Apr 13, 2011

Optimism and change

According the latest survey of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, some 26.2% of families live in poverty and 14.1% live in deep poverty for a total of 40.3% living in poverty or deep poverty in the WB and Gaza.  The situation in Gaza is worse than in the WB. By contrast, any casual visitor to Ramallah is struck by 5 star hotels, fancy banquets, hummers and SUVs, and the latest models of Mercedes cars. And throughout the occupied Palestinian territories, over 200 thousand employees draw salaries from foreign aid channeled through the “Palestinian authority” with lots of strings attached (to support the status quo).  De facto one party rules function in the WB and in Gaza with economic incentives against radical change in toe.  Even a simple thing like university student union elections,  parties were excluded. With so many people benefitting from a continuation of the status quo, some find it hard to envisage meaningful change.  But wasn't that the situation in Egypt for decades and that is now dramatically changing?  Now the Egyptian ex-President (a lackey of Israeli and US foreign policies) and his two wealthy sons are under detention and will be indicted soon. The Egyptian airline canceled its regular flights to Tel Aviv. The Egyptian government just ordered a review of the sale of natural gas to Israel (where it was sold below value with some benefits to the wealthy Egyptian elites); this was costing the Egyptian people 3-4 billion annually. And the demonstrators in Cairo marched to and surrounded the Israeli embassy demanding its ouster.*

In my talks in the US, I predicted that the President of Yemen will be next (he is the most subservient to Israeli and US governments).  A million marched in Yemen last Friday.  Syrian President (good on rhetoric but also serving status quo) is besieged.  The list goes on. Youth in many Palestinian cities including in Ramallah, Bethlehem, and Gaza are mobilizing.  There are ongoing hunger strikes, protest tents, and conventions (one in Bethlehem Saturday will have over 1000 attendees).  The winds of change are blowing. Israeli elites are shaken and have begun to debate among themselves what to do (maybe even accept a larger Bantustan and call it a Palestinian state without the refugees allowed to return). But it is too little, too late. A global intifada is ongoing.  We the people, insist on justice (which brings a durable peace). On the ground here in Palestine, our struggle is one person at a time, one village at a time. In my talks abroad, I gave the example of Al-Walaja village.  To really understand the Palestinian struggle come visit us and work with us. If you can't do that, watch this excellent documentary:

Action: On Tuesday, some people from the Jenin Freedom Theater (founded by Juliano Mer-Khamis) came to our village and presented the film Arna's children (which everyone should see).  On Saturday at noon in front of the Muqata' there will be a demonstration by artists and friends of art demanding the Palestinian authority bring the killers to justice.  I recalled this paragraph from my 2004 book "Sharing the Land of Canaan: Human Rights and the Israeli Palestinian Struggle" (http://qumsiyeh.org/sharingthelandofcanaan/) that was put in practice by the Freedom Theater thanks to Jule’s work: "Perhaps we need to teach children to value themselves, value teamwork, respect others, and defend the rights of minorities.  This is not as simple as it seems.  Adults need to learn to accept, in a very positive fashion, views that are foreign to them.  In other words, someone who expresses his views should be listened to and respected regardless of how sacred the ‘holy cows’ are.  Would you be willing to listen rationally to a view radically different from your own on your religion or your way of doing things?  Would you be willing to defend wholeheartedly the right of that person to present his view?"

Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD


  1. Your visit to Chico was much appreciated. Thanks for the news. Will post your link on my blog, Reinventing the Adventist Wheel. ADRA, the Seventh-day Adventist relief agency is a worldwide nonprofit that works in the West Bank. Not sure about Gaza.

  2. Mazin Ya Habibi,

    Inshallah Inshallah Inshallah.

    If you under Occupation can be this optimistic, how can we not join?

    Yours, Assaf