Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have experienced life in Israel’s prisons since 1967, as did many more in previous decades during the course of the ongoing Israeli military occupation. Yet rarely has the story of their experiences in Israeli jails been told by the prisoners themselves. Typically the Western media portrays them as ‘terrorists’ while well-meaning third-party human rights advocates paint them as hapless victims. They are neither. This book permits the reader to access the reality of Palestinian imprisonment as told by Palestinian prisoners themselves — stories of appalling suffering and determination to reclaim their freedom.
The stories in this book are not meant to serve as an account of Israeli torture methods. Instead, each story highlights a distinct experience — each so personal, so profound — in order to underline the humanity of those who are constantly dehumanized by Israeli hasbara and the mainstream corporate media’s biased accounts.. While highlighting Israel’s brutality, readers come to grips with the resilience and grit of Palestinians and their ability to rise above Israel’s cruelty and be emblems of power for their 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 one of the remaining platforms for unity. Regardless of affiliation, they are treated by their captors in the same debasing manner, often in total disregard for human rights conventions. These heroes of resistance, as viewed by Palestinians, often transcend factional divides. Despite numerous obstacles, they resist their jailers as a collective, enduring their pain and fostering their will together.
In reality, all Palestinians living under Israeli occupation and siege are also prisoners. The Gaza Strip is often referred to as the “world’s largest open-air prison.” 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.
It is in this context that this book becomes an essential read.
JIM MILES –
“For a country that boasts of its “most moral” army, this work provides the lie to that claim. Using both physical and psychological torture within an overwhelmingly illegal prison network (thus the many “administrative” detentions) only demonstrates the racism and hatred engendered by a society in which military rule and control predominate. These twenty stories are but a small sample of what is inflicted on the Palestinian population as a whole, the hundreds of thousands who have at one time or another been victims of the Israeli military and judicial system. It extends to every aspect of the Israeli colonization of Palestinian territory, the millions of people denied basic humanitarian freedoms.” —Jim Miles, Axis of Logic
Ramona Wadi, Middle East Monitor –
“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.” Ramona Wadi, Middle East Monitor
John Pilger, award-winning Australian journalist, author and broadcaster/documentary maker: –
“Ramzy Baroud’s book of Palestinian prisoners’ stories is a remarkable work. With each story, there is a roll-call of the best of humanity: courage, struggle, determination, generosity, passion, humility and, above all, defiance of injustice. Everyone, especially those of us in the West subjected to unerring propaganda, should read this searing and beautiful book. Then understand all over again that peace and justice are not possible in the world until the Palestinians are free.”—John Pilger, award-winning Australian journalist, author and broadcaster/documentary maker:
Cynthia Franklin, Professor of English at the University of Hawai`i and member of the USACBI Organizing Collective –
“In this must-read ‘history from below,’ the Palestinians who tell their stories show prison to be a microcosm of life under conditions of occupation and colonization. As the contributors convey the crushing violence of the Israeli state that imprisons them, they also demonstrate how, against all odds, Palestinians continue to engage in practices of resistance, community-building, creativity, and intellectual production; persist in their love for one another and their homeland; and remember as well as dream of a free Palestine. Read the testimonies by these men, women and children—organic intellectuals, all—in this powerful and searingly beautiful book that helps realize the promise that the chains of Zionism will be broken.”—Cynthia Franklin, Professor of English at the University of Hawai`i and member of the USACBI Organizing Collective
Prof. Dr. Sami A. Al-Arian. Director and Public Affairs Professor, Center for Islam and Global Affairs –
“Prison is one of the most vicious tools used by oppressive regimes. One could easily say that it embodies modern-day slavery, a reality I myself have experienced first-hand. Since Israel’s 1967 invasion and occupation of Palestinian territories, there have been over 750,000 Palestinians imprisoned in Israeli jails, including over 23,000 women and 25,000 children. These unjustified detentions have been perpetrated in order to punish people for their persistence and struggle to gain their freedom, realize justice, and retain their dignity. Ramzy Baroud’s new book, These Chains will be Broken, is a powerful collection of stories of Palestinians who have not just
been primary witnesses of Israeli brutality, but also shining examples of determined individuals willing to stand up for their rights, speak their conscience, and fight for their humanity. Baroud’s book provides agency to those whose stories have been suppressed and marginalized for decades. He brings their voices alive with his vivid, spirited, and powerful storytelling to be heard by millions. While their oppressors try to deny their existence and humanity, Baroud brings them back and, with their memories, the plight of many thousands in Israeli jails waiting for the day they will celebrate their freedom and the liberation of their homeland. The lively, beautiful, and painful narratives recited in These Chains will be Broken are a must-read for anyone with a burning conscience and a determined will to see that oppression is not forgotten, freedom will be gained, and justice will ultimately prevail.”—Prof. Dr. Sami A. Al-Arian. Director and Public Affairs Professor, Center for Islam and Global Affairs
Khalida Jarrar, Freed Prisoner, Member of the Palestine Legislative Council –
“In this book, you will delve into the lives of men and women, read intimate stories that they have chosen to share with you, stories that may surprise you, anger you and even shock you. But they are crucial stories that must be told, read and retold. When you read this book, you will have a frame of reference that will enable you to imagine, now and always, what life in an Israeli prison is like. These are the stories of men and women who have collectively decided to never break, no matter how great the pressure and the pain.”—Khalida Jarrar, Freed Prisoner, Member of the Palestine Legislative Council
Maryum Ali, Social Worker, Public Speaker, Daughter of Legendary American boxer and political dissident, Muhammad Ali –
“Unjust imprisonment is an atrocity and a desecration of international law. Therefore, it is important to understand the personal plights of people who have suffered extreme injustices that have stripped them of their freedom, their loved ones and their human rights. This book is essential in helping us develop a compassionate understanding of the plight of Palestinian prisoners and the Palestinian people. I pray for an existence where people from diverse backgrounds can live in an environment of mutual respect, peace and harmony.”—Maryum Ali, Social Worker, Public Speaker, Daughter of Legendary American boxer and political dissident, Muhammad Ali