Penina Eilberg-Schwartz

Penina Eilberg-Schwartz (2016) is writing a book of literary nonfiction that takes the biographical narrative of her friend Sulaiman Khatib, a Palestinian peace activist who spent much of his boyhood in jail, as its heart and structure. The book will travel from Sulaiman’s family history, to his time in prison, to the secret conversations that led him to co-found a joint Palestinian and Israeli organization called Combatants for Peace. But the book will also hold a conversation between its subject—a man who spent ten years of his life in jail—and its writer, a product of the American Jewish community and its divisions. She and Sulaiman seek to produce something new in the literature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that pushes beyond the borders of traditional rhetoric and ideology. In this work she will share and then disrupt the straightforward narrative of Sulaiman’s life with broader questions about power, gender, strategy and global conflict. Penina graduated from Oberlin College in 2009 and has been working on issues of justice in Israel/Palestine for several years with organizations like Abraham’s Vision, the Rebuilding Alliance and the New Israel Fund. Her written work has been published in +972 Magazine, All That’s Left, Reform Judaism, The Rumpus, This Recording, Neutrons Protons and sparkle + blink.