Daybreak in Gaza: A Place and Its People

Daybreak in Gaza: A Place and Its People

Mahmoud Muna

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‘A city so rich in trees it looks like a cloth of brocade spread out upon the land’ - Fourteen-century Syrian scholar al-Dimashqi

‘Trees all about the city, olives and almond groves’ - Twentieth-century historian Ibrahim Skeik

This was Gaza. Not the Gaza devastated by Israel’s onslaught, reducing this vibrant place to rubble, displacing its entire population. While Palestinian lives, culture and heritage are being destroyed, Gazans preserve their culture and heritage through literature, music, recipes, histories and memories. Daybreak in Gaza weaves together four thousand years of this extraordinary place and people, showcasing the illustrious achievements of the past with insights from Gazans today. Vignettes of artists, acrobats, chefs, shopkeepers and medics tell stories of life, love, displacement and survival, rubbing shoulders with vivid accounts of the warriors and travellers of old. 
Daybreak in Gaza humanises the people dismissed as mere statistics and ‘collateral damage’, showing Gazans as artists and storytellers living lives full of culture and meaning. The book in your hands seeks to preserve the heritage that has been lost, and that which can never be lost, revealing the wealth of Gaza’s cultural landscape and the depth of its history.

 

Mahmoud Muna is a writer, publisher, known to many as the bookseller from Jerusalem, our very own bookseller. He runs Jerusalem’s celebrated Educational Bookshop and the Bookshop at the American Colony Hotel, both centres of the city’s literary scene. Muna has degrees in Media and Communication from the University of Sussex and King’s College London. He is active in many cultural initiatives across Palestine and writes regularly on culture and politics, with bylines in the London Review of Books and Jerusalem Quarterly, among others. He recently published the first-ever Arabic edition of the literary magazine Granta.

Matthew Teller is a UK-based author and broadcaster writing on place and culture, with a special focus on Palestine and the wider Middle East. His 2022 book Nine Quarters of Jerusalem: A New Biography of the Old City was a Daily Telegraph Book of the Year. Teller produces and presents documentaries for BBC Radio 4 and World Service, and reports for BBC Radio’s ‘From Our Own Correspondent’. His journalism is published by the BBC, Guardian, Independent, Times and Financial Times, among others. Teller is the author of Quite Alone: Journalism from the Middle East 2008–2019 and several travel guides, including the Rough Guide to Jordan.

Juliette Touma is Director of Communications for UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, covering Palestine, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. She has extensive experience in crisis communications and emergency response, and has served as Head of Communications at the UN Development Programme in Baghdad, Chief Spokesperson to the UN Special Envoy for Syria and Regional Chief of Advocacy and Communications for the Middle East and North Africa at UNICEF. Touma travels frequently to Gaza from UNRWA’s headquarters in Amman, Jordan.

Jayyab Abusafia is a London-based journalist from Jabalia refugee camp in the north of Gaza. He was formerly Sky News Arabia’s senior reporter in London and a senior news presenter at Alghad TV. In Gaza, Abusafia worked as a radio presenter and a fixer/producer for global media including BBC, Channel 4 UK, Radio Canada and the Chicago Tribune. He was a nominee for Index on Censorship's Freedom of Expression Awards.

 


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