By Lewis Morris
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My Father was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story

This article is over 14 years, 1 months old
Ramzy Baroud, Pluto, £13.99
Issue 345

Ramzy Baroud’s new book provides a deeply personal account of his family’s experiences, across three generations, of the theft and occupation of Palestine by the Israeli state. The book places Baroud’s experiences within the context of the broader political events of the conflict, in such a stark and moving way that this account evokes an understanding of what it is to be a Palestinian in a Gazan refugee camp. Divided between the experiences of Baroud, his father and his grandfather, the book paints a picture of the Palestinian experience since 1948, encompassing every twist and turn in the plight of his people from the Nakba through to the popular election of Hamas in 2006.

My Father was a Freedom Fighter refreshingly places its focus on the Palestinian perspective on events that have shaped Palestinian history since 1948 – a vital contribution to a discourse that has been dominated by debates between Zionists and the left. As a result of this, Baroud is able to convey the complicated links and conflicts between Arab nationalism, Palestinian nationalism, Islam and Communism within Palestine. He does this in such a way that Palestinians are the active protagonists of their own resistance rather than the subject of a broader political debate.

For instance, Baroud describes how his father, Mohammed, a self-proclaimed Communist and lover of Russian literature, threw his lot in with the nationalists of the Palestine Liberation Organisation and would later come to “personally identify” with the “new expression of defiance” which he saw in Hamas. Baroud thus presents the reader with a comprehensive account of Palestinian resistance that warns against the oversimplification of this subject, common in the West, particularly since the 2006 election. This places Palestinian resistance firmly within the context it deserves – that of a reaction to Israeli brutality and the racist dogma of Zionism.

The book also challenges one of the most entrenched myths surrounding the conflict: that a two-state solution is a viable conclusion for the people of Palestine. Baroud shows in moving terms how this approach fails the refugees of 1948. The book draws attention to the process by which the Israelis, following the 1967 war, attempted to create a discourse in which the existence of an Israeli state was unquestionable, and he convincingly cites this as the origin of the failed two-states argument. Baroud himself also provides the human reality of the flaws of this solution as he is a living product of the 1948 Nakba.

My Father was a Freedom Fighter is an excellent read for all those who support the Palestinian cause and oppose the inherently separatist and racist ideology of Zionism – along with its culmination in the creation of Israel. Baroud sombrely provides a human narrative to a familiar tragedy in an account which will harden your solidarity with the Palestinians and inspire your resistance to Israeli injustice.

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