‘This book is being published while Gaza, where I live, is being annihilated’—Read an excerpt from Decolonising the Palestinian Mind by South African–Palestinian author Haidar Eid

The JRB presents an excerpt from Haidar Eid’s new book Decolonising the Palestinian Mind.

Decolonising the Palestinian Mind
Haidar Eid
Inkani Books, 2024

Prologue Two: Audio Files from Gaza, Palestine

This book is being published while Gaza, where I live, is being annihilated. Amid the current genocidal attack carried out by apartheid Israel against the 2.3 million residents of Gaza, my wife, our two daughters (aged six and seven), and I were asked to leave our flat. We were trapped for about twenty-four hours in a very crowded, narrow room with at least twenty other people after being forced to flee our flat. We had no water, no food, no Wi-Fi, no data, no electricity. Israeli bombs are still raining down all around us.

Even after leaving my neighbourhood, which was flattened to the ground, we moved north, where I stayed for three days with my brother. And then we were asked, together with more than 1.1 million people, to head south, where I am staying right now in the southern city of Rafah. There are countless Palestinian doctors, nurses, teachers, bakers, artists, mothers, fathers, pensioners, ambulance-drivers, children, babies, such as my family, who have been forced to flee their homes and are now hiding in other rooms and flats in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, where many of us have been bombed too.

Israeli war crimes committed against our people in the Gaza Strip are unprecedented, a combination of ethnic cleansing and genocide. Since Saturday, October 7, 2023, Israel has flattened neighbourhoods, including mine, and destroyed vital bridges, roads, residential towers, and villas on top of their owners. Water and electricity stations have also been shut down. Consequently, more than two-thirds of the population has been denied access to water and electricity. Children, the sick, and the elderly are the first to be affected. The latest from the Ministry of Health in Gaza is that more than 7,200 civilians have been killed, 65 per cent of whom are children and women. And there are thousands still under the rubble. Two-thirds of the population have been displaced. According to UNOCHA, 25 per cent of homes are either destroyed or damaged and 59 attacks on cultural centres and health centres, health care homes, including the Al-Ahli Al-Araby Baptist Hospital, in which 500 people were killed. All are going unnoticed by the so-called international community. More than 170 educational facilities, universities, schools, and educational centres were also bombed. Food, as scarce as it is, cannot be preserved. People are already experiencing severe dehydration due to lack of water. There is also an increasing threat of the spread of disease because of a lack of water.

The Palestinian people had already been under a hermetic medieval siege for the past seventeen years as collective punishment for exercising their democratic choice in elections in January 2006. Israel has turned the Gaza Strip into the largest concentration camp, with the largest population of prisoners in the world and called that ‘withdrawal’. Unfortunately, the international conspiracy of silence towards the genocidal war taking place against the 2.3 million civilians in Gaza indicates complicity in these war crimes. In fact, Western governments—especially the United States of America (US)—are directly involved in these war crimes and crimes against humanity as evidenced by strong-worded statements made by the highest ranking politicians, the President of the US, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defence, Prime Minister of the UK, President of France, Chancellor of Germany, Prime Minister of Italy—they all decided to visit apartheid Israel in a sign of total support for Israel’s crimes against our people.

The failure of the United Nations and its numerous organisations to condemn such crimes committed by apartheid Israel proves their complicity. We have come to the conclusion that only civil society can mobilise to demand the application of international law and put an end to Israel’s unprecedented impunity. Our inspiration is the anti-apartheid movement. The intervention of civil society was effective in the late 1980s against the apartheid regime of South Africa. Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, amongst other anti-apartheid activists, did not only describe Israel’s oppressive and violent control of Palestinians as apartheid, but they also joined our call for the world civil society to intervene again.

We need to be more specific about our demands. Yes, I agree. We need to give clear-cut directions to what we exactly demand. And we want civil society organisations world-wide to intensify the anti-Israel sanctions campaign to compel Israel to end its genocidal attacks against us. It has become crystal clear that the international conspiracy of silence towards the incremental genocide and the ongoing genocide right now taking place against the 2.3 million civilians of Gaza indicates complicity in these war crimes. It is high time for the international community to demand that the rogue state of apartheid Israel, a state that has violated every single international law one can think of, end its medieval siege of Gaza and compensate for the destruction of life and infrastructure that it has visited upon the Palestinian people. But this should also come with a package of demands to be made by all Palestinian solidarity groups and supporters and all international civil society organisations that still believe in the rule of law and basic human rights.

We want an end to the occupation. An end to apartheid and other war crimes committed by apartheid Israel. An end to the siege that has been imposed on us since 2007. The protection of civilian lives and property as stipulated in international humanitarian law and international human rights law (such as the Fourth Geneva Convention). We need immediate reparations and compensation for all destruction carried out by apartheid Israel. We need to hold Israel’s generals and leaders accountable for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed against us. And then, only then, can we start seriously thinking about a futuristic vision in historic Palestine where all people are treated equally in one state, a secular, democratic state for all regardless of religion and ethnicity.


  • Haidar Eid is a South African–Palestinian author and associate professor of Postcolonial and Postmodern Literature at Gaza’s al-Aqsa University. His other books are ‘Worlding’ Postmodernism: Interpretive Possibilities of Critical Theory and Countering the Palestinian Nakba: One State for All.


Publisher information

‘I am standing over the ruins of a house in Gaza City, peering at the horizon.’ These are the opening words of this book, which was published while Gaza, where the author lives, is being annihilated.

But Decolonising the Palestinian Mind is not about the 2023 genocidal attack on Gaza. It is a sharp critique of the Oslo surrender, the Bantustans created by imperialism in the name of a two-state solution, and a recognition that the tokenisation of the Palestinian struggle and emancipation have become ordinary conduct on the part of organisations historically dedicated to the liberation of Palestine.

Haidar Eid builds on the work of Edward Said, who Palestinians treasure for his relentless truth-telling of their realities. Decolonising the Palestinian Mind calls for a consciousness change in a new period of unprecedented pressure on Palestinian culture, identity, and futures.

The cover of this book features a painting by Malak Mattar, a Gazan artist who began making art during the 2014 war on Gaza. Her work foregrounds women, and she uses vibrant colours to depict images of peace and hope.

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