Promises, Then the Storm



On the outbreak of the war in Gaza in October 2023, Melani McAlister began to use her journal to track the rapid development of the conflict and the parallel evolution in the ways it was represented in the US media. Drawing on McAlister’s decades of experience as a scholar of US–Middle East relations, as well as her personal history in activism, this incisive and dynamic text traces the devastating development of the current war in real time, identifying echoes with previous moments in the history of the region and the protests and artistic responses they prompted. This series of meditations explores the enduring power of narrative and memory, threading throughout the work of Arab and Arab American poets and musicians to tell a story of Palestinian resistance and resilience.

Encompassing the earliest political promises, made and broken, that laid the ground for the Israel–Palestine conflict, subsequent wars and attempts at peace, through to the flashpoint campus protests of 2024, this text serves as a primer to the history of the region and its unique place in global consciousness. Promises, Then the Storm is a reflection on the significance of Palestinian liberation at a moment when it has never been more urgently at stake – one that reckons with possibilities for justice and equality and the hopes carried by activists and artists, against all odds, into the future.