- Ramzy Baroud's "My Father Was A Freedom Fighter"
is more than a book, it is actually a masterpiece. In an overwhelmingly
evoking personal style Baroud manages to bring to light the history of
the Palestinian people and their battle with Israel and Zionism. Through
the story of the Baroud's family the book outlines every event in the history
of the conflict and reflects on the way it transformed the Palestinian
- The book is a heart breaking depressing story of the
Baroud family's journey from paradise to hell. It is a flight that starts
in Beit Daras, a small pictorial village in the south of Palestine. It
ends in a Gaza refugee camp. It is a tragic journey of a rural self-sufficient
population that is driven into total dispossession, humiliation and absolute
poverty. And yet, there is a beam of light along the book namely resistance:
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
- 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. We come also to understand the level of the depth
of Israeli brutality. We comprehend why the Palestinians and Arab nations
failed for so many years. As the tide is changing and people around the
world gather a better understanding of the sinister murderous capacity
of the Jewish state, we come to realise that there was not much of a chance
for the Palestinians in 1948 to grasp what they were up against. I would
even take it further and argue that even nowadays, some fail to fully grasp
the depth and strength of the viciousness of Israel and the Zionist ideology.
However, reading Baroud's book reveals the dark truth: the people of Gaza
at least know it all by now.
- In a very thorough manner Baroud manages to review the
political shift within the Palestinian society. Through the story of his
father, a self taught intellectual and a Russian literature enthusiast
we learn about the complexity of the relationships between Marx, Arab Nationalism
and Islam. The magical power of the book is due to its natural insistence
to explore the Palestinian history from a Palestinian perspective. It is
Palestino-centric in every possible good sense. After so many years of
left and Jewish hegemony within the Palestinian solidarity discourse, now
is the time to learn what Palestinians think about their reality, about
the Left, Islam, Pan-Arabism, Hamas, PLO, Nakba, Naksa*, Israel, Zionism,
USA, their priorities and so on. Rather than suggesting what should happen
in Palestine, what kind of a state it should be and what political model
the Palestinians should follow, we have here an opportunity to understand
what Palestine and Palestinians are as themselves.
- The Austrian philospher Otto Weininger taught us that
"in art, self-exploration is exploration of the world....." (Weininger
Otto, 2003, Sex and Character, Howard Fertig, New York: Author's preface,
pg. I). The scientist is observing the material and physical world, the
philosopher is looking into the realm of ideas and the artist is looking
into the inner self. As interesting as it may be, the artist is telling
us something about the world just from looking inside. To a certain extent,
My Father Was A Freedom Fighter is such 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.
- Here are Baroud's words describing his transforming moment
while confronting IDF soldiers around the outbreak of the 1stIntifada.
Baroud was a High School student at the time.
- "Engulfed by my own rebellious feelings, I picked
up another stone, and a third. I moved forward, even as bullets flew, even
as my friends began falling all around me. I could finally articulate who
I was, and for the first time on my own terms. My name was Ramzy, and I
was the son of Mohammed, a freedom fighter from Nuseirat, who was driven
out of his village of Beit Daras, and a grandson of a peasant who died
with a broken heart and was buried beside the grave of my brother, a little
boy who died because there was no medicine in the refugee camp's UN clinic.
My mother was Zarefah, a refugee who couldn't spell her name, whose illiteracy
was compensated for by a heart overflowing with love for her children and
her people, a woman who had the patience of a prophet. I was a free boy;
in fact, I was a free man" (My Father Was A freedom Fighter. Ramzy
Baroud, pg' 132)
- 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.
- Long Live Palestine
- * Naksa- an Arabic name for the defeat of the Arabs during
- To buy Ramzy's book on Amazon