The Second Palestinian Intifada: A chronicle of a people's struggle

Daily News Egypt
7 Min Read

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. The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle by Ramzy Baroud (Pluto Press, London) is available at Linda S. Heard is a specialist writer on Middle East affairs based in Cairo.

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