Permission to Narrate

There is a particularly painstaking scene in Shakespeare’s tragedy Titus Andronicus where, having been raped, Lavinia’s tongue is cut off to prevent her from being able to tell of the crimes visited upon her by Chiron and Demetrius. So her screams and protestations went in vain. There is nothing more frustrating than to know the world’s truths but be denied the opportunity to tell them.

This is the reality which confronted the Palestinians for decades following the Nakba (‘The Catastrophe’).  Faced with the inexplicable horrors of expulsion and exclusion, they were also denied the platform from which to project these horrors and hold them up to the world. Elucidating similar themes in an influential essay for the London Review of Books, Palestinian American academic and activist Edward Said explicates the ways in which the Palestinians have been denied the opportunity to air their views on their lived experiences.

As well as being denied their political, human and civil rights, Said says, the Palestinians were also denied the ‘permission to narrate’. Herein lies the value of the present blog; to create a discursive space from which the Palestinian narrative can be disseminated and discussed. Instinctively the blog will be sharp and inevitably it will be counter-hegemonic, seeking at once to rewrite the fabricated and falsified histories of yesteryear and presenting a more balanced take on contemporary affairs.

Dissent is the one of the key measures of a functioning democracy and, as such, will always be welcome in this electronic space so long as it manifested in the spirit of discussion and not of disruption or denigration.

The Palestinian issue is not an isolated one and so it is not to anyone’s benefit to deal with it in a way that suggests it is. This blog aims to be broad and encompass the narratives of oppressed peoples the world over; it aims to give platform to the disenfranchised, the disempowered and the dispossessed. Above all, it can only try to tell the truth, but it is only the truth that will set us free. It may be fitting to end with the words of a man who dedicated his life to such a task, Howard Zinn:

‘The challenge remains. On the other side are formidable forces: money, political power, the major media. On our side are the people of the world and a power greater than money or weapons: the truth.’

Hesham Zakai

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