An Act of Cultural Resistance

downloadThe Last Earth: A Palestinian Story by Ramzy Baroud (Pluto Press, London 2018)

Reviewed by Andrew Raba

Ramzy Baroud’s The Last Earth is a collection of eight narratives told by ordinary Palestinians who have, in their own way, struggled against the violence inflicted upon their country by Israel over the past one hundred years. The book bears witness to the immense bravery of Palestinians and to the scale of violence that has taken lives, torn families apart and displaced entire populations across the world. Baroud’s book comes at a time of sharpening tensions within Palestine. In March, Donald Trump issued a provocative signal of the United States’ commitment to Israel by opening an embassy in Jerusalem. At the same time, New Zealand pop star Lorde decided not to play in Israel marking a significant victory for the BDS movement. Most significantly, the past months have seen mass marches of Palestinians demanding the right of return on the seventieth anniversary of the 1948 Nakba.

The Last Earth contributes to the struggle today by foregrounding the humanity of the Palestinian people. The book contains stories that range from present-day Gaza, to the impact of the Balfour Declaration of 1922, from the refugee crisis of 2012, to the lives of Palestinian families living in Melbourne, Australia as part of the international diaspora. By drawing on the stories of individuals Baroud cuts against the reductive presentation of Palestinians as either militants, victims or grim statistics on a lop-sided score board. Moreover, by collating these stories into a single volume Baroud is able to draw out the common experiences that determine a shared Palestinian history. Above all, each account is marked by a deep sense of displacement. The forced exile of Palestinians from their homeland creates, in Edward Said’s words, “a rift or a barricade, ‘between the self and its true home’, restraining the person from residing in a place of comfort.” In each story we find a version of this unease and longing for home. It is this longing that fuels their struggle for a free Palestine. Yet, it is also this longing that runs through Palestinian lives as an open wound. [Read more…]

Rallying for Syria

syria-rallyby Josh O’Sullivan

Around 80 people gathered in Aotea square today in Auckland representing different groups supporting the free peoples of Syria and condemning the barbaric and brutal attacks of Assad and his Russian backers. In Wellington on Friday 30 people held a rally outside the Russian Consul to protest Russia’s involvement in the bombings. The crimes in Eastern Aleppo are nothing short of genocide, with Assad’s government forces clearing out the rebels with the help of Russian bombs to attempt to stop the democratic revolution in Syria that have been fighting for their freedom for the last 6 years.

The Syrian uprising began with the rest of the Arab world in 2011, in a wave of revolutionary uprising where dictators were toppled from Tunisia to Egypt. but as we have seen over the past few years the forces of counter-revolution have smashed these popular movements for democracy. In Egypt, the activists and community leaders languish behind bars and suffer the torment of the military dictatorship under El Sisi. The same story can be seen in Syria, Assad met these peaceful protestors demanding democracy with bullets and jail cells. These assaults on the Syrian people split the Syrian army as many units supported the peoples cause.

[Read more…]

Wellington solidarity with Syria

syria-protestBy Daniel Simpson Beck
Around 60 people gathered outside the Russian embassy in Karori on Saturday afternoon to protest Russia’s military support for the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria. The Russian state is helping to maintain the Assad dictatorship by providing crucial air support in the regime’s attempts to crush the Syrian revolution. Since September last year, Russian air strikes have killed 10,000 people. Basher al-Assad’s unrelenting crackdown on the mass popular revolution against his regime has killed 400,000 people. A full half of Syria’s population have left the country to save themselves from bloodshed.

[Read more…]

The rivalries tearing the Middle East apart

yemen air strikes aftermath-rubble-aBy Eric Ruder

ON A single day in late March, the U.S. began a new bombing campaign in its air war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), targeting ISIS positions in the Iraqi city of Tikrit–while 1,500 miles away, Saudi Arabia launched its first air strikes in Yemen in a bid to halt the advance of Houthi rebels.

The latest military escalations by the U.S. and Saudi Arabia threaten to further destabilize a Middle East in which open hostilities and humanitarian disasters have multiplied, from Libya to Yemen, and Syria to Iraq.

Both Saudi Arabia and the U.S. are anxious to portray their military operations as fully justified and even noble–but the bloody record of these two allies’ accomplishments gives the lie to such claims. In fact, just beneath the surface lurks the real reason for the escalation of violence: a sharpening rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran. [Read more…]