional Office Palestine)