One Year of Palestine Book Club – Mariam El-Khatib

Palestine Book Club started as an idea – what if the book club was not just about the book itself. The whole Palestinian experience? A concept initiated by team member Annis Nusseibeh. Palestine Book Club has become one of the best and most successful AMP-MN chapter programs.

The Palestine Book Club is a monthly gathering of AMP community members to discuss a monthly read related to Palestine. The sense of community it created around the books made Palestine Book Club special. For every meeting, usually hosted at a local Palestinian business. The flavors of sweet syrup and mint tea, iconic of any Palestinian gathering serving as a backdrop to the discussion.  At every meeting, the talks went well beyond the book and into the lived experiences of Palestinians. As participants took turns telling their own personal stories and reflections. Attendees ranged in age from 8 years old to 50+. Those who have lived in Palestine and those who have never stepped foot. 

The Success and Impact of Palestine Book Club: A Look into the Power of Community

During one of the meetings, we discussed Joe Sacco’s graphic novel, Palestine, which is set during the first intifada. Surprisingly, a 3amo (uncle) from the local community walked in and with all honesty admitted he had not read a single page in the book. However, it turns out that the 3amo had lived through the 1st intifada and ended up captivating the entire audience with his personal account of the events as they related to the book we had all just read. Since launching in September of 2019, the group has read and discussed 12 books, covering various genres and authors.

Mariam El-Khatib is a leader of the Minnesota chapter of American Muslims for Palestine, has spoken at national conferences, is known for her expertise in fundraising, and has written for Medium. You can find her on Twitter.

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