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.


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).


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

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.

May 30, 2015


Israeli FIFA head shakes hands with Rjoub and declares victory 

Life here goes on in all its ups and downs. On the down side we noted with dismay how Mr. Jibril Rjoub decided unilaterally to capitulate to the Israeli government and not pursue them in FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) even though they violate basic human righst including rights of athletes. The capitulation decision was with no democracy, no consulting of people (even our own athletes). There is an Avaas campaign to gather signatures to "red card" Mr. Rjoub (see https://secure.avaaz.org/ar/red_card_rjoub/?rc=fb&pv=61 ) . This is one of a series of setbacks that keep proving that the Oslo process was indeed a second Nakba for us. It created a cadre of benefited elites who for the sake of PR must keep speaking as if they are against the occupation but in practice facilitate and entrench the occupation/colonization. 

Questions for philosophical thought to the likes of Jibril Rjoub: who was the women who refused to give up her seat to a white man in a bus in America? Now who was prime minister of England at the time or minister of youth or athletes etc? Who made the difference and who is remembered? In 50 years who will remember you and if they do how will they remember you? How do we remember Vichy or Buthalesi?

We think philosophically of how many humans are weak and do not show a backbone. They do not respect themselves or believe in themselves. They get down the slippery slope of "getting along" to advance their individual financial or personal ego interest. Jesus said "what good is it for man to gain the whole world and lose himself". I have compiled hundreds of such examples maybe for my next book.

On the up-side good people keep doing amazingly good work. We had a Bethlehem Rotary gathering to celebrate end of one project in Gaza (maternal and Child health) and start another with help from our Japanese colleagues. Dr. Asaad Ramlawi (ministry of health) gave us a sobering presentation on malnutrition in Palestine. We had growth in our activities. Museum volunteers do two field trips every week with volunteers (this week was to Wadi Fukin and Neni Naim/Kufr Breik). We had a productive discussion about the Jordan Valley project (sustainability and biodiversity). We planted new plants. We met with numerous visiting delegations including a group of visiting innovators (writers, artists etc) who came for the first time in Palestine (program has been doing this http://palfest.org/  ). We had an event in the Manger Square to gather fingerprints for freedom (initiated by colleagues from Nazareth  to break three records, see http://www.fpp.today/ ) and had the honor to meet Waheeb daughter of Tawfiq Ziyad. He is the famous Palestinian poet and we with help of Mr. Qavi (donor) in the Museum of Natural History have been distributing plaques for two months with part of his poem Baqoun:

Here we will stay
In Lidda, In Ramle, in the Galillee
We shall Remain
Like a wall on your chest
and in your throat
like a shard of glass, a cactus thorn
and in your eyes
a sandstorm....

On personal news: I finished writing a chapter on BDS (boycotts, divestments and sanctions) highlighting opportunities (e.g. with churches) and challenges (e.g. with Oslo and the PA structure). I also finished two reports. I am going to Amman (3 days) for a conference on biodiversity then to Marseille briefly (2 days) for a conference on climate change. Next month to Germany. Biggest challenge is shortage is time.  Biggest opportunity/pleasure is working with youth.

A luta continua.

Come visit us in Bethlehem under Israeli apartheid.

Mazin Qumsiyeh
Professor and Director
Palestine Museum of Natural History
Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability
Bethlehem University

May 21, 2015


Compassion fatigue is a term I heard many years ago perhaps when there were a number of natural and man-made disasters and conflicts in the late 1980s. The term came to my mind in the last few weeks. Another saying: think globally and act locally. So thinking globally, I was thinking how humanity could descend to such barbarity around the world. How could African migrants risk their lives to leave countries wrecked psychologically and economically by colonial Europeans to seek to arrive in the same continent that subjugated them? How could Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims be slaughtered in the thousands by the majority Buddhists and surviving people end up in boats and sent back to starve and die at sea rejected by nearby countries including countries like Indonesia with Muslim majorities? How could relatives of Jewish holocaust survivors engage in racism and ethnic cleansing for native Palestinians while relatives of Armenian holocaust survivors lead amazingly rich productive caring lives? How could a very wealthy country like “Saudi Arabia” (the quotes are needed because it is an imposed name for a country stolen by the Saud Family) spend billions to support the US/Israeli agenda of destruction and mayhem in countries like Yemen and Syria? How could a pilot who claims being Muslim drop bombs on Muslim civilians? How could a powerful and rich country like the USA be so occupied by the Zionist lobby that they send their “police” to train in racism and oppression in Apartheid Israel and then go back to kill blacks in American cities? How does the world tolerate the continued siege on Gaza and its starving and dying population (the largest open air prison with 1.7 million inmates whose only crime is being born in Palestine)? How could the world stand by and let Egypt execute political dissidents or imprison them for decades simply for demanding freedom from the entrenched military dictatorship funded by US taxpayers? The US and Canada Zionist lobbies just might succeed in getting unconstitutional laws passed to ban standing up for human rights (supporting BDS against the apartheid regime).  It might get worse with the lobby getting the subservient governments to force the political neutered Palestinian leadership to accept a version of apartheid (and no refugees’ right of return).  But then that is what the PA leadership knew would happen when they signed the articles of surrender known as the Oslo accords.

So did humans develop compassion fatigue and does this bode ill for our future as a species? I do not know and cannot predict the future. I can only act against the negative trends and draw closer to other activists. When we do find people who still cares, we latch onto them and try to do something together to keep our sanity. Palestinians were genuinely happy that the Pope decided to canonize two 19th century Palestinians nuns as saints and conclude an agreement recognizing “state of Palestine”.  Those positive people trying to do good things are so needed when so many are either apathetic or directly benefitting Israel while getting rich. Without the few lights in the darkness, we would all be lost and very depressed. Perhaps this is why the presence of volunteers around us in the museum and the botanical garden/integrated ecosystem is so crucial to our health. When we walk or work in the garden with others, we feel reinvigorated physically and psychologically. In fact when we do any work together, we feel empowered. On Nakba memorial day last week we had a number of activities including installing a large visible plaque that included sections of the famous poem by Tawfiq Ziyad (“here we stay”). The next day, we hosted a workshop on trauma relief through herbal medicines and working on gardens. We then hosed 44 Nazareth colleagues on a tour of Battir then lunch at the museum.  Yesterday we attended a meeting on biodiversity, did field work and got two Bedouin children to help us near their camp by picking up some round rocks we needed for our pool at the museum. They were so nice and so friendly and their smiles even after the sweaty job will always be with me. Their community spirit is strong even when they are threatened as a community with evictions (was done to them before). So while thinking globally we are able to act on location and keep going based on a vision that all these borders and divisions and conflicts they foist on us will be gone one day. We dream of an interconnected free society and of traveling free from Bethlehem to Jaffa to Nazareth to Beirut and Damascus without anyone stopping us at any border.  On my desk is a quote from the Dalai Lama “Never give up. No matter what is going on around you. Never give up…”  Sometimes we do not know the best way forward but we should never give up. I have a friend in Gaza whose son had spinal cord cancer and now partly paralyzed and the family constantly calls for support. But that is one of dozens of stories, needs fulfilled or unfulfilled etc. It is natural occasionally to have doubts about our future as a species and frequently to reassess our methods. But we must keep the hope alive. We must keep dreaming, keep trying, keep working, and keep living. We must never give up. We must “stay human” as Vittorio used to write to us.

South Africans apologize over forest planted on Palestinian village
(incidentally our studies and those of others show how environmentally destructive was the planting of European pine trees to cover-up the destroyed Palestinian Villages)

In Gaza, the Nakba is ongoing and you can help us end it

US press blacks out Israeli defense minister’s citation of ‘Nagasaki and Hiroshima’ as model for dealing with Iran - See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2015/05/ministers-nagasaki-hiroshima

Mar 1, 2015

Destroying history

The kingdom of "Saudi Arabia" is going to behead a man for "apostancy" (renouncing his belief in Islam and the Quran) while welcoming Egyptian Al-Sisi whose security forces are torturing people to death in Egypt for being supportive of an Islamic political system more moderate than that of that Kingdom! Meanwhile the Egyptian kangaroo courts are declaring resistance movements outside of Egypt who have little to do with Egypt to be terrorist organizations. Sisi is also helping Israel enforce a siege on 1.6 million Palestinians (now that is terrorism). The Jewish State in Israel and the Levant (JSIL) in the name of ancient mythologies is using colonial settlers to kill natives, ethnically cleanse them, and torch churches and mosques with impunity. Meanwhile their progeny ISIL loots and destroys priceless human heritage going back thousands of years. It started in 2003 when US invaded Iraq and its soldiers sacked Baghdad. US soldiers were instructed to go and protect the ministries of oil and internal security but allowed pillaging 15,000 priceless archaeological artifacts from Baghdad. At that time I wrote warning that the plan was to break-up Iraq by encouraging sectarianism (until then unknown and people living harmoniously for hundreds of years). 

Ashurian and Babylonian and Sumerian cultures were perhaps more civilized than our current "civilization" (based on monotheistic "religions" or on secular traditions). It is no wonder the remannts of those are being destroyed in Iraq in favor of the new idols (Netanyahu and Zionism). The congress of the strongest military power on earth (the USA) funds regimes that commit Nazi-like atrocities around the world. Israel gets the lion share of this (several billion annually). Netanyahu will try to justify genocide and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and others. Republicans and some democrats will listen to Netanyahu call for yet another war for Israel. Zionists pushed for the catastrophic war on Iraq and Syria (Mesopotamia) and now are pushing for an even more catastrophic war on Iran (ancient Persia). Persian history and archaeology maybe destroyed like they are now doing for Mesopotamian history. Many of the bible myths are taken from ancient Mesopotamian and Persian stories recounted >1000 years before they were taken by the writers of the Bible/Torah (the stories of Adam and Eve, Noah and the flood, Abraham and Sara, Moses and an "exodus"). Perhaps the selective historiography while destroying records of earlier periods of human history is useful to those who want to use their religious narrative to rule. But it seems also useful for those secular people who want to advance hegemonic racist ideas. But it is not just history but the fragile environment that is targeted (see below on Red-Dead canal).

Perhaps the Obama administration is starting to see this and maybe that is why they declassified a document showing how the US helped Israel skirt International obligations and develop nuclear weapons (see below). Maybe that is a first and I hope that more documents would be released that show how previous administrations hurt US interests to help the Israeli lobbyists get their way (from hiding the Israeli deliberate attack on the USS liberty to selling US technologies to US enemies to the Iran-Israel-Contra affair etc).

Hypocrisies and atrocities go on daily in this "Middle East" thanks to all the weapons pouring in from countries that claim they want peace. The USA is the largest weapon exporter in the world and most of it comes here. Here is a novel idea if we want peace here: A total arms embargo on shipments of weapons to all countries in the Middle East (Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and others). Spending one percent of that money on human needs instead of on promoting killing would go a long way to reclaim our humanity. Here in ocupied Palestine, we are trying on a small scale to resist. From the Friday demonstrations in several village (this was tenth anniversary of the demonstration in Bilin) to trying to open Shuhada Street in Hebron (closed to punish Palestinians after a Jewish racist settler massacred dozens of Muslims at the Ibrahimi mosque) to daily sumud stories (we are planting hundreds of trees weekly) to education and research....Life goes on.

Note: Please write to object to the environmentally devastating project to link the Red Sea to the Dead Sea (supposedly to save the Dead Sea) whose first $800 million stage was launched last week. The Dead Sea was shrinking because of the Israeli diversion of the waters of teh Jordan valley starting in the 1950s, a catastrophic project. The onlty way to fix that is to return the flow of the Jordan river to its pre-Zionist plan. The envisioned project will destroy the coral reefs in the Gulf of Aqaba and will devastate the fragile ecosystem of Wadi Araba. http://electronicintifada.net/content/how-historic-israel-jordan-water-deal-leaves-palestinians-high-and-dry/13139

US Helped Israel With H-bomb - 1980s Report Declassified

This opinion piece in the NY Times explains the importance of the work we do in the Palestine Museum of Natural History (Palesinenature.org). Libraries of Life: "... These collections are particularly critical in today’s era of rapid ecological and climate change, providing a unique and vitally important glimpse into ecological conditions of the past...." http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/27/opinion/libraries-of-life.html?_r=0

Banksy’s Grim Tour of Gaza: Watch a Mini Documentary by the Shadowy Street Artist http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/02/25/banksy-s-grim-tour-of-gaza-watch-a-mini-documentary-by-the-shadowy-street-artist.html

Remarkable: How two Palestinian Americans plan to PIVOT the world

Feb 13, 2015

Greek Tragedies

Life rolls on not in any monotony but in the crazy waves of ups and downs and scenarios reminiscent of ancient Greek tragedies.  We take the punches, resist the evil acts of some, act to help where we can, accept the things we cannot change and try to change those we can.  That is life.  This week we lost several friends and neighbors (Advocate Judeh Shahwan, Professor Naseer Aruri,  Human Rights activist Kayla Mueller, Ihab Rishmawi) and we mourned atrocities committed in the US, Syria and Iraq .  The racist Zionist Debbie Schlussel wrote that she has no sympathy for our friend Kayla for being "anti-American" (actually anti-Zionist control of American Foreign policy) and called  Kayla other names so obscene to be mentioned here.  A brief on Naseer Aruri just to show you the quality of the many we mourn (all of them are candles in the darkness and remain so even after death; truly inspirational): http://www1.umassd.edu/communications/articles/showarticles.cfm?a_key=3553

We were not surprised that the highest court in the apartheid regime rejected the well-documented evidence of the murder of Rachel Corrie and accepted the fascist soldier's version that it was an "accident." Western media ignored this travesty of justice. Time for the international criminal court.  In other news in the last few days, a hate-filled criminal terrorist killed three young Muslim students in North Carolina.  That is where I lived and worked for six years and knew intimately the Muslim and Arab community and I recognized many of the faces of the mourners at the funeral videos.  After significant protest, Mr. Obama made a brief statement but it was not even close to his statement about the Paris killings.  The media was even more hypocritical either ignoring the story or calling the executions as a parking altercation! (yes I know it is unbelievable).  See these videos about this incidence

We find the mainstream media so distorted, so biased; they are either run by Zionist racists or afraid of backlash from Zionist racists if they tell the truth.  Otherwise how does one explain the discrepancy of extensive almost round-the-clock coverage by American media of the hate crimes committed in Paris but little or no coverage of the crime in North Carolina.  What little coverage they did was distorted claiming the guy killed those three innocent young Muslims because of a "parking space" issue!  How else can we see that a story like the French police catching a Jewish Zionist who was spray painting cars of Jews as a false flag operation to increase emigration of French Jews to Palestine (transformed to the Jewish state of Israel). Why coverage mentioning this is in some obscure website not on mainstream media?  Here is a report mentioning this: http://www.f169bbs.com/bbs/news/86206-france-police-catch-73-year-old-jew-spray-painting-the-word-jew-on-20-cars#axzz3Rdh6Lytv
But here is the Times of Israel interested in getting Jews to migrate out of France telling us the police arrested the guy but not saying he is Jewish and that Israel expects 10,000 Jewish French to come join the land thieves: http://www.timesofisrael.com/suspect-arrested-for-anti-semitic-graffiti-in-paris/

Such hypocrisy, such lies and countless false flag operations (billions spent on psy-ops to brainwash common people), and such evil forces are all around us.  But then again I think of goodness.  I think of those who organized vigils in Bethlehem and other towns for victims like the Jordanian pilot. http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2015/02/jordan-kaseasbeh-palestine-hamas-ondemnation.html#

I think of 14-year-old Malak (english Angel) Alkhatib.  She is a true angel who was incarcerated in Israeli gulags (fascist prisons).  She was finally released and the video of her reunion with family and supporters is touching.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6PkQ8x8uRE