An exciting new Arabic website launched yesterday, shepherded into being by Palestinian-Israeli author Ala Hlehel and Palestinian-Israel journalist and culture critic Anton Shalhat, Ha’aretz reported.
Similar in some ways to the Arabic literary website Kikah.com, Qadita—named for a village in Upper Galilee destroyed by Israeli forces in 1948—is younger, faster, more challenging, and has fresher graphic design. Qadita also has a section specifically dedicated to gay and lesbian writings. (The Ha’aretz article says this will be the first Arabic website to include a section on gay and lesbian writing; perhaps they don’t count Bekhsoos because it’s all gay and lesbian writing?)
In any case, Hlehel told Ha’aretz:
We won’t hide behind broad, empty statements. We’re committed to complete openness and the desire to reexamine red lines. We’ll try to be daring in the defense of freedom of speech and expression, even at the price of coming into conflict with the dominant culture and zeitgeist.
The front page currently features, among other things, a Netanyahu satire and the poster for “The Virgin and Death,” (“Death and the Maiden”), which features a woman in a revealing shirt and closed eyes holding a pistol.
Readers will find short stories by the brilliant, highly sensory writer Adania Shibli—whose Touch appeared in English this year from Interlink and who shared the distinction of being selected for Beirut39 with Ala Hlehel—as well as Iyad Barghouti and Nazareth-based writer Raji Bat’hish. There is also poetry from Mohamed Helmi Risha.
Ha’aretz’s Maya Sela asked Hlehel if he was nervous about the reception of his website by the larger Arabic-reading world:
Not at all, we’re not afraid. We think we’re doing God’s work. We’re trying to prevail over the hypocrisy of the underdog hung up on human rights while he himself doesn’t uphold them in his own society. Women, children, gays and lesbians – they’re all weak in a society that is, generally speaking, strict and patriarchal. That needs to be changed.
In order not to be hypocritical, you can’t fly the flag of human rights when you yourself don’t protect them. This will be another crack in the wall behind which Arab society has barricaded itself for many years.
If you want to be a contributor to Qadita, send your text here.