Silwan is a Palestinian village located just outside the ancient walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. Determined to Stay: Palestinian Youth Fight for Their Village is a moving story of a village and its people.
As Silwani youth and community members share their lives with us, their village becomes an easily accessible way to understand Palestinian history and current reality. Written with young people in mind, the richly illustrated text stresses connections between the lives of youth in the US and Palestine: criminalization of youth, forced relocation, the impact of colonialism on Indigenous communities, efforts to bury history, and inspiring examples of resistance and resilience.
About the Author
Jody Sokolower is co-coordinator of the Teach Palestine Project at the Middle East Children’s Alliance. Formerly managing editor of Rethinking Schools, Jody is a teacher educator who has taught middle and high school social studies and English. She was lead editor of Rethinking Sexism, Gender and Sexuality and editor of Teaching about the Wars in the Middle East.
“An urgent book about the impact of Israel’s occupation on Palestinian youth …Through the personal stories of Palestinians, Sokolower lays bare daily realities of segregation and displacement … Each chapter in this clear, evocative, moving work shows how Palestinians are routinely harassed, dehumanized, and detained … The narratives and background information vividly show readers how Israel’s occupation affects mental health, education, employment, and everyday familial life, but they also paint a beautiful picture of resistance in the face of harrowing despair.” — Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
“Necessary reading that is highly recommended … The harrowing and heartbreaking true stories told by the Palestinian children reveal the obvious parallels between the treatment of Indigenous people by the U.S. government in the past and the current racial injustices, especially toward Black people … Their stories will elicit empathy and outrage at the unfairness of their treatment.”
“What is life like for you, Jody Sokolower asks the children and young people of the Palestinian village of Silwan. Her extraordinary book tells their stories ... And she brings the stories home, documenting the parallel histories in which Israeli efforts to destroy Palestinian lives and seize their land are met with the same generations of resistance as US efforts to eliminate the Indigenous people of this land.” — Phyllis Bennis, author of Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict
“Jody Sokolower weaves a transnational story across settler-colonial geographies from Northern California to East Jerusalem to illuminate ongoing struggles for land and freedom. Using her personal story as a teacher in community with young people, she highlights the entwinements of knowledge and power that reinforce oppressive status quos and possible futures by forefronting the stories of Palestinian youth, who speak loudly and clearly in their own voices. Determined to Stay is a must-read book for all ages and stands to fill a critical gap in US standard curricula.” — Noura Erakat, activist and human rights attorney, author of Justice for Some: Law and the Question of Palestine, co-editor of Jadaliyya
“What a treasure this book is. In story after story, Determined to Stay: Palestinian Youth Fight for their Village invites young people—and all the rest of us—into the lives of Palestinians. We witness their struggles and the daily outrages that make life for young Palestinians so hard. Sokolower’s book is a testament to resilience and people’s remarkable tenacity in braiding lives of dignity. And it does not leave these issues ‘over there.’ An Indigenous activist in California tells Sokolower: ‘To decolonize is to tell the truth.’ We hear what Palestine and the occupation mean to young people here. Poignant and personal, Determined to Stay brings Palestine to life for US students.” — Bill Bigelow, curriculum editor, Rethinking Schools, author of Rethinking Globalization
“In an accessible and engrossing narrative, Determined to Stay offers students—and the rest of us—a rare opportunity to hear Palestinian youth and their families talk about their lives. Most exciting are the many connections drawn between how young people experience colonial conquest in the United States and in Palestine, and the focus on resistance and resilience. This wonderful book is the perfect introduction to Palestine and why it matters. It’s also a deep and thoughtful exploration of one village—Silwan—for those already knowledgeable about Palestine.” — Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of Not “a Nation of Immigrants”: Settler Colonialism, White Supremacy, and a History of Erasure and Exclusion and An Indigenous History of the United States
“What we call Manifest Destiny here in the United States is still happening at breakneck speed in Israel, but there they call it the Promised Land. We have to talk about Palestine and Turtle Island in the same breath. To understand the United States you have to see it not just from the story it tells about itself, but from the perspectives of the people it has tried to eliminate, assimilate, and enslave. The same is true for Israel. We have to learn about it, not only from the story it tells about itself, but from the stories the Palestinians tell. Focusing on just one village, Silwan, is a way to hear those Palestinian voices.” — From the introduction by Nick Estes, co-founder of Red Nation, author of Our History Is the Future: Standing Rock Versus the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Long Tradition of Indigenous Resistance and co-editor of Standing with Standing Rock: Voices from the #NoDAPL Movement
“As a Palestinian high school educator and mother of school-aged children, Determined to Stay is the book I have been waiting for. This is the book I want my own children reading in their classrooms. It is one of the few contemporary books that sheds light on the current reality of Palestinians and is written particularly for middle and high school students, although it can be adapted for use with upper elementary grades. The history and current reality of the people of Silwan is reflective of the plight of Palestinians in their homeland—struggling to resist settler colonial occupation and still celebrate the joy of family, friends, and their ability to survive. An essential read for educators and students trying to understand the Palestinian fight to hold onto home.” — Samia Shoman, Northern California high school social studies teacher and district leader for ethnic studies implementation
“Beginning with a calamity—the collapse of a Palestinian school in Silwan, Determined to Stay unearths the struggle to defend the humanity of Palestinian youth and educators, a story that has all too often been buried in the sub terrain of American education. By making connections between the experiences of Palestinian youth and African American youth, this book is a critical resource for explaining the Palestinian struggle to young people in the US." — Jesse Hagopian, Ethnic Studies teacher, editor of Teaching for Black Lives
“Determined to Stay is a critically important counter-story to the current curriculum being taught in K-12 schools. Linking the histories of settler-colonialism in Palestine and the US, Sokolower uses testimonies to humanize the complex and interconnected stories of resistance, building a platform for solidarity across continents that have endured the similar violent tactics resulting in intergenerational trauma, land loss and cultural erasure. Through the voices of the youth and adults of Silwan and Indigenous activists in California, this book offers us an opportunity to make connections and reimagine a future that includes the return of land back to its original people. A must-read for students, teachers and teacher educators!” — Anita Fernández, co-founder and director, Xicanx Institute for Teaching and Organizing
“Jody Sokolower's book, Determined to Stay: Palestinian Youth Fight for Their Village brings Silwan’s stories to the helm … As the people continue resisting forced displacement, Palestinian resilience is a permeating theme and reality … Sokolower brings the neighborhood’s stories to attention and contextualizes the violence experienced by Palestinians within the US' political and military support for Israel … [Her] book facilitates understanding of the Palestinian people's daily lives. The author takes great care not to intrude on the people’s narrative ….” — Middle East Monitor
“[A]n invaluable resource for all teachers interested in a relevant and rigorous ethnic studies curriculum … Determined to Stay is a brilliant and crucial book for everyone in the United States to be reading right now. Focusing specifically on Silwan, a Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem, Jody Sokolower offers a grounded history of the Palestinian struggle for self-determination and liberation … Jody Sokolower explains the relevance of Palestine to US struggles for social justice by drawing clear, concrete connections to settler colonialism and indigenous struggles for self-determination in the Americas as well as to institutional racism and the impacts of anti-Blackness in the US ….” — Amira Jarmakani, president of the Arab American Studies Association and professor of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at San Diego State University
“A comprehensive, eye-opening primer, augmented by affecting b&w photos … Sokolower powerfully juxtaposes personal experiences in Silwan alongside examples of racism, structural injustice, and settler colonialism in the U.S., showing how racialized young people in both locations face daily fears of police brutality and housing insecurity while reliving past traumas of displacement and violence." — Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“This book is the perfect blend of well-documented lived experiences of Palestinians living under brutal military occupation and proof that Palestinians remain steadfast in their dignified fight for liberation … Sokolower does what our U.S. media outlets have failed to do—humanize Palestinians. She shares stories few people ever hear, and this makes the reader feel like they are on the ground in Palestine … Sokolower also weaves the ongoing struggle of the people of Silwan to stay in their homes—and to live and move freely on their own land—to the history of settler colonization and extermination of Native peoples from their Indigenous homelands in the United States … These connections make this book even more valuable for U.S. teachers and students who typically do not draw parallels between Palestinians living under Israeli occupation and the colonization of Indigenous people and land in the United States … This important history and powerful example of resistance need to be shared in school curriculum.” — Rethinking Schools
New York Public Library's Best Books for Teens 2021
“Determined to Stay is one of the rare non-fiction, young adult books that center contemporary Palestinian experiences and voices. Teachers and students will quickly recognize that this valuable resource was written by a skilled educator, and one with deep knowledge about how to teach social justice issues to youth … [It] is a valuable resource for all of us who want to keep education relevant, honest and effective in our struggle to improve the world in which we live." — Nora Lester Murad, Mondoweiss
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