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

FIFA


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
http://palestinenature.org

May 21, 2015

dream


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
http://electronicintifada.net/content/gaza-nakba-ongoing-and-you-can-help-us-end-it/14527



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
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article40986.htm

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
http://mondoweiss.net/2015/02/working-pivot

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

Feb 10, 2015

On Politics and a Request: What is going on in the world today is serious transformation and transfiguration of power relationships from a unipolar to a multipolar world and from power centered in the north to that centered in the southern hemisphere.  The height of power of the unipolar world was in 1989-1991. Since then, things have been changing and unless we establish a world based on justice and human rights, the US/Israel axis will lose big.  Let me again remind you that our choices are 1) a livable world based on justice and human rights, 2) a dead-end world based on might is right, 3) there is no other choice.  The Israeli leadership of Netanyahu tried to reassert Israel’s “might is right” impunity by attacking a group of Hizbollah fighters deep inside Syrian territory (Israel also illegally occupies the Syrian Golan heights).  Ten days later and on January 28,
Hizbollah resistance struck back at Israeli soldiers inside the illegally occupied Shebaa Farms (Lebanese territory occupied by Israel illegally since 1967).  This operation buried the notion that Israel can attack anywhere and everywhere with impunity. 

In other world news, an employee of a US subsidiary of Israeli defense company Elbit Systems was apparently killed (“suicide” by falling off of his hotel room) in Saudi Arabia. His family says it has to do with the complicated business of Israeli weapons being sold to Saudi Arabia!  That country had a shake-up recently with the new king even more allied with Israel and the US and he removed a number of officials who were “only” 90-95% pro-Israel.  We also had more Snowden leaks about US and Israeli “intelligence” cooperation including in extrajudicial
assassination of Imad Mughniyeh and also Iranian scientists. The Jewish State of Israel in the Levant (JSIL) apparently also convinced US intelligence to identify Palestinian resistance (that presumably includes everything from Hamas to nonviolent popular committees in Nebi Saleh etc.), Hizbollah, Iran, and Syria as joint enemies (hay perhaps that should give us a hint!).  But then again even Egypt today is more pro-Israel than ever before (an Egyptian court ruled that Hamas military wing is a terrorist organization and Egyptian government enforces the Israeli siege on Gaza that is killing civilians every week).  And the US government budget of nearly $4 trillion will add $0.5 trillion to the exploding US national debt which will ensure the US gets bankrupt soon (unless they devalue the
dollar and thus default on much of this obligation).  The US will soon become a third world power and Zionists are already looking to move on to China and India (as they did when they moved from Britain to the USA).
Huge changes are unfolding here in Palestine, the epicenter of much of the conflict in Western Asia and North Africa. Zionists push their luck by pressuring the moderates within the PLO who were always ready to have a two-state solution. The two-state solution was never alive but if it was then it was also killed by the Israeli settlement enterprise (650,000 Jewish settlers now live in the Palestinian areas of the West Bank).  The upcoming Israeli elections are of “who is most fascist”.  Zionists are intent on pushing further by stealing more natural resources, stealing Palestinian taxes, daily killing civilians, and even using their hegemony in the US to get judges there to rule to give them money for being victims of “terrorism”.  Of course, the real victims of terror (millions of Palestinians) are not allowed to get any compensation.  The Oslo process tied the hands of Palestinian officials. Some want to change now and when there is a will, there is a way. But what would YOU advise us Palestinian leaders 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 will keep your advice confidential (unless you tell me otherwise) but summarize all responses received (I suspect >100) and share them with receptive Palestinian authority
figures.

Thank you to those of you who responded to volunteer your time and in some cases your money for the Palestine Museum of Natural History (palestinenature.org).  The museum is important to present young people with alternatives to violence and a new way of looking at themselves and their environment (empowerment and nature conservation). Things are moving along: a beautiful garden is flourishing, animals are happy in natural settings, research is expanding, we were nominated for an
environmental award and for membership in several exclusive professional societies, our database is growing, students are here learning every day, and much more.  But we could still use your help, so do contact the museum via info at palestinenature.org

A new initiative to encourage young Palestinians in Gaza to write (I am proud to be part of this as a mentor).  You can also support it
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/we-are-not-numbers--2/x/8477661

Zionist tour for Muslim-Americans sparks anger in Palestine
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=754587
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/190211#.VL4oBEeUfHU

Dec 15, 2014

Veritasphobia

Veritasphobia (fear of truth)
By Mazin Qumsiyeh

Fear is an emotional state produced in human beings and other animals to watch for real or anticipated dangers. An animal that reacts to danger or even potential danger and escapes lives and reproduces. Selection favored such mechanisms to be hightened in situations of danger of predation, of starvation of accidental death and so on. But an animal that is exceptionally fearful is also disadvantaged because it can avoid going out to find food or a better shelter or a mate. Fear is a double edged sword; useful in moderation especially when accompanied by logical thinking based on real phenomena and harmful in certain situations. Psychologists call the latter phenomenon of excessive fear as phobia. Phobia can lead to extreme behaviors or to hiding in ourselves and not taking any risks (risk taking is needed for progress). There are actually hundreds of named phobias ranging from Ablutophobia (irrational fear of washing or bathing) to Zoophobia (fear of animals). All humans are afraid of something or another but perhaps a significant proportion of humans are suffering from pathological phobias that impair or result in self damage or damage to others.I wrote in my 2004 book "Sharing the Land of Canaan" about role of fear in political discourse:

Begin quote
Fear is the most powerful tool ever used by governments.  Fear caused good Germans to support the Nazis in 1934 and surrender their liberties for supposed protection from "terrorism" and domination by the communists who some capitalists believed at the time to be dominated by "Jewish elements."   It causes many good Jews to support Israeli atrocities and it caused good Americans, Canadians and British today to support limiting civil liberties, engaging in profiling and other acts that are of undemocratic nature.  Fear is the most potent political propaganda because it destroys all rational capacity for logical thought.

While invading other countries, the Nazi government always argued they were defending Germany from others and not fighting a war of aggression.  They often claimed that they were "invited" by allies or fighting "defensive" wars.  The Blitzkrieg by Israel on Arab countries in 1967 was also thought of as a "defensive war" and "preemptive" in nature.  Many Americans also were duped to think that the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was not an aggression but rather an action taken in self-defense.  Even though American troops have bombed over 30 countries since 1946 and American troops and "advisers" are now stationed in over 140 countries, many still believe that we are defending "our freedom." Yet, not one Iraqi, Korean, Nicaraguan, Vietnamese, Dominican, Grenadan, Panamanian, or Lebanese troops has ever set foot on United States soil.  In each case, fear spread by those in power led the population of the aggressor nations to accept the absurd propaganda of their governments and to acquiesce in the victimization of other people.

The esteemed psychologist Dr. William Sargant argued that governments use fear to create temporary impaired judgment and heightened individual and mass suggestibility creating a "herd instinct" most noticeable during times of conflict (William Sargant, Battle of the Mind: a Physiology of Conversion and Brainwashing, Cambridge: Malor Books, 1957, 255 pp.).  A good example of this psychological effect is the public sentiments in the crisis atmosphere following the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001.  It is now well documented how the administration in Washington used this atmosphere of fear to promote its own agenda of hegemony and control ranging from the so-called PATRIOT act to the invasion of Iraq.
End quote

But upon further reflections in the past 11 years since I wrote TAT, I now think fear is not only a tool of the politicians but that politicians are the worst victims of a particular kind of phobia. Most of them know the truth but are deathly afraid of it and so choose the path of lies. I believe the main reason is that they worry that acknowledging truth can be a first step to working to correct things and this could jeopardize the status quo which includes their position, their wealth, their popularity or some other thing that they cherish (other than their conscience which is suppressed). Zionist politicians are paranoid when it comes to the truth of Zionist history of racism of ethnic cleansing and of massive violation of Palestinian human rights. They are afraid of the truth that Zionism based on lies is unsustainable and that coexist ace and equality are possible.  Many Palestinian politicians are paranoid when it comes to the truth of their own corruption, nepotism, collusion with Zionism (see Oslo accords) and hidden racist thoughts about the other. Hamas politicians are deathly afraid of Fatah politicians and vice versa.  

But this is also true of us common lay people. Phobias suppress our strong desire to shout out the truth, to challenge injustice, to speak our minds fully, to be rebellious, to not worry about being ridiculed. Ironically in our heart of hearts, mind of minds we know that all excellence emerges from defeating this phobia of the truth. The list of >530 phobias compiled and listed at phobialist.com misses that one so shall we call it veritasphobia or VP for short (Veritas is latin for truth)! Acknowledging the truth that it is possible to let go of our egos, try new things, and love others seems a Utopian dream. But those who suffer from VP also ignore history. After all, it was those who conquered their VP who shaped all positive events in human history from ending slavery to women rights, to civil rights, to human rights. History of progressive humanity is a history of conquering VP by few dedicated individuals. 

20th century "heroes" like Helen Keller, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X, Che Guevara, Ho Chi Minh, Nelson Mandela, Ghassan Kanafani, Rosa Parks, and thousands of others others follow those who in earlier centuries were called "prophets". They are common people who shed their VP and thus achieved remarkable things. I actually think those who do not do that, are also afraid of proving themselves wrong: i.e. that if they shed their VP, they could accomplish more in their lives than they ever dreamed possible.  They are afraid that embarking on a risky road more afraid of potential success than of potential failure! But that is why most people (including most politicians) live mediocre lives risking little and achieving little. [note: I do not consider getting wealth as achieving much unless it is totally dedicated to serving people].

Where are the 21st century heroes and prophets who overcame their Veritasphobia? I did cite some of those from Palestine in my 2012 book "Popular Resistance in Palestine: A history of Hope and Empowerment". But looking for those is only inspiring and they are a minority and we need more of them. Each of us (our politicians included) can and should look in the mirror and say "what about me?"