Off Campus

Artists gather in support for Palestinian poet

Artists gather to fundraise for Palestinian poet

Sun Cinema and Engaged Humanities Network hosted ‘You Can Ask The Sun’ fundraiser for SU alum Mosab Abu Toha. 

Alternative Text
Julia Carden
Devon Narine-Singh welcomes visitors to the ArtRage Gallery for the “You Can Ask The Sun” fundraiser for Mosab Abu Toha on Monday night.

Sun Cinema and the Engaged Humanities Network hosted a fundraising event titled, “You Can Ask The Sun,” in support of SU alum Mosab Abu Toha on Monday at the ArtRage Gallery. Abu Toha is a Palestinian poet, scholar, and librarian from the Gaza Strip.

The event on Monday night featured film screenings, poetry readings, and a listening session of “Palestinian sounds.” Sun Cinema members Devon Narine-Singh, Kelly Ghallagher, Zelikha Zohra Shoja, and Tamika Galanis organized the fundraiser in collaboration with the Engaged Humanities Network. 

Narine-Singh welcomed guests and introduced the documentaries Strange Cities Are Familiar directed by Saeed Taji Farouky and One Sea, 10 Seas directed by Nour Ouaya.

“Cinema is about community and politics on and off screen,” Narine-Singh said. “Cinema shouldn’t just be a way of speaking to a colonized voice. Instead, it should be a constantly decolonizing act. We started Sun Cinema to bring these experiences to Syracuse.”

Since Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel on Oct. 7, Abu Toha has documented his experience in Palestine on social media. He further shares his experiences through narrative writing for publications like The New Yorker and The New York Times. His debut book, Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear: Poems from Gaza, was awarded the Palestine Book Award and the American Book Award in 2022.

Abu Toha returned to Palestine after earning a master of fine arts degree from Syracuse University earlier this year. On Nov. 20, Abu Toha’s family reported that he was arrested by the Israel Defense Forces at a checkpoint in Rafah. He was released on Nov. 21. According to event organizer Zelikha Shoja, Abu Toha’s family has made it to Egypt. All proceeds collected at the fundraiser will benefit Toha. 

Most recently, he wrote a poem titled, My Son Throws a Blanket Over My Daughter for The Progressive Magazine. In the poem, he describes his wife and three young children sheltering from bomb explosions in their home. As his five-year-old son Yazzan covers his four-year-old sister Yaffa with a blanket, Abu Toha writes: 

As for me and my wife, Maram, we pray

that a magic blanket would hide all the houses

from the bombs and take us to somewhere safe.

The fundraiser on Monday night aligned with #ReadPalestine Week, an initiative to highlight and empower Palestinian voices. Organized by Publishers for Palestine, the week encourages “people around the world to read fiction and poetry by Palestinian and Palestinian diaspora authors, as well as nonfiction about Palestinian history, politics, arts, culture, and life.” #ReadPalestine week began on Nov. 29, International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, and ran through Dec. 5.