Twenty-two-year-old Doaa Mohaisen has an essay in the latest issue of PEN Transmissions: “If Gaza Were a Story.” Mohaisen grew up in Gaza and is now doing a Master’s program in Qatar:
In this issue of PEN Transmissions, they asked four writers to reflect on “different aspects of how they write the past: from personal history to a country’s official (or unofficial) past, from heroic narratives to fragmented memories, how do we incorporate the past into our writing?”
In her essay, Mohaisen writes about the hero-narrative projected onto Gazans:
Attributing heroism to Gazans reinforces the representation of difference by portraying an image of the Palestinian as one born with special capabilities to bear the unbearable. As I was growing up in the Gaza Strip, I was, like other Palestinians, fed with the narrative claiming that the Palestinian cause is central to the Muslim Ummah (community), that Palestine was in the thoughts and prayers of Muslims around the world. As we were bombed, killed and forced to evacuate our homes, we were reminded that Palestine is what unites the Muslim world, that Palestinians are heroes who are defending the honour of our Ummah. But what I realized after traveling to a fellow Arab country for graduate school was the fakeness and fragility of the hero narrative; it was a tool used by sluggish Muslims to exempt themselves from blame.
Keep reading at PEN Transmissions.
Mohaisen is a contributor to Novell Gaza, a writer for We Are Not Numbers, and has contributed to a number of other publications. She studied English Language and Literature at the Islamic University of Gaza, is currently doing an MA at HBKU in Qatar, where she works as a freelance translator.