Book review: The Drone Eats with Me

Book review: The Drone Eats with Me
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None of the most celebrated Western journalists have been willing to properly or fairly capture the true horror of Israel’s terrorism and war crimes against the Palestinians who live under Israel’s brutal oppression in the Gaza Strip. But Palestinian author and journalist Atef Abu Saif who has lived in Gaza all his life gives a crystal clear account of Israel’s terrorism and the constant murder of innocent civilians in the Gaza Strip in his new book “The Drone Eats with Me.” It’s so powerful and painful to read.

By Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania covering Chicago City Hall (1976-1992)

Ray Hanania
covering Chicago
City Hall

Israel has been engaged in a terrorist war against the Palestinian people since it violated the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan and not only occupied the land set aside for the Jewish State but also illegally occupied using unrestrained violence West Jerusalem and more than half of the lands set aside to be the Palestine “Arab” State.

Although Israel has used terrorist violence, it has adeptly manipulated the world’s perceptions, especially where it counts the most, in America, the nation that funds, fuels and fans the flames of Israel’s hatred of non-Jews and Palestinian Arabs. Israel has a headlock on American politics and on the mainstream American news media which writes to Israel’s narrative live Prisoners of War fearing retribution from Israel’s powerful lobbying bullies.

As a consequence, most Americans are ignorant and uneducated when it comes to the truth and the facts about Palestine and about the real violent face of Israel. And the only real way to understand the depth of Israel’s violence and its terrorism is to hear it directly from the real victims, the Palestinians.

No place in Occupied Palestine, be it in Tel Aviv, Haifa, Hebron, Jerusalem or Bethlehem, has suffered Israel’s wrath more than the Gaza Strip, a coastal desert hugging the Israeli occupied Mediterranean Sea, where Palestinians live under the constant threat of rocket, missile, air strikes and mortar and tank fire from Israel’s occupation army and its terrorist militia, the racist Jewish Settlers.

Gaza Palestinian Atef Abu Saif has written probably the most eye-opening book that details Israel’s brutality. Abu Saif was born in the Jabalia  Refugee Camp in 1973 and has lived under Israeli violence and terrorism all of his life, along with the more than 1.85 million Palestinians besieged by Israel’s war crimes and constant rocket fire and attacks.

“The Drone East with Me: A Gaza Diary” offers a shocking account from the crater of Israel’s violence and terrorism of Israel’s 2014 invasion of the Gaza Strip, an invasion Israel provoked as it has done each time war has broken out there in the past. It follows a familiar pattern. Israeli military terrorists enter the Gaza Strip and shoot, injure and kill Palestinians, men, women, children and old people.

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The Drone Eats with Me: A Gaza Story, book cover. By Atef Abu Saif

The Drone Eats with Me: A Gaza Diary, book cover. By Atef Abu Saif

The Palestinians, who live under a harsh Israeli embargo, respond to Israel’s bombs, drone assaults, missile strikes and military and armed settler attacks in the only way they can, with homemade weaponry including the firing back of small, uncontrollable missiles. But the mainstream American news media doesn’t cover Israel’s violence, and only step in to report on how Israel responds to the Palestinian response. It’s a clever manipulation of honesty, falsely portraying Palestinians as being the provocateurs in this conflict when they are not.

Human beings have an inalienable right to defend themselves against terrorism. And that is what Abu Saif’s book is about. How Palestinians, through the eyes and life of Atef Abu Saif, manage to survive this hellish existence under Israel’s ferocious cruelty, lies and war crimes.

Abu Saif’s book is easy to read, one of the few written in English in a way Americans prefer to read. It’s told as a good story, a compelling account of a life that is fascinating in its tragedy. And yet Abu Saif manages to find life and even happiness in this unhappy hellish existence under Israel’s assault.

It’s a very human, up-close and a very personal picture of real life that the mainstream American news media refuses to provide because it paints Israel in its true colors. The everyday life in Gaza is not about Palestinian terrorists, or the Hamas organization which Israel and the United States have declared a “terrorist” group.

It’s not about the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

It is about people who are sitting at their dinner table as a family suddenly being killed with Israel warships in the Israeli occupied Mediterranean Sea start firing bombs onto their homes.

Gaza Strip under siege. Photo (C) 2015 Mohammed Asad All Rights Reserved. Permission to reprint with full attribution to Mohammed Asad and The Arab Daily News.

Gaza Strip under siege. Photo (C) 2015 Mohammed Asad All Rights Reserved. Permission to reprint with full attribution to Mohammed Asad and The Arab Daily News.

It’s about Israeli soldiers randomly shooting at Palestinians trying to farm their lands, grow food and plant vegetables on their land on their side of the 1949 armistices line, called The Green Line.

It’s about Israeli settlers who cross over into Gaza and destroy Palestinian homes so they have a wider, flattened area to monitor Palestinian civilian activities.

It is about how Israel controls, and turns off the electricity and Water supply to Gaza’s civilians for long periods of time, hours, days and weeks and even months.

It’s about the many wars that Israel has used to impose itself in Occupied Palestine and destroy the people who live there. It details the brutal assaults and Israeli war crimes, such as the devastation and Israeli massacres of civilians in the civilian city of Shuja’iyya (Shujaiyya, Shujaiya). Israel called the July 2014 war “Operation Protective Edge,” but it should have been called the Israeli Blitzkrieg of Gaza so many human beings including children were massacred, and tens of thousands of civilian homes destroyed. Shuja’iyya is the home of The Arab Daily News war photographer Mohammed Asad. Asad’s home was obliterated by Israeli missile fire and F-16 airline strikes.

The Arab Daily News war photographer Mohammed Asad sits on the rubble of what is left of his home that was destroyed by Israel in the Gaza Strip. Aug. 1 2014

And, it’s about how the biased mainstream American news media refuses to do its job and write these stories for fear that it might awaken the sleeping, ignorant and uneducated American people from their sad slumber of stupidity.

“The Drone Eats with Me” is not a political dissertation on who started the Arab-Israeli conflict, a writing style that bogs down so many books written by other Palestinians and Arabs who have tried but failed to produce a compelling portrait of this terrible tragedy.

Once you start reading this book, you will not be able to put it down. The stories of human life surviving in this tragedy, and not surviving Israeli terrorism, are compelling and told in a matter-of-fact voice. A witness to the destruction. A witness to truth. A witness to continued human suffering that seems to be accepted if it is allowed to continue indefinitely with no end.

Americans — especially Americans — can be compassionate. But if a tragedy extends too long, it becomes inconvenient, bothersome and annoying to them.

“The Drone East with Me” is not only a reflection of life in Gaza under constant Israeli terrorist assault, but it is also a reflection of the sad tragedy of an America that is afraid of truth afraid of inconvenient morality, and afraid to challenge the Israeli propaganda lies.

The Drone East with Me: A Gaza Diary

Atef Abu Saif

Beacon Press, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Copyright (C) 2014 and 2015 Comma Press and  Atef Abu Saif, All Rights Reserved

258 pages. Paperback.

$16 US, $21 Canada

About the Author

Atef Abu Saif, Author

Atef Abu Saif, Author

Atef Abu Saif is the author of five novels, including A Suspended Lifehis most recent, which was shortlisted for the 2015 IPAF. Unfortunately, Abu Saif was not able to attend the Casablanca Book Fair, where the IPAF shortlist was announced, as Hamas-affiliated security services stopped him from leaving the heavily blockaded Gaza strip on Feb. 4.

He wrote about it in a recent essay, “About Hamas and Culture” for the Al-Ayyam newspaper, where he has a regular column.

Abu Saif also is an accomplished short-story writer, and edited the collection The Book for Gaza for Comma Press. The Press will also bring out a collection of his essays, The Drone Eats with Me, at the end of this month.

Selections from Abu Saif’s writing online:

‘I do not want to be a number’ – Atef Abu Saif in Slate.

‘The Children Have Barely Slept’ – Atef Abu Saif in Guernica.

‘We wait each night for death to knock at the door’ – Atef Abu Saif in The Sunday Times.

‘Life Under Fire: Five Days in Gaza’ – Atef Abu Saif in The Guardian.

‘Eight Days in Gaza: Life and Death in the Gaza Strip’ – Atef Abu Saif’s in The New York Times.

‘We’re OK in Gaza’ – Atef Abu Saif in Guernica 

‘After the Devastation’ – Atef in The Guardian

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Managing Writer at The Arab Daily News
RAY HANANIA — Columnist

Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at, Middle East Monitor in London, the, and at He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper,, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.

The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website, Hanania's columns also appeare in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.

Click here to send Ray Hanania and email.

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Visit this link to read Ray's column archive at the ArabNews,com
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