The frontline in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, Gaza is constantly reported as a place of violence and terror. Ramzy Baroud's memoir explores the daily lives of the people in that turbulent region: the complex human beings -- revolutionaries, mothers and fathers, lovers, and comedians -- who make Gaza so much more than just a 'disputed' territory. At the heart of Baroud's tale is the story of his father who, driven out of his village to a refugee camp, took up arms to fight the occupation while trying to raise a family.
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(Click HERE for the Arabic version of the book.)
Paperback: Pp. 210
Publisher: Pluto Press (UK: January 2010; US: March, 2010)
Ramzy Baroud: "This is a book about Gaza. It is also a book about my family, and in particular my father, how they moved from living as Palestinian farmers, growing their own crops, to fleeing for their lives and ending up in a Gaza refugee camp. Throughout the book I spell out the context of the Zionist invasion, and interweave my family story within the wider history of my people and the destruction of their old ways of life. So far we have many books from Israelis, some sympathetic and others not, regarding the events that led to the creation of the State of Israel, and its later expansion. But there is really very little that tells the story from those of us who lost everything. I am proud to tell you the story of my father; he symbolizes the fire of resistance in every Palestinian heart; the resistance of all human beings who are oppressed, in this case by the Zionists of Israel and by the imperial forces that support them. The writing of this book has been for me a passion, yet it is none the less an accurate reflection that has kept the Palestinian resistance alive for so long over such great odds."
Richard Falk, Albert G. Milbank Professor of International Law Emeritus, Princeton University and Special Rapporteur for Occupied Palestinian Territories, UN Human Right Council: "Ramzy Baroud has written a deeply moving chronicle of the persisting Palestinian ordeal that manages to interweave and bring to life the heart-wrenching experience of his family, particularly the heroics of his father, with the daily cruelties of the prolonged Israeli occupation of Gaza, the frequent horrors of refugee existence, and the disillusioning futility of seeking an end to a bloody conflict that goes on and on. This book more than any I have read tells me why anyone of conscience must stand in solidarity with the continuing struggle of the Palestinian people for self-determination and a just peace."
John Pilger, Sydney Peace Prize-winning documentary filmmaker and journalist, and author of Freedom Next Time: "This is a very fine book: both a loving tribute to the author's father and the struggle and pain of Palestine seen through the witness and insights of two generations. Together, they beckon freedom."
Robin Yassin-Kassab (The Electronic Intifada): "Baroud’s “My Father was a Freedom Fighter” is an antidote to the media’s decontextualisation and dehumanisation of Palestinians. It’s also an instant classic, one of the very best books to have examined the Palestinian tragedy… a historically pinpointed setting which involves Cairo, Jerusalem and Washington as much as Gaza or the Egyptian desert. And the interpenetration of inner and outer worlds is accomplished to an extent that is rare in fiction, let alone in non-fiction."
Cindy and Craig Corrie, The Rachel Corrie Foundation: "Ramzy Baroud provides a riveting account of his father's life and a compelling narrative of his people's history. It is the story of Exodus, but told from the view of the Palestinians on shore as the ship arrived. A narrative we have listened to time and again over sweet tea in Gaza, it is available now to those who cannot travel to Palestine. This book should be read by all who struggle to understand the Middle East and to find passage to a just peace in the region."
Gilad Atzmon, an author, commentator and jazz musician: "Ramzy Baroud’s “My Father Was A Freedom Fighter” is more than a book, it is actually a masterpiece .. Ramzy’s father Mohammed, was a freedom fighter. He didn’t win a single war, not even a battle, yet, against all odds, in spite of his poverty and illness, he managed to educate his children and to plant hope in their young souls, to fuel Ramzy with fierceness, which along the years transformed the young man into a monumental inspirational writer and an icon of intellectual resistance. .. My Father Was A Freedom Fighter may be one of the saddest books ever written, yet, Baroud peppered it with his witty sarcastic humour. In between sobbing and laughter we come to intimately grasp the depth of the Palestinian misery. My Father Was A Freedom Fighter is a Weiningerian poetic artistic exercise. Baroud takes us into his own world. Through the poesis, the tears, the pain and the joy we understand the world we live in, how merciless it is, yet, Baroud reminds us all along that we are also free to resist and to hope for a change. Baroud is not just a free man, he is also a free spirit, a spirit that can guide others through the Zionist darkness that threatens to swallow what is left of ethics and universalism. To resist is apparently the true meaning of freedom."
Salman Abu Sitta, author and historian, Founder and President of Palestine Land Society, London: "Ramzy Baroud is a gifted writer. His book is one of the few books, written in English about the life, depopulation and struggle for survival (literally) of the people of a village in south Palestine. He portrays their ordeal in over six decades, with no end in sight for their suffering. Gathered patiently from the recollections of the survivors, it stands out as an unblemished depiction of their plight. No amount of spin could obliterate that, or could deny the indefatigable persistence of Palestinians to survive and struggle to return home. In writing this book, Ramzy himself, the exiled son of that village, is proof of this persistence."
Noam Chomsky: "Ramzy Baroud's sensitive, thoughtful, searching writing penetrates to the core of moral dilemmas that their intended audiences evade at their peril. Few are spared his perceptive eye, and only the morally callous will fail to respond to his pleas to look into the mirror honestly, to question comforting beliefs that protect us from facing our elementary responsibilities, and to act to remedy the terrible misery and injustice that he exposes to our view, as we surely can."
Ron Jacobs (CounterPunch.org): "Under Baroud's pen, history truly does become the story of a people. Each individual whose story appears in My Father Was a Freedom Fighter embodies the story of the Palestinians. Ramzy Baroud tells a very personal tale in these pages underlined by an impeccably researched historical knowledge."
Aras Coskuntuncel (Hurriyet, Turkey): "Ramzy Baroud’s "My Father Was A Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story" will become a classic piece of literature about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through powerful language and stories rife with humor that subtly call to mind the bigger issue at hand. Baroud dialectically combines his family’s story and modern Palestinian history through inductive and deductive logic by relating his family's story as the story of the Palestinian people and by making the Arab-Israeli issue a family matter. .. This book - Mohammed’s story - has no end: It’s another beginning, a story that is and will be written every day by every “freedom fighter” as a symbol for all until every Beit Daras is returned to its rightful owners. This and only this will lead to a better, fair, livable and honorable world."
Greta Berlin, Co-Founder, The Free Gaza Movement: "Ramzy Baroud’s story of his parent's bravery during Israel's brutal 1967 war of occupation is just one of the heartrending memories he tells about Gaza. His family's proud history stands as a symbol of Palestinian resistance since 1948, making this book a must-read for anyone who wants to know why Palestine will forever be in the hearts of the young and the memories of the old."
Steve Finbow (The Japan Times): "For anyone — including this reader — confused and exasperated by the Palestinian and Israeli conflict, anyone who seeks to learn the history of Palestine and its people, anyone interested in personal memoirs with historical backdrops . . . in fact, for Barack Obama, Tony Blair, Shimon Peres, Benjamin Netanyahu, Ismail Haniyeh, any member of Hamas, Fatah, the Israeli armed forces, Mossad, the CIA and the SIS, Ramzy Baroud's memoir is inspired and inspirational."
Sally Bland (The Jordan Times): "In this book, widely respected journalist Ramzy Baroud successfully combines the intimate tone of memoir with the broad dimensions of history. Even those with extensive knowledge of Palestine’s modern history will be fascinated by Baroud’s account of his father’s life as he interweaves the personal with the tumultuous events which swept the country in the 20th century, and right up to today."
Nicola Jones (The Witness – South Africa): "..But this book is not a political manifesto. Beautifully written, it is a narrative echoing the voices of the ordinary people of Gaza; people who long for the security that comes with a patch of land and being able to plant a tree on that land knowing, in the fullness of time, that they will be able to sit in its shade. Just for that, it should ring true for all who read it."
Deepak Tripathi: "Extraordinary book .. a living chronicle of an unfinished Palestinian journey from 1948 to the 2009/10 Israeli war on Gaza; of the trials and tribulations on the way; of the privation and humiliations under occupation; the struggle for Palestinian liberation; of families split across the Middle East and beyond; and the hopes of the entire Palestinian population now totaling ten million."
Susan Abulhawa (FiveBooks.com): "This is a wonderful book. It’s a history book, a work of literature and a memoir. Ramzy Baroud is a political commentator and historian, the editor of the Palestine Chronicle and of a book called Searching Jenin: Eyewitness Accounts Of The Israeli Invasion, about the events of 2002. He grew up in the Gaza refugee camp and is very familiar with the psychology of the people in the camps – to this day they’re holding out hope and still dreaming of going home. He captures this delightfully and his descriptions of place and people are just magnificent. Works like this are so important because, you know, when people write about Palestine it tends to be in dry, sterile prose. There is nothing dry about this book. Even though it’s non-fiction it is full of emotion and wonderful characters."
Jim Miles: "Ramzy Baroud has written what should become an icon of historical-cultural writing for the people of Palestine. If you are to read one book on Gaza and Palestine, this is it."
Ludwig Watzal: "The life and the inner attitude of Mohammed Baroud give hope to the 'Wretched of the Earth'. He showed that surrender to injustice and repression can never be an option. This should be understood as a hint to Palestinians who seem to prefer, with Abbas leading the way, the easier way to 'independence'. Ramzy Baroud and his father stand for the alternative: freedom and self-respect."
Reviews & Previews
Robin Yassin-Kassab - Electronic Intifada and Asia Times
Refusal to Surrender: "My Father was a Freedom Fighter" Reviewed - Also, in Asia Times.
‘More Than a Book: It’s a Masterpiece’: My Father was a Freedom Fighter
Aras Coskuntuncel – Hurriyet, Turkey
A Family Story within Middle East’s ‘Untold Story
Steve Finbow - The Japan Times
Inspirational Voice from the Land of Gaza: What If Postwar Japan Had a Similar History?
Ron Jacobs - CounterPunch.org
Palestine: A Family Story
Baroud's 'Freedom Fighter' is an Icon
Gaza's Untold Story
Tapani Lausti (ZNet)
The Unquenchable Spirit of Resistance In Gaza
Stories to Shape Life
Sally Bland - The Jordan Times
A Culture of Resistance
Nicola Jones - The Witness, South Africa
My Land, My Rights, My Freedoms
Santham Pillay - The Sunday Times, South Africa
Tale of Palestine Freedom Fighter Told by His Son
My Father Was A Freedom Fighter – Book Review
Writing the Last Chapter
Gaza, Mohammed and My Mother
Surrender to Injustice Never an Option: A Gaza Story
Ramzy Baroud's Article that Inspired the Book
No Checkpoints in Heaven
Preview of Ramzy Baroud's 'My Father was a Freedom Fighter'
Mamoon Alabbasi - Middle East News
Gaza's Untold Story – Book Review
Seguir luchando (Book Review in Spanish)
Press TV - Epilogue:
Former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone hosts an exciting discussion on Ramzy Baroud's book: My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold Story with authors Dr. Ghada Karmi and Ben White. Watch: Part I, Part II, Part III
Aljazeera TV - A Book I Read:
My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story: Part I & Part II
Ramzy Baroud Concludes Book Tour in London – Video and Images
Watch Short Promo:
My Father was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story – English
My Father was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story – Arabic
Interviews and Related News
An Evening with Ramzy Baroud (Mancunian Matters)
Tale of Palestine Freedom Fighter Told by His Son
A Promotional Film about Gaza Launches New Book's Worldwide Awareness Campaign
My Father was a Freedom Fighter Released in the US
Gaza Book Slated for Early Release to Coincide with Gaza Massacre Anniversary
Book and Film about Gaza (Arabic - al-Thawra Newspaper, Syria)
Book and Film about Gaza (Arabic - al-Rai Newspaper, Jordan)