Below is the speech by our treasurer, Puan Sri Normah Hashim at Saba Islamic Media book launch of the Bahasa Malaysia edition of 'Gaza Writes Back'.
I am honored to represent Viva Palestina Malaysia to say a few words at the launch of the Bahasa Malaysia edition of Gaza Writes Back.
Zionist narratives of Palestine have ruled over the media for the last 60 years. Because of this VPM has always felt that citizen journalism is important for Palestinians to reclaim this narrative. This is why we have worked with the Centre for Political and Development Studies in Gaza through supporting the library and funding talks and providing laptops and projectors to enable the youth in Gaza to acquire the writing and speaking skills to counter the pro Zionist propaganda in the media.
The importance of good writing skills is highlighted by the success of Refaat Alareer's book Gaza Writes Back and the very favorable reception in the United States to the 10 city book tour which Refaat and 2 of the young writers Yousef and Rawan did in April.
Gaza Writes Back showcases the writing talent that abounds among the youth in Gaza today. This is writing borne out of tragedy and trauma, turned into a message to the world, a plea to people everywhere to learn the true story of Palestine as told by Palestinians living through the Occupation.
Israel has always felt threatened by Palestinian writers, and many writers and artists have been assassinated and killed violently even though they resisted the occupation through non-violent means. But I hope this does not deter the young writers in Palestine!
Yet their words and images live on today many years after their passing. Ghassan Kanafani was assassinated by a car bomb in 1972 yet today, his novels and short stories like "Men in the Sun" and "A World Not our Own" are still read around the world, and the stories still ring true 40 years later .
Naji Al Ali was shot and killed in 1987 in London, but today which Palestinian does not know his cartoon Handala the boy who will not grow up until he can return to his homeland?
They say the pen is mightier than the sword. Indeed, Palestinian words have always been more powerful than Israeli bullets, and they endure long after the assassins are dead, and they will be read long after the Occupation is over.