Digital Resources for a Free Palestine: A Roundup

In the face of Israel’s attacks on Palestinian cultural institutions, we’ve compiled a list of resources to center and honor Palestinian culture.

Iman Husain

Students reading in the stacks of a library (Photo by Peter Turnley/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)

In late November 2023, it was discovered that Israeli bombs reduced Gaza City’s municipal public library to rubble. The 25-year-old building was almost unrecognizable in the aftermath of the airstrike: Thousands of books, historical documents and archival material — once housed safely inside the library’s two floors and basement — were strewn across debris among chunks of ceilings and walls.

The deliberate destruction of Palestinian cultural institutions and objects is just one part of Israel’s genocidal campaign, which has killed more than 31,000 Palestinians and wiped out hundreds of families since October 7 alone—in some cases, up to three generations of entire families living under the same roof were killed together. Additionally, Israeli forces have kidnapped poets, like Mosab Abu Toha, and murdered renowned intellectuals, like Refaat Alareer.

Photo of two men walking amongst rubble in Gaza holding books.
Palestinians collect books from the rubble of a cultural centre following an Israeli strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Nov. 18, 2023. Photo by MOHAMMED ABED/AFP via Getty Images

Not only must Palestinians mourn the unfathomable loss of their people and their lands; they must also grieve for the centers of knowledge and community that have been leveled, and the subsequent erasure of shared cultural history. So far, hundreds of heritage sites have been destroyed, including various museums, archives and at least 14 libraries.

Culture holds immense power, both in connecting disparate communities and in shaping formations of shared identity. Preserving Palestinian culture poses a grave threat to Israel’s genocidal project. In conjunction with organizing in solidarity with the movement for a free Palestine, it is imperative to also support the preservation of this history.

The following are my favorite free and digital resources to better learn and engage with Palestinian culture:

Family of Ramallah between 1900 and 1910. Source: G. Eric and Edith Matson Photograph Collection, Library of Congress. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

1. The Palestinian Museum Digital Archive

For those of us unable to visit the Palestinian Museum in person, the museum’s Digital Archive provides an immersive, online alternative. Its more than 360,000 digitized materials spans at least 200 years of Palestinian history, providing access to Palestinian art and cultural objects, family photos and records, images of landscapes and architecture, and more. 

To navigate the vast archive, click one of the preset topics (like Tangible and Intangible Heritage,” Resistance and Struggle,” and Everyday Life”) or search through the collections using keywords of your choice. 

The preservation of these materials — from black-and-white images of suited men dancing dabke at a wedding ceremony in 1947, to scans of yellowing handwritten letters sent to incarcerated Palestinians in 2000 — through the digital archiving efforts of the Palestinian Museum, is essential to combating threats of destruction and erasure, especially under ongoing genocide. People inside of Palestine and abroad can parse through the archive at their own pace, discovering and witnessing a diverse array of materials tied to Palestinian history and cultural legacy. I invite you to join in supporting this vital resource: engage with it in your own life and work, and share it widely. 

If you have materials to contribute, the Palestinian Museum’s Digital Archive also accepts institutional and family collections through this submission form and digitizes them free of cost.

DJ Matab, host of the monthly Al Zaytouna show on Radio alHara, performs a live set on January 21.

2. Radio alHara

Radio alHara (“neighborhood radio” in Arabic) is an online station which, while based in Palestine, defies the very notion of colonial borders. Co-founded in March 2020 by a collective of Palestinian creatives, including brothers Elias and Yousef Anastas, the station got its start as an outlet for social connection during the first wave of Covid-19. Soon, it garnered an international following—hundreds of isolated people tuned in from across the globe, eager to hear beautifully curated broadcasts of international music, poetry and more. (I remember once visiting the site on a weekday afternoon to be delighted by the crooning voice of a Pakistani qawwali singer.) 

Then, in May 2021, Radio alHara fell silent. Nothing but static populated its airways for 24 hours — a silence in protest of intensifying acts of ethnic cleansing in Sheikh Jarrah, a neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem. Friends and listeners responded with messages of support for Palestinians suffering under occupation; subsequently, sonic artists outside of Palestine began broadcasting their own hourly takeovers on the platform. The resulting global community of artists and audio platforms that coalesced around Radio alHara, and in solidarity with Palestinians, became known as the Sonic Liberation Front.

Radio alHara went silent again in the wake of October 7. When the station returned, its broadcasts became an essential front for Palestinian resistance and an archive of international solidarity. On October 14, 2023, it aired a 12-hour mixtape called Learning Palestine, a collage of diverse music, poetry, academic lectures and folkish chants, helping listeners to understand the history, the present, and reality of the ongoing struggle for justice and liberation for Palestine.” Since then, Radio alHara has broadcasted prayers for peace, setlists dedicated to lost loved ones, and live protest sounds — including the soundscape of a demonstration outside of The Hague. Tune in at radioal​hara​.net.

A screen capture of Palestine Oasis, a preserved web page archived on Palestine Online.

3. Palestine Online

Palestine Online is a digital collection of preserved web pages created by Palestinians in the late 1990s and early 2000s. While browsing the pages in the archive — carefully compiled and formatted by Brooklyn-based software engineer and digital archivist Amad Ansari — you fall into a nostalgic digital time capsule, one full of pixelated graphics of waving Palestinian flags, gifs of dancing text, and cursors that leave sparkling trails in their wake. The featured pages immerse viewers into the Palestinian internet culture of the Second Intifada, whether through intimate personal blogs, pages of remembrance for those martyred, or the homepages of Palestinian news organizations.

Palestine Online’s collection is divided into seven categories, including Documenting and Memorializing Under Occupation” and Innovative Uses of the Early Web.” In scraping the web pages for the project from the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, Ansari found an incredible breadth and variety of information. He says, however, that he felt a particular sense of gravity around maintaining personal pages. Like small portals into the lives of individual Palestinians living under occupation, the pages — which are authentically human, funny, touching and sometimes deeply saddening — work against the dehumanization and othering of Palestinians, both of which are central to the Zionist strategy.

In creating the digital archive that is Palestine Online, Ansari says he found examples of overwhelming joy and pride” in Palestinian identity alongside expressions of anger and resistance against occupation. Things have been so bleak. They’re getting more bleak … but I have never seen this level of constant sharing and solidarity, whether on the streets or on the internet,” he said. “[Palestine Online] is just a small part of that. This is something that I think is our duty, as allies, to do.”

Palestinian Chicago: Identity in Exile by Loren D. Lybarger is one of many free e-books available with the University of California Press.

4. Open Access Reading Materials

Access to information is vital when it comes to solidarity movements, but the simple truth is that books cost money and not everyone has access to journalistic and academic texts hidden behind paywalls and institutional log-ins. In solidarity with Palestinian resistance, some book publishers have made digital copies of books pertaining to Palestine free for download. Simply follow the links below to start reading:

The University of California Press recently made open access e-books available from its New Directions in Palestine Studies series. The collection is made up of a vast array of titles that make an innovative contribution to decolonizing and globalizing knowledge production about the Palestinians in and beyond Palestine.” Titles include Camera Palæstina: Photography and Displaced Histories of Palestine, which archives and explores the photography of the Palestinian musician and diarist Wasif Jawhariyyeh. Another unique title, Palestinian Chicago: Identity in Exile, is the first in-depth examination of Chicago’s Palestinian community — one of the largest Palestinian diasporic communities in the United States.

The radical, nonprofit, Chicago-based publisher Haymarket Books is offering three vital e-books for free download, including a crucial anthology of essays and poems written by Palestinian authors, Light in Gaza: Writings Born of Fire (read an excerpt by Refaat Alareer here). If you’re curious to learn more about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement or to consider the solidarity movement with Palestine through a socialist lens, Haymarket’s free e-books include Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights, by BDS cofounder Omar Barghouti, and Palestine: A Socialist Introduction, an anthology edited by Sumaya Awad and Brian Bean.

Also, recently released is the Media Against Apartheid & Displacement (MAAD) website, which was created by a broad collection of movement publishers, including In These Times, and is described as a collaboratively curated media hub site that gathers and presents articles on the ongoing genocide in Gaza, Israeli apartheid and the occupation of Palestine, U.S. complicity, and resistance movements fighting for Palestinian liberation from a growing collective of media organizations and platforms.” Other noteworthy sources include the Palestinian Youth Movement’s Reading List and Decolonize Palestine’s website, which is a collection of resources for organizers and anyone who wants to learn more about Palestine.”

Finally, I recommend checking out Publishers for Palestine, a global collective of more than 400 publishers who came together in solidarity with the people of Palestine. The group has compiled its own list of free reading materials, which includes zines dealing with many facets of Palestinian resistance — from the deeply moving account found in A Gazan Young Man Dreams of a Peaceful Death” to Handala,” which archives the various iterations of Handala, the cartoon image of a young Palestinian refugee that became a prolific symbol of defiance against Israeli occupation. Publishers for Palestine also created their own original poetry chapbook, Poems for Palestine,” which is free to download digitally and can also be printed. It features a collection of beautiful artwork and poetry — including the hauntingly prescient and powerful If I Must Die” by Refaat Alareer, written shortly before he was killed by an Israeli airstrike — alongside actions that readers can take to stop genocide now.” Accompanying Alareer’s poem you can read essential work by prominent modern Palestinian poets like Fady Joudah and Ghassan Zaqtan, to name only a few. And, to honor the wishes of the collective: Don’t forget to share as widely as you please!”

Help In These Times Celebrate & Have Your Gift Matched!

In These Times is proud to share that we were recently awarded the 16th Annual Izzy Award from the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College. The Izzy Award goes to an independent outlet, journalist or producer for contributions to culture, politics or journalism created outside traditional corporate structures.

Fellow 2024 Izzy awardees include Trina Reynolds-Tyler and Sarah Conway for their joint investigative series “Missing In Chicago," and journalists Mohammed El-Kurd and Lynzy Billing. The Izzy judges also gave special recognition to Democracy Now! for coverage that documented the destruction wreaked in Gaza and raised Palestinian voices to public awareness.

In These Times is proud to stand alongside our fellow awardees in accepting the 2024 Izzy Award. To help us continue producing award-winning journalism a generous donor has pledged to match any donation, dollar-for-dollar, up to $20,000.

Will you help In These Times celebrate and have your gift matched today? Make a tax-deductible contribution to support independent media.

Iman Husain is a writer, artist and fact-checker based in Brooklyn, New York. She is a former In These Times intern and a current intern at The Nation.

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