‘Dances with Death’ – recounting a lifetime of reporting in the Middle East

22 Jul


Author Tuma Hazou talks about his book Dances with Death during a recent well-attended book launch at the Women’s Book Shop in Ponsonby, Auckland.

“In this book I recount my many ‘brushes with death’ reporting on hostilities in the turbulent Middle East. The on-going conflicts and upheavals in the region have their roots in the infamous 1917 British Balfour Declaration committing Britain to set up in Palestine a national state for the Jews, ignoring the Muslim and Christian majority population.

The book ends with an overview of the prevailing dire consequences of the 1967 June War. 

Addendums to the book add further substance to the personal traumatic narrative and related historical facts”

Books can be ordered directly from the author at gandthazou@gmail.com=

RNZ: ‘Dances with Death’ – recounting a lifetime of reporting in the Middle East

By Kadambari Raghukumar, From RNZ Voices, 9:00 am on 20 July 2020 Listen duration 11′ :13″

The idea for Tuma Hazou’s book Dances with Death, was born on a Christmas dinner a few years ago while poring over old photographs with his sons. Among them was a picture of him with 16mm Bolex, injured and with a blood-stained forehead.

His brother insisted on taking the image when he came home after narrowly dodging death while filming during an air-strike in 1967 Jordan-Israel war. 

With a bit of persuasion from his wife and children, Tuma began recounting and documenting all the incidents in his long journalism career where he had similar near-misses during the war and hostilities in Jordan, Palestine and Israel. There were several.

Tuma was born into a Syriac Christian Arab family in Jerusalem in 1938. His family, along with thousands of others, became refugees after the first Arab-Israeli war of 1948.

Tuma became one the youngest journalists with BBC Arabic at the age of 22 and spent most of his career covering the Israel-Palestine conflict.

His first book “Dances with Death” was launched this month in Auckland, and is a vivid and detailed description of what he witnessed and experienced, not only as a journalist but also as a Palestinian.

Today, 85-year-old Tuma lives in Auckland with his Kiwi wife Virginia, who he met in Jordan in 1968. Virginia at the time was working for King Hussein as a nanny for his twin daughters. 

“He was a handsome man. Whenever we toured the country in Jordan, people would look at him and ask if he was the Tuma Hazou – they all had radios and had heard him,” Virginia said.

It will be 50 years next March since the pair met and they have shared a lifetime across two different continents and very different worlds.

Tuma is relieved to have finally finished and launched the book after a long lockdown.

“I hope it serves a purpose – I hope it will shed some light.” 

The author with his 16mm Bolex, straight after returning from filming the air-strikes by Israel on Jordan, 1967. [Photo: Tuma Hazou]

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