As readers know, this week The New Yorker ran a short story by a former Israeli soldier, Shani Boianjiu, in which Palestinian demonstrators at a checkpoint begged Israeli soldiers to shoot them so as to get into the newspapers and manipulate world opinion to pity them– when they are actually leading OK lives. The story erases the many Palestinians killed and maimed during nonviolent protests of a military occupation and misrepresents a famous incident in which an Israeli attack destroyed seven members of a Palestinian family. Boianjiu’s soldier protagonist says that Palestinian ordnance killed the family– and lest there’s any doubt who we’re talking about, the New Yorker used the real name of the child who survived that attack, Huda.
We’ve been reading periodicals for a long time. Neither of us can remember such an exaltation of the idea of blaming-the-victim in such a prestigious publication.
But maybe Shani Boianjiu has carved out a new literary genre?
We’re announcing a New Yorker fiction parody contest, “Put your spin on history.” Here are the rules:
–Entries must be no longer than 4 paragraphs
–Entries must be works of imagination, but they must deal with a recognizable historic struggle.
–All entries must include a character who is a soldier or officer of the law.
–Submit your entries in the comment section below for all to see and judge or to firstname.lastname@example.org. Entries must be received by next Friday, June 29.
We will announce a winner and runnerups by the Fourth of July. Winner will receive a copy of a wonderful exploration of Palestinian history, Footnotes In Gaza, by Joe Sacco.
Oh, and here is a sample entry aimed at spurring your imaginations:
It was a hot day in Amsterdam. The mist hung over the canals like a swollen wound. Rhees sat at his desk in the Central Police Station and felt the sweat trickling down from his scalp to his collar in a rhythm. He was a sergeant, but a reluctant one. He didn’t care for order particularly, he didn’t like guns. He would rather be on a bicycle than a motorcycle. But wartime pressed everyone into unaccustomed roles.
Adding to his misery was the airless room. All the oxygen was being consumed by a highly-agitated Dutch family on a bench. They had been brought in that day to be transferred to prisons on the mainland for housing code infractions. They weren’t even a family. Some were Jews, some weren’t.
It was Rhees’s lot to have to take away some of their possessions. The process unleashed fresh fits and appeals to Rhees to hide the children. Hide them? These people had such bizarre ideas about what would befall them in custody. The worst case was a little girl with big dark sunken eyes, hugging three books. She was elfin, couldn’t be over five feet tall. Evidently the books were journals. Rhees had to get to his knees to pry the books from her hands. Her wild intelligent eyes were filled with the deepest darkest thoughts, and he had comforted her by name. “There there Anne, you will get these back before long, but you cannot bring them where you are going…”