Description: The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People's Struggle is Ramzy Baroud's comprehensive account of the momentous events of the last five years which shaped the political landscape not only of Palestine and Israel but of the entire Middle East region. Addressing the most controversial issues, including the alarming escalation in suicide bombings, and the construction of the Separation Wall, he reports on the huge rate of unemployment and hunger in the Occupied Territories' statistics so critical that NGOs compare their magnitude to African nations such as the Congo. From the brutality of the Israeli army to the ever-compromising nature of the Palestinian Authority, few are spared Baroud¹s thoughtful critique. The book is clear and concise, with one chapter dedicated to the major events of each year, and includes a comprehensive timeline. The book can purchased from Amazon.com or directly from the publisher at Pluto Press website, or through many bookstores around the world.
(Click HERE for the Turkish version of the book.)
The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle. Ramzy Baroud. (London: Pluto Press). 2006. 216 p.
Few are spared [Baroud's] perceptive eye, and only the morally callous will fail to respond to his pleas to remedy the injustice that he exposes. Professor Noam Chomsky, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
A compelling narrative of Palestinian victimization [presented] with candor and uncompromising integrity. Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, Palestinian Legislator for the Jerusalem District
'Masterful prose. ... (A) scathing but heartfelt portrait.' Professor Norman G. Finkelstein, author of The Holocaust Industry
Praise for "The Second Palestinian Intifada"
Hanan Ashrawi: "Ramzy Baroud's work is a unique fusion of heart and mind, of passionate commitment and analytical intellect, of profound introspection and expansive criticism. With searing honesty, Baroud has the courage to broach subjects that are often excluded from public scrutiny or buried under piles of prejudice, cowardice, and taboos. His volume presents a compelling narrative of Palestinian victimization without being defensive or apologetic, and with no attempt at disguising or denying internal weaknesses and shortcomings. In the same way, Baroud exposes Israeli culpability, American duplicity, and international abrogation of responsibility with candor and uncompromising integrity. All those who seek to grasp the underlying realities of the Palestinian question and to gain a greater understanding of the turbulent Middle East must read this book. I must caution, however, that it is not for those who hide behind self-delusion, platitudes, or convenient sound bites. This book is for those who have the courage to seek the truth behind the facts and are willing to embark on an unconventional (and often uncomfortable) journey of discovery."
Noam Chomsky: "Ramzy Baroud's searching, sensitive and thoughtful writing penetrates to the core of moral dilemmas that their intended audiences evade at their peril. He calls on us to face our immense responsibility for the bitter suffering of Palestinians, shamefully ignored by those who are quick to condemn the violence it elicits. He reminds us of things it is more convenient "not to see" or to quickly forget, such as the ruling of the International Court of Justice calling on all states to oppose Israel's illegal actions in the territories under military occupation. "All states" includes the state that provides the crucial military, diplomatic, and economic support for these continuing atrocities, and the judgment extends to all of those who tolerate what Washington and its client do, either in silence, or worse, approval and apologetics. He calls on Palestinians to refrain from criminal terror, however shameful their brutal mistreatment over decades, and to recognize the corruption and venality of the quasi-governmental structures that are leading them to disastrous submission to violations of their most elementary rights. 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."
Norman Solomon: "Ramzy Baroud offers clarity about what remains in the shadows of Western media coverage. He illuminates a process of propaganda that combines with political machinations and military suppression to violate the most basic human rights of Palestinian people. The value of his Writings on the Second Palestinian Uprising can be appreciated as a refutation of the clichés and arrogance that so often turn ostensible journalism into rationalizations for Israeli policies. The awful truths in Baroud's essays are unacceptable to those who prefer to rely on euphemism and evasion. For the rest of us, his willingness to expose what cannot stand the light of day is a real service to movements for human rights everywhere."
Norman G. Finkelstein: "In this curious blend of passionately subjective yet dispassionately objective journalism, Ramzy Baroud chronicles the unfolding of the second Intifada in masterful prose. Almost no one is spared his caustic pen: neither the brutal rampages of Israelis through Khan Yunis and Jenin nor the dirty backroom deals of Palestinian leaders selling Israel cement for the Apartheid Wall. Only the Palestinian people, in their quiet, grim determination, emerge from Baroud's scathing but heartfelt portrait with dignity intact."
The Universal Right to Self-Defense: Remembering the Second Intifada
By Ron Jacobs
I finally got around to reading Ramzy Baroud's 2006 book The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle on the twentieth day of Tel Aviv's most recent attack on Gaza. While debating with various online acquaintances about the possible intentions of Israel's government and watching streaming video from Al-Jazeera inside Gaza, I began to read this volume. Hoping to understand what I can't understand--why Israel insists on what seems to be a path towards eternal war that will never guarantee its security--I was drawn into Baroud's description of the events leading up to the Al-Aqsa intifada that took place for some five years after Ariel Sharon took thousands of Israeli troops and police forces with him to the Al-Aqsa mosque in September 2000. In the days that followed hundreds of Palestinians were killed and wounded by Israeli security forces. Soon afterwards, the much criticized Palestinian strategy of suicide bombing began, bringing the death and destruction visited on the Palestinians into the cafes and shopping areas of Israel. These murderous acts were naturally responded to by further murderous acts by Israel, with the end result of hundreds dead and wounded on both sides, although the Palestinians took an exponentially larger number of those casualties.
Baroud, the editor of the Palestine Chronicle, is a partisan observer. He makes no bones about his belief that Palestine should be free and that the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands is a crime. His description of events in this book are written with a passion and occasional anger that does not spare Israel or Washington's role in the ongoing oppression of the Palestinian people. Concurrently, he does not spare his criticism of the Palestinian resistance, the makeshift Palestinian governing body known as the Palestinian Authority (PA), or the strategies undertaken by these forces. Most telling in this latter regard is his discussion of the corruption of the PA and various Palestinian businessmen discovered selling Egyptian concrete to the Israeli companies building the separation wall that divides the Territories into sections Israel hopes to manage by destroying communities and livelihoods. He also roundly criticizes the morality and strategic sense of suicide bombings.
The question of Palestine is on one level a very simple one. It has the right to exist in peace. This means that its people have the right to conduct their own trade, decide on their own government, live free from the fear of attack, travel freely, and educate its children and give them hope for the future. This can only occur when it is no longer occupied. Israel knows this and, if our eyes are to be believed, has no desire to see such a scenario take place. After all, Israel refuses to acknowledge the results of Palestinian elections, ignores most agreements it has made with any of Palestine's leaders, refuses to allow Palestinians freedom of movement, restricts education in the West Bank and Gaza, and attacks the territories at will. As Baroud, points out, Israel does all of this not only because it can, but because it is allowed (if not encouraged) to by Washington and many European governments. Until this fact is no longer a fact, Palestine's future will be one that is defined by more of the same.
The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle is an eloquent and evocative book based in part on the premise that Palestine, like Israel, has the right to defend itself. Over and over Tel Aviv and Washington were told the world that the murderous attacks on Gaza a few weeks ago were justified because Israel "has the right to defend herself." Baroud's narrative makes a clear argument that Palestine also has that right. Indeed, it is Palestine that needs the world to help in its defense. Unfortunately, unless the people of the West see through the mythology of Israel as victim that pervades our media, Palestine's day is a long way off. Writers like Baroud take their task to separate the truth of the Israeli-Palestine conflict from the Washington-Tel Aviv mythology seriously. So should the rest of us who care about peace and justice.
Mr. Baroud published this book in 2006. Right before its publication, Hamas won a substantial number of seats in the Palestinian legislature in certifiably free elections. Israel and Washington quickly disavowed the results despite their demand for democracy in the Middle East and Israel began a blockade of the territories that is supported by the US and many European governments. Hamas and other resistance movements in Gaza fired several thousand rockets into Israel, killing a little over a dozen Israelis. Hezbollah stood its ground against Israel in a summertime war while the West Bank slipped further into economic and political despair. Israel pulled its troops out of Gaza, but left their siege intact via air force flyovers and surveillance. This siege culminated in the December 27th air attacks on Gaza that preceded a ground invasion. This action by Israel killed around 1500 Palestinians, many of them women and children.
- Ron Jacobs is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather Underground, which is just republished by Verso. Jacobs' essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch's collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden. His first novel, Short Order Frame Up, is published by Mainstay Press. He can be reached at: email@example.com. (Published in CounterPunch.org, Feb 9, 20009)
The Second Palestinian Intifada – Book Review
By Dr. Ludwig Watzal
The Palestinian struggle towards statehood came to a dead end with Hamas seizing power in the Gaza Strip and Fatah dominating the West Bank. During an ongoing colonial process it is beneficial to the colonizer that the colonized are divided among themselves. Divide et impera works perfectly in Palestine. So far, the Palestinians have in two uprisings, termed Intifada's tried to get rid of Israeli occupation. Both Intifada's failed. The last Intifada particularly, the so-called Al-Aqsa-Intifada, changed the rules of the game, argues Ramzy Baroud, a young Palestinian of the second generation, who lives in the United States of America. He is a prolific journalist and the Editor-in-Chief of The Palestine Chronicle.
In the second Palestinian uprising both parties paid a very high price. 5,000 Palestinians and 1,000 Israelis died. For the first time, many young Palestinians were voluntarily blowing themselves up as an act of resistance. Israel used this situation to justify the construction of an eight-meter high wall through parts of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and other populated areas, and the rest of Palestine was fenced in. Another, undeclared, reason for these measures was to annex some fertile areas of the Western bank into Israel. In July 2004, the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled that the construction of the wall was a violation of international law because it deviated from the officially recognized ceasefire line of 1949. Israel, which was not subject to any sanctions, disregarded this judgment and kept on building the fence.
In five chapters the author describes the different phases of the uprising, beginning with the reasons why it broke out. There was wide spread disappointment with the so-called Oslo peace process, that remained a process but brought no justice and no peace. Some argue that the seeds of the second Intifada were sown in May 2000 when the Lebanese Hezbollah drove the Israeli occupation army out of Southern Lebanon, which it occupied for 18 long years. Frustration over the allegedly generous offer made by Ehud Barak at Camp David and the provocative of the Temple Mount by Ariel Sharon, who was accompanied by a thousand policemen, were the final straw. The uprising turned even more violent when the Israeli police shot dead 13 Palestinian protesters from inside Israel.
Baroud highlights the double standard according to which the West deals with this conflict. The US particularly disregards Israeli atrocities: “While the Sharon government was getting away with murder, in other places around the world war crimes were not always overlooked.” For example, Sharon was commanding the infamous Unit 101, which ransacked Palestinian villages for alleged “terrorists”, but instead they were killing defenseless men, women, and children. Not to speak of Sharon's “shared responsibility” in the carnage of Sabra and Shatilla in 1982. Sharon was Israel’s Prime Minister during the second Intifada and responsible for the dismantlement of the Palestinian Authority and the vandalism committed by the Israeli army in the Palestinian Occupied Territories.
The author also mentions the mismanagement, corruption, and failure of good governance by Palestinian politicians that caused widespread frustrations among the Palestinian people. On the question of resistance against occupation the author is very clear: “Palestinian resistance factions must desist from targeting Israeli civilians, with or without an officially negotiated ceasefire, and regardless of the course of action chosen by Israel and its reckless government in response. This decision is imperative if the Palestinian struggle is to safeguard its historic values and uphold its moral preeminence.” For Baroud, there is no question that the Palestinians have the “legitimate right to self-defense, and the unequivocal right of riddling themselves of so lengthy and so vile an occupation”. But it is also “imprudent for the occupied - who surely possesses the moral edge – to utilize the unmerited methods of the occupier”. International law makes a clear distinction between the occupying military forces and civilians. Baroud accordingly warns: “If Palestinians waver from this critical line of reasoning, their historically virtuous struggle risks being diluted with moral corruption.”
The author closes his interesting description of the second Intifada by hinting at essentials, which he insists the Palestinian leadership should uphold. Like the Zionists, the Palestinians must have a clear idea of their final aim, which has then to be transformed not only into a Western, but also into an international priority. The right to return (of Palestinian displaced persons), for which the PLO was founded, must be the cornerstone of the Palestinian struggle. All the other essentials like East Jerusalem, borders, and settlements ought to remain “non-negotiable”. Last but not least, the second Intifada will always be remembered by all people of conscience “as a fight for freedom, human rights, and justice”. For the future, popular resistance will always be an option, writes Baroud.
The book is topped off with an excellent foreword by Kathleen and Bill Christison and an intriguing introduction by Jennifer Loewenstein, a US-American political activist and a faculty associate in the Middle East Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Their texts use the appropriate language to describe the horrors brought upon the Palestinian people by a forty-year-old brutal Israeli occupation. A very convincing book.
- Dr. Ludwig Watzal, lives as a publicist, editor and journalist in Bonn, Germany. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Palestinian Struggle for Survival: A Stark Record of Injustice
By Ruth Tenne
RAMZY BAROUD- THE SECOND PALESTINIAN INTIFADA: A CHRONICLE OF A PEOPLE'S STRUGGLE - PLUTO PRESS 2006
The unique strength of Ramzy Baroud's book - The Second Palestinian Intifada - lies in its masterful weaving of personal experience and feelings into a meticulous and powerful account of the Palestinian's second uprising. Baroud’s gripping narrative of outrage, desperation and consuming pain pays a memorable homage to the struggle of his own people and to their courageous endurance and resilience.
Ramzy Baroud was born in a refugee camp in Gaza Strip and as a young child had witnessed “Israeli soldiers forcing young Palestinians to their knees ...threatening to beat them if they did not spit upon a photo of Yasser Arafat “. Tragically, this symbolic act of humiliation - to which Jewish people were subjected at the hand of the Nazis - has shamefully become an acceptable practice used by Israeli soldiers to humiliate Palestinian children. Yet, this act of ultimate degradation was only a prelude to the terrors endured by the Palestinian people during the second Intifada - graphically chronicled by Baroud's poignant discourse.
Setting up the background to the uprising, the author expertly examines its root causes including the meaningless accords and political impasse that followed the first Intifada (1987-1993); the defeat of the Israeli army (IDF) by the Hizbollah's resistance in Lebanon, and the alarming weapons build-up by the illegal settlements in the Occupied Territories. The critical factor which ignited the second Palestinian uprising was, however , the provocative walk of the Israeli Defense Minister- Ariel Sharon - and his heavy "entourage" on one of the most holy Muslim sites - Haram Al Sharif - ( September 2000).
Sharon’s contrived plan to trigger a Palestinian revolt earned him the Israeli Premiership by promoting an aggressive campaign which "had promised to crack down on Palestinian violence in 100 days”. In the wake of the failed Camp David II 's talks , and the landslide election victory of Sharon , the gate has become wide open for Israel " to unleash a bloody onslaught on the disadvantaged, disappointed and fed up Palestinian masses, an onslaught that would last for much more than 100 days " . The savage tale which follows offers a gruesome account of the five years of bloodshed (September 2000-september 2005) which claimed the life of 4166 Palestinians, of whom 886 were children. This massive loss was four times as much than the total Israeli fatalities of 1113, including 113 children.
Baroud cogently demonstrates that from its early onset the Israeli response to the uprising took the shape of "a fierce and calculated assassination policy" which resulted in 554 extra-judicially executions and 253 fatalities of bystanders - including innocent children and women who fell victims to Israel's "targeted assassination". Drawing on a relevant comparison with the former President of Yugoslavia , Slobodan Milosevic ,who was handed over to the International War Crime tribunal , Baroud convincingly contends that Israeli leaders have been flagrantly violating international law and should therefore be indicted under the Hague Convention (1907 and the Geneva Convention. (1949) .This contention is evidently borne out by the chronicle of war crimes committed by the Israeli military with blatant impunity which was licensed by the U.S administration and Congress who "are well -versed , to say the least, in sophisticated terminology condemning "Palestinian terror" . It is Israel, he argues, which "determines and therefore defines the term "terrorism" and equally determines what acts are to receive this designation".
Israel's response to incidents of Palestinian "terrorism" was unabated actions of state terrorism. Those included the carnage and destruction inflicted on the Jenin refugee camp (1) and a full-blown Israeli attack on dozen of towns , villages and cities in the West Bank that claimed more that 500 Palestinian lives (March/April 2002). This military-planed operation left many casualties bled to dead by an unremitting land and air bombardment which involved hundreds of tanks and soldiers - air covered by missile-firing Apache helicopters. Baroud offers a personal touch to those unimaginably horrid atrocities by telling the story of one innocent child who was critically injured by bullets lodged in his throat, yet, was cruelly prevented from receiving medical treatment in Jordan." His resilient ambulance driver carried him from a tiny Jericho clinic in the West Bank to the border with Jordan, 22 times. Each time the Israelis would interrogate Mahmoud trying to drag words out of a muted boy...By the time he arrived in Jordan he lost half his body weight while waiting in the border" - finding his untimely death after few months.
The story of Mahmoud is not unique and appears to be true for many young people who, like him , had no political affiliation but felt compelled to take part in the fight against Israel's ruthless assault on their homes, families and friends. In the early days of the occupation, the author argues, the Palestinians "longed for equality and insisted on the universal applicability of human rights. These values remain intact but one must also agree that every nation, and Palestinians are no exception, has its breaking point. It is only human, following decades of disproportionately dispensed suffering, violence and dispossession that one's determination to attain freedom would partly concede to an overpowering sense of desperation and raw desire for vengeance”.
The feelings experienced by young Palestinians are not alien to me. Having been brought up on nationalistic Zionist tenets, I am only too familiar with the admiration accorded by many Israelis to the historic Israeli underground movement -Irgun- which in its desperation to rid of the British Mandate resorted to many acts of sheer sabotage including the blowing up of the king David hotel in Jerusalem (1946) that resulted in the loss of dozens of innocent people.
Despite his understanding of the root causes of suicide bombing and self -destruction, Baroud rightly observes that "suicide bombing played well into the hands of Israel, thanks in part to the unbalanced and out of context media coverage...only Palestinian seemed to target civilian "in the hearts of their cities". Israel’s much higher rate of killing Palestinians in the heart of their overpopulated refugee camps was always justified under the banner of "self defense". In his quest for the high moral ground the author implores the Palestinian resistance factions to desist from targeting Israeli civilians arguing that "it is imprudent for the occupied - who surely posses the moral edge - to utilize the unmerited methods of the occupier. International law makes a clear distinction, as should the Palestinian resistance, between occupying military forces and civilians. If Palestinians waver from this critical line of reasoning, their historically virtuous struggle risking being diluted with moral corruption”.
Baroud is equally critical of the feud between the Palestinian factions who, in the wake of Israel disengagement from Gaza, offered ammunitions to Israel's argument "that under the current Palestinian leadership a "viable" Palestinian statehood could not possibly be obtained ". He decries the corruption of the Palestinian Authority and points out that "Palestinian factions who took upon themselves to cleanse the P.A. of corruption in Gaza and elsewhere could not have possibly picked a worse time, since the world's attention was supposed to remain fixed on Israel’s Separation Wall, deemed officially illegal by the I.C.J. verdict”. The International Court of Justice's ruling on the illegality of the Separation Wall is seen by the author, and indeed by human rights practitioners, as reinstating the legitimacy of the Palestinian struggle. .At the same time, Baroud contends that the "ruling will remain in the realm of the intangible until those involved in the conflict recognize their legal and political duty towards international law”.
The media’s deliberate bias and the influence of the pro-Zionist lobby, coupled with the "inaptitude and ineffectiveness of the Arab voice in Western media", are seen by the author as a major obstacle to reaching an understanding of the Palestinian cause. Baroud is not alone in highlighting the impact of the pro-Israeli lobby on US policy and the media. A number of academics and political commentators have recently pointed out the damaging effects such an influence has on the US policy in the Middle East - most notably , President Jimmy Caters' recent book : Palestine: Peace not Apartheid ( 2006). However, the pressure on the media is not unique to the US. In Britain the BBC has been subjected to continued complaints from the Jewish community about its "unfair representation" of the Israeli side .Yet , an independent report on the impartiality of the BBC's coverage of the Israeli - Palestinian conflict pointed out to the BBC's "failure to convey adequately the disparity in the Israeli and Palestinian experience, reflecting the fact that one side is in control and the other lives under occupation" ( April 2006 - p.6).
The death of Yasser Arafat (November 2004) and the subsequent rise of Hamas in the local election, coupled with Israel’s unilateral "disengagement" from Gaza (December 2004), signaled the end of the Palestinian Second Uprising. Nevertheless, the author asserts, “the Palestinian resistance will continue as long as the circumstances contributed to its commencement remain in place”.
Those circumstances have dramatically worsened since the democratic election in the Occupied Territories which brought Hamas into power (January 2006). Western leaders chose to discount the elections' results and bring Hamas to its knees by withdrawing economic aid from the besieged Palestinians - whose suffering has become intolerable under the draconian sanctions, and the continued brutality of Israel’s military regime. Yet, in spite of their unendurable hardship the Palestinians have not lost their aspirations for statehood and freedom which found their unbridled expressions in the Second Palestinian Intifada.
Ramzy Baroud's book offers a deep and unique insight into the underlying aspects of the Palestinian uprising and into their complex, and often misunderstood, interplay. But above all it is a compelling book whose author's compassionate and truthful narratives could not fail to touch the conscience of the many across the world who have not abandoned their sense of justice and humanity.
1- Ramzy Baroud , Searching Jenin :Eyewitness Accounts of the Israeli Invasion; Cune press (2002)
Book Review: The Second Palestinian Intifada by Ramzy Baroud
By Prof. Fred Wilcox
All too often, historians and scholars write about war from a comfortable distance. Readers do not feel the pain of families driven from their homes by invading armies. We do not hear children scream in terror when their siblings and parents are murdered in front of them. Human suffering is just another episode in a war-torn world.
In The Second Palestinian Intifada, Ramzy Baroud defies such polite conventions by taking readers on a journey into the heart of the Palestinian peoples’ struggle to survive war, massacres, assassinations, poverty, and exile.
A prominent writer, scholar, historian, and editor, (Searching Jenin: Eyewitness Accounts of the Israeli Invasion), Mr. Baroud grew up in a poverty-stricken refugee camp. He lived among Palestinians who grew old holding the rusted keys to homes confiscated by the Israeli government. His own grandfather kept hope alive by listening to the radio, believing that one day he would hear the call to return to his beloved olive orchards and the only way of life he and his ancestors had ever known. Instead, the author’s grandfather died hearing the sounds of an army determined to destroy the will of the Palestinian people.
Ramzy Baroud was a high school student in Gaza when the first Palestinian Intifada broke out on December, 1987. At the time, he writes, “….grief stricken residents of my Gaza refugee camp were consumed with other more worldly matters; would they eat today, would they find clean water, would they seize their long-awaited freedom?” In spite of these concerns, Palestinians rose together against an illegal and relentlessly brutal occupation. Writes Baroud:
“It was an awesome awakening which forced all parties that had traditionally laid claim to the Palestinian struggle to relinquish their stake. Ordinary Palestinians took to the streets, defying the Israeli army and articulating a collective stance that echoed a seemingly eternal commitment across the generations.”
Ramzy Baroud does not romanticize violence. He simply states, without rancor and with a quiet passion, what it is like to live, not year after year, but decade after decade, watching children go hungry and suffer brain damage from malnutrition, watching the Israeli army harass, insult, disappear, and murder friends and family; watching, perhaps most tragically, young men and women blow themselves to pieces in crowded Israeli cafes. Baroud wants readers to understand the reasons behind these attacks, but he argues that suicide bombers mimic the indiscriminate brutality of the occupation.
Palestinians who resist the occupation suffer terrible consequences, but they are not alone. An Israeli sniper in the Jenin refugee wounded Ian Hook, a United Nations coordinator. Mr. Hook bled to death when the IDF refused to permit an ambulance to take him to a hospital. On the same day Hook was murdered, Israeli soldiers shot and wounded a twenty-three year-old Irish activist, Caoimhe Butterly, who was standing in the line of fire between the IDF and Palestinian children. On March 16, American peace activist Rachel Corrie was attempting to keep an Israeli bulldozer driver from destroying a house in the Rafah refugee camp south of Gaza City. Rachel was wearing a florescent orange vest and calling through a megaphone, but the driver deliberately ran her over, then reversed his machine and ran back over her body again. Commentators in the United States called Rachel “stupid,” while the “pro-Israeli crowd” claimed that she was offering protection to a gang of terrorists.
The Second Palestinian Intifida chronicles the crimes that former Prime Minister Arial Sharon and many other Israeli politicians have committed against the Palestinian people. But these details are less important, really, than the questions the author poses time and again in this book: Why does the United States continue to fund the expropriation of Palestinian land? Why have a succession of U.S. administrations supported Israel’s illegal occupation of Gaza and the West Bank? How could it be that the lives of Palestinian children are so much less important than their counterparts in Israel?
Writing about the Camp David accords, the author points out that Israel did not place a legitimate offer on the table. On the contrary, according to Palestinian intellectual, Hanan Ashrawi, Israeli negotiators failed to present a written proposal to their counterparts in the Palestinian delegation. The “offer,” touted by the American media as a reasonable settlement, was for the occupied territories to be cut into three cantons, “separated by Israeli military zones and Israeli-only bypass roads, of the continuous presence of illegal settlements, and of Israel’s domination over Occupied East Jerusalem…”
This is not a book for those who want surface, sanitized, accounts of the Palestinian Diaspora. Ramzy Baroud is committed to truth telling, and his new book will undoubtedly disturb, shock, and outrage his readers. One can only hope that those who claim to love and support the state of Israel will not only read, but study, this important book. Not to make anyone feel ashamed, but so that even Israel’s most ardent supporters will understand that no nation can brutalize, indeed terrorize, an innocent people forever.
The Second Palestinian Intifada is available in many gift shops across the US and Europe, and can be obtained from Amazon.com, plutobooks.com, and other online venues.
-Fred A. Wilcox is an associate professor in the writing department at Ithaca College, Ithaca, New York. He is the editor and author of many books. He has spent his entire adult life writing and teaching about war and nonviolence. His book: Waiting for an Army To Die, was chosen by the American Library Association as among its "most notable books" in two categories.
The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle
By Linda S. Heard
The Daily Star, Egypt
Baroud is a Palestinian-American brought up in a Gaza refugee camp yet his narrative is free of self-pity
The Israel-Palestine conflict is tragically the most enduring and, arguably, the most written-about. Yet often sincere truth-seekers are left in the dark due to the relentless propaganda emanating from either from professional spin masters or people whose psyches are bound-up with the problem affecting their impartiality.
The truth concerning the breakdown of the Oslo Accords and the subsequent 2000 Palestinian uprising has been deliberately obfuscated by American and Israeli politicians out to blame an occupied people for their own failures.
With his latest book “The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle” Ramzy Baroud lays out the facts, adds a nuanced perspective and busts several popular myths.
A syndicated columnist and editor of The Palestine Chronicle, the author has followed the twists and turns of the conflict for most of his life. His first works were published “all along the walls of Gaza’s refugee camps”, he says.
Baroud is a Palestinian-American brought up in a Gaza refugee camp yet his narrative is free of self-pity. He does, however, recall the mood of the camp where “persistently grief stricken residents” were consumed with such questions as “would they eat today, would they find clean water, would they seize their long-awaited freedom?”
In the Preface, Baroud describes the Second Palestinian Uprising as “a time when both sides oppressor and oppressed have become intimately and painfully affected by the scourge of the Israeli occupation and the subsequent Palestinian resistance”.
At that time he was studying in the United States and was appalled at the way the world’s media “wrangled to construe or misrepresent the causes of the violence” and portrayed the Palestinians as the eternal “wrongdoers, innately violent, politically conniving and manipulative, twisted and essentially terrorist”
While the controversial visit to the Haram El-Sharif by Ariel Sharon - dubbed “the Butcher of Beirut” - was the straw that broke the camel’s back, Baroud effectively paints a larger picture. Months before that fateful visit the Israeli army had been fortifying settlements and invading camps to make it clear to the Palestinians that its May 2000 retreat from Lebanon should not be considered a precedent.
Baroud further attributes the failed Camp David II talks as a contributing factor having exacerbated passions and increased disappointment. Israeli and U.S. commentators are fond of blaming the former Palestinian President Yasser Arafat for that breakdown often adding the slur “the Palestinians never miss the opportunity to miss an opportunity”. Baroud, however, dispels the myth of Ehud Barak’s so-called “generous offer”.
Quoting Robert Malley, Bill Clinton’s then Special Assistant for Arab-Israeli affairs, Baroud explains there was no proposal, generous or otherwise. “Barak never unveiled his proposal, not in writing, not verbally, not even to the United States itself”.
“His strategy was predicated on the belief that Israel ought not to reveal its final position – not even to the United States – until the endgame was in sight”, wrote Malley in an article published in the New York Review of Books.
In a sub-chapter titled “September 11” Baroud addresses another myth; one that bothers many Americans. While the world was grieving images of celebrating Palestinians were flashed into our homes. German newspapers were later to report how an Israeli cameraman set-up that scene offering sweets as an inducement.
Baroud omitted mentioning that but does write about the vigils held by Palestinians to commemorate the death of Americans, and the genuine sympathy that prevailed throughout the occupied territories. “Even if the report was accurate,” he writes, “a few kids and an old woman don’t represent the Palestinian population which consists of millions of people; tens of thousands of them American citizens themselves”.
From there the story takes us through the horrors of Jenin, a camp which Israel claimed was a breeding ground for terrorists. Here, Baroud recounts a particularly poignant moment that occurred as Israeli tanks and bulldozers were doing their worst.
“From inside the camp, using a cell phone with a dying battery, a Palestinian fighter reached Al Jazeera satellite television. ‘I just wanted to tell the proud people of the world not to worry, we are resisting and will fight to the last drop of blood’.”
Also discussed is the Bush administration’s demonizing of Yasser Arafat and the power struggles between Arafat and the current Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, which he terms “a struggle between competing visions amid mounting internal and external pressure” and threats of assassination.
Briefly Baroud allows himself to become emotional. It seems the death of the Palestinian writer Edward Said had a very personal impact upon him. “Said’s words dug deep into our hearts, broke the boundaries of culture, religion and politics. He tackled our humanity before reaching out to our minds,” he writes.
In his own book Ramzy Baroud has followed the path of his mentor. He’s not only a fine wordsmith he has renounced using its pages as a platform “to vent, censure or settle scores.”
“The Second Intifada” will capture the heart of anyone who is willing to cast aside his prejudices, pre-judgments and pre-conceptions long enough to study the facts and empathize with the pain of a tormented people in desperate need of respite.
It should be required reading in schools and universities so that future generations will avoid inheriting the blinkers of their parents for only then can the ideal of peace become reality.
-Linda S. Heard is a specialist writer on Middle East affairs based in Cairo.
Refuting the Double Standard
By Sally Bland
The Second Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle; Ramzy Baroud; London and Ann Arbor: Pluto Press, 2006; Pp. 216
Ramzy Baroud needs no introduction to readers of The Jordan Times, since his columns appear regularly in these pages. Still, reading this book gives a new perspective on Baroud, as well as on the subject he addresses. It is, in fact, the first comprehensive book in English on the second Intifada, covering the whole span of five years, with an epilogue that updates into early 2006 and the election of Hamas.
Born in Gaza’s Bureij refugee camp, Baroud was in high school when the first Intifada broke out. By the time the second uprising started in 2000, he was studying in the US. Currently, he teaches mass communication at Australia’s Curtin University of Technology. The combination of these facts means that Baroud’s account is both an insider’s view and an objective commentary cognizant of pertinent international responses and media coverage.
Baroud addresses the second Intifada chronologically and thematically. A chapter is devoted to each year, focusing on a particularly salient issue. The first chapter deals with the causes of the Intifada, the second with the international solidarity that it garnered, the third with corruption and calls for reform, the fourth with the Israeli separation wall and the death of president Yasser Arafat, and the fifth with the demise of the Intifada.
In these chapters, Baroud wisely focuses on analyzing the main trends, rather than chronicling every single happening. A day-by-day account is included as a timeline in the appendix, making the book a valuable resource. Though not a long or dense book, “The Second Intifada” covers a lot of territory. Interweaving his own experience and the personal stories of others with well-documented information, and consistently highlighting the human aspect, Baroud contextualizes events, thus giving a historic panorama of the Palestinian cause as such, not only the most recent Intifada.
For example, noting a particularly brutal assault on Khan Younis in the spring of 2001, Baroud gives a short history of the camp from its creation after the 1948 expulsion and its occupation by the Israeli army in the 1956 war when 275 civilians were killed in a single night, to its heroic resistance following the 1967 war and in the first Intifada. Similar background information is provided on Jenin camp and many other locations in Palestine.
Baroud’s account is a powerful indictment of what he so aptly terms Israel’s “audacious mandate of institutionalised violence”, from the bulldozing of homes and the uprooting of trees, to targeted assassinations and indiscriminate killing of civilians. (p. 33)
He astutely analyses how this “mandate” is perpetuated by the Bush administration’s unconditional support to Israel and the increasing failure of the United Nations to act on its own principles, especially when it comes to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
If the book can be subsumed under a single theme, it is that of challenging the double standard and refuting the many misconceptions plaguing the Palestinian people’s struggle, and the way it is dealt with by most Western governments and media to the tune of “blaming the victim”.
Baroud shows passionate commitment to the truth, also addressing shortcoming on the Palestinian side. He provides no lame excuses for the killing of civilians, no matter by whom, he has no patience with corruption, nor with the Palestinian leadership’s ill-advised negotiating tactics and lack of strategy. But, again, everything is put in context.
In a serious, judicious tone, he addresses internal Palestinian differences, providing a useful reference point for judging today’s situation.
Those outside the arena of direct conflict, including Palestinian intellectuals like himself, are also subject to criticism: “In fact, few of us bother to find out what can be done to help those fortunate enough to evade the bullets and bulldozers. But we indulge enthusiastically in analyzing Sharon’s motives, as if such senseless murder might possibly adhere to some kind of logic.” (p. 101)
As much as he paints a bleak picture of reality, as much as he shows how Palestinians have been victimized, whether by the Israeli military, successive US administrations or the media, Baroud also gives hope for the future.
Based on the great resilience exhibited by Palestinians over the years, he argues persuasively for the continuation of popular resistance: “With every uprooted tree, there was a farmer holding tightly to its roots, with every inch of confiscated land, there was an old man kneeling to the ground, sticking his fingers deep into the soil, and refusing to part, with every fallen child, there was another child coloring a flag.” (p. 119)
The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle
The Second Palestinian Intifada - Book Review
By Jim Miles
A chronicle is a “continuous register of events on order of time” and within that framework, Ramzy Baroud recounts the reality of the Intifada as seen from inside the wall, through the distorted lenses of the western media, as well as a more analytical view of politics. These three themes - the ‘wall’, the media, and politics – surface time and again within the narrative of events.
The introduction presents the underlying reality of all Israeli actions, that its success “in fragmenting physical and geographical Palestine is matched by its success in having shattered the social, political, and economic strata as well,” and they “have been systematic and ongoing since well before the Second Intifada.” The end purpose is a negation of the Palestinians as a people and as a geographical entity so that greater Israel may be realized.
It is both a personal story and a societal story, a narrative that presents a global view while at the same time relating the gritty reality of everyday events when a “policy of starvation, assassination, and systematic killing is imposed – when people are brutalized in the streets, when schools are raided by Apache helicopters, when F16s erratically bombard villages and towns, when a whole nation is collectively abused and violated with almost no protection.” For the author, it is life itself, “As for me, I am Palestinian: I grew up in the Gaza ghetto and need not reverse the picture to understand. Outrage is now part of my anatomy.”
The ‘wall’, the ‘security fence’, the ‘separation barrier’, whatever its title, has become a symbol of Israel intentions just as much as it is the reality of Israeli intentions. Rather than following easily demarcated defensive positioning, the wall contorts itself around and through communities, between people and their farmlands and wells and schools, and then through the schoolyard itself. Rather than being built along the original green line, the line marking the end results of the 1967 war, it absorbs many Palestinian communities within West Bank territory that are obviously destined to be eliminated and replaced by settlements. Like all walls it is porous, almost entirely under Israeli control, a barrier of humiliation, degradation, and denial of all civil rights, including the geographic right to one’s own land.
It is illegal. “The construction of the wall and its associated regimes are contrary to international law…All states are under obligations not to recognize the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall.”
Yet to follow western media, it is all the fault of the Palestinians, that the Israelis are doing nothing but good against a violent, dangerous, and uncontrollable people. Western media, particularly in the United States and Canada, relate the Israeli position as – pardon the cliché – if it were gospel, which unfortunately for many it has become. “Israel understands the impact of the media in the world, and takes the business very seriously.” The occupiers become the victims, a story that ties in well with the media spin on American military efforts throughout the Middle East, the ‘evil’ other of the terrorists. Yet for the true victims “driven to the verge of desperation, blowing oneself up might actually seem like a rational way out of a despairing situation.”
Baroud argues that Palestinians should not succumb to Israeli values and destroy citizens but to “maintain its moral edge, the Palestinian revolution should not depart from its all-encompassing, tolerant, and inclusive path, it should not be tainted by the fallacies of the occupier, it should not fall into the trap of fury, racial and religious exclusivity, and revengeful acts against civilians.”
For their own reasons, geopolitical with oil and control of the Middle East, religious with the strengthening fundamentalist evangelicalism, and the neocon desire to rule the world without allowing anyone else to interfere, the United States has provided unequivocal support to the Israeli position. Americans are not adverse to ghettos and have allowed them throughout their history. Palestine is another area to be controlled, another ghetto, seldom heard from, even less seen, to further America’s own political purposes.
This book is as much an indictment of the media and those that manipulate it as anything else. The story of the Palestinian people through the five years of the Intifada is grossly misrepresented in western media. Any periods of ‘peace’ are always fragmented by Palestinian terrorists, always demonstrating that they are incapable of controlling themselves, that they are essentially an uncivilized people. Those same periods of peace are ongoing periods of Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people, but those daily events are seldom recorded in news articles.
The most recent events in Palestine, and the Middle East, demonstrate perfectly well the major themes that are presented in Ramzy Baroud’s personal and…what - nationalistic, cultural, societal, political, geographical, figurative…account in “The Second Palestinian Intifada.” Democracy and its attributes have been shown to be nothing but a mirage, an ephemeral quality that is to be denied once its reality is attained contrary to American interests and expectations.
The recent election of Hamas, receiving 74 out of 132 seats in the Palestine Legislative Council, shows the Palestinian denial of the media narrative against them. In what was probably the most truly democratic election anywhere in the globe, including the paragon of democracy the U.S. itself with its flawed system, the Palestinian vote represented the spirit of the people against all physical and emotional odds.
Not surprisingly, the western media, following Israel’s lead, reported only on the non-validity of a terrorist group controlling a government, even though “Hamas held truce throughout most of 2005 and then were asked to accept Israel outright even while Israeli atrocities continued” and without any guarantees of any kind from the Israelis in return.
Taken in the larger context of the Middle East, the Americans and Canadians withheld funds intended to assist the Palestinian government with its civic objectives with both governments explicitly stating they would not negotiate with ‘terrorists’.
The wall continues to grow, a sinuous cancerous band destroying Palestinian land and society. The western politicians continue to be held in thrall to the Israeli perspective. The media continues to misrepresent the ongoing struggle in Palestine. But the epilogue of the Second Palestinian Intifada is both positive and hopeful, while still serving as a warning that a subjugated people can never be fully denied. “The Second Palestinian Uprising…will always be remembered by most Palestinians, as well as by people of conscience everywhere, as a fight for freedom, human rights, and justice. It will remain a powerful reminder that popular resistance is still an option – and one to be reckoned with at that.”
Ramzy Baroud writes with integrity and passion on events that should be universally known but are not represented in western media. “The Second Palestinian Intifada” provides a realistic and honest perspective on the critical events that are affecting Palestine, the Middle East, and, to follow, all of us collectively. It is a people’s story that needs to be made known.
-Jim Miles is a Canadian educator and a regular contributor of opinion pieces and book reviews to Palestine Chronicles. His interest in this topic stems originally from an environmental perspective, which encompasses the militarization and economic subjugation of the global community by corporate governance and by the American government.
Unmasking the Second Palestinian Intifada
By Remi Kanazi
Over the last five years, the Palestinian people have faced a host of obstacles in their fight for sovereignty, preventing them the opportunity to create a life those in the Western world brag about. A principal impediment facing the Palestinian struggle today is the constant reaffirmation that the Palestinian people—deemed by Israel and the US—are “terrorists,” “militants,” or animalistic beings lesser than those of the “civilized world.” In Ramzy Baroud’s new book, The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of People’s Strugge, this myth is shattered. The propaganda that has infiltrated Western discourse has proven counterfeit; misinformation that has framed US policy regarding Israel, leading to a multitude of double standards imposed upon Palestinians. These inconsistencies have exponentially magnified the suffering of the Palestinian people and hindered their efforts to gain control of the land in which they live.
Baroud poignantly describes the dilemma Palestinians face. The generalization that all Palestinians are “terrorists” or “militants,” allows the Israeli government to act with virtual impunity and equips Israeli forces with a moral endowment; they are acting in the name of “good” and challenging this policy is tantamount to collusion with the “forces of evil.” Baroud offers the reader this grim truth, “Being a Palestinian activist means you could be targeted in a taxicab, in your office, sipping coffee with your neighbors, or sitting in your home. When you live, you live in poverty, deprived of all freedoms and joys of life. And when you die, it’s a horrible death by a surface-to-surface missile, a car bomb, or a sniper’s bullet.”
The sincerity and passion in Baroud’s approach is remarkable and commendable. The reader is given the opportunity to feel the angst and heartfelt anger sparked inside Baroud, a Palestinian born in a Gazan refugee camp and a writer who searched Jenin in hopes of finding the truth and preserving the stories of those that had suffered. Baroud has worked tirelessly to shine light on the mischaracterized Palestinian; civilians and activists who have been and continue to be sacrificed as inconsequential variables in Israel’s fight for “the greater good.”
For more than five years, successive Israeli governments implemented policies that undermined the possibilities of freedom and democracy in Occupied Territories, the very principals the United States proclaimed it tried to spread throughout the region. Palestinians further saw their human rights and chances for sustenance and sustainability calculatedly stripped away by Israel’s supposed “moral” military. Time and again, Baroud debunks the falsehoods put forth by Israel and America, falsehoods consequently disseminated by Western media outlets. Israel’s objective is to reinforce the notion that it is the Palestinian people who are the aggressors, while Israel is the patient victim—acting in self defense under only the most extreme cases. Baroud notes, “It’s the same dreadful scenario repeated incessantly. Israel murders many innocent civilians; the international community hears nothing, sees nothing, and does nothing…in anger and desperation, a Palestinian blows himself up in a crowd of Israeli…the Western world is utterly overcome with a wave of condemnations of “Palestinian terrorism,” “the enemies of peace.”
Baroud comes back to the issue of suicide bombings several times in his book. An erroneous claim presented in Western circles is that the Palestinian people are brought up to hate, kill, foment intolerance and engage in regressive thought and actions. This supposedly triggers the reason for a Palestinian to become a suicide bomber. Baroud aptly asserts, however, that Palestinians are not driven to end their lives because they are products of intolerance or consumed with hatred. Rather he gives a more practical motivation for one to commit such an act. Baroud states, “When a policy of starvation, assassination, and systematic killing is imposed, when people are brutalized in the streets, when schools are raided by Apache helicopters…when a whole nation is collectively abused and violated with almost no protection…for those victims…blowing oneself up might actually seem like a rational way out of a despairing situation.”
Baroud makes it clear that the way forward is to take the moral high ground, no matter how hard the struggle, and no matter what dividends one may think it yields, politically or personally. This is what has fundamentally separated the occupier and occupied for so long in this conflict; a clear cut victim existed, it was the Palestinians, suffering 39 years of occupation, with many still affected by the hardships of dispossession 58 years later. Baroud writes, “To maintain its moral edge, the Palestinian revolution should not depart from its all-encompassing, tolerant, and inclusive path, it should not be tainted by the fallacies of the occupier…These values must remain untainted, wholesome even, so that the will of the people might some day prevail over tyranny and oppression. And it will, of this I am certain.”
The spirit of non-violent resistance has been alive since the birth of the Palestinian struggle. Most notably, the non-violent protests of the first Intifada, which were met by the iron fist of the Israeli state. This iron fist policy was a specialty of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon during the second Intifada. Baroud writes, “They go to the streets to protest the killing of a child, and they return home carrying another shot while protesting.” Non-violent protests have been plentiful in the second Intifada, but through growing desperation, measures that were traditionally absent from the Palestinian struggle were taken up by individuals consumed with feelings of helplessness and anger, triggered by the wrongs inflicted upon their people by the Israeli state.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the “Butcher of Beirut,” the rogue military man who wasn’t afraid of controversy and saw diplomacy as a nuisance, wasn’t scared to put down resistance of any kind, whether the resistance came in the form of children throwing rocks or a group non-violently protesting against the Apartheid Wall. His bulldog tactics and ruthless policies were not only his modus operandi but his raison d’être. It was in this context that his policies were carried out, without regard to “collateral damage.”
Baroud aptly asserts that the Palestinian response to Israeli aggression “should have been a wake-up call for the Israeli government, making it clear that violence begets nothing but violence and…that a solution to the conflict would only come through the implementation of international law, not Apache helicopters and missiles.” If the Israeli government wouldn’t pull back the reigns of Ariel Sharon, then surely the US, the UN, the EU or any country with the slightest backbone could have uttered words of condemnation against Israel. The status quo, however, continued: America rallied around Israel, the rest of the international community remained silent and the Palestinians suffered the consequences.
In deep rooted conflicts, it is important to note that intention matters much more than action. Take for example, the unilateral disengagement of the Gaza Strip; Sharon had no intention of giving the Palestinian people autonomy, nor did he have the intention of giving Gazans control of their resources, airspace, territorial water, or borders. Sharon saw the pullout as a necessary militaristic and political move, a shift in policy that benefited Israel, without any consideration for the lives of the 1.4 million Palestinians that would be left living in an open air prison, under de facto Israeli occupation