Guernica Staff Resign After “Genocide Apologia” Essay Normalizing Zionism
March 25 2024
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Several Guernica staff, including at least five editors, announced their resignation from the magazine days after an essay normalizing Zionism and the ongoing genocide in Gaza was published in the literary magazine’s March issue. A number of writers, including at least two Palestinians, withdrew poetry or essays slated to be published in the magazine.

The published essay titled “From the Edges of a Broken World” was written by Israeli writer Joanna Chen and details her experiences living in Israel and her attempt to navigate empathy and care for both Palestinians and Israelis.

Following the resignations and online backlash, the magazine retracted the essay online and said it “regrets having published this piece.”

Calls for accountability for the piece have run rampant across the social media platform X (formerly Twitter), including a call for editor-in-chief Jina Moore Ngarambe to resign from Guernica. Guernica co-publisher Madhuri Sastry is among those who called for Ngarambe’s resignation after she announced her own departure on March 10 due to this publication of the essay. 

Sastry called the essay “a hand-wringing apologia for Zionism and the ongoing genocide in Palestine” and that it “attempts to soften the violence of colonialism and genocide.”

Sastry said that she and other staff pushed for Guernica to commit to cultural boycotts like the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and Writers Against the War on Gaza, but faced pushback from other leadership.

Guernica is a nonprofit literary magazine founded after the Iraq War in 2004 and is known to publish anti-imperialist work focused on the intersection of global art and politics. It is run by a group of volunteers, many of whom worked for the publication due to their shared mission and reputation.

Senior editor April Zhu also announced her resignation after spending three years at the magazine. She said she was proud of her tenure and did not plan to leave, but could no longer offer her work and time for free since her shared vision and values with the publication have been compromised after the essay’s publication. Guernica staff are all volunteers. 

“To continue offering my labor to a publication that in turn lent its reputation to such an essay would change the nature of my work at Guernica, no longer the labor of love that I’ve always stood behind without second thought. Thus, I withdraw my labor,” she said in an X post.

Fiction Editor Ishita Marwah is among the staff who resigned because of the piece “of genocide apologia.” She said the publication process of the essay was “murky,” and called out the lack of a “clear apology” after the piece was retracted.

One writer said on X that they pulled five poems that were supposed to be published with Guernica in March because of this essay’s publication, calling it “settler angst” and “disrespectful.” 

Guernica has not yet publicly addressed the resignations or essay.

About The Author: 

Malak Silmi is currently a freelance reporter based in Michigan. She previously worked at Outlier Media covering Detroit's government, and before that worked at the San Antonio Express-News in Texas.

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