Palestinian Civilian Life in Gaza (Talks by Noam Chomsky and Poet Mosab Abu Toha)

Mosab Abu Toha is a young Palestinian writer and founder of the Edward Said Library in Gaza. He taught English language at the United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA) for three years, before he traveled to the U.S. to attend a fellowship at Harvard University.

In this talk, University of Arizona Professor Noam Chomsky, a big supporter of Mosab and the Edward Said Library, will talk about his sole visit to Gaza in 2012, the year he met Mosab at the Islamic University of Gaza, two years before the 2014 war. Chomsky will speak about his experience and the difficulties faced when traveling to and from Gaza.

Mosab will talk about the impact of the war and the siege on Gaza and the creation of the library under unusually difficult circumstances. Mosab also will talk about his writing in war-torn Palestine and share some of his poetry and his experience as a teacher.

This talk is supported by the University of Arizona Agnese Nelms Haury Program in Environment and Social Justice, the Department of English, the Arizona Arabic Flagship Program, the School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies, the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Harvard’s Scholars-At-Risk Program.

Mosab will also give a talk on Feb. 10 that discusses the creation of the Edward Said Library in Gaza.

About the Speakers

Noam Chomsky is a laureate professor in the Department of Linguistics in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. He is also the Agnese Nelms Haury Chair in the Agnese Nelms Haury Program in Environment and Social Justice. Considered the founder of modern linguistics, Chomsky is one of the most influential public intellectuals in the world and one of the most cited scholars in modern history.

Mosab Abu Toha is a young Palestinian poet from Gaza. A graduate in English language teaching and literature, he enjoys writing stories and poems of his own. Mosab taught English at UNRWA schools in Gaza from 2017 until 2019, and is the founder of the Edward Said Library, Gaza’s first English-language library. As many of Gaza’s libraries were destroyed, he began a campaign in 2014 to collect donations of English-language books. Noam Chomsky, who has donated several autographed books to Mosab and then to the library, described the library as “a unique resource, and what is more a refuge and a rare flicker of light and hope for the young people of Gaza.” In 2019-2020, Mosab is a visiting poet and scholar with Harvard’s Scholar-at-Risk program, hosted by the Department of Comparative Literature. He is also a visiting librarian-in-residence at Harvard’s Houghton Library. Mosab is also a columnist for Arrowsmith Press.


5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Feb. 12, 2020


Biological Sciences East 100 (University of Arizona campus, 1311 E. 4th Street)

Event Contacts

Matthew Abraham