Feb 19, 2016

grateful

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” Marcel Proust

I am so grateful for all that is happening in resistance to the incredible odds and repression practiced by the elites in power. While some may get activism or compassion “fatigue” , there are literally millions of people deciding to leave their apathy behind and put their hands with other people to work.  Our tiny little small part of the world (Palestine now an apartheid sate called a “Jewish state”) has become a major center of global activism. This centrality can be due to many factors:

1.Religious centrality to three main religions, one of which was hijacked for political purposes locally in the past (Christianity --> Crusaderism), the other hijacked in the past 150 years and is still strongly hijacked (Judaism -->Zionism) and the other more recently and in nearby areas beginning to be hijacked (Islam --> Isis and Wahhabism).

2. Nowhere else on earth is Western government hypocrisy more evident than in Palestine. While the western leaders speak of democracy and human rights, they support an apartheid racist “Jewish state” that engaged and engages in racism, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing (so far 7 million of us Palestinians are refugees or displaced people). Thus, this is the Achilles heel of Western propaganda.

3. The 12 million Palestinians in the world, most refugees and others squeezed into bantustans have been remarkably peaceful and tolerant and had a long history of popular resistance for the past 130 years that provided a stellar example to the world (see my 2012 book “Popular Resistance in Palestine: A history of hope and empowerment”).

4. Israeli citizens and the global community are increasingly joining hands with us to demand justice as the only road to peace.

5. More and more people realize that peace in the “Middle East” (Western Asia) and around the world is dependent on peace for Palestine. Zionism with its (sometimes dominant, sometimes subservient) twin US imperialism are and have been most destructive forces in causing global conflict.

But what really gives us optimism daily are the people we interact with. Students at the universities who see the importance of knowledge (power) and come to school with enthusiasm even in the face of suppression of their movement. Farmers that work hard in their fields even as land and water are being taken from them by the occupiers. Unarmed young demonstrators showing bravery in challenging the heavily armed Israeli forces (who occasionally murder them). Thousands of political prisoners and “administrative detainees” who resist the prisoners (one on hunger strike is close to death). Activists who sometimes sacrifice comforts to be with us. Organizers of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activities around the world who refuse to be silenced by illegal measures their governments try to impose on them to suppress free speech. Volunteers at our activities from refugee camp youth centers like Al-Rowwad to our Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability (http://www.palestinenature.org/about-us/ ).

Sometimes small actions make us retain our sanity. Just this past week:
- A small village of Izbet al-Tabib managed to gather 300 demonstrators protesting the illegal confiscation of land and resources to serve settlers.
-We saved a cattle egret (bird with long legs and beak from the heron group) which had been shot and with a macerated wing. We did an operation that saved its life (unfortunately the wing had to be amputated).
-We released a fox that was drowning in a water treatment pool in the Bethlehem garbage dump site.
- My tourism class did an exercise to help in a local tourism promotion project.
-We noted several species of butterflies in our botanic garden already and the flowers of rare orchids and even the Star of Bethlehem
-We had our first class in biodiversity for the new master program in environmental biology at Birzeit University.
-We received dozens of visitors to our facilities and added to our very large network of friends (now tens of thousands)
-We submitted two small grant proposals (we hope to start to do major fundraising soon for our museum, botanical garden, and institute of biodiversity and sustainability)
-Our aquaponic system is doing great and we expect our first harvest next week (lettuce)
- We said goodbye to some volunteers and we welcomed others who helped us build this institution.

We expect to receive more volunteers next week including a professor from Jordan and an aquaponics researcher from Switzerland and at least 10 students from Bethlehem University doing their community service. We are so grateful for all the above and we welcome volunteers and supporters with all backgrounds and skills. We are guided by love and respect (to ourselves, to others, then to nature). We are strengthened amid all the suffering (here in Gaza, in Syria, in Yemen etc) by human connections and by caring for each other.

Israeli soldiers beat detained Palestinian teenaged boys https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mzw2D5iL0bg

Palestinian Teacher Among World’s Top 10 http://www.palestinechronicle.com/palestinian-teacher-among-worlds-top-10/

Reconstruction Of Gaza: Zero Buildings, Massive Profit
http://www.whoprofits.org/content/reconstruction-gaza-zero-buildings-massive-profit

Should Jews Have To Pay Reparations for Slavery? Richard Kreitner
http://forward.com/culture/213776/should-jews-have-to-pay-reparations-for-slavery/

“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.” Alphonse Karr


Stay human

Feb 14, 2016

Biodiversity and terrorism

Hizma flying checkpoint

(also see ACTIONS below)

I was with two of my students and an International visitor heading to Birzeit for our first class in biodiversity this semester on Saturday when we got selected for search at an Israeli “flying checkpoint”.  There are hundreds of fixed checkpoints inside the illegally occupied West Bank, most are between one Palestinian area and another and not on the “Green line” but we also have to face the “flying checkpoints” which literally can be anywhere and anytime.  In this case a long line of cars were held at Hizma.  When it was our turn, a young Israeli younger than my son told me to stop.  I said can I pull to the side to let other cars pass.  He said no.  There were several of them young recruits dressed in police uniforms and in army uniforms.   In the occupied territories the two services are indistinguishable and operate as one fascist occupation force.  Another Israeli was nearby so I said why can’t I pull to the side.  He turned over to his commanding officer who nodded his agreement.  Then the officer asked me to pull onto the circle in the middle of the road.  They asked for all our ID cards and handed them to another person who went to check them via his computer.  Then they demanded each of us get out of the car in turns.  My students in the back first, then the international visitor, then me.  Some of the uniformed occupiers pointed their guns at us while others demanded we empty all our pockets and frisked us.

They searched the car and they flipped through the camera memory to see all our pictures. They were saying things in Hebrew and I was telling them repeatedly we do not speak Hebrew and that we can speak in English or Arabic to them.  I think they all understood English and at least two showed they understood Arabic after persistence from us.  I repeatedly asked in Arabic and in English why we were picked on.  One occupier said it is because he liked the shape of my car!  When I turned to a female soldier and asked her the same question and adding “are we living in a fascist state,” she merely shrugged her shoulders and said “he liked your car”.  They did not smile but I did, which seemed to irritate them.  Ryan was asked if he smokes anything and why is he here.  Then they asked him “do you like Palestinians,” to which he answered “I like all people!”  After delaying us for half an hour, they handed our ID cards to the international visitor and let us go.  For me, I was used to this.  One of my students (also a museum employee) is from an isolated village of Nahhalin which is frequently closed off has also been frisked and checked many times in the past.  His village was closed in the last three days and he sleeps in Bethlehem instead.  My other student (also a museum employee) and the international visitor had never experienced such harassment.  We joked later that this was a “good taste” of colonial occupation for them.

We discussed how these are really mild experiences compared to others.  For example, for the first five weeks of 2016, Israel demolished an average of 30 Palestinian structures weekly, displacing an average of 66 persons a week (this is three times the weekly average than that in 2015).  Palestinian young people as young as 12 continue to be murdered by Israeli occupation forces almost every other day.  Israeli soldiers carry knives in their backpacks to plant as "evidence" against many Palestinians they murder.  But there is growing Palestinian desperation.  Israeli occupation forces currently hold hundreds of Palestinian political prisoners without charge ("administrative detentions".)  At least one of those who has been held for nearly three months is on hunger strike (taking only water and salt.)  He will likely die in the next couple of days if Israel does not release him (Mohammad Al-Qeeq).  The Israeli Knesset continues to add racist laws to an already long list of racist laws (over 50) that discriminate against non-Jewish "nominal citizens". This is not counting hundreds of military orders that discriminate against us who are not considered "nominal citizens" in our own country occupied by individuals with a superiority-inferiority complex gathered from around he world under the banner of Zionism.

Gaza's situation is far worse than the West Bank and Gaza prisoners get no family visits and the Strip is besieged and starved of basic supplies.  Most of the tunnels that "smuggled" humanitarian supplies have been destroyed.  A slip of the tongue by Israeli Infrastructure Minister Yuval Steinitz revealed that Egypt’s new policy of flooding the tunnels between the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula with seawater had come at Israel’s request.  The promise of rebuilding after Israel's last genocidal attack on Gaza never materialized.  We shudder to think that it is again time for Israel to test new weapons on the Gaza "laboratory". Israel's largest "export" is weapons-related technology, and Israeli leaders have to "test" their weapons on the nearly two million captives in the open air prison called Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile Fatah and later Hamas have taken the bait/infection of "Oslo process" believing it is possible to have an authority under occupation.  Here in teh West Bank many good Fatah leaders admit to us privately that they do not support the president whose erm expired years ago and who firest anyone who criticizes him. Yet he takes unilateral decisions to join the despots in "Saudi Arabia" and his speeches are frequently dotted with statements like "we have our hands stretched for peace.. we stop any armed resistance..we arrest activists... we believe only in peaceful demonstrations...ask [beg] the US and International community to exercise its responsibilities .. etc".  Contrast this with what Ho Chi Minh once said: “Viet Nam has the right to enjoy freedom and independence and in fact has become a free and independent country. The entire Vietnamese people are determined to mobilize all their physical and mental strength, to sacrifice their lives and property in order to safeguard their freedom and independence.”  Or what Martin Luther King Jr said from Birmingham jail: "I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate...who is more devoted to 'order' than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: 'I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action'; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a 'more convenient season.'" Or even what Yasser Arafat said during the siege in Beirut or when Israel was pounding his last two rooms in his Ramallah headquarters "we will have freedom or die as martyrs".

It is hard to cope with political leaders who do not seem to push strong enough but it is harder to deal state terrorism (which is far more devastating than individual terrorism). I (almost) retain sanity by staying busy (teaching plus other volunteer jobs including directing the Palestine Museum of Natural History, clinical laboratory work, writing, lecturing on Palestine, visitor guiding, research, and more.)  Birzeit University where I teach (more coach) a Biodiversity course is a beautiful campus with great students and faculty.  Before class, and having been delayed at the flying checkpoint, my two students had to rush to finish their work on “fruit flies/Drosophila”.  Spring is here and he gardens are blooming. The smell of freshly dug air mixes with the smell of almond blossoms. Good people and good food ameliorate life under occupation.  It helps to have a larger cause than one self.  Like MLK Jr and Steven Biko and Malcolm X, we are some times bewildered by the people around (including internationals and Palestinians) who show signs of "mental occupation" or are simply apathetic. But I would like to focus on those who have freed their minds and are helping others do the same.  There are literally millions of points of light out there.  We do not "win" over the darkness but it is those lights that make life meaningful. My own students (at Bethlehem Bible College, Birziet, and Bethlehem University) are also lights. For all those points of light we say thank you.  

Here are a few lights expressing via writing "We are not just numbers" http://www.wearenotnumbers.org/

And here is a timeline of positive actions using boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) done in 2015 as examples of points of light http://bdsmovement.net/2015/bds-full-2015-round-up-13628

Having humility to recognize all these lights can help us amplify our own small light.

If you want to help in lighting our small candle locally, please see this
http://www.palestinenature.org/about-us/

Photoassay of colonialism

ACTION: The UK and US government are introducing new rules that would prevent local councils from supporting BDS. 
If you live in the UK, please take action to stop the government doing this. 
http://waronwant.org/protect-local-democracy
In the US, please write your representative
http://org.salsalabs.com/o/641/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=19106

Jan 30, 2016

Advise to Palestinians

I posed the question to readers a while ago as we moved from 2015 to 2016: "What would YOU advise Palestinian to do? I am genuinely curious as to how many of my readers have constructive advice based on what they know of geostrategic structures, capabilities etc." I received dozens of answers including some really very insightful commentary. Every Palestinian should read at least these 26 sample responses [now over 60] from smart activists: 

"I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free and wanted other people to be also free... I will always work for human rights for all people.” ― Rosa Parks
Let this quote be your guidepost and maybe the truth will set you free.
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in a nutshell - Oslo is a Zombie. i.e. it is long dead but still walking. so, the obvious thing to do is simply to bury it. Close down the masrahiyeh. Bold steps are needed. The very best, in my view, would be to close down the Sulta once and for all. The only option that, I believe, threatens Israel's delicately balanced "stability and normality" of the occupation. It is a bold and stark step back in some ways, so Palestinian leadership would need to open up a true discussion and get consent from the people for this step. No more acting on behalf..If less dramatic steps would turn out to represent what an informed Palestinian public truly wishes, then aim for less. But surely no more "extend & pretend" (Varoufakis) that currently we would still be walking down a path towards "statehood" (sovereignty, let alone freedom or justice)
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The leadership seems inclined not to ask and not to discuss and not to change course. So, then - just like everywhere else in the world - it becomes the people's obligation to form a will and impose it on the leadership......an organized campaign for this tricky task to from a will, certainly requires not only mass participation but also (new or revived) organisations..
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I believe that while Israel holds the (earthly) power, Palestinians hold the key (pun intentional). Israel has taken the position that it is interested only in solving (or "managing") the situation so as to serve its own people's interests. This is so entrenched and understood that no one even mentions or considers it, but it leaves Israel tremendously vulnerable. "Interbeing" is the reality of our existence, period. We are all one. That the stronger regime refuses to acknowledge it, does not make it be not so. I believe that to counter that, Palestinians might (could, should, must?) take the position that they are interested in solving the situation so as to serve the interests of all concerned -- not least because that is by far the surest way of serving your (their) own interests.
To date there has been some writing published in this vein: While we get free, we'll free you of your guilt/shame/burden/shadow etc. But I think a lot more can be done in this direction. From the soil of Palestinian suffering and sumud can come the flowering of a new way of co-resolving our situation. It has to start somewhere. Why not in Bethlehem? (Good vibes...)
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Surely to change the narrative, to have many Palestinians to dedicate efforts to that aim toward both the west and the arab countries (and this last is a full other chapter, of which I know too little to dare to say much more than ..I believe there is tearing inside, a great pain and questioning, and at the same time anger for those that are muslims and a great difficulty also for all minorities in beliefs. But there is also an incredible social tension around corruption justice and freedom, and because of the extreme poverty of the majority in some countries, first of all egypt, there is also a request for social improvements if not yet justice.
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I firmly believe that the answers to overcome the conflict have to come from the inside of the Palestinian society (meaning Gaza, West Bank, '48, refugees...), an agreement on the strategy to follow in order to prepare a better future for the Palestinians, but including a broad consensus on what Palestinians want. What I would advise to the Palestinian leaders is to try to get leverage on Israel and US through the BDS campaign to change the conflict. I think that the global solidarity movement with Palestine keeps growing and it could turn the BDS campaign in a powerful tool to transform the conflict. So the Palestinian leaders should be closer to the campaign and coordinate their actions with the campaign. It this way, Palestinians would benefit from the advances of the campaign in form of political power in front of Israel.
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I have long despaired of the way the Palestinian leadership fails to use the media in terms of presenting in a professional way the issues facing Palestine to those of us in the West. There must be western educated Palestinians who could do this and challenge the slick media trained people the Israeli government is able to use. So my first suggestion is to recruit suitable people to carry out this task. Secondly I suggest that using such people, the leadership should issue a plea to the international community for protection of Palestinians, particularly those living in Area C. This protection could be in the form of a UN/EU sponsored multi-national civil force which would be tasked with the protection of civilians in Area C and, with a development fund provided by international donors, help Palestinians to reverse the damage done by Israeli policies and enable economic development. The plea could perhaps begin with this: “ Area C and the Future of the Palestinian Economy”, a report published by the World Bank in 2013, has shown that more than half the land in the West Bank, much of it agricultural and resource rich, is inaccessible to Palestinians. The result, according to the Bank, is a disastrous loss to the Palestinian economy of about US$3.4 billion. It goes on to say that if businesses and farms were permitted to develop in Area C, this would add as much as 35 percent to the Palestinian GDP. Development would in the long term reduce dependency on foreign aid. It could continue with a clear explanation of how Israeli policies have affected Area C.
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If, and I know this is a big IF, everyone who feels the way we do would write to newspapers, legislators, church leaders and keep on writing, often and loudly, perhaps we could finally generate enough noise to wake folks up to the point that their very own tax dollars are in part responsible for the outrage. It seems like such a small thing to do, but as little people in a community, we need to combine our little voices to become one big one. Some churches are quite active, but church membership these days seems to be waning sadly. I hope that someone comes up with a great idea for better ways than this to get the word out and creaet the changes that are necessary. I'll be reading every word you print, hoping for a breakthrough.
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I believe that it might be useful to hold a referendum of Palestinian opinion concerning the single-state/two-state alternatives and proceed from there. With a Palestinian state acceptable to Israel, it is certain that the Palestinian people would be allowed no sovereignty over their airspace or coastal waters nor would they be permitted any defence capability. Likewise, control of precious water and other resources would be much more in the hands of the more powerful Zionist state than could ever be exercised by what would inevitably be a vassal state of Palestine. In 1947/1948 Palestine was already too small to partition and today further division of the decimated non-contiguous and pathetically tiny remnant is unconscionable. There are Israelis who advocate a single-state solution, probably one of the best known of them is, of course, Miko Peled. There needs to be a worldwide single-state movement developed along the lines of BDS and, it is to be hoped, operating in parallel with it. But that's just my opinion!
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I greatly respect the Truth and Reconciliation process in South Africa, which has been copied in several other countries. It's not perfect, although there's no perfect means of dealing with fascism, genocide, etc. ……With Israel and Palestine, some one is going to have to be the last victim, unavenged, if there's ever going to be peace……Of course, an effective Truth and Reconciliation process would need more than apologies and admissions, the living conditions and structural arrangements would have to change. Merely saying "sorry" while continuing occupation is not tenable. In the long run, the occupation is dependent on concentrated fossil fuels, as the oil declines so will the ability of high tech militaries to function.
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We can and must imagine a different future where Israelis and Palestinians work together to produce a unique experiment in democracy in the region. Here again I fully concur with Ian Lustick who says: “ In such a radically new environment, secular Palestinians in Israel and the West Bank could ally with Tel Aviv’s post-Zionists, non-Jewish speaking Russian-speaking immigrants, foreign workers and global-village Israeli entrepreneurs. Anti-nationalist ultra-Orthodox Jews might find common cause with Muslim traditionalists. Untethered to statist Zionism in a rapidly changing Middle East, Israelis whose families come from Arab countries might find new reasons to think of themselves not as “Eastern,” but as Arab. Masses of downtrodden and exploited Muslim and Arab refugees, in Gaza, the West Bank and in Israel itself could see democracy, not Islam, as the solution for translating what they have (numbers) into what they want (rights and resources). Israeli Jews committed above all to settling throughout the Greater Land of Israel may find arrangements based on a confederation, or a regional formula more attractive than narrow Israeli nationalism.”……
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Palestinians must demand their freedom themselves. BDS is improving the understanding and acceptance of the Palestinian position in European states, and even in the United States. But BDS is not enough because it is something done by Europeans and Americans. BDS is not a Palestinian activity. BDS will not be enough. Palestinians must demand their freedom with continuous, massive, non-violent protests. Israel will violently attempt to suppress these demonstrations. But the Palestinians must keep coming. Imagine if 100,000 Palestinians marched from Ramallah to the Qualendia crossing on Friday morning and demanded to go to the Al-Aqsa mosque to pray
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….In the Year 2027 Israel will be a state of Zealots, and all Secular Jews will be mainly in Central Germany (3rd Israel). I can guest, the end of "The Glorious Israel" in the Kingdoms of David and Solomon! Until now Israel had succeeded in beating us because we were unarmed and weak. …..Now they have realized that we can hit back hard, and the fun of the game is over! Conclusion: all what you have mentioned is the reality, but I add : The "Homo sapiens" is the biggest blunder the Evolution had ever made! Our wonderful planet would have been much better-off if the Evolution would have stopped by the Chimpanzee, Gorilla and Orang-utan! I do still believe that Palestine will be ours, sooner or later - perhaps not in my life time!...............
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Rudyard Kipling’s first 4 verses
“If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools

Restiamo humani!
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I believe that a Third World War has already began - a war against the people constituting a crime against humanity. We may not be dying in the UK , as people are in Palestine, Syria, Eastern Ukraine, Iraq, Afghanistan. Kurdistan, Libya, Yemen, Egypt, Pakistan, Somalia....., the list goes on, but as we see our freedoms eroded and our government representing, not us, but an entitled elite which encompasses a Zionist/ fascist ideology, I fear for our future.., I fear for the future of our children and grandchildren. Mazin, you are most definitely on the front line, but you are not alone. All of humanity is being threatened. Our strength comes from our numbers and from the rightness of our cause. I once heard a refugee say that we needed to create a global chain, then rattle it so that the din we create is so loud that those at the top of the pyramid will shake with fear. Maybe the vibration of our angst will shake them from their perch so that they tumble down and join us in our humanity.
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What I would advise the Palestinian leadership to do is to assemble the best legal team and move in a determined fashion (no backsliding under pressure) to put the settlement issue before the ICC. I read that they now say they will consider doing this - but there can be no backing down! Unlike Israel's aggression against Gaza - where the court can say that it cannot get involved because Israel is conducting its own investigations - it is difficult to see how the ICC can fail to rule that the settlements are
illegal under international law. This would put a major spoke in Israel's wheels and could thwart its most frenzied efforts in the hasbara department. If not now, when?
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Palestinians should [take away fear of violence from Israelis and ] make it clear that they are not all Muslims and that Zionism is in process of destroying what is left of Middle Eastern Christianity. They should never cease to remind the world that the Jewish and Christian communities survived and thrived through more than 13 centuries of Muslim rule and that the greatest danger they faced was from the Crusades.
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Palestine should first get sufficient strength, before engaging with Israel, otherwise there is no use of getting killed many people. Your museum project is nice, educate the people through it.
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I can only say or suggest what might affect us to better help you to work out your own solution. But I know that right will win in the end whichever way it turns out - one state or two. Restiamo humani and hope springs eternal. I send this brief paragraph to you in all humility and with our continuing prayers for peace and reconciliation between all faiths and creeds. I read this little excerpt today that I thought you would appreciate. It is a short thought provoking quotation from an Red Indian chief called John (Fire) Lame Deer Sioux Lakota: “Before our white brothers arrived to make us civilized men, we didn’t have any kind of prison. Because of this, we had no delinquents. Without a prison, there can be no delinquents. We had no locks nor keys and therefore, among us there were no thieves. When someone was so poor that he couldn’t afford a horse, a tent, or a blanket, he would, in that case, receive it all as a gift. We were too uncivilized to give great importance to civilized property. We didn’t know any kind of money and consequently, the value of a human being was not determined by his wealth. We had no written laws laid down, no lawyers, no politicians, therefore we were not able to cheat and swindle one another. We were really in bad shape before the white men arrived and I don’t know how to explain how we were able to manage these fundamental things that (so they tell us) are so necessary for a civilized society.” which all goes to show that all that glitters is not gold or put it another way that money and materialism doth not make the man.
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I am surprised at your optimism about PA figures wanting to do something new, at least I think that is what you are saying. I would be very cynical about that. Maybe you were saying rank and file Palestinian leaders like you. What is required to build a mass movement is to break the law, which I doubt anyone in authority, even PA "authority"' is prepared to do. No doubt very many Palestinians and some Israelis are ready to do something, but it must be under leadership that is not tied to the politicians and capitalists who are currently in charge. I liked your suggestion of mass uprisings against the wall as one tactic, or check points, and some Israelis would join. Bet the folks in Budrus would too. If it is like here, the reason things changed in Ferguson was because the young people refused to listen to the misleaders like Sharpton or Jesse Jackson or the local clergy who told them to be peaceful and rely on the courts or voting. Once they began and continued a mass militant movement it sparked the frustrations everywhere. Now the task is to maintain the movement without it getting sucked back into the system, which will probably not succeed at this time except with small groups. So that's the task as I see it, build militancy while ingraining the goal of an anti-racist, non-capitalist society. A long, arduous, but necessary task. Anxious to hear how you do.
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I recommend focusing on one and only one message to all audiences, that all people (Jewish or Israeli or German or American or French, etc, depending on who you are talking to) are good people who agree that-- while Jews have suffered from persecution throughout history-- it would be wrong to expel peaceful non-Jewish families from their homes to create a state run by and for Jewish people. It is wrong to mistreat anyone, whether Jewish or not Jewish; that was the lesson of the Holocaust. All Palestinians refugee men, women and children must be allowed-- encouraged-- to return to their homes immediately to live in peace and equality alongside Jewish families. Nothing more, nothing less.
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I agree that having Palestinian leaders shift all emphasis to the creation of a workable one state solution that respects diversity and human rights of all citizens would seem more viable to sway popular opinion in Canada or the US in favour of.
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I do not believe that Israel will ever give up the West Bank or Jerusalem (or the Golan). I feel that the Israeli plan, with the cooperation of the puppet PA, is to allow for the creation of a Bantustan style of Palestinian state in small parts of the West Bank. As part of this action, the Zionists will do a "land for peace" deal and will transfer a bit of Israeli land, along with most of Israel's Palestinian-Israeli citizens, into this Palestinian statelet, and of course, Israel will transfer all of the settlements (colonies) into Israel. By using fascistic laws on the few remaining Palestinian-Israeli citizens, they will control and or drive them out, and so keep Israel as a racist state for many many generations to come. As such, I feel that the only hope for the Palestinians is to dissolve the PA, and legally hand complete authority for the West Bank and Jerusalem back to the Israelis (the Zionists), and turn it all back into "occupied territory and people" as per international law. Then, the Israelis will either be forced to incorporate the West Bank and Jerusalem, and it's Palestinian citizens, into Israel, which in the long term would mean Israel would become a majority Arab state, or they will have to ignore any semblance legality, and unilaterally transfer (drive) the Palestinians out of Palestine (and Israel) and seize their land. The key will be whether Palestinians will be able to wrestle control of the PLO/PA away from Abbas and the other puppets, before they sign a sell-out agreement with the Zionists. Sadly I think Gaza will continue to be cut off from Israel and the West Bank, but will hopefully be left in relative peace someday soon, especially once it's marine border is opened. Perhaps someday in the distant future, Gaza will be able to join a truly democratic and majority Palestinian controlled Israel, but that would be a very long ways down the road.
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I think that Muslims need to make museums everywhere they can in the Western World to show what is happening in the Middle East and specifically Palestine. I suggest that they construct museums next to Mosques in the United States, Canada and Europe for starters. One of the big problems that the Palestinians have is that the Jews around the world are very good at keeping the world from finding out what is really happening in Palestine and to Palestinians everywhere. Also, they say that the people united will never be defeated. I believe this is true. What would Israel do if all the men in an area marched toward a check point to take it over or destroy it? Would they Jews attack the check point? Just suggesting a possibility. What would they do if all the people in a village tried to tear down a fence or barrier? There is also silent and peaceful resistance to policies you don't like.
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1. The PLO should declare the Oslo Accords are dead.
2. The Palestinian Authority should dissolve itself since
a. It never had any authority
b. It relieved Israel from the costs of administering the occupied West Bank
c. It was at the mercy of its funders, the US and its allies, who continually threatened to withhold funding if it didn’t toe the line
d. Is guilty of spending 21 years in futile negotiations while Israel move 650 thousand colonists into the West Bank
3. People should be mobilized to engage in peaceful resistance
4. Reach out to the 1.7 million Palestinian citizens of Israel
5. Emphasize the unity of the struggle of the 6 million Palestinians in occupied Palestine: those in the West Bank, Gaza and Palestine 1948 by calling for a non-sectarian state in Palestine
6. Promoting the goals of BDS (ending the occupation, equality for all and the return of the refugees) in all Arab and international forums through solidarity groups
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I am distressed by growing anti-Arab Islamaphobia, which only makes a reasoned approach to settling the Palestinian Question even more difficult. Humbly, I suggest to my Palestinian brothers & sisters to stay the course of an intellectually based legal and ethical presentation of the inescapable merits of advocating for a fair & just Palestinian homeland. Few can argue with an ethical quest for national liberation…..as we all, at some time were part of such a process. I am heartened by both the swelling global support for Palestinian rights/justice (albeit small) AND the foibles of the Israeli government….plus the right-wing settler movement showing its true colors of racist hatred & violence. Sadly we watch the cognitive dissonance of so many settlers allow the committing of crimes once ascribed to the former torturers of Jews. As much as it pains me to see this…..it does have the predictable effect of reflecting a comparatively more flattering light upon the mainstream Palestinians who simply want the American/English/French/German/etc dream of autonomy, 2 flat screen TVs and a car in the garage. Do not squander this opportunity to show yourselves as the humans I know so well. Do not allow the marginal minority to spoil the soup. Secure your alliances with similar movements which already have support in their respective countries.
--------------
My suggestion is to insist on culture and literature meeting and knowledge also like your life project reserve the nature of Palestine Land. Making weekly meetings under the name of Literature and Culture will help build one opinion and education and preparation for new generation with one and unified opinion and understanding for what we need and lack. Palestinian people has never been mindly unified or having real real unity for stable future life. Unless the Nakba happened, every city or area were living away from being a one nation. Now they have a vague unity about returning back to Palestine but without any way of planning or thinking how. The unity in mind is very important. So we have to make Cultural Societies in every big and small cities and towns. Then make weekly meetings just to talk or read poetry or speakers or lecturing and publish the results on internet and may be books distributed free to people and to schools and universities. We need college students and professors to participate in the plan. All outsiders will be able to do any favor to Palestine. The Palestinians themselves must do the job and the world will respect and support their deeds and struggle like South Africa. I sill ask or you may know the only people that have no central Cultural Association are the Palestinians. Amazeegh and Kurds and other races are much and better arranged and prepared to self rule or freedom better than us who've been suffering for over a 100 years. It is painful and regret for those who know about the case.
----------------------
I don't know what the answers are but I think I know WHERE they are. We met with Israeli groups and Palestinian groups as well as groups containing both "sides". Thy had many good ideas, but the Israeli govt opposes them and does not want to give them exposure. If they encouraged them and encouraged press coverage, things could have changed, though it may not be possible since Israeli has confiscated 90% of the land.
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Some Palestinian-Americans -- and other advocates of justice for the Palestinians -- should compare (and maybe this has been done often) what the early U.S.-American settlers-colonialists (in expanding their grip
on north American territory) did to the indigenous people. They were placed on reservations, as you know. Howard Zinn wrote about this very forcefully.
--------------------------
HAVE HAD ENOUGH OF PEOPLE COMPLAINING ABOUT OCCUPATION !
RESISTANCE IS A FINE ATTITUDE, BUT IT IS NOT ENOUGH . ALL PALESTINIANS SHOULD BE READY TO BE IMPRISONED FOR CIVIL REFUSAL OF ALL OCCUPIERS`` LAWS AND LET THE WORLD SEE HOW THE ZIONISTS ARE TERRORIZING THE PEOPLE UNDER OCCUPATION.
---------------------------
Palestinians and Arabs in general are doing so so much already, using direct action to resist, risking their lives on a daily basis, attempting to survive an ongoing genocide by Israel, the West and the Gulf Nations. The burden is not on Palestinians and Arabs. The responsibility should be on people elsewhere of good conscience to use ALL of their privilege to force their governments, military and corporations to end the invasion, the genocide, to end zionism. In the U.S., people, left-wing activists and all, derive immense financial benefits from the ongoing invasion and genocide. People should renounce these benefits, get focused and grounded, and sacrifice their privilege and take nonviolent direct action. The problem with the above is that is what people in the West should do. We're not doing it and it's hard for me to foresee, short of some rare holdouts and martyrs, it happening in my lifetime. Could there be a cataclysm, natural or man-made, that could quickly rewire our colonized brains and launch us into action?
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In today's world where communication is everything, the Palestinian struggle needs some "re-packaging" to stimulate a renewal of interest all over the world. BDS has been a very fruitful campaign since 2005 but it's already 10 years old, and it also needs to be "refreshed". The opportunity is coming soon to revisit the message: the year 2017 is a huge historical anniversary, as the 50 year of the occupation but also the 100 year of the Balfour declaration, and the 70 year of the UN partition plan - pointing to the global responsibility, of Israel, of the UK and the Western world, in the whole conflict - so an opportunity for the Palestinian not only to say ENOUGH is ENOUGH but to engage citizens of the world - yes, why not a democratic debate online where everyone can join? - to launch the second century of this Epic Journey, after a first century of tragedy, launching a second century of hope and construction of a future turned towards justice and inclusiveness in the land of Canaan - which by the way is the key question of the 21st century everywhere: how can we learn to live all together in all of our diversity and differences, and how can humankind grow into humanity?
I would be happy to continue this conversation with you at some point
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I have just read all the comments and replies right to the end. I found them interesting and helpful when I infrequently come across a vocal Zionist here. I'm not in a position to advise Palestinians. The best I can do is support BDS, call on my local Archbishop to ask the Synod to do the same (which I have done unsuccessfully -- he sits on the fence because he knows the Synod would vote No), write the occasional letter to politicians, and exchange my Free Palestine badge for my Israel Terrorist State badge, which I am about to do now.
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It's simple. All Americans have to do it to cut off ALL aid to Israel! However, as you know, that's not simple. But that's what we have to work for...fight, fight, fight for the truth so that we can convince our country to cut off all aid to Israel.
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As a non-Palestinian American Jew, I read them, to look for ideas how I can support Palestinian people in their struggle for freedom and equality.
For me, it comes to being willing to confront hate and intolerance when I come across it.
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האינתיפאדה של הסיכנים לא יכולה לנצח ורק מחזקת את הימין בישראל. יש
להחליפה בהתקוממות עממית נוסח האינתפאדה הראשונה ולסלק את הרשות ולהחליפה
בהנהגה ראויה שאינה משתפית של ישראל
המאבק צריך להיות בעד מדינה אחת דמוקרטית עם שיבת הפליטים תוך מאבק למען
חברה שוויונית ולא קפיטליסטית
-----------------------
By every means possible (non-violent and violent) continue your resistance: Rebellion, national liberation, free Palestine.
this is a fight that in the face of the overwhelming forces against us requires that we follow those possessed by sublime madness, that we become stone catchers and find in acts of rebellion the sparks of life, an intrinsic meaning that lies outside the possibility of success. We must grasp the harshness of reality at the same time as we refuse to allow this reality to paralyze us. (Chris Hedges)
stay human, end Israel, Free Palestine
---------------------
...This brings us to the crux of the matter. If we look at the power wielded by tribal Jewry in the Western democracies, not only in the English speaking Old Testament besotten cultures, but in France, Germany etc., we are always impressed that a mere 2% of the population, more or less - in some cases considerably less - has managed to wrest de facto control of the political, economic, media and educational spheres. All of this power is focused on fanatical support of the State of Israel. It is not that the majority of Jews wield this sword - most of them just go along to get along, particularly as they are constantly being bombarded with tribal propaganda and it so psychologically satisfying to seem to be, at least, part of an exclusive club. But the small number of wealthy, influential, dedicated Zionist Jews and the rest of the ZPC (Zionist Power Configuration) who actually run the show may finally be losing their grip, albeit just a little bit. The traditional progressivism of young Jews has begun to surface again, and they are flocking to Palestinian support groups and the BDS movement.

Jan 14, 2016

Lebanon Encounter

Cedars in Shouf

My visit to beautiful amazing, diverse, and edgy Lebanon left memories and emotions that will stay with me the rest of my life but also established new friendships and collaborations that will enhance environmental research and conservation. I was supposed to travel to Lebanon Sunday evening but missed my flight at the trip from Bethlehem to Amman aoirport took 10 hours! But this gave me time to spend with our friend Prof. Zuhair Amr in Jordan who we publish much research together. I took the next flight to Beirut Monday morning and was met at airport by Dr. Mounir Abi Said who took me on a whirlwind tour of the Shouf mountains, its beautiful nature reserve with the ancient cedar trees. In the reserve we met with the reserve staff and manager and discussed collaborations. I then visited the American University in Beirut. I personally have never been there before but I almost could swear that I was there in a previous life.

 At AUB- Been there in another life?

My uncle Sana Atallah did both his bachelor and master degree at AUB in the 1960s and his summer visits to Palestine he would take me with him to the fields for nature walks and work. I was only a child and I remember the beauty of nature but not much else from that time. It is what made me follow in his footsteps and start my own collection of objects of nature immediately after he died in a car accident in 1970 (shortly after he finished his PhD).  I literally followed in his footsteps, took care of part of his collection that was here in Palestine and did graduate studies in the same US university where he studied. But having never been to AUB (a university that literally shaped his short life), I was very emotional. My mind raced as we stepped into the old natural history museum and I saw the mammal collection that Uncle Sana and His mentor Robert Lewis collected. I could almost smell and feel and hear those two great people and wished I could have been their student at AUB. An old statue and an old bench gave me shivers as I felt that surely I must have been here before. A mixture of sadness, happiness, nostalgia, wishful thinking and more swept through my mind in ways hard to put down in writing.
 Specimens collected in Palestine by Sana Atallah, now at AUB

After meeting with a few people at AUB, I went to visit a project started by Dr. Mounir and his wife Dr. Diana to rescue animals captured or injured by hunters. They rehabilitate them and release some while keeping some for environmental education for children (see http://www.animalencounter.org/ ). Unlike other environmental awareness facilities in our region, this one is run by experts based on scientific principles. They initially started it in their home and then the municipality gave them land to do this on. We also started the Palestine Museum of Natural History at our house and then moved to Bethlehem University Mar Andrea campus. So we connected in Lebanon with colleagues like Mounir and Diana on so many levels. We now must start joint research and development projects.


  
Mounir and friendly Hyaen and wolves at Animal Encounter

Representing Bethlehem University, I joined other colleagues from other universities in Palestine, Jordan, and Lebanon for a conference in Tuesday at the Lebanese university dealing with European funding under the Jean Monnet program. It was a good opportunity to lean and to network. I took time in the evening to walk around Al-Hamra area of Beirut. I was saddened to see how electricity is off in Beirut just like in Gaza (6 hours on, 6 hours off). I was saddened to see many women with children begging to sell gum on the side of streets like Al-Hamra street.

 Trash piled up in Beirut as the country goes without a President and contending parties blame each other (Young man there was collecting garbage for reccycling).
 Al-Hamra street (busy commercial street but hotels and businesses depend on generators at night)

Lebanon, like Palestine, is such a beautiful rich country but its political leaders do not seem to get their act together. Being divided into sometimes intermixing and sometimes contending communities is not a bad thing if you think in terms of a healthy diverse human communities just like a health diverse ecosystem (many species competing, conflicting, sometimes cooperating). It is fertile ground for innovation and Lebanon has lots of innovative smart people. For example (among many), I met brilliant researchers and teachers like Dr. Mounir (mammals), Dr. Dany Azar (Paleontology), Dr. Efat Abu-Fakhr (Crop Protection and Entomology) and many more. Like in Palestine, we just need to collect all those good people in networks to better help young talent to grow and promote collaboration and healthy but not destructive competition. Our museum motto is RESPECT (for ourselves, for others, for nature). I found so many good Lebanese and Palestinians who do have that respect and thus are able to make a positive impact in their/our societies.  By giving of themselves they build their character and have a very productive career.  By devoting ourselves to things bigger than ourselves we also have personal growth and success. Being selfish or self-centered will only diminish us. Anyone close to death can tell you what they regret most in life and what they appreciate more in life and it is never that they wish they had made more money or ate more food or had a bigger house; instead they wish they gave more and took care of others more. I am inspired and energized by this visit.

I am back in Palestine now where martyrs are still falling (three the day before I returned) and where thousands of political prisoners languish in Israeli gulags. This is where checkpoints and walls rule. Where Israel even banned "Breaking the Silence" (an Israeli group of soldiers and ex soldiers who tell about the crimes they wee ordered to commit). But this one land refusing to be divided continues to build and where good things still happen.  For example here at the museum grounds (Bethlehem University), we have a dozen individuals at the museum (9 of them from Gaza with permits facilitated through GIZ) learning about aquaponics!  They are good energetic people and good energetic instructor (Philip) who want to improve life in Gaza by growing plants and fish !!  

Things have piled up for me to take care of including several deadlines for proposals and publications. I also teach several courses this semester including: cultural and eco-tourism for Masar Ibrahim, research and writing, and anthropology for the master in Hotel Management and tourism (all at Bethlehem University), research tools and peacemaking courses (at Bethlehem Bible College master program in conflict resolution), and biodiversity at the master program in Environmental Biology (at Birzeit University). Join us to be part of a growing team for nature and for Palestine.  Since my last email a week ago asking for signing up to our network of supporters and volunteers, over 110 people signed up from around the world. To reiterate:  We now have an integrated system for research and education to address areas in need in Palestine: healthcare, environment, and agriculture (especially permaculture).  We have dozens of volunteers and we are grateful to all volunteers and donors but we can accelerate our progress with more of YOUR help and thus accomplish much more. So look over our website (http://palestinenature.org) and fill out this form http://goo.gl/forms/Z7nmOGFC9i (if you have difficulty email us at info@palestinenature.org)  to tell us you can help from your location (any and all countries including Palestine). Tentative name is “Network for Palestine Nature” (your suggestions on name would be appreciated). Thank you for your kind support.

Come visit us http://palestinenature.org

Oct 12, 2015

Beyond Global Disorder

I just came back to Palestine from aa high profile meeting on The World Beyond Global Disorder: Rhodes Forum (Greece, http://wpfdc.org/ ). It was a great productive meeting with hundreds of great attendees who shared their views on everything from political turmoil to refugeesexcept for an unexpected appearance of Russian billionaire Viatcheslav (Moshe) Kantor (representing European Jewish Congress) who hijacked the spirit of the meeting and lectured the attendees to promote his Zionist and Islamophobic views. No response or balancing view was allowed (see below for discussion of this disturbing incident).

My speech (I skipped some portions of this in my delivered remarks due to time constraints.

Thank you for your kind invitation to speak at this forum. I am honored and the settings are very beautiful. My only question is why this hotel has selected three channels from the area of WANA and the three are Al-Jazeera, Al-Masriuya, and Israeli channel 2. Do you have many tourists from Qatar, Egypt, and Israel? Anyway,  I will not reiterate what was said earlier by the distinguished copanelists. The title of this session is which way WANA (really the Arab world) and on the cover of teh program book we are have "Beyongd Global Disorder". Yes we want to look for solutions and I am pleased that below it says "scientific program". I am a scientist and a medical geneticist. Having taught at Yale and Duke Medical schools and now at Bethlehem University in Palestine, I tell my students that our task is always to provide accurate diagnosis based on medical history and present symptoms, offer appropriate therapies, and give the prognosis. This can also be applied to social phenomena like the conflict in Palestine. 

Patient history 

In this paper we discuss the current mayhem in the Arab world as an inevitable outcome of a historical process originating in Europe 150 years ago and not as claimed going back hundreds and even thousands of years. In reality Palestine is part of the Fertile Crescent where we humans first left the hunter-gatherrer life style and adopted agriculture and shepherding ifestyle. This is thus the dawn of civilization (Jericho is one of the oldest continuously inghabited towns on earth >10,000 years). In this long history there were attempts to make Palestine monoloithic on rare occasions and conflicts also ion rare occasions such as the crusaders and oe muslim ruler and more recently Zionism. All these conflicts and attempts failed and all constitute less than 1% of our long history. The most recent attempt is Zionism and here are key dates:
1840 British government contracts the services of Lt. Col. George Gawler to make a study on colonization by Jews of Palestine. He was selected because he was responsible for the penal colonies in Australia. Government adopts his recommendations to advance British Interests at the expense of the Ottoman Empire.
1860s Zionism coined as a political ideology and beginning of its funding
1880 First Zionist colony in Palestine (then less than 3% Jewish)
1916 Sykes-Picot secret agreements to divide Western Asia (France, England and Russia but Russia later withdrew)
1917 Balfour and Cambon declarations in support of Zionism partially quid pro quo for Zionist lobby to get the USA into WWI
1919 Paris "Peace Conference" (Palestinian natives not invited)
1920 San Remo Conference (dividing up spoils of war affirming commitment to Zionism)
1921 Appointment of first Jewish Zionist ruler of Palestine, British Lt. Col. Herbert Samuels and beginning of enacting and implementing apartheid laws)

The unifying thread of these key events was western support for fragmentation of the Arab world via sectarian and ethnic divisions spearheaded by the formation of a Jewish state in the heart of the area.

Present situation (patient symptoms)

Israel was created via armed invasion of Palestine and concomitant ethnic cleansing that left 7 million of 12 million of us as refugees or displaced people. 530 villages and towns were depopulated of their native and most wiped out. Massacres were committed (my mother’s school friend 18 year old Haya Balbisi was killed in the massacre od Deir Yassin). Massacres and state terrorism continue today with killing of unarmed civilians by trigger happy Israeli soldiers and colonial settlers, home demolitions, political imprisonment without trials and with ill treatment, prevention of rights of movement, religious rights, and other civil rights. Nearby countries were set-up by the west with dictators who overtly try to say they are for Palestinian rights but covertly work with the US/Israel (and they are the same since the US government is largely Israeli occupied territory to be liberated). I was not surprised then that the Arab Spring started.

December 2010 26-year-old Tunisian named Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire. Less than a month later, the Tunisian president Bin Ali was gone and a domino effect was in progress as more autocratic leaders were under pressure. The young who led the popular movements that pressured and some cases toppled regimes had strengths in number but weakness in organizational structure. From Jan to February 2011, dissent had spread to Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, UAe, and Syria. This left a power vacuum and the more organized Islamic forces mobilized to fill this power. It is worth here to reflect on the real reasons for the discontent and its trajectory since. The first sparks in the Arab world started modestly and in Egypt when on March 23, 2008, few young people called for a strike and mobilization on April 6 (henceforth called April 6 Youth Movement). It started with a Facebook page to support a planned textile workers' strike in Mahalla al-Kobra protesting low wages and high prices. The April 6, 2009 movement later developed four demands: 1- Minimum monthly wage of 1200 Egyptian pound (about 210 $), 2- Indexation of wages, 3- Election of a constituent assembly to draft a new constitution to guarantee the country's political and trade union freedoms and to set a maximum of 2 terms for any president to stay in power, and 4- Suspension of exporting gas to Israel (http://6aprilmove.blogspot.com/ )

Mayhem rains at least partially because of an Israel lobby that pushed the US for war on Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Syria, and now pushing for conflict with Iran. Much can be said about that but my time is limited and I do want to focus on Palestine.

Therapy

In Palestine we had 14 uprisings in the past 140 years (because social movements are never a straight line but go through waves). We are apparently at the beginning of a new wave. The two state solution is dead (I think was always dead and a mirage but even if you think it was alive, Zionism killed it). The apartheid system we have is even worse than in South Africa as testified to by many leaders from South Africa. The resistance is the main form of combatting injustice, occupation, and colonization. I wrote a book on this (Popular Resistance in Palestine) and it was largely successful (here I gave a few examples). We also could use outside interventions just like we did with South Africa through Boycotts, Divestments, and Sanctions (BDSmovement.net). The fact that today 6.2 million of us live in historic Palestine with 6.1 million Israeli Jews suggest that Zionism has failed (past tense) to achieve its goals. That is thanks to this resistance. (more can be said here but look up the information).

Prognosis

In short the prognosis is very Good but we have to pass through one more acute crisis. If we agree on the diagnosis being colonialism and racism (apartheid/segregation/hafrada) then we can think of models to stabilize (if not resolve) the conflict: Algerian Model (natives win), New Zealand/Australia Model (natives lose), and South Africa Model (compromise). For reasons I can discuss only the latter model is possible in the 21st century. (perhaps we can do better on the economic rights area). S a biologist now we are building a museum of natural history. Our motto is respect (for oneself hence empowerment, for others who differ from us hence diversity, and for nature). We scientists know that a sign of healthy ecosystem is many species with few individuals of each species while an unhealthy ecosystem is dominated by one or two species. Same for human societies: health societies have a diversity of backgrounds and beliefs and Palestine will go back healty once we discard the notions of chosenness, a “Jewish state” (or a Muslim or a Christian state) and accet plurality and equality.

What is our role

While I appreciate conferences and academic papers, I am a grassroot activist and organizer (I was arrested several times by Israel). Many of ending charges against me have to do with incitement. So here I am inciting you: ACT. A Chinese saying is “I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand”. I urge you to come see for yourself and then I urge you to act. You can’t be neutral on a moving train as Howard Zinn said. Read Martin Luther King Jr letter from Birmingham jail to understand why he and many of us today believe apathy is far more dangerous than those who oppose human rights actively. Perhaps the best thing about this conference is meeting many of you and I hope we can develop further collaboration in the months ahead.
============
Addendum 1: The attendees were surprised when in the closing session, we see space given to a surprise guest: Mr. Moshe Kantor a biollionaire Russian Tycoon living in London. Even board members of the Rhodes forum apparently were not consulted and were equally surprised as we were. Mr. Kantor proceeded to regurgitate the same lies and distortions he had done in articles and letters to key Europeans. Lies and distortions that act as a fog to cover up Israel's crimes against the Palestinians. He claimed that unprecedented Jewish emigration is occurrirng out of Europe because of rise of anti-Semitism (his definition which is being imposed). Cantor's letter on behalf of the European Jewish congress to the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency in April 2012 is illustrative and it claimed that “the new form of anti-Semitism, which emanates from pro-Palestinians, from Arabo-Muslim extremists [sic], is today considered by European Jews as a real threat, which creates fear and tension among European Jews. Therefore, the definition of anti-Semitism should be clarified: the new form of anti-Semitism emanates from Arabo-Muslim extremists, from pro-Palestinians, being one way importers of the mid-East conflict into Europe.” [1]

The reality is that Kantor and EJC do not speak for European Jews as they claim. Many European and other Jews  are horrified at Israel's crimes. For a partial list of decent Jewish organizations who disagree with Kantor libelous accusations [see 2]. Much more can be said about Mr. Kantor [e.g. 3]. Perhaps The reality is that over 300,000 Israeli Jews moved and now live in German!  Kantor commanded us that anti-Semitism should be "punished in Europe more severely than ordinary crimes" and that Europe should watch out for perhaps 500,000 of “those people” (Muslims) are coming with different cultures and would start violence because they have “different culture”. He claimed all sort of other unsubstantiated claims. No one was allowed to rebut him. Russian born Israel Shamir and I tried but we were told the conference is over and we can send our remarks by email (this is what I am doing but to a slightly larger email list). I believe in speaking truth to power and I believe in the idea of the Rhodes conference of a dialogue of civilizations (though I believe we are all one civilizations but with many ideologies and ideas).

it is important to say positive and perhaps the organizers can create some positive energy when they get feedback. Perhaps they will invite me for a debate/dialog with Kantor next year where attendees are afforded the chance to really discuss real anti-Semitism versus imagined one, discuss Zionism, and more. In the meantime we need to continue to act.

[1] Tony Blair recruited by cheerleader for Israel’s crimes by David Cronin
[3] Kantor pushed EU to not work with a Palestinian unity government

Addendum 2: My sister's blog of love (I agree with her)

Mazin Qumsiyeh
Professor and Director
Palestine Museum of Natural History- Bethlehem University
http://palestinenature.org

Sep 5, 2015

Black September Reflections

Black September Reflections

And they searched his chest
But could only find his heart
And they searched his heart
And could only find his people
(Palestinian Poet Mahmud Darwish)

My political awareness started out in September 1970 when I was 13 years old. That is the first time I saw my late father cry. My parents had tried t isolate us from the miseries of the world but in this case he could not help it as he watched how politics results in innocent people massacred. The quarrel between the PLO and the Jordanian monarchy had peaked into a war. Jordanian troops with tanks entered refugee camps killing perhaps thousands (no one knows the number) of Palestinian refugees as they uprooted the PLO armed factions from Jordan. My father still would not talk much politics so I turned to my mother who gave me a brief history lesson much of it personal. For example she told me about her school friend Hayah Balbisi who was murdered with her students in Deir Yassin. The images on TV of flattened shaggy shantytowns over dead bodies still haunts me. I began to educate myself of things they do not teach us in school about our own history: that British invasion of Palestine September 1918 was a direct result of Zionist lobbies that gave the Balfour and the Jules Cambon declarations 1917 and learned of the British imposition of apartheid through the first Zionist ruler here Herbert Samuels.

In September 1982, it was my turn to cry uncontrollably as I saw images of the massacres at the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila (Israeli paid proxy militias). By September 2001, I had been living and working at Yale University for 1.5 years and I had been in the US for 22 years. In those 1.5 years in Connecticut, we had held over 20 events for Palestine and I had published dozens of letters and opinion articles on Palestine. We were happy we succeeded in pressuring Yasser Arafat not to sign onto the humiliating agreement offered him at Camp David that abrogated the right of Palestinians to return to their homes and lands (I cofounded a group that managed to collect over 800,000 signatures for refugee rights between 1997 to 1999). We were planning moe actions and more events especially in protest of the ongoing massacres committed by the war criminal Ariel Sharon in the occupied Palestinian territories. That was what some people had called the second Intifada 2000-2005 (my book on Popular resistance actually shows it is number 14 or 15). We planned events, held rallies, organized protest and also cared for the injured. We had already brought a girl who was 8 years old who lost her eye to an Israeli rubber-coated steel bullet and gave her a prosthetic eye (Hiam was one of hundreds of children to lose eyes and limbs in 2000-2003). Another girl Marwa Alsharif was coincidentally with us in September 2001. Marwa Al-Sharif had a bullet in her head which was just removed by neurosurgeon in Hartford and she was recovering (I acted as translater for her and her mother). On 10 September 2001 I was dealing with Zionist back lash and media distortions about the Israeli targeting of these children. On September 4, 2001, the Zionist group CAMERA posted to their members one of our media alerts and added “As you will see, pro-Palestinian activists are very focused and energetic and are using sophisticated and diverse methods to press their case. We can do no less!” An article by Rhonda L Maacarty and me appeared in Q magazine about the growing role of international solidarity in the struggle for freedom in Palestine. The struggle was plodding along but then it came to the USA in a big way on 11 September 2001. My first message after I recovered from the shock of the news was this sent at 11:30 AM on Tuesday 11 September 2001:

Talking points on the catastrophe
Many have already been contacted by the media for commentary on the attacks in NYC and Washington. Here are possible talking points:
1) This is an awful catstrophe
2) Our first thoughts must be with the victims.
3) We condemn acts of terror in the strongest possible ways.
4) It is important not to jump to conclusions about who or how this was caused and to wait for the situation to be clear.
No need to say anything else.
Mazin Qumsiyeh

I checked on my friends in New York (an area only 40 minutes from our home in Orange, CT) and we held vigils for the victims at Yale (hundreds of victims were also Arab and/or Muslim Americans). I was interviewed at least 10 times in the next few hours. That night was sleepless night as we addressed emails and made phone calls etc. Marwa Al-Sharif and her moher were at the Friday prayers called for by all the mosques in the US after this catastrophic event to pray for the victims and pray for peace.



Marwa and her mother at the mosque after 11 Sept 2001

In the next few weeks I gave over 50 talks dealing with this issue. In these talks and in my writings (including a book I published soon after) I warned that unless the west changes its foreign policy in the Arab world (stop supporting dictatorships like “Saudi Arabia” and the apartheid colonial system in Palestine “the Jewish state of Israel”, that we will have many more black Septembers. I warned of a potential refugee flood much worse. We even mobilized a roving bus called the “Wheels of Justice Bus Tour” which talked about Palestine and Iraq and the importance of changing policies. We spoke at in 4 years in 48 states of the USA. We protested, we marched, we did civil disobedience etc. My contract at Yale was not renewed in September 2005 and I left the USA in September 2008 to try and make a bigger difference in Palestine. September 2015, we see more suffering, more refugees, children washing ashore in the Mediterranean. We still cry, we still mourn, but we must still act. It is not enough to tell the callous western leaders “we told you so”. They still make horrible catastrophes. Please act to stop them (e.g. the USA/Saudi collusion to attack Yemen is creating another catastrophe).

Here in Palestine in the past 7 years, I adapted methodologies and changed directions to push for change. I donated much of what I made working at Duke and Yale to Palestine. I was detained, arrested, and harassed but luckily much better off than 95% of other Palestinians with a conscience. Now I spend a majority of my time “lighting candle better than cursing the darkness” and “having joyful participation in the sorrows of this world”. I am blessed to be surrounded by good active people, volunteers of all backgrounds and from many countries. Our email colleagues are in the tens of thousands. A luta continua – the struggle continues. I want to take this opportunity to thank those thousands of you who act for peace and justice. You donate of your time and money but most important you give of yourself. As the great Kahlil Jubran once wrote:

“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give. For what are your possessions but things you keep and guard for fear you may need them tomorrow? And tomorrow, what shall tomorrow bring to the overprudent dog burying bones in the trackless sand as he follows the pilgrims to the holy city? And what is fear of need but need itself? Is not dread of thirst when your well is full, the thirst that is unquenchable?
There are those who give little of the much which they have--and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome. And there are those who have little and give it all. These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty. There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward. And there are those who give with pain, and that pain is their baptism. And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue; They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space. Through the hands of such as these God speaks, and from behind their eyes He smiles upon the earth.
It is well to give when asked, but it is better to give unasked, through understanding; And to the open-handed the search for one who shall receive is joy greater than giving. And is there aught you would withhold? All you have shall someday be given; Therefore give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors'.

You often say, "I would give, but only to the deserving." The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture. They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish. Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights, is worthy of all else from you. And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life deserves to fill his cup from your little stream. And what desert greater shall there be, than that which lies in the courage and the confidence, nay the charity, of receiving? And who are you that men should rend their bosom and unveil their pride, that you may see their worth naked and their pride unabashed? See first that you yourself deserve to be a giver, and an instrument of giving.
For in truth it is life that gives unto life while you, who deem yourself a giver, are but a witness.
And you receivers... and you are all receivers... assume no weight of gratitude, lest you lay a yoke upon yourself and upon him who gives. Rather rise together with the giver on his gifts as on wings; For to be over mindful of your debt, is to doubt his generosity who has the freehearted earth for mother, and God for father.”

Aug 18, 2015

Beit Jala

Seventy years ago at the height of the human induced tragedy called World War II, two bombs ("Little boy" and "Fat man") were dropped respectively on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. 250,000 human beings were incinerated to death and hundreds of thousands died slow deaths later with radiation poisoning. It was an unspeakable act of state terror still unparalleled in human history. It was politically motivated to sen d a signal to the Soviet Union. The lessons were not learned and today nine countries have arsenals of nuclear weapons (US, Russia, China, France, England, Pakistan, India, Israel, North Korea). A fraction of this arsenal is enough to wipe out human life on earth. Burning people alive continues ofcourse though on "smaller scale" and the West seems to ignore this. Take the burning of the Dawabsheh family in Duma (near Nablus in Palestine). Father and 18 month old died, mother and second sibling still in bad shape in the hospital. Perpetrators funded by the Israeli government are still unpunished.



Yesterday morning the army of the colonial new "Jewish state" of Israel, 68 years of mayhem in the building, destroyed 15 ancient olive trees dating back 2-3000 years old in Beit Jala. The reason? Israel is going to close off the most fertile valley of Beit Jala western Bethlehem (Wadi Abu Ahmed, Cremisan area). Closing it off from its owners (55 Christian families of Beit Jala) is a step in confiscating it as happened before in thousands of locations. The world community and the Palestinian authority ignore the continuing massacre of land and people while occasionally making meaningess "statements". In practice though, the Western governments support Israel and have close working ties with it (thus are co-conspirators in the crime in the legal sense). But I do want to focus on the Palestinian authority (PA) and will argue that it is the biggest enabler of the occupation today.

Let us start for the history creation of the PA. The idea of a self-governing authority in teh heavily populated centers of occupied Palestinian territories was an Israeli government idea adopted after a commission was created headed by General Yigal Alon in 1968 immediately after conquering these areas in 1967. After the 1973 war and the US interventions clearly acting on behave of Israel (Henry Kissinger,Arms shipments and other support that saved Israel), the "compromising" ("compromised"?) faction of the PLO decided to move to get the Western governments primarily the US to accept them. The ten point program in 1974 and the "declaration of Independence" in 1988 and the Oslo process in 1993 where all steps on the downhill course to implementing the Alon plan.  Oslo succeeded brilliantly in fully "domesticating" the PLO and finally rendering it a meaningless shell and replacing it with the PA, a subcontractor of the Israeli occupation. The nepotism and corruption of the PLO hierarchy under Yasser Arafat where the only real inheritance passed down to the PA. Money and jobs and privilege became the currency of those whose parents and uncles and friends suffered and even sacrificed their lives for. The latter believed in revolution and resistance, the former believed in endless talks and sacred security coordination with Israel and the US. Does anyone even wonder how is that in 1993, 150,000 settlers lived in these occupied territories and many of them were afraid for their lives and required armed escorts. Today in 2015, 650,000 colonial settlers are here and they live with impunity even burning Palestinian families alive. This is squarely the responsibility of the process described above and its fruit the PA which remains paralyzed to do anything and relies on the excuse of division between Fatah and Hamas. This was not some unforeseen outcome. The Palestinian advisers and other experts involved with the political leadership did warn of this. Some of these advisers left the "negotiations" in disgust and have nothing to do withe PA. Some to them realized they can do nothing but decided to get on the wagon of privilege and power and were thus co-opted by the Alon-plan's fruit, the PA. In the case of the wall that the International court of justice rule to be illegal in 2004, it is still being built on Palestinian land and the only way to stop it it is to end the mental occupation.

The most damaging is the consolidation of a system of mental occupation among both the elites and large segments of the Palestinian population. This mental occupation is characterized by:

a) Implicitly or explicitly accepting that Apartheid Israel is powerful and here to stay (basically accepting the sub-humanization)
b) Implicitly or explicitly accepting that Apartheid Israel will alwqays be supported by western governments especially the US
c) Believing that the only options for having a semi-comfortable life is either to work for the PA or for NGOs (we will deal with NGOs in a separate article). This illusion of manageable life under occupation without a struggle for freedom is mental occupation.
d) The "why rock the boat" attitude combined with lack of belief in others (PA officials always tell me the Palestinian people are hopeless and tribalistic and weak etc). 
e) the widespread mistrust of all who claim they resist (but the examples of martyrs and prisoners on hunger strike remain a challenge to this skepticism). 

In my book on "Popular Resistance in Palestine: A history of hope and empowerment" I explain why such corrupt leadership eventually fades away and that people make their own history. Every day I see examples of heroism and self-sacrifice parallel with examples of cowardice and mental occupation. But those who put their personal interest ahead of their people interest are also fighting with each other over a shrinking "pie". History will disgrace them. Our job is to help people shed this mental occupation and arise from the ashes. The screams of women defending the Aqsa compound echo with the screams of the children burned alive and of the land owner in Beit Jala as he watched 2000 year live trees uprooted. These echos say "wake-up" and "fight". After all what choice besides living and fighting with dignity or living as slaves mentally occupied in fancy offices in Ramallah and elsewhere.  If the PA leaders want to reclaim a shred of decency, they would go in front of the bulldozers that even today demolished a home in Jerusalem and they would be arrested instead of begging the occupiers for crums. Remember the South Lebanon Army! Arise and reclaim your dignity!

Ali Dawabsheh, Cecil the Lion and the biopolitics of animal life

Haaretz: Israel build separation barier in Beit Jala despite high court ruling

PS: in local news, we continue to receive numerous delegations every week at the Palestine Museum of Natural History, we continue to join action, we continue to learn and teach, we continue to grow (with many volunteer and donor help), and we continue to research and try to conserve biodiversity in our small area of this big beautiful planet. To stay abreast of these development please join us on facebook under  Palestine Museum of Natural History.