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Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

Book cover for The Story of Hurry
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Illustrated by Ibrahim Quraishi

Not since Monroe Leaf’s beloved The Story of Ferdinand—a simple anti-war story about animals that became a world classic—has there been such a gentle, compelling book about animals and war.

In Hurry, author Emma Williams and illustrator Ibrahim Quraishi have created a book for today that is as provocative—and as soothing—as Ferdinand continues to be. Hurry tells the story of a donkey who witnesses the sadness and suffering and fear of children in occupied Gaza, and who helps them the only way he can: by turning into a zebra with the help of a zookeeper, his best friend, and some paint, so that these children can taste the freedom of traveling in their imaginations to far-off places. The book includes an appendix with text and photos that describes the true events on which the story is based. But it is the story itself as told by Emma Williams, together with the wry and playful illustrations of Ibrahim Quraishi, that gives us the clairvoyance of children to see the world in which we live, with all its wonder and pathos, more clearly than countless fact-finding missions, political tracts or political analyses.

Book cover for The Story of Hurry
Book cover for The Story of HurryBook cover for The Story of HurryBook cover for The Story of HurryBook cover for The Story of HurryBook cover for The Story of Hurry

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“Between traditional folk tales and grim news coverage, there is a gap for families who feel their children should not be sheltered from the realities that Palestinian youth face, but also reject the missionary narrative that would paint them purely as victims. Hurry is a story of challenges and creative resistance that is both fantastical and grounded.”

“A powerful anti-war story in a modern setting.”

blog — October 23

“Nowhere to go, Unprecedented, Unheard” by Paola Caridi

Above image: detail of "Palestine" by Pedro Laperal (Spain), originally printed in England by The Malvern Press, Ltd. London. Reprinted with permission by Liberation Graphics, 1985




Nowhere to go. No safe place to go. Nowhere else to go. Nowhere to bury the dead. It is a litany that is repeated relentlessly in Gaza, and with increasing intensity in recent days. Mainly since the Israeli authorities have ordered the civilian population, the Palestinians living in the Strip, to go south. The Gaza Strip, perhaps the most uncharted place in the world, has been a small land completely closed off from the outside world for seventeen years, ever since Israel imposed the blockade around its land and sea borders, leaving Egypt to manage the southern Rafah crossing. Gaza is a small strip of land where people are born, live and die without ever leaving a prison without bars. Forty kilometers, from north to south. Less than ten kilometers, east to west, between the Mediterranean Sea and the border with Israel.

For a suffering humanity that has already swelled the ranks of the displaced, more than a million people, setting out from their homes or rubble means putting something in a bag, a bottle of water, diapers for the children, something warm to cover themselves, and finding a means of transportation—a car, a cart—where they can pick up an elderly father who cannot walk. It means walking down a road already destroyed by bombs, dodging fighter plane raids, not having water, food, toilets or an electrical outlet to recharge the cell phone and communicate with the family. 

It is an exodus on an unimaginable scale, of which we have very few images other than those Palestinian journalists and cameramen in Gaza manage to dispatch. No international, western or global journalists have access to the Strip. It is only Palestinian journalists in Gaza who are able to send images and reports, putting their lives at risk. 

However, the "nowhere" has a direction, at least for those who are still alive. The south, toward the border with Egypt. Yet, it is not the way to a safe zone, a salvation. It is the direction of exodus. From Gaza, from Palestine, from nowhere, perhaps never to return. For Palestinians, the bitter taste that now runs from mouth to mouth is that of a new nakba, the ruination of Palestinian society that happened in 1948 and the persecution that followed. But 1948 is far away. In the year 2023, no one among the countries that frame Gaza wants the Palestinians to pass through the Rafah border. Not only because it would be unfair and unacceptable, not only because it would be a new nakba. But because Egypt and Jordan, first and foremost, would jeopardize their already delicate systems of internal control in the name of a tragedy with no exit strategy.

In the opposite direction, to the north, other victims ask where to go to find their loved ones, the more than one hundred and fifty five Israelis taken hostage by Hamas and taken who knows where inside the Strip. Nowhere to go, they too repeat, the families of the hostages. Who to ask for help? Where to go to find experienced negotiators and experts in negotiations to free the hostages? For the time being, the "nowhere to go" is the Netanyahu government—now a government of national emergency—which has provided no answers and against which many of the hostages' families have been protesting. 

There is nowhere to go. It is the "untold" truth of politics—Israeli, regional, American, European—that is unable to find a rational answer to get out of a tunnel inside which, for now, only the absolute protagonists of a tragedy of enormous proportions are paying. The victims, all the victims. The civilians, all the civilians. The more than 4,000 killed, the innumerable wounded, if our conscience and values insist that we put Israeli and Palestinian victims in the same death toll.

Increasingly, in contemporary times, wars have civilians as the main targets. The thousand-day siege of the city of Sarajevo taught us an unforgettable lesson. This time, however, in this unprecedented war between Israel and Hamas, civilian casualties were and are the first, undisputed protagonists, the first targets, and at the same time the only ones who receive no serious and reasonable discussion or prioritization at all, none. No one, so far, has chosen to put them at the center of this story, at the center of this history. The full contours and scale of the tragedy for civilians is still uncertain. The politicians, all of the politicians, on all sides, have thus far chosen not to deal with them, as if they were not already fodder for the slaughter, for the battlefield, as if they were an inescapable part of the conflict.

This is unprecedented, unheard, unacceptable.

—Paola Caridi, author of Hamas: From Resistance to Regime, tr. Andrea Teti, and Jerusalem without God: Portrait of a Cruel City

Emma Williams

A doctor and journalist who has worked in Britain, Pakistan, Afghanistan, South Africa, Jerusalem, and New York, EMMA WILLIAMS studied history at Oxford University and medicine at London University. She has written for several publications about Palestinian-Israeli affairs and was a correspondent for the Spectator from 2000-2003. Her memoir of living in Jerusalem during the Second Intifada, It's Easier to Reach Heaven than the End of the Street, came out in 2006. Williams currently lives in New York City.