Guernica magazine retracted “From the Edges of a Broken World” by the author, Joanna Chen (shown here). The Washington Monthly is proud to publish it. Photo courtesy of the author

On March 10, a big controversy erupted when a small magazine pulled down a story from its website with the cryptic note, “Guernica regrets having published this piece and has retracted it. A more fulsome explanation will follow.” The retraction followed staff resignations in protest of the piece by Joanna Chen, a British-Israeli author and translator. One wrote that Chen’s article “attempts to soften the violence of colonialism and genocide.”

We emphatically disagreed with the critique and the decision to retract the piece. Like many others who read Chen’s essay—it was available in an internet archive, a kind of samizdat for our time—we found it to be moving and empathetic in the extreme to Gazans and Israelis alike. This is in keeping with Chen’s history not only as a translator who uses language to bridge cultural divides but also as someone who volunteers with Road to Recovery, picking up Palestinian children who live in the occupied territories from the Israeli side of checkpoints and driving them to Israeli hospitals. The ferrying of these children is one of many wrenching accounts in the piece.

We contacted Chen when the controversy erupted and asked if we could post the piece. We’re grateful that she agreed. Here it is with the most minor editorial changes for style and clarity. –-The Editors

The tree lost its mythical powers,
horses huddled at the edge of the earth.
The sniping light turned cold, winter came,
we continued, faces sealed. Only at night
did we sit down with our own names.

It was my Auntie Sheila who taught me the importance of reaching out to others, of lending a hand when needed. Widowed early, she was a feisty lady who helped out in hospitals and hospices in the coastal town of Blackpool, where she lived. Auntie Sheila volunteered for years in the Citizens’ Advice Bureau, holding a warm and comforting hand out to people of all denominations without question. She understood the intrinsic importance of….