Author Archives: Ms Elanie
The Longest Ongoing Conflict
Book Review: Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa (ISBN: 9781608190461)
The conflict between Israel and Palestine is one of the most well-known and longest ongoing conflicts, lasting for decades. Despite being in the news throughout my entire life, I still haven’t formed an opinion on it, and I don’t think I ever will. But that’s okay – one doesn’t need to have an opinion on everything. One just needs to be well-informed and have an understanding on all sides of the story.
That’s where Susan Abulhawa’s book comes in. Through the story of one family, Abulhawa provides readers with a poignant and eye-opening look into the lives of those affected by the conflict. The book follows the life of Amal, who is born in the refugee camp at Jenin. Through her story, we learn about the struggles that her family faced and the hardships they endured. One particularly devastating event was the return of her lost brother, who had been taken by an Israeli soldier and raised to despise his own people.
Abulhawa’s writing style is both engaging and heart-wrenching, making it difficult to put the book down. The interweaving of historical events with the intergenerational saga of a family affected by these events gives this book the feel of a documentary. It’s worth noting that the book is a work of historical fiction, inspired by the 2002 Israeli attacks on the refugee camp in Jenin.
Overall, Abulhawa’s book provides a new perspective on one of the world’s longest ongoing conflicts. It’s an important read for anyone wanting to gain a deeper understanding of the issue and the lives that have been affected by it.
 ‘Mornings in Jenin’: The Strange and Circuitous Path of a Palestinian-American Novel – ARABLIT & ARABLIT QUARTERLY (Accessed: 28.02.2023)
Depravity in the Name of Religion
Book Review: The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State by Nadia Murad (ISBN: 9781524760434)
“My story, told honestly and matter-of-factly, is the best weapon I have against terrorism”Nadia Murad, The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Isalmic State
In The Last Girl, Nadia Murad narrates her horrifying experience as a captive of the IS, who abused and enslaved her. Know as ‘sabaya’, Yazidi girls and women were traded openly as sex slaves in the terrorities held by ISIS. They were even used to intice young men to join the terror organization by appealing to their depravity.
It was very difficult for me to get through this book. The events described in the book and Nadia’s experiences are beyond horrifying. It is the stuff of nightmares. Except they actually happened. Not only to Nadia, but to thousands of Yazidi girls and women. Like Nadia, some of these women were able to escape their captors. However, as of this writing, there are still over 2000 Yazidi women missing.
Reading books like The Last Girl, drives home the point that we cannot simply write-off the lives destroyed by geo-political situations as collateral damage and leave it at that. As individual citizens of the world, this can all seem overwhelming and downright hopeless. But the global community at large is not as powerful as it may seem. Geo-politics is just an extension of local politics. The people elected in democratic societies have the power to influence geo-politics.
Although victimized by the IS, Nadia Murad is a fighter. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018 and since her escape from the IS has tirelessly advocated for the victims of genocide and terrorism. Her story must be read.
Victims of Ideology
Book Review: Guest House for Young Widows: Among the Women of ISIS by Azadeh Moaveni (ISBN: 9780399179754 (ISBN10: 0399179755))
Back in 2015, I came across an article that amused me so much that I still remember it. The news article told of three young Chechen women who scammed Islamic State (IS) recruiters out of thousands of dollars. Contacted by a recruiter via social media, the mastermind behind the operation realized that she could earn quite a bit of money by pretending to want to join the IS in Syria.
It was one of those feel-good stories that the world desperately needed at the time. The aftermath of the Arab spring had turned what seemed like a hopeful new beginning into an all-too-familiar nightmare. While most of the countries were able to avoid a nightmarish aftermath, Syria was not that fortunate. As of this writing, the war in Syria is still going on.
In Guest House for Young Widows, Azadeh Moaveni narrates the circumstances of 13 women and how they came to be members of the IS. The women who left their homes and travelled to Syria thought that they were going to a land of promise. A part of the world that allowed them to live with dignity and practise their religion in a way that appealed to them. For some of the women, it was an act of rebellion to embrace this extremist worldview. For others, it was a matter of belonging and finding a safe haven for themselves. There were still some for whom Assad was the real enemy, and as they say the enemy of my enemy….
Presently, many governments around the world are refusing to repatriate some of these women. The fear that perhaps they are far too indoctrinated to be able to reintegrate into the respective societies. One such case is Shamima Begum, who lost her British citizenship and may face the death penalty. These women have suffered and continue to suffer as a result of ideology and identity politics.
 Scammed! Chechen women ‘cheat ISIS recruiters out of money’ | Al Arabiya English (Accessed: 8. February, 2023)
 ‘Stateless’ Shamima Begum would face death in Bangladesh, court hears | Shamima Begum | The Guardian (Accessed: 10. February, 2023)