Gaza is Huis Clos

Promptly following the fall of the Bastille, the Earl of Exeter,

who all the works of French Encyclopédistes and Voltaire had previously enjoyed,

removed these volumes from his library shelves and ordered them to be destroyed,

which terrorists can’t be. Gaza is a Huis Clos from which there is no exiter,

with more dramatis personae than in the morbid masterpiece of Jean-Paul Sartre,

directed by producers who against Jews generate a hellish Hydra-headed martyr.

No Exit (French: Huis clos), a 1944 existentialist French play by Jean-Paul Sartre, begins with three characters who find themselves waiting, uncomprehendingly, in a mysterious room. It is a depiction of the afterlife in which three deceased strangers are punished by being locked into a small space together for eternity. It is the source of Sartre’s especially famous phrase “L’enfer, c’est les autres” or “Hell is other people”, the perpetual ontological struggle of being caused to see oneself as an object from the view of another person’s consciousness.

In “Smoke and Lava,” LRB, 10/5/23, Rosemary Hill, Volcanic: Vesuvius in the Age of Revolutions  by John Brewer, writes:

Few people reacted to the fall of the Bastille with the promptitude of the Earl of Exeter, who (according to the Gentleman’s Magazine) went straight to his library, removed the works of Voltaire and the French Encyclopédistes and had them destroyed. Still, the 1789 Revolution caused a sharp and widespread reaction against Enlightenment philosophy and the promise of perfectibility.

In “As Deaths Soar in Gaza From Israeli Strikes, Egypt Offers Aid, but No Exit,” NYT, 10/12/23, Declan Walsh writes:

As Israeli warplanes pound Gaza, killing more than 1,500 people and crushing buildings in response to last weekend’s unprecedented attack by Hamas, Israel’s leadership has repeatedly urged civilians to flee the territory while they can.

“Get out now,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday, vowing to unleash the full force of Israel’s military.

But the only viable exit is a border crossing into Egypt, and that country, as ever in times of war, is keeping it firmly shut.

The Egyptians are adamantly opposed to allowing Gazans to cross the border for fear the country could become sucked deeper into the crisis — even as Israel presses ahead with a punishing siege that is rapidly escalating into a dire humanitarian crisis.

Gazans must “stay steadfast and remain on their land,” President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said on Thursday in response to growing calls, including from American officials, for Cairo to allow safe passage to civilians fleeing Gaza.

About the Author
Gershon Hepner is a poet who has written over 25,000 poems on subjects ranging from music to literature, politics to Torah. He grew up in England and moved to Los Angeles in 1976. Using his varied interests and experiences, he has authored dozens of papers in medical and academic journals, and authored "Legal Friction: Law, Narrative, and Identity Politics in Biblical Israel." He can be reached at