The launch of the widely-acclaimed book ‘Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders & Intellectuals Speak Out’ by Dr Ramzy Baroud and Professor Ilan Pappe was held today in London’s Wellcome Centre, commemorating another milestone in the struggle for Palestine’s freedom from occupation.
In Middle East Monitor’s first in-person event two years since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, a panel of speakers came together to discuss the future of Palestine from a grassroots perspective.
After introductions, the panel was kicked off by Ilan Pappe . The Israeli historian stated that the book is more than just about the ongoing Nakba or persecution of Palestinians, but focuses on a broader vision for the future of the struggle.
Stating that the book contains Palestinians’ tales of steadfastness and courage, he expressed his belief that one day the struggle of almost a century of Israeli occupation will end.
Dr. Ramzy Baroud – the Palestinian-American journalist, author, editor of the Palestine Chronicle, echoed his co-author’s comments and passionately recalled his life and youth in a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip where he witnessed first-hand Israeli war crimes.
Mentioning his father’s involvement in the Palestinian socialist movement, Baroud also recalled how taxi drivers in Gaza used to spread rumours of armies coming to save the Strip, and who still expressed hope even when more pragmatic people denied the rumours. “Support and passion is there, but there are no armies coming,” Baroud said.
Mentioning that many leaders of the Hamas movement were his classmates, he stressed that it is a decision for Palestinians to make regarding their preferred forms or representatives of resistance, not the decision of outsiders. He also iterated that the criticism and analysis of resistance groups and ideologies are issues discussed by those in academia instead of regular Palestinians or resistance figures. Palestinian resistance began long before Hamas, Fatah, or other factions, he said.
Baroud concluded by outlining the Western pressure which has sought to control or tame the Palestinian discourse, forcing them to champion the ‘peace process’ rather than resistance. “Palestinians have been marginalised out of the conversation, and the fate of Palestine has been given to a group of very very corrupt men,” he stated.
Jan Chalmers – a nurse and embroiderer who worked for UNRWA in Gaza in 1969/70 before founding the Palestinian History Tapestry Project in 2011 – spoke, recalled her youth and how she got into the Palestinian cause.
Jehan Alfarra, MEMO journalist and the co-chair and business developer of the Palestinian History Tapestry Project, finally spoke of her life and youth growing up in Gaza, before she went to the US and the West to continue her education. She stated that the grip of Israeli occupation over Palestinians is that of fragmentation, and how she felt the impact of the blockade in regards to lack of water access and the supply of goods.
She added that Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem all face varying hardships and tribulations, but go through the same struggle.