Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search


Ramzy Baroud: Book Review "Live from Palestine"

Live from Palestine: A Reflective Examination of the Role of Internationals in the Palestinian Struggle

Book Review By Ramzy Baroud


Live from Palestine:
Internationals and Palestinian Direct Action against the Israeli Occupation

Edited by Nancy Stohlman, Laurieann Aladin
Preface by Noam Chomsky
Foreword by Dr. Mustafa Barghouth

224 pp, South End Press

$17.00 '


Much has been written about the Middle East and its primary conflict, the Palestinian-Israeli dispute. With the passing of time, the uniqueness of what has be written, and likely what's yet to be, is thinning. Academically, most writers tend to borrow and built on each other's observations and endlessly theorize on the conflict and its long-sought solution, while bearing little knowledge of its human face and value. Journalistically, misconception, therefore, misconstruction of reality has greatly tainted the Middle East conflicts' discourse altogether.

"Live from Palestine: International and Palestinian Direct Action against the Israeli Occupation," hardly falls into any of the above categories. It's unique, not in its nifty presentation and arrangement of essays, but due to the exceptionality of the events that brought about its composition. Much of what the book contains is the outcome of gallant experiences, of individuals who placed their lives at the range of Israeli army bullets, literally, all with the hope, among other hopes, to humanize a conflict that was unfairly dehumanized for decades.

Nancy Stohlman and Laurieann Aladin, the book's editors, have done a remarkable job of reducing the seemingly fantastic job -that of fairly representing what has been intently mischaracterized, to 224 pages. Yet the value of the book exceeds the number of pages, or the mere sharing of experiences, although powerful in every stretch of the imagination. The swath of intellectual accountability, which this book opens up, however, for those truly troubled by war and injustice is what's worth counting.

"Live from Palestine" offers two correlated narrations; one of Palestinians, like that of Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, who believes that the action displayed voluntarily by thousands of internationals with the aim of providing, even if sometimes symbolic protection for the largely undefended Palestinian population, separates the current Palestinian uprising from its predecessor in 1987. Such action, he says, in his Forward to the book, "Has demonstrated the amazing power of the people."

The other narration that the book presents is that of the internationals themselves, mostly members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), among other groups.

Unlike my initial impression, "Live from Palestine" was not another round of intellectual persuasion of why Palestinians ought to follow Gandhi's nonviolence dogma and abandon theirs. In fact, non-violence as a means of resistance has been an intertwined value of the Palestinian long march for freedom, which sprung decades before the first Palestinian suicide bombing was ever recorded, a value that was clearly highlighted throughout the book. But what this document attempted to achieve to a great extent is a self-examination by those who took on the task of solidifying with the Palestinian people, not in mere utterances, but in direct, tangible involvement. "Direct action is a rejection of the idea that common people are powerless and must follow orders," Mark Schneider, an activist from Colorado stresses in his essay, connecting the solidarity movement's work in Palestine to that of the droves of volunteers who came in aid of the Spanish revolution in 1936. Despite the dissimilarity of some of the tactics employed by the two groups, both actions stemmed from the same trench, embodied in the prevailing human spirit.

In his essay, "New Current in Palestine," the late Palestinian scholar Edward Said, says, "since when does a military occupied people have a responsibility for a peace movement?" The question was, of course, rhetorical, directed at "US and Israeli liberals", who are "so quick to condemn violence, while saying nothing about the criminal and disgraceful occupation itself." Professor Noam Chomsky complements Said's point. Those who would "advice the victims to adopt nonviolence strategy," must adhere to the familiar principal of advocacy of nonviolence: "If you want to be taken seriously, stand beside those who will bear the consequences of following your advice."

"Live from Palestine" in indeed central to the ongoing debate, yet it refrains from tossing judgment at a besieged nation, offering insight, a sense of accountability, personal responsibility even. One of the essayists, Rachel Corrie is a prime example. "I think it is a good idea for us all to drop everything and devote our lives to making this stop," she wrote in a letter to her mother from Rafah in the Gaza Strip. "I don't think it's an extremist thing to do any more. Disbelief and horror is what I feel. Disappointment. I am disappointed that this is the reality of our world, and that we, in fact, participate in it."

Corrie's resolve on changing the horrifying reality she witnesses provoked an Israeli army bulldozer driver who crushed her repeatedly under the wheels of his heavy machine, a US-supplied Caterpillar, as she tried in vain to prevent the demolishing of a Palestinian home. Corrie's blood adorned the humanity that united all of these volunteers under a common, upright cause. Equally important, it further highlighted the irreplaceable role internationals play, a role now crucial for the Palestinian Intifada to override the media bias and blockade.

There is a growing solidarity movement streaming from all over the world into the Occupied Territories; individuals who congregate in Palestine, motivated, not only by the steadfastness of the Palestinian people, but also by their own strong belief in the value of the individual in the long grinding struggle. Often malnourished, exhausted and sleep-deprived they return home with a message and plenty of experiences to share, stories to tell, and truth to unveil. "Live from Palestine," is the first comprehensive account of these experiences. It's by no means an end of a journey, but a pause of reflection in a continued expedition, of self-discovery, examination and sacrifice. Al-Aqsa Intifada can hardly be understood without the examination of the evolving role, played by the internationals in the ongoing Palestinian struggle, and the latter is unfathomable without reading this unrivaled document, live from Palestine.


- Ramzy Baroud is an American-Arab journalist and author. He is the editor-in-chief of Palestine Chronicle and a researcher for the Qatar-based Aljazeera Net English.

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Reese Erlich: Foreign Correspondent: Trump Plays Both Sides Against The Middle

Is he a hawk? Is he a peacenik? The President keeps us guessing . By Reese Erlich President Donald Trump has convinced Republican isolationists and hawks that he supports their views. That’s a neat trick, since the two groups hold opposing positions. ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Waiting For The Old Bailey: Julian Assange And Britain’s Judicial Establishment

On September 7, Julian Assange will be facing another round of gruelling extradition proceedings, in the Old Bailey, part of a process that has become a form of gradual state-sanctioned torture. The US Department of Justice hungers for their man. The More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Sorry Plight Of The International Education Sector

Tourism and international education have been two of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic. They’re both key export industries. Yet the government response to them has been strikingly different. There has been nothing beyond a few words of ministerial condolence and a $51.6 million package (details below) to get the sector through the pandemic...

Binoy Kampmark: Google’s Open Letter: Fighting Australia’s News Media Bargaining Code

Tech giants tend to cast thin veils over threats regarding government regulations. They are also particularly concerned by those more public spirited ones, the sort supposedly made for the broader interest. Google has given us an example of this ... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Trump’s Current Chances Of Re-Election

By now it seems clear that National have no fresh ideas to offer for how New Zealand could avoid the Covid-19 economic crisis. As in the past, National has set an arbitrary 30% ratio of government debt to GDP that it aims to achieve “in a decade or so,” ... More>>

The Conversation: Rogue Poll Or Not, All The Signs Point To A Tectonic Shift In New Zealand Politics

Richard Shaw AAP(various)/NZ Greens (CC-BY-SA)/The Conversation Strong team. More jobs. Better economy. So say the National Party’s campaign hoardings. Only thing is, last Sunday’s Newshub-Reid Research poll – which had support for the Labour ... More>>

The Coronavirus Republic: Three Million Infections And Rising

The United States is famed for doing things, not to scale, but off it. Size is the be-all and end-all, and the coronavirus is now doing its bit to assure that the country remains unrivalled in the charts of infection . In time, other unfortunates may well ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Altars Of Hypocrisy: George Floyd, Protest And Black Face

Be wary what you protest about. The modern moral constabulary are out, and they are assisted by their Silicon Valley friends in the Social Media club. Should you dare take a stand on anything, especially in a dramatic way, you will be found out ... More>>