Fiction under occupation

Please chip in to support rabble's election 2019 coverage. Support today for as little as $1 per month!

 Sparrow Story
The gospel according to Monsieur le Wazzo

Take a country languishing under a brutal military occupation, where bulldozers tear down homes, bored young soldiers shoot as soon as look at you, and children are shot dead for throwing stones. Itâe(TM)s this situation, only too familiar to anyone interested in the ongoing saga of Israel/Palestine, that is the setting for a powerful modern-day gospel story by David Rhodes.

Narrated in the pacey present tense, echoing crime writers like Damon Runyon, the story fairly races along in a sequence of short, action-packed episodes. Unusually, the author has put the story-telling in the mouth of a sparrow with attitude, nicknamed âe~Monsieur le Wazzoâe(TM) by the first character we meet, a hard-drinking newspaper reporter called Johnny Palotski:

Johnny is not very good at his job. This is because he has the unfortunate habit of telling the truth and, in these troubled times, that is not always a helpful thing ... Many journalists are embedded with the army and they write the sort of stories the army likes to see. But Johnny Palotski is somewhat averse to being told what to write âe¦

Like his biblical namesake, Johnnyâe(TM)s tendency to tell it like it is means itâe(TM)s not long before he ends up dead. The focus of the story then switches to the main protagonist, a young drifter called Jez, and a motley crew of characters who travel from town to town, encountering a host of ordinary people with lives turned upside down by the occupation âe" the old man driven mad when his house is flattened with his children still inside, the woman who resists by making sparkling glass angels from the shattered fragments left after the tanks have been in town.

And then there are the religious authorities âe" the Robed Ones âe" up to their neck in collaboration with the forces of occupation. For them, talk of justice, hope, love and resistance is the last thing they need, and a way has to be found to put a stop to it.

Warm, funny and beautifully written, Sparrow Story is a book to make people who have never thought about the issue of Palestine sit up and take notice. Its short, snappy style should go down well with young people, making it a useful resource for anyone wanting to introduce the topic in schools. And it would also make a good present for atheist activists who like a little challenge in their lives!âe"Jenny Lynn

related items

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable. has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.