We are delighted to present the introduction to Ramzy Baroud’s latest book entitled These Chains Will be Broken: Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons (Clarity Press, 2020). The book’s foreword is written by Khalida Jarrar, Member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and a prominent figure of Palestinian resistance who has been detained on multiple occasions by Israeli forces. The book is also graced by an afterword from Richard Falk, former UN Special Rapporteur “on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories” and Professor Emeritus at Princeton University. The illustrations in These Chains Will be Broken have been made by Dalia Alkayyali.
Regarding this essential text that brings forth the (till now) strategically contained and hidden away world of Palestinian prisoners, Ramona Wadi writes in her review that “What the news reports eliminate, Ramzy Baroud’s new book […] pushes to the fore. Palestinian prisoners, misrepresented through statistics, news reports, exploitation and glorification, tell slivers of their stories in this collection of first-hand narratives that stand as a testimony for both Palestinian resistance and resilience.”
This introduction to the book, presented here by Baroud, is titled “Palestine’s Organic Intellectuals”, and is published online for the first time as a preview to Ramzy’s larger work, courtesy of the publisher, Clarity Press. True to its title, this introduction begins with Antonio Gramsci’s definition of “organic intellectual”, aptly contextualizing the condition and role of Palestinian prisoners in their consistent transgenerational “anti-colonial struggle”, as their stories, narratives and modes of resistance are presented in Baroud’s book for the greater world to acknowledge.
As a writer, Baroud has intentionally elaborated a textual platform within this book, from which multiple incarcerated Palestinian voices emerge telling of their struggles and experiences, with multiple interviews that highlight the stories of both Palestinian women and men held in captivity. The author has, according to his own words, tried to eliminate or reduce his role as a “middle man” or textual intermediary, with the book primarily focusing on the testimonies and experiences narrated by the prisoners themselves.
The outcome of this mode of writing effectively establishes the manifestation of resistance and remembrance as purely collective at heart and enshrined in a dispossessed people under constant siege, given that each of its subjects held in captivity do not have the means to communicate with one another in prison yet express parallel aspirations and experiences. Such harsh isolation as incarceration notwithstanding, the Palestinian prisoners, whose words and expressions compose this text, convey the same set of messages, beliefs and commitment to freedom and justice from their individual interjections within the text.
As such, the resulting book reflects the strength of unity and resolve that exists between Palestinians, whether they are incarcerated, living under occupation, indefinitely exiled or kept forcibly secluded. Such strength is one that cannot be easily shaken despite numerous attempts by the Israeli state to invisibilize, misrepresent, undermine, criminalize and silence the people of Palestine, and in the case of this book, particularly those it imprisons through its self-serving laws of occupation.
As the introduction to the book elucidates, These Chains Will be Broken offers readers a greater understanding that could not be possible earlier given the severely restricted environment that Palestinian detainees are faced with. Similarly, the introduction presented here offers a preview of the world that incarcerated Palestinians navigate as they find ways to overcome a whole set of barriers, beyond the ones already present in occupied Palestine.
We have included our standard “Relevant Links” section at the bottom of this introduction as a visual bibliography developed to familiarize readers with this timely book and with the extensive work of its author.
PALESTINE’S ORGANIC INTELLECTUALS
“FOR MY OPINIONS,” wrote Italian intellectual Antonio Gramsci, “I am willing to lose my life, not only to stay in prison. And this is why I am calm and at peace with myself.” Gramsci spent 11 years in prison during the fascist reign over Italy, a brutal regime that crushed every form of political dissent between 1922 and 1943. He died only six days after he was released.
Gramsci’s revolutionary life and untimely death at the age of 46 reflected his own definition of the “organic intellectual,” someone who is not a mere “mover of feelings and passions” but an “active participant in practical life, as constructor and organizer—a ‘permanent persuader,’ not just a simple orator.”
This definition qualifies all men and women to be intellectuals, as per Gramsci’s thinking, even if they do not possess that function in society, simply because “there is no human activity from which every form of intellectual participation can be excluded,” particularly those activities that are guided by “a conscious line of moral conduct.”
All the people whose stories are being told in this book, every single one of them, possess a claim to true, organic intellect. They all fought for an idea, an opinion, were—and are—willing to lose their lives to defend these ideas. In the case of Faris Baroud (“I See You in My Heart”), and many other Palestinian prisoners, they have, indeed, done so.
These are the stories of Palestine’s true intellectuals, women and men, mothers and fathers, children and teens, teachers, fighters and human rights advocates, united by a single motive that transcends region, religion and ideology: resistance, that is, taking a brave moral stance against injustice in all of its forms.
It would be utterly unfair to box Palestinian prisoners into convenient categories of victims or terrorists, because both classifications render an entire nation either victim or terrorist, a notion that does not reflect the true nature of the decades-long Palestinian struggle against colonialism, military occupation and the entrenched Israeli apartheid.
According to United Nations and Palestinian sources, between 750,000 and 800,000 Palestinians have been imprisoned since the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in June 1967. They include 23,000 women and 25,000 children. Currently, there are 5,250 Palestinian political prisoners in Israel, a number that is constantly growing, not only because Israel insists on maintaining its military occupation, but also because Palestinians insist on their right to resist it. Expectedly, Israel dubs any form of Palestinian resistance an act of “terrorism,” a misleading depiction of the reality of Palestinian political dissent which ultimately aims at their dehumanization, and thus justifying the subjugation of an entire nation. But Palestinians are not passive victims, either.
“In the end, we did more than fashion hope out of despair,” wrote Khalida Jarrar, a Palestinian leader and prisoner, in her story, “The Cohort of Defiance”:
We also evolved in our narrative, in the way we perceive ourselves, the prison and the prison guards. We defeated any lingering sense of inferiority and turned the walls of prison into an opportunity. When I saw the beautiful smiles on the faces of my students who completed their high school education in prison, I felt that my mission has been accomplished.
Jarrar, who also wrote the Foreword to this book, is Gramsci’s true organic intellectual in its most ideal manifestation. She has been more than a “mover of feelings and passions,” and has defiantly and tirelessly challenged her tormentors, educated a generation of women who were denied such opportunities in prison, and has never deviated from her strong, revolutionary discourse. It is no surprise that she was imprisoned repeatedly by Israel. Each time, she emerged stronger, more defiant and determined.
Dima al-Wawi is Khalida Jarrar in the making. At the age of 12, she was arrested, tried and imprisoned on the basis of the ever-convenient charges of attempting to stab a fully armed Israeli settler, near the settlement of Karmei Tzur, which was built illegally on Palestinian land that belongs to her town of Halhul, north of Al-Khalil (Hebron).
“After I was released I returned to the Halhul Martyrs School,” she wrote:
It was wonderful to be back, and I cannot wait to finish my education and become a journalist, carrying the message of the prisoners and their suffering to the world. I want to show the world how the children of Palestine are mistreated every day by the occupation.
In prison, many Palestinian female prisoners protected young Dima, serving the role of mother and older sister, in itself an act of solidarity that defines Palestinian society. Israa Ja’abis is one of these prisoners who assumed the role of family; her story inside prison is conveyed through her sister, Mona.
“The harshness of the occupier scarred her face and body, amputated her fingers and is relentlessly trying to break her spirit,” wrote Mona. The fact that Israa embraced Dima during her short stay in the Ofer Prison is proof that the young mother’s spirit was never broken, although severe burns have covered most of her body.
Whether Khalida, Dima, Israa, Ali, Dareen, Faris and all others have met in prison, in court or anywhere else, matters little. Their lives are connected at their very core. The struggle is one and the same. Their stories are elaborations on the same narrative, that of engaged resisters, organic intellectuals who are serving a higher cause than their own freedom: the freedom of their people.
And because Palestinian resistance is a collective experience, the writing of this book has also been a collective effort. It is our attempt to reclaim the narrative of our people, to liberate it from the suffocating confines of political, media and academic discourse and take it into the heart of the resistance. These Chains Will Be Broken is a collection of the stories of Palestinian resisters, either conveyed by them, or through close family members, in an intimate setting that is free from the typical representation and misrepresentation of Palestine and her people. Here, the prisoners will not be defending themselves as if in an Israeli military court, or trying to directly address media reporting about their presumed “guilt.” Nor will the issue of violent vs. non-violent resistance be dealt with. Such a “debate” may satisfy the theoretical preoccupations of western audiences in far-away academic circles, but none of these prisoners—whether accused of killing Israeli soldiers or of writing a poem—have sought to classify their muqawama—resistance—in any way.
The stories in this book were written directly or conveyed in person, through interviews or audio recordings, by those who have lived them. The initial research questions that prisoners or their families were asked to address sought to elicit an understanding of the prison experience and its impact on the individual, the family and the community. The end result provided here expresses the individually unique experience of each prisoner, while highlighting a recurring theme—a thread in the narrative that represents the collective story of Palestinian resistance.
While conducting interviews related to the book with several freed Palestinian prisoners in Istanbul, Turkey in April 2019, I was astonished by the clarity of their political discourse. Of the three prisoners we interviewed, one was associated with the political movement Fatah, another with Hamas, and a third with Islamic Jihad. Despite the seemingly great ideological divides among the three groups, I was struck by the degree of unity and cohesion in their individual narratives when it came to the subject of resistance, whether in or outside prison. As the book demonstrates, muqawama is the common denominator among all prisoners; in fact, among all Palestinians.
The above truth explains, in part, why we have chosen this form of narrative to tell the story of Palestinian prisoners and, by extension, the story of Palestinian resistance as a whole. As in all my previous books, I am compelled by this imperative to relocate the centrality of the Palestine narrative from an Israeli perspective to a Palestinian one, especially one that overlooks the typical, elitist angle and focuses, instead, on retelling the story from the viewpoint of ordinary, poor, underprivileged and working-class Palestinians.
Undoubtedly, however, this work is not mine alone. I and those who have dedicated to putting this book together, are mere conveyors of ideas, notions and the intelligence of Palestine’s true organic intellectuals, even if they are not accorded such a role in society. On the other hand, these are also our stories, for all the Palestinian contributors who helped facilitate and assemble the content of this book have also experienced Israeli imprisonment in various forms. I lived in a Gaza refugee camp for much of my life and was held, along with thousands of my fellow refugees, under protracted military curfews, some lasting months at a time. It is this “positionality” that allowed me, together with other Palestinian researchers, to be able to relate to the text in an entirely different way. This is not a detached journalistic or academic text. It is our own collective story, as well.
Indeed, the “prison” in this book is a metaphor for the collective Palestinian prison experience. All Palestinians are prisoners—those held in besieged Gaza or those trapped behind walls, fences and checkpoints in the West Bank. All experience some manifestation of prison every day of their lives. Even those trapped in their seemingly endless exiles, unable to reunite with their families or visit their Palestinian homes, are also enduring that prison experience in one way or another.
One would dare to claim that Israelis, too, are prisoners, though of a different kind. “A man who takes away another man’s freedom is a prisoner of hatred, he is locked behind the bars of prejudice and narrow-mindedness,” wrote the late iconic anti-Apartheid hero and long-time prisoner, Nelson Mandela. “The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity.”
I believe that this book needed to be written. This stems from my insistence that only “people’s history” or “history from below” is capable of unearthing and fairly conveying reality in the most egalitarian and democratic way. Specifically, people’s history directly defies two, dominant narratives concerning Palestine: the elitist rationalization of Palestinian political reality (which sees history as an outcome of the workings of an individual or a faction/group), and the reductionist approach to any subject concerning Palestinians, a discourse that teeters between the extremist view, which denies their very existence, and that which presents their struggle and national aspirations as a “problem” to be quickly—if not haphazardly—remedied.
The story of Palestine cannot be truly appreciated through the understanding of the counter-claims on this precious piece of land: those made by the original inhabitants of Palestine, the Palestinian people, and those by mostly European colonialists, who began arriving in Palestine in the late 19th century. The Palestinian story is also that of emotions, of resistance and sacrifice, of defiance and sumoud, steadfastness. Though it is a Palestinian story, it is also the story of every nation that has fought against injustice, regardless of when and how it expressed itself.
Antonio Gramsci could have easily been a Palestinian prisoner, as Faris Baroud could have been an Italian partisan, fighting fascism. The former wrote to his mother from prison; the latter never received his mother’s letters to him.
“Dearest mum,” wrote Gramsci:
I would love to hug you tight to show you how much I love you and to relieve some of the pain that I caused you, but I couldn’t do otherwise. That’s life, it is very hard, and sometimes children must deeply hurt their own mother, to preserve their honor and their dignity as human beings.
“Oh, how I cried for you, Faris,” wrote Ria Baroud:
My eyes can only tell day from night, but nothing else. But thanks to God, thanks to God, I am content with my fate, for this is what Allah has decided for me. It is you that I am concerned about. So, I pray all day, every day. I make supplications to God so that you come back, and that I may choose your bride for you. We will throw a big party and all the neighbors and friends, all the Barouds and all the freed prisoners and their families will come and celebrate with us.
Antonio Gramsci died on April 27, 1937 from a cerebral hemorrhage, only six days after he was released.
Faris Baroud died on February 6, 2019, from a kidney disease, in Nafha Prison in the Naqab Desert.
They were both organic intellectuals of the highest caliber.
 Antonio Gramsci, Lettere dal carcere (Torino, Einaudi, 1971).
 Antonio Gramsci, Gli intellettuali e l’organizzazione della cultura, edited by F. Platone (Torino, Nuovo Universale Einaudi).
 Antonio Gramsci, ibid.
 “United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories Occupied since 1967 Raises Alarm over Palestinian Prisoners in Hunger Strike,” United Nations, accessed July 29, 2019, <https:// unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/0/EF6E79DCD608D68385257A3E006838A9>
 “Over 800,000 Palestinians Imprisoned by Israel since 1967, Says Erekat,” Haaretz, April 17, 2014, <https://www.haaretz.com/.premium-800-000palestinians-jailed-since-67-1.5245393>.
 See chapter, “The Cohort of Defiance,” p. 95.
 See chapter, “The Girl Who Did Nothing,” p. 63. 8 See chapter, “‘No Pain Like Mine,’” p. 155.
 See chapter, “No Pain like Mine,” p. 155.
 Nelson Mandela, A Long Walk to Freedom (Boston, Little Brown & Co., 1994).
 “History from Below is a major trend in the twentieth century historiography that marks a reaction against the traditional histories almost exclusively concerned with the socio-political and religious elites. ‘Grassroots history,’ ‘history seen from below,’ ‘history of the common people,’ ‘people’s history,’ and ‘history of everyday life’ are some of the terms alternatively used for it.” “What Is History from Below?” Scribd, accessed July 28, 2019, <https:// www.scribd.com/document/215659476/What-is-History-From-Below>.
 Antonio Gramsci, supra.
 See chapter, “I See You in My Heart,” p. 163.
About the Author
Ramzy Baroud is a US-Palestinian journalist, media consultant, an author, internationally-syndicated columnist, Editor of Palestine Chronicle (1999-present), former Managing Editor of London-based Middle East Eye, former Editor-in-Chief of The Brunei Times, former Deputy Managing Editor of Al Jazeera online.
Baroud taught mass communication at Australia’s Curtin University of Technology, Malaysia Campus. Baroud also served as head of Aljazeera.net English’s Research and Studies department.
He is the author of five books and a contributor to many others; his latest volume is The Last Earth, a Palestinian Story (Pluto Press, London, 2018). His books are translated to several languages including French, Turkish, Arabic, Korean, Malayalam, among others.
Baroud has a Ph.D. in Palestine Studies from the University of Exeter (2015) and was a Non-Resident Scholar at Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, University of California Santa Barbara (2016-17). He is currently a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA), Istanbul Zaim University (IZU).
Baroud’s work has been published in hundreds of newspapers and journals worldwide, including The Washington Post, The International Herald Tribune, The Christian Science Monitor, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Seattle Times, Arab News, The Miami Herald, The Japan Times, Al-Ahram Weekly, Asia Times, Al Jazeera, Gulf News and nearly every English language publication throughout the Middle East. His work is regularly translated and republished in French, Spanish, Arabic and other languages. He has contributed to and was referenced in hundreds of books and academic journals.
Baroud been a guest on many television and radio programs including RT TV, CNN International, BBC, ABC Australia, National Public Radio, Press TV, Aljazeera and many other stations.
He is the author of five books: Searching Jenin: Eyewitness Accounts of the Israeli Invasion (Cune Press, Seattle, 2003); The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle (Pluto Press, London, 2006); My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London, 2010); and The Last Earth, a Palestinian Story (Pluto Press, London, 2018). Baroud is also the co-author, with Samah Sabawi and Jehan Bseiso, of the poetry collection: I Remember My Name (Novum, 2016). Baroud’s latest book is These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggles and Defiance in Israeli Prisons (Clarity Press, 2020).
His books are available in French, Turkish, Arabic, Korean and other languages.
Baroud has been a guest speaker at many top universities around the world, including George Mason University, Virginia Commonwealth University, Rutgers University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), University of Manchester, University of Ireland, University of Washington, Penn State University and the University of Kwazulu Natal in South Africa. He has also spoken at parliaments in Australia, Scotland, England and at the French Senate.
Baroud conducted speaking tours in over 30 countries.
Source: Ramzy Baroud Official Website
Book page on Clarity Press
Foreword by Khalida Jarrar, Member of the Palestinian Legislative Council. Afterword by Richard Falk, former UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories and Professor Emeritus, Princeton University. Beautifully illustrated by Dalia Alkayyali “Ramzy Baroud’s book of Palestinian prisoners’ stories is a remarkable work.
Book on Amazon
Book page on author’s website
These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons – Politics For The People
Palestinian prisoners are an essential element in the collective resistance against Israeli colonialism, apartheid and military occupation. Rather than being viewed as unfortunate victims, their steadfastness exemplifies the ongoing fight of the Palestinian people as a whole. Despite Palestinian factionalism and lack of a unified political movement, Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons serve as …
Book review by Ramona Wadi
What the news reports eliminate, Ramzy Baroud’s new book, These Chains Will be Broken: Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons (Clarity Press, 2019), pushes to the fore. Palestinian prisoners, misrepresented through statistics, news reports, exploitation and glorification, tell slivers of their stories in this collection of first-hand narratives that stand as testimony for both Palestinian resistance and resilience.
Book review by Michael Lescher
By Michael Lescher (These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons, b y Ramzy Baroud, Clarity Press, Inc., 2020) Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote that “the degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons” – an observation nowhere more grimly true than in a society whose very existence entails the confinement of another people.
Press article by Dean Vaglia
Author, journalist and media consultant Ramzy Baroud gave a lecture at Oakland University on Tuesday, Feb. 18. Hosted by the political science honor society Pi Sigma Alpha, Baroud discussed Palestinian identity and how Palestinians can reclaim their cultural narrative to a crowd in the Oakland Center. “I am a Palestinian refugee,” Baroud said.
Article from popularresistance.org
These Chains Will Be Broken: New Book Delivers Resistance Message From Palestinian Prisoners To The World
On Monday, January 20, Clarity Press, Inc. of Atlanta announced the launch of These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons, by Palestinian author and journalist, Ramzy Baroud, and The Palestine Chronicle Editorial Team.
Excerpts by Khalida Jarrar’s Foreword
Palestinian Prisoner Khalida Jarrar in her own Words: The Age of Freedom Will Come - Politics For The People
By Ramzy Baroud Khalida Jarrar is a Palestinian feminist, a lawyer, educator and an elected parliamentarian. Over the years, she came to symbolize Palestinian popular resistance in the occupied West Bank, enraging the Israeli occupation authorities that arrested her repeatedly. Despite her failing health, as she is suffering from multiple ischemic infarctions and hypercholesterolemia, the ...
Book review by Jim Miles
By Jim Miles (These Chains Will be Broken – Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons. Ramzy Baroud. Clarity Press, Atlanta, Georgia, 2020.) On first opening Ramzy Baroud’s new book, These Chains Will be Unbroken, there is a series of references from five distinguished activists praising, in different ways, the short anecdotes from those who have been or are imprisoned within the Israeli system.
John Pilger’s tweet on the book
To mark the end of Israel Apartheid Week, I recommend Ramzy Baroud's remarkable new book, 'These Chains Will be Broken'. His painful, inspiring stories of resistance by Palestinians offer a perspective to our current state of fear and its scaremongering. https://t.co/hcABIL55xs— John Pilger (@johnpilger) March 21, 2020
Video trailer on the book
Ramzy Baroud in conversation with George Galloway
Ramzy Baroud on Khalida Jarrar
Dr. Ramzy Baroud’s 2019 Hisham Sharabi Memorial Lecture
Ramzy Baroud in conversation with Scott Horton
Select Writings by Ramzy Baroud
In Palestine Chronicle
The Middle East region, battered by wars and adjoining humanitarian crises that have left millions of people stateless, hungry and diseased, is in urgent need for peace, security, and reconstruction. Thanks to the US, Russian, […]
In Al Jazeera
Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London).
In Middle East Monitor
Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and editor of Palestine Chronicle. He has authored a number of books on the Palestinian struggle including ‘The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story ‘ (Pluto Press, London). Baroud has a Ph.D. in Palestine Studies from the University of Exeter and is a Non-Resident Scholar at Orfalea Centre for Global and International Studies, University of California Santa Barbara.
Press Coverage on Ramzy Baroud in Palestine Chronicle
In this TRT interview, Ramzy Baroud, Palestinian journalist, author and editor of The Palestine Chronicle, discusses the need for a unified political strategy following Washington’s declaration of the ‘Deal of the Century’. (The Palestine Chronicle)
Other Books by Ramzy Baroud
Palestinian prisoners are an essential element in the collective resistance against Israeli colonialism, apartheid and military occupation. Rather than being viewed as unfortunate victims, their steadfastness exemplifies the ongoing fight of the Palestinian people as a whole. Despite Palestinian factionalism and lack of a unified political movement, Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons serve as […]