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Book Review

Making Palestine’s History: Women’s Testimonies, by Jehan Helou (Spokesman Books)

This interesting book brings to the forefront the struggle of Palestinian women for National and women’s liberation between 1969 to 1984. Comprising eighteen oral testimonies with Palestinian women, including a round table discussion, the author is to be commended on the quality of the translation and her perseverance in bringing these to the attention of a wider audience. That it took two years to translate the testimonies from colloquial Arabic into English, highlights the passion and commitment to this project.

The introduction to the testimonies by the author is a necessary requirement as it reminds the reader of the long period of struggle waged by women from the diaspora, as well as the occupied territories as part of the Palestinian Revolution, with most of the grassroots mobilisation and organisation through the General Union of Palestinian Women (GUPW) – the umbrella organisation for the women’s movement.

As the Women’s Liberation movement emerged during the 1970s, many dedicated women’s journals, magazines and newsletters portrayed prominently the image of the Palestinian woman fidayi guerrilla fighter, which in turn became a symbol for revolutionaries all over the world. What this book does particularly well is not to underestimate the importance of those women who did not carry a gun. Reflecting instead on the equal importance of women organising and working in the fields of education, politics, health and providing child- care during periods both of relative peace and full-scale war.

The book is available here: fiveleavesbookshop.co.uk/product/making-palestines-history-womens-testimonies/

Val Wood

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