May 29, 2011

A Palestinian in Deutchland

At speeds that at one time reached 208 km/hour we drove the length of historic Palestine in about three hours on the Autobahn between Fulda and Munich.  Idyllic villages appeared occasionally between the endless green and fertile fields. I was with three men who had idealism and youth and energy. Six of us had slept last night on floors and couches in the student service center of The University of Applied Sciences in Fulda after a talk to some 50 students and faculty.  Then onto Munich, where I gave a talk to some 100 people.  Tomorrow I go to Berlin, then Stockholm, then Rome. It is strange to be in this land hearing the language that reminded me of my graduate career (I studied German reading as part of my needed skills for the research on mammals).  But it also reminded me that this is the language of all early Zionist leaders The vision of a Jewish state freed from its original non-Jewish inhabitants was articulated so clearly in those early writings and protocols of the World Zionist Congress.  “Die Judenstaadt” by Theodore Hertzl remains a classic. Ironically, the fastest growing Jewish population in the world today is right here in Germany.  I wondered why among those prospering in Germany of all places cling to the lies of Zionism. But Germany is a land of contradictions.

It is not only a contradiction between the modern reality of today and the horrors of WWII.  Here is a modern democratic country where free speech and historical examination is open but it is forbidden and punishable to examine the historical record of the Jewish holocaust. Here where the economy is booming and the country beautiful but the government seems content to obey whatever is dictated by the US state Department (itself obeying orders from Tel Aviv).Here where the lessons of violations of human rights are learnt well but exceptions are made for the massive violations of human rights of millions of Palestinians.   In my answer to a Zionist at Fulda, I stated that he is engaged in Nakba denial and that this is just as bad as denial of the Jewish holocaust (a crime in Germany).

In the last few years, I gave talks to tens of thousands of people in hundreds of cities around the world.  I had interactions with hundreds of Zionists, many who have worked hard to prevent my appearance but who then had to come and try to make their points.  Not one of those Zionists was honest; their talking points being the same tired ones intended to deflect attention from and not have to deal with facts of ethnic cleansing, colonization and land theft.  How do you justify the largest post WWII refugee population and sleep at night?  The desperate attempts involve regurgitating easily dispelled myths.  In all cases, they try to use and abuse Jewish history in Europe to garner sympathy.  But even this lost its effectiveness as a fig-leaf to cover for war crimes and crimes against humanity directed at a people who had nothing to do with what happened in Europe. Even her in Germany and despite a guilt complex, facts seem to trump the Zionist perfidy.  It is not even possible anymore to hide the Nazi-Zionist collaboration of the 1930s and early 1940s let alone to hide what they did to 12 million Palestinian natives.  It is not possible to hide the fact that Zionists and Jew-haters share the same goal of attributing to Jews what Zionists and their racist apartheid state is doing.  Hence Zionists insist on using Jewish symbols on their racist state. 

People around the world are now aware of how damaging Zionism is and was (including to Jews around the world). How do you justify the fact that a beautiful ancient land was raped and pillaged and cleansed of its natives to be transformed to that last apartheid system on earth? Most know that Zionism is to Judaism what Crusaderism was to Christianity and BinLadism to Islam. What Zionists promised fellow Jews was safety and security but not morality or justice.  But even in this simple promise they lied.  Because, as an ex-Zionist once remarked: a Jew in Tel Aviv today is certainly less safe than a Jew in Berlin or anywhere else in eth world.  So while Zionists try to justify themselves to non-Jews based on myths about the history of Palestine, they try to convince fellow-Jews by using the primal human emotion of fear (in this case of the goyim/gentiles).  But even that emotional tribalism is long outdated.  More and more Jews are seeing that safety and prosperity do not arise from oppressing others or from replacing the small ghettos in Europe with the large ghetto called the “Jewish state”.  Germans had learned the lesson that repression and oppression of others  does not work long term. Other people have learned this lesson.  Zionists will invariably have to internalize this lesson just like many anti-Zionist Jews have internalized it.  Only then will these Jews rise “out of the ashes” (the title of a great book by Jewish Theologian Marc Ellis.

In the meantime, our tasks as Palestinians and all people of conscience is to assess our own roles and expand them to tell truth to power and to engage in resistance to tyranny for example by using boycotts, divestments, and sanctions. That is what the many people I talked to in Fulda, in Munich, and those I will talk to in the next few days in Berlin, Stockholm, and Rome are doing.  As the global intifada unfolds, we collectively shed apathy and reclaim our humanity.

I got interviewed over 8 times in the past week about supposed political developments (speeches and plans to go to the UN).  Questions about what Obama, Netanyahu, and Palestinian "leaders" had to say.  My answers are that what these folks say is very predictable and why would we want to waste time dealing with it.  Netanyahu is a colonialist racist and can only say what all colonialist racists have to say.  Obama is a politician beholden to the lobby and can only try to cajole the lobby as he tries desperately to hide the reality of US hypocrisy and war mongering.  And many prominent Palestinians have given up on the liberation struggle a long time ago and replaced it with the struggle to hold on to their seats.  None of them really take into account people power.    See the article by Ali Abunimah “What happened to Palestinian "reconciliation"?” and especially the three links within them that show how some key leaders of the Palestinian authority (Fatah) had engaged in what would be considered treasonous behavior in other circumstances

Reviews of my book on Popular Resistance in Palestine:

Open letter to the people of Palestine from South African theologian Dr. Farid Esack

Join us in Palestine July 8-16

Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD

May 23, 2011

Change we make

We, the global community, will make the change: join us

President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netranyahu spoke to the Israel lobby in Washington essentially promising to liquidate the central struggle for freedom today.  Politicians whether Hosni Mubarak or Netanyahu or Obama do not change their behavior unless we the people change ourselves and decide to take matters into our own hands.  We the people in the Arab world and all people of conscience are doing so and we urge you to join us in this summer of change. 

Palestinian civil society organizations applaud the Freedom Flotilla that will again, in June, challenge the brutal and illegal siege of the people of Gaza. Decent people around the world will be working in support of this international intiative.  While we rightly focus on Gaza we must not forget that Israeli colonial authorities are implementing their racist apartheid policies throughout historic Palestine.  In the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and in the Negev and the Galilee, ethnic cleansing and killing/injuring civilians are just some of the many violations of basic human rights. The aim is always to keep us isolated as well as divided, the better to achieve the goal of dispossessing us.

We call on civil society organizations and people of conscience around the world to support and join the other important challenges this summer to the Israeli apartheid system.  After the very successful events on May 15, there are now two dates of significance: June 5 and July 8-16.  On June 5, again, there is a call for everyone to converge on borders and on checkpoints throughout Palestine and on embassies and consulates of the apartheid state everywhere in the world. 

We will also have a week of solidarity and action 8 – 16 July.  Hundreds of men, women and children fly into Tel Aviv airport to visit us in Palestine. The international community must recognize our basic human right to receive visitors from abroad and support the right of their own citizens to travel to Palestine without harassement. Where Israel works to isolate us, we invite you to join with us openly and proudly as the decent human beings you are. We do not accept the attempts to keep us apart or to force you to speak less than with the honesty you are used to.

You will be accommodated locally. You will enjoy Palestinian hospitality and a program of networking, fellowship, and volunteer peace work in Palestinian towns and villages. Local activist groups in Europe and in the United States have organized delegations and hundreds have booked their flights. Once here much can be done.  See this tape about a previous visit organized by our group

Dozens of local groups and popular resistance committees* have sponsored the events and many have been working hard on mobilizing locally. But this work will need to be intensified to make it a great success that it will be with your help.  We could use all kind of volunteer help (locally and internationally).  Volunteers with different backgrounds and with varied skills or those willing to be trained are welcome.   Email us at with your name, location, and background so that you can join us to be part of this practical response to the machinations of politics.

Sponsoring local groups in Palestine
[Local list in formation.  Many international groups joined us and organized delegations. Send us name and contact of your organization/group if you would like to join]

Al-Rowwad Cultural and Theatre Training Centre,
Alternative Information Center - AIC -
Ansar Youth Center, Al-Walaja
BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee
Bil’in Popular Resistance Committee
Friends of Freedom and Justice, Bil’in
Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign
Handala Center -
Holy Land Trust:
Ibdaa Cultural Center
International Solidarity Movement:
Open Bethlehem:
Palestinian Centre for Rapprochement between People www.PCR.PS
Palestinian Conflict Resolution Center (Wi'am)
Palestine Justice Network
Palestine Medical Relief Society
Palestine Solidarity Project
Phoenix Center, Dheisheh Camp
Popular Struggle Coordinating Committee
Siraj Center for Holy Land Studies,
Youth Against Settlements (Hebron)
Youth Activity Center - Aida Camp
and popular resistance committees in 12 Palestinian villages and towns so far

May 19, 2011

Obama and the changing landscape

In follow-up to the very successful 15 May events (the beginning of the global uprising), activists around the world called for a day of protests Friday (tomorrow).  In Bethlehem, we gather after Friday prayers in front of Omar's mosque (the Nativity square) and march towards the apartheid wall.

President Obama tried in his (Cairo II) speech to again convince a skeptical world that the US promotes democracy and human rights. We have heard all of this orientalist talk before and yet have seen no action/change.  The change is coming from the people waving Palestinian and Egyptian flags everywhere. Even Obama's rhetoric seems hypocritical: why speak of peaceful demonstrations being suppressed in Syria and Libya but not speak about the constant repression of demonstrators by the Israeli apartheid regime? Obama even went further than other US presidents and talked as a typical Zionist: he lectured us the native people that we should stop "delegitimizing" Israel and accept it as "a Jewish state", "for the Jewish people".  Even Reagan who supported apartheid South Africa in his first term did not ask that we stop delegitimizing South Africa and recognize it as a "White state""for the
white people". What about International law (not mentioned by Obama) and what about a state of all its citizens (including the refugees who must be allowed to return to their homes and lands)? No, these basic rights are to be removed and the colonizers have a right to security but the colonized must be content to live in a demilitarized ghetto and accept their dispossession.

Ronald Reagan refused to speak to AIPAC.  But Obama agreed. He will also host war criminals at the White house and Netanyahu (the gang leader) who will speak to the (Israeli-occupied) congress. No mention will be made of Israel's illegal use of US weaponry in war crimes and crimes against humanity. Yet, the success of the popular uprisings in the Arab world including the new uprising that started on 15 May in Palestine and two scandals that hit the apartheid state this week add to the cracks in the "Iron wall" (fortified by the US). IN one scandal, Russia charged the Israeli military attache working at the Israeli embassy with espionage and expelled him. Russia and Turkey and many other countries previously friendly to the apartheid regime have been changing.  Israeli papers also reported that Ron Arad, national security advisor to Netanyahu did not actually resign voluntarily but was fired because he leaked "sensitive information".  The "sensitive" information was that the United States had given Israel unequivocal guarantees that its "strategic capabilities" in the nuclear field would be preserved and strengthened (according to Haaretz).  This put another nail in the coffin of the "change we can believe in" facade and embarrassed Obama. 

We should all write to the US media immediately to demand balanced coverage of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to the US.  Netanyahu and Obama talk about threats from Iran (like he did about Iraq getting us into a mess) and about Hamas's refusal to recognize the apartheid state of Israel.  It is fine to put their views out there but why not allow the facts of how Israel's lobby pushed for wars and that Israel is the largest recipient of US foreign aid or that Netanyahu's own political party opposes a Palestinian state and rejects international law (settlements are illegal and yet he even refuses to suspend partially colonial activities so that negotiations can resume). The Likud party platform clearly states:  “The Government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river.” or PDF: The platform also denies other basic rights to even our cities like Jerusalem and certainly does not even consider the need to allow refugees to return per International law.

The only official in the Obama administration who genuinely wanted Israel to at least suspend its persistent violations of International law is now out of the way (George Mitchell).  Business thus goes on as usual between the two governments supporting apartheid, repression, and violation of International law.  Obama will address the AIPAC convention saying the same nonsense about Israeli security (security for a colonial racist regime).  Maybe his Zionist aids will not allow him to know that the US public is demonstrating against this lobby.  Maybe he thinks most people don't care that Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg and assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs Jeffrey Feltman are two known Zionists and yet are leading a US delegation in an annual strategic "dialogue" with Israel officials (headed by war criminal Danny Ayalon).

The issue really is not about what these people do; they are criminals and professional thugs who profit off of wars and conflict.  The issue is how many people in this land and around the world will join us in the unfolding global uprising (intifada) to change our collective situation towards peace with justice. Corrupt business at the highest level that harms US public and strategic interests will not be changed by a speech from Obama. We, the people of the US and the world must take matters into our own hands. What Obama does not understand is that the millions who pour into the streets do not buy his fake caring.  To prove sincerity he should start by cutting off aid to Israel until it complies with International law and basic human rights.

The Zionist project has not succeeded in its stated aim of full ethnic cleansing and transformation of Palestine. While over two-thirds of the native Palestinians in the world became refugees or displaced people, 5.5 million Palestinians remain defiantly here. We faced over 130 years of a relentless assault against our people.  The assault was supported by European and other Western Countries and aided and abetted by despotic rulers in the Arab world. Over the past 20 years more and more people around the world have joined the struggle for freedom from oppression and colonization.  Obama failed to revive the charade of a fake "peace process" whose only beneficiaries are profiteers interested in liquidating Palestinian rights.

A monumental transformation in the Arab world is happening and a global intifada is spreading using tools like media work and boycotts, divestment, and sanctions. The Palestine issue remains the torch for this global transformation.  More people in the West are shedding illusions about what is really happening here in Palestine and in the rest of the Arab world. As for us, the 400 million Arabs that Obama wants to befriend with words, we will say with our feet and our bodies: the time for talk is done and it is time for revolutions and real change.

Yalla to the streets.  La Luta Continua.

May 17, 2011

Cruel and sadistic intoxication of power

My family updated you using my email on what happened on Nakba day (the three messages are now posted at my blog   Hundreds of us were kidnapped by the apartheid soldiers from demonstration and hundreds were injuried and scores were martyred.  Before I give my report I wanted to thank every one who took action. I have far too many emails to thank each of you who wrote me and I do not know who are the hundreds of others who called or wrote to officials, media etc (I do know from inside information that hundreds did write just to the US embassy as an example).  The level of communication and action around Nakba was inspiring and critical around the world.  Ben Gurion said about the ethjnic cleansing of Palestine that "the old will die and the young will forget".   Coming on the heels of an Israeli Knesset law to bar and suppress any comemorations of the Nakba, the day would actually turn out to be amazing. This day was the most important May 15 event since the weeks after May 15, 1948 when thousands of refugees "infiltrated" (as the Zionists labeled it) the borders to return to their homes and lands (a return that also meant many of them were shot on sight or re-expelled).

Our day started in the beautiful village of Al-Walaja at 11 AM as the villagers symbolically burned a refugee tent and decided to walk to their lands, much of it lies beyond the 1948  “Green line” ( itself dissolved by the Israeli occupation 1967 ).  I was video documenting this historic event on the 63rd anniversary of the Nakba (the ethnic cleansing of 500 Palestinian villages and towns). Some 800 people from Al-Walaja, other Palestinians, and internationals walked down the hills to the valley that delineates the 1948 green line. Army jeeps gathered on the road between us and the old land of Al-Walaja. Shireen and Basil approached the officers in an attempt to talk and explain that it is a peaceful march and that we just wanted to visit our lands. The answer was an empathic “get back” and an immediate attack by soldiers on the peaceful demonstrators. I noticed Ahmed down on the ground, pepper sprayed in his eyes and mouth and obviously in severe pain. I tried to help him while trying to film at the same time, within 3-5 minutes I was led away with 4 others including Ahmed. As they roughly and sadistically hit and pushed us into their military vehicle, Ahmed's conditions was worsening and he was refused medical care. The 4 youth were handcuffed in the back and I was handcuffed in front (perhaps due to my age). As we drove off, we started to hear the sounds of tear gas canisters and stun grenades.

I and the other pleaded with the soldiers and officers to provide medical care to Ahmed, but they would not even give us a paper-towel or a cloth to wipe his face (fluids running down his nose, mouth and ears). I finally used my T-shirt (which says “Got human rights? Palestinians don´t “!) to wipe the pepper spray off his face. Time passes slowly when you are in pain physically and psychologically.  But while all of us had bruises (the pharmacist Basil Al-Araj even suspected he has fracture in his rib), we all focused on encouraging and helping Ahmed.  2 hours later we did get paper towels but I was the only one capable of helping Ahmed because my hands were in front of me. We were first transferred to border police vehicle (with a particularly nasty woman soldier). We arrived at the military camp near Rachel’s tomb area. Half an hour after we arrived there (2+ hours after our detention), the doors to the container opened and 8 internationals stream in including one girl. They are not handcuffed and they relay that the soldiers after taking us near the green line chased villagers into the village and began arresting everyone they encountered including internationals. Everyone was just trying to run away they said. We remained at this camp for another 2 hours. I managed to get free from the plastic handcuff which really angered the soldiers when they discovered it, and I was tightly shackled with “Hatts-Made in England” metal handcuffs.

We are then all loaded to drive to the military compound called Atarot. I have been there in my last arrest, the soldiers and the interrogation rooms are elevated and a holding container is about 2 meters “depression” with metal roof. There we are to wait without using our phones (but we do in a clandestine way). Soon 5 more people form Al-Walaja were brought in including 2 children (twins ages 12). The children and 2 of the adults were taken from their houses (one in his slippers).  For the rest of my life I will not forget the terrorized look and tears of the children (we tried to encourage and joke with them).   Soon 15-20 more  people are brought in (arrested at Shufat refugee camp). I noted at least 4 masked undercover plain-cloth thugs accompanying them (these are the notorious "Musta'ribeen", Israeli undercover agents who infiltrate demonstrations, sometimes throwing rocks to incite others and give excuse for the uniformed officers to shoot.) We are told that hundreds of Palestinians were injured and and hundreds arrested from around the Jerusalem area (Shufat, Qalandia, Eisawiyya). 

Two youths from the Shufat group are badly injured; one had his head bandaged by a Palestinian paramedic earlier. The other whom I examined had contusions on his face including what appeared to me a broken bone (zygomatic arch) and a huge swelling around his left eye. He is shaking, dizzy, and in pain. I asked the officers to get him urgent medical care. One officer finally says: wait here. Then he goes and gets another officer who has the form that we all had refused to sign (the one that says “we did not get hurt during our arrest"). The message was clear: sign and we will get you medical care. The guy can´t even see to sign and he refuses. After much fuss and later (to quiet us down) they came back and took the two injured away; we hope they are cared for properly.

After much nagging on our part, one interrogator comes and asks if the two young children have celebrated their 12th birthday yet. The answer was no and he had no choice but decide to "question" them (more though scaring and screaming at them) then tell a fellow officer in Hebrew to call their parents to get them. (This takes another 1.5 hours). Israeli law allows charging and jailing Palestinians above age 12.  As I would find out when they took me to prison, the prisons are full of 12-18 year-old kids.

As night fell and we kept nagging, we are brought sandwiches at around 10 PM, fully 10-11 hours after our arrest. Then painfully slow, 40+ remaining prisoners began to get questioned. My turn comes around 12:30 AM (13 hours after our arrest). The lawyer says, you should not say anything; I instead take this opportunity and many others before and after to engage with these apartheid officers to get them to see the absurdity of it all. The bureaucracy meant that actually between the time of our first handcuff and our final release, we interact with over 150 apartheid officials and it is in my opinion good to try to talk to those who would talk (most tell us to shut up).  The interrogater tells me I am charged with participating in an illegal demonstration and throwing stones. I tell him I wrote a book on popular nonviolent resistance. He refuses to discuss politics; I refuse to sign paper that had his notes in Hebrew about what we discussed I go back to the pin. More waiting in bitter night coldness that we are not dressed for. The internationals are released once they sign a paper that say that they will not get near the wall and friction points for 15 days (if they do they would have to pay 5000 Nis or $1200 USD). We wail more and our spirits are high as rumors spread of successful Nakba events around the world. Many activists are released; five of us are left from the demo in Al Walaja and four from the Shufat demo. The later will go to Maskubiyya (the Russian compound) and we will go to Ofer. We finally leave this cold miserable place to Ofer at 4 AM. At Ofer, we are transferred to a military jeep with particularly nasty border police that insist I keep my head down. They use foul language and threats and occasional smack. They keep us like sardines in this jeep till 6 AM. We are then taken for “processing” which takes more than two hours from strip-search to photographs in prison uniform (mug-shots), to finger printing, to getting all our belongings logged in and stored, to being asked to change to the dark green prison uniforms. Each step involves changing handcuffs (I lost count how manytimes but must be at least 10 times in those few hours). The five of us get prison numbers 1932710 to 1932714.  We are put in a 3 m x 3 m holding cell for one hour they put us in and we are moved around 11 am to another area of the prison.

There an officer asks us individually which faction block we want to go to (Fatah, Hamas, PFLP etc.). He insists there are no sections/blocks for independents like me so I told him that I cannot choose other than to suggest that since we from the Walaja demo have the same lawyer, we should probably be assigned together.  He says he will see. Three of us end up in block 15 (Fatah).  After some checks, the gate to block 15 opens and they remove our handcuffs and we enter a hall that includes 12 rooms (on two floors).  Each small room accommodates 10 inmates. Today the block is near maximum capacity of 120 people in a space is this size of an average famil house in the US. We are greeted by a very friendly “dober” (Liaison between the block and the authorities). Who then takes us into one of the rooms to meet some key inmates and explains the rules to us. I am tired and can't focus but also I am honored and privileged to meet good people. I was surprised at how many youths are around. I am assigned room 5 with 7 other people already in it (two of whom are teenagers). In a way I was lucky because the room-head (Mohammed Saleh) is also head of the culture/education committee. After a shower (pajama provided kindly by the inmates), I was relaxing in my bed as he held his daily workshop to some 8 teenagers. The subject was the trilateral attack on Egypt and Egyptian-Palestinian relationship.

Prison life is regimented and orderly.  When roll call came, we stand up in our rooms next to our beds and the room metal doors are unlocked and several officers are standing tehre and they look at us as vultures while they call either our first or last name and we supply the rest of our name information. Time out is till 6 PM and during time out of rooms, the room doors are opened every half hour for 3 or so minutes in case you want to get something or return to your room.  I am told the Palestinian Authority pays Israel 17 dollars /day to keep each prisoner. Israel wants to maintain prisoner number (now in the thousands) as bargaining chips. I am impressed by how organized and clean the prisoners kept their crammed quarters. We agree that if I end up staying, I will learn Hebrew and teach English. In their weekly gathering I was also asked to give them a seminar on my book on history of Popular Resistance in Palestine. They bring me a book about Hebrew and I start to jot down notes about English and give the first two pages about alphabet and pronunciation to Mohammed. We discussed many things.

Around 10:30 PM and as I was beginning to doze off, I heard loud knowck on the locked metal door and my name is called.  I am told I am going and to get my things.  I quickly change back to the prison uniform, stick my hands out the opening of our room door to be reshackled.  The door is open and I find Ahmed (the other Ahmed, not the one injured) sitting and waiting.  Then they bring Basil.  By that time all the block is up at the doors and small windowns chewcking out what is happening wishing us good wishes.  Tears well up in my eyes as we are slowly led away leaving those good people behind.  After some processing, change of cloths, reshackling (our feet also shackled), we are loaded onto the a rison transport vehicle.  We are told our lawyer must retrieve our identity cards and valuable belongings (wallet, phone). We are dumped with no money and no phone in the middle of the night outside of the prison.  The mistreatment upon release is intended to send a message not come back (actually that was the last thing the officer told me). We manage to find a way home.

The first thing I did when I got home after reassuring my immediate family and quickly scanning emails was to watch the video of the amazing and inspiring breach of the borders at Majdal Shams area.

We are sad that 20 people were murdered in trying to peacefully cross the borders (created by an apartheid racist system).  We are sad that Munib Masri Jr, 22 year old Palestinian-American and grandson of the famous Palestinian Philanthropist Munib Al-Masri was critically injured (among many hundreds) after being shot by an Israeli sniper using bullets that are paid for by US taxpayers. We are sad and angry about all of this and much more.  But we are also inspired and energized by the remarkable collective effort.  We are all  more certain than ever that this apartheid system is destined to fail like the one in South Africa failed.  Perhaps 15 May 2011 will be looked at as the beginning of the end. The Arab Spring is chipping the Apartheid system. The light is at the end of the tunnel.  Let us follow it up.

A reporter asked about my arrest at the US State Department Press Briefing.  This and your efforts must have had a hand in our quick release

New York City march on Nakba day

Al-Walaja story (7 new home demolition orders)

May 16, 2011

Nakba Events and arrest of Dr. Qumsiyeh and others

As of now at local time Monday morning 2 a.m. May 16, 2011, Mazin is still
being detained.  His cell phone battery died as he called and wanted me to
write down the names and countries of the seven internationals that were
detained with him so that I can get help calling their respective country's
embassy (Ireland, USA, Canada, Germany, Netherland.)  Later he borrowed
someone else's phone to call and let me know that all the internationals
would be released shortly, but not him and other Palestinians. For them, he
said, maybe days.  He wanted me to follow up with the lawyer.  He sounded in
good spirit and did not seem to be mistreated.  I will keep you updated.
Your calls to the U.S. State Department, Senators, Congresspersons, and
foreign governments if you are non-US nationals should also help. 

Here is a video that he took up to the moment when he was arrested.  He
managed to pass on the video to a friend before being taken away.

Many of you wrote in response to the earlier e-mail breaking the news of
Mazin's arrest.  Our family greatly appreciate that.  Please understand that
they may not be replied individually due to the overwhelming responses. I
will send updates as they become available.
 Hope I have good news to share with you tomorrow.
PNN journalist Ghassan Bannoureh took the following video which documented
Mazin’s arrest yesterday:

 The latest from the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem (USCG) is that Mazin
is being held in Ofer prison as a detainee, and a hearing is scheduled on 19
May 2011.  They are aware of the many calls people made calling for Mazin’s
release.  They said at this moment, any additional calls would not change
Mazin’s status.  Regardless of that statement, I urge people to continue to
file complaint to President Obama and to the US State Department of the
ongoing discrimination against US citizens of Palestinian decent.  Two other
US citizens were also detained with Mazin at Al-Walaja but were released at
1 a.m. this morning, while Mazin is continued being held.   Let’s also
demand our government to stop supporting Apartheid Israel in our names and
demand justice for all Palestinian nonviolent protesters being detained.

The following compilation of videos, pictures and some articles on Nakba
Demonstration yesterday was forwarded from a friend and I include them here
for your information:

- - video of the morning and early afternoon by Haitham Khatib
- - video by I. Putterman:
- - video by The Al3ned
- - video by cnn:
- - interview w journalist Joe Elmer by Electronic Intifada
- - pictures on
- - video by RT:
- - video by al Jazeera English w Matt Cassel:
- - video by rnnnews1 -
graphic video of protestor shot in the stomach by Midan al Tahrir
- - video and article by AJE:
- - video of protestors showing US made tear-gas projectile by 3arabawy: - video
of ambulance transferring injured by 3arabawy:
- - video of ambulances by 3arabawy:
- - video of Protesters during clashes with army and police outside
Israeli embassy in Cairo by 3arabawy:
- - video of clashes by moftasa: -
picture by (more pics and posts on his

- - by Klashenkoof1

- - by baladeenet - other
video by baladeenet:
- - article by Ali Abunimah on ei:

Eight Palestinians were arrested yesterday, four early on, four later when during clashes and while the army searched each house and had sealed off the village; six or seven internationals were arrested; the internationals were reportedly released at 1 a.m., a Palestinian with Jerusalem ID released at 4am, 12 year-old twins released at one point last night, sothat the remaining detainees are: Basel al 'Araj (26 yo), Ahmad al 'Araj (24
yo), Ahmad Abu Khiyera (22 or 23 yo), Mohammad al 'Araj and Mazin Qumsiyeh
video by English PNN:

Video by Mazin Qumsiyeh prior to his arrest:

(I still don't know if and how many people were killed, last I heard, around
60 were injured, 15 seriously, and friends reported that army shot to
kill; also, I am not sure what the situation is now, I had heard that people
were staying in the buffer zone and that Israel had threatened with some
military action if they didn't move.
- - video by
- - pictures by
- - pictures by Shady Alassar -
more videos and pics to follow, I think, on

apparently 6 got arrested, there will be a demo today to demand their
- - video by Nooly1¬if_t=event_invite

- - video by Tom Vee

- - (Golan Hights and West Bank) by RT:
- - pictures by AJE

Sorry about sending two messages in one day.   I just wanted to send out
this good news as soon as I got it.  Lawyers just informed us that Mazin and
two other Palestinians will be released on bail tomorrow.   Their cases will
be reviewed later, and if there is no evidence to bring charges then the
case will close and bail money returned.   We can all breathe a sigh of
relief now.  Your support and prayers meant so much to our family and made
us strong.  We thank each and every one of you.  Next message hopefully will
be coming from Mazin himself.  In the meantime, our work continues until the
rest of them are free.


May 8, 2011

May 15, 2011: the beginning of the end

I teased a friend the other day: Do you feel safer in the new world order? We discussed the fact that there is a “new world order” whereby two states (regimes) in the world feel immune from International law, disregard existing mechanisms including the UN and Interpol, and send agents or machines regularly to other sovereign countries to engage in extrajudicial assassination of those they deem enemies. On most occasions, nearby civilians are killed or the victim turns out to be someone else.  There is the argument that these people assassinated are bad guys and should be killed.  My friend and I certainly do not have sympathy for Bin Laden and people like him.  But violating laws is not the way to go (two wrongs do not make a right). 

My friend points out that some two million Iraqis, half of them children, perished by the unjust US/UK led blockade, sanctions, and war. Millions suffered and over 60,000 were murdered by the Israeli policies of land theft, ethnic cleansing, regular massacres of civilians, and other war crimes and crimes against humanity. These are all acts of state terrorism in whole sale as opposed to the retail terror acts of Al-Qaeda.  Yet imagine if Afghani commandoes (or Chinese or Irish for that matter) landed in a clandestine way in the US, Britain, or Israel and “took-out” one of the masterminds of such mass terrorism.   Come to think of it, the stage is set now for this to happen since the message sent around the world is that “might makes right”.  As humans, we have clear choices to make: we either support the notion of “dog-eat-dog world” and put our faith in military might OR we insist that another world is coming and that we can shape it with our hands using popular and nonviolent resistance.

My friend laments a history of our species of oppression, exploitation, destruction, and even mass murder (e.g. the genocide during slavery, during colonization in the Americas, the use of nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki).  She asks half jokingly why should we expect a dramatic change in our life-span?  History does show that, slowly but surely, democracy and peace are spreading around the world.  In Latin America an amazing progress transpired from the era of colonialism (including genocide and slavery) to the era of “banana republics” (ruled by ruthless, western-supported dictators) to the hard won democratic revolutions.  A similar transformation is occurring in the Arab world.  This Arab spring came later and is more painful because such a transformation threatens the implanted Western wedge that is the racist apartheid state of Israel. My friend and I debate whether acting is contingent on being 100% sure of winning!  While a more rational reading of history would lead one to be more optimistic, acting on our beliefs and our ideals is not contingent on existing power structures or short-term outcomes but only on how we believe we should live and act. Self-transformation itself is a win!

I ask my friend to imagine activists 10 years before each of these events and what motivated them to act (even as they did not foresee the end): the collapse of the Berlin wall, the freedoms in the countries of Eastern Europe, the end of apartheid in South Africa, the end of segregation in the South of the US, the woman suffrage, and the end of the US supported Pinochet, Suharto, and Mubarak regimes.   In each of those instances and hundreds more, many activists died even before seeing the end of the struggle.  In each of these cases, some thought it was a hopeless struggle against incredible odds.  But even some activists did not understand how close they were to winning. Some even gave up the struggle a year or two before it triumphed. 

Even when it seems most entrenched the status quo will not stay the same.  The mighty Persian and Roman empires ended.  Who now remembers that in the 19th century, Portugal, Spain, and England had armies and colonies around the world and seemed invincible.  Even Hitler’s relatively short-lived third Reich seemed invincible. Human constructs are invariably changeable by new human constructs ESPECIALLY if they are repressive and antagonize too many people.  The Israeli and US regimes are thus more susceptible on this front than any other in existence today.  Martin Luther King Jr once said of the US: “I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today -- my own government..”   Israeli historian Benny Morris stated “The Jewish generations of 1948, however, knew the truth and deliberately misrepresented it. They knew there were plenty of mass deportations, massacres and rapes . . . . The soldiers and the officials knew, but they suppressed what they knew and were deliberately disseminating lies." Ilan Pappe summarized years of his historical research thus: “Jews came and took, by means of uprooting and expulsion, a land that was Arab. We wanted to be a colonialist occupier, and yet to come across as moral at the same time..” These ‘original sins’ (as another Israeli historian titled his book) will catch up with this generation.

I tell my friend that the sins of the past come to haunt people whether at the individual level or the national level.  Similarly, the good deeds do get repaid sooner or later.  I remind her that her good deeds were already rewarded many times over as she herself acknowledged to me.  I am sure the many Israelis and US citizens who worked very hard for peace with justice will be vindicated.  She states that our biggest troubles are not sustained by those who work against us but the masses who are apathetic.  Apathy indeed is the scourge of humanity.  Each of us should look themselves in the mirror everyday and honestly think if they have done enough!  Here in Palestine, like in other parts of the world there are also those who act and those who are apathetic.  The latter may watch TV, may feel pangs of frustration or anger but are not willing to sum up the inner courage (present in all of us) to finally act on their convictions.  On our deathbed, will we lament a life wasted or smile at a life of achievement for fellow human beings. 

My friend and I are pleased to be alive in this day and age and continue to be very optimistic. We are grateful for the tentative initial steps of reconciliation of the Palestinian house (but must keep pushing) and we are grateful for the failure of Netanyahu to get Europeans to pressure the Palestinian people to keep their divisions.  We know Netanyahu will next go to the US but there he will have to pass through demonstrators to get to the Israeli occupied halls of Congress.  And the US is already 14 trillion in debt, one third of it caused directly by the Israel-first lobby. But AIPAC is being challenged.(1)

Meanwhile, the struggle here in the last land of apartheid continues.  Saturday, our friends Yusuf and Musa AbuMaria were attacked and injured by Israeli forces in a peaceful demonstration in Beit Ummar near Hebron (Yusuf had two breaks in one arm) and we attended two conferences in Hebron the same day.  One was the Palestinian Forum for Medical Research first biomedical research symposium (2) where one of my master’s students presented her research results.  The second was attended by 300 activists nearly half Israeli and was titled “Joint Struggle for an End to the Occupation and Racism”.  The final declaration from this conference is meaningful in showing the change happening on the ground in joint struggle (as opposed to normalization)(3).

Join us 15 May 2011 on the streets as we launch a global intifada (uprising) using popular resistance methods. It will not be the end but the beginning of the end as hundreds of demonstrations and marches are held around the world (including marches to checkpoints) and from nearby countries to the borders of occupied Palestine. 
We will say that 63 years of destructions and war is enough and our Nakba must end. Some are calling this the third intifada (4) but it is actually the 14th or 15th and it is likely going to be the last (5). In follow-up you can join us in Palestine this July (see to take a bigger step forward.

In the meantime, as our friend and martyr Vittorio reminded us to always “STAY HUMAN”.

1)      From May 21 to 24, 2011, come to Washington DC and join CODEPINK with a coalition of over 100 organizations, including Jewish Voice for Peace and the US Palestinian Community Network, at the historic gathering Move Over AIPAC: Time for a New Middle East Policy!
5)      See the book Popular Resistance in Palestine: A history of Hope and Empowerment"

May 4, 2011

Vittorio and a lecture

Below are tributes to Vittorio and an announcement of a Lecture Tuesday May 10th. [Reminder: if you emailed me at, please resend to since the hotmail account was closed)

The funeral and other moving links for an exceptional and amazing individual, our friend Vittorio Arrigoni.  May we all strive to stay human as he stayed human, a caring wonderful human being who took actions for peace and justice. Let us complete his work.

Vittorio Arrigoni speaks of war and death and how he would like to be remembered should he die! He does this in the setting of the Gaza cemetry of WWI

Restano Umani: What was Vittorio Arrigoni(Vik) doing that cost him his life? Watch this amazing video

New Project: People come to Gaza in memory of Vittorio in May.  For details and to join, visit

Bella ciao for partizan Vik:

Egidia, Vik's mother, speech:
(Translation of her talk by Francesco Stevanato)

Vittorio is neither a hero nor a martyr, but just a guy who wanted to reaffirm with a special life that human rights are universal and how these must be respected and protected anywhere in the world ... that injustice must be told and documented, because none of us in our comfortable life can say 'I was not there, I did not know'. Vittorio was a witness, a great activist for human rights. From him we must learn the power of coherence to the ideals. From his radical and nonviolent choice we must draw the strength for concrete actions, to become everywhere, including us, human rights activists. We didn't imagine, we didn't know how many of you loved him, at all latitudes and longitudes. Believe me, in these days of pain, this was the unexpected relief to our wounded hearts. I embrace you and all the sons of Palestine. With a special and grateful hug to Vittorio gazawi friends. Gaza was his second home. Continue to work for your land standing together, with courage and hope. Recalling that Victor had only one weapon: the word and the testimony.
Stay human. Restiamo umani. Salam aleikum
(Egidia Beretta)
The Carter Center presents Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh

130 Years of History: The Effectiveness of Popular Resistance in Palestine

Tuesday, 10 May, 6:00 pm

Friends Meetinghouse, Ramallah**
Professor Qumsiyeh teaches and does research at Bethlehem and Birzeit Universities in occupied Palestine. He serves as chairman of the board of the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People and coordinator of the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements in Beit Sahour.  His book “Popular Resistance in Palestine: A History of Hope and Empowerment” will be available for sale. For questions, please call 0598 200.631 or send an email to
** The Friends Meetinghouse is located on the Main Street in Ramallah (next to Al Natsheh Building and across from Rukab Ice Cream).
The Event Is Open To The Public

May 3, 2011

Email account closed, Bin Laden, and Nakba

Note: If you email me at in the past few weeks, please resend your message here as I have lost access to that account. Also ignore any emails that may come from that email account.  You can email me at

There is a western media frenzy about the reported "taking-out" of Osama Bin Laden (the previous ally turned enemy). Israeli papers reported a high level US security official as saying he instruction was not to capture Bin Laden alive but to liquidate him.  But everyone already knew this since there would be messy business if the US soldiers captured such a person alive (he may even spill the beans on his US and Pakistani intelligence links).  Most people went about their daily lives of apathy.  Even the stock market did not go up as pundits predicted.  Soon the dollar will resume its downward spiral.

The US military may feel vindicated and Pakistanis will feel their country's sovereignity challenged. Some may chose to retaliate with violence giving the neocons and neoliberals their excuse to pursue their policies.  After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the military-industrial complex needed a new enemy to sustain its massive structure and conveniently the "Islamic terrorism" materialized. Ofcourse there are fanatical Muslims (and Jews and Christians and Hindus) who are willing to kill. Yet, the US did not have to invade Iraq and Afghanistan and create more such fanatics.  But a more sober analysis shows that things will change.

Bin Laden was killed a while ago not physically but as an idea! The idea suffered significant blows by the Arab Spring revolutions which showed that it does not take violence to change our societies and remove US/Israeli backed dictators.  Bin Laden's assasination and the continued state terrorism practiced by the US government and its allies especially Israel attempt to entrench the idea of violence as an answer. The brutal assault on Syrian, Yemeni, Saudi and Bahraini demonstrators and the US continued military attacks in countries around the world are part of this human foolishness.  They represent that wing of our global society that believes violence is the answer: the win-lose scenario. The hopeful ideas of popular resistance, freedom, democracy and end to exploitation successfully challenged the notions of "clash of civilization" and "might makes right".
We thus remain hopeful despite all the false news planted around us and all the false-flag operations, and despite the 1 million Iraqis and 50,000 Afghans killed by these wars.

Here in Palestine, most people went about their lives focusing on how to find the next loaf of bread under Israeli colonial occupation.  Hardly a mention was made of Bin Laden.  If we take just one village called Izbet Al-Tabib, a tiny village of 247 residents (60% of them children), we see one example of what was on people's minds.  THe Israeli decision to take their land was met with building a protest tent on the threatened land and trying to make their story known.  The Israeli military came and attacked the villagers and the international volunteers severely injuring an elderly American woman and arresting three other internationals (see ). At night more than 200 soldiers invaded the village terrorizing its population to try and stem the growing popular resistance. Join us Thursday starting at 1 PM in the village to show solidarity. And last night, the Israeli army arrested several Palestinians in major cities including Bethlehem (this happens regularly in defiance of the Oslo accords and with knowledge of "Palestinian security" forces).

In a few days, there will be events and commemorations surrounding the Nakba day.  The Nakba is the Palestinian catastrophe etched into every living Palestinian mind.  It is the fact that from January 1948 to the end of 1949, more than 2/3rd of our people who lived in the land that became the (Jewish) state of Israel were ethnically cleansed.  63 years later, nearly 7 million Palestinians are refugees or internally displaced people. This is the largest and most tragic and persistent post world war II atrocity. For information, visit

It is important that we all join in activities to challenge colonialism on this anniversary of the Nakba. Below are some events but do look for events in your area or organize your own events.  In the US, you can also get some printed material (a Nakba Pak) from here

From Lebanon and Jordan, see details here

Hellerup, Kobenhavn, Denmark
Israëlische ambassade, Sterrewachtlaan 40 1180 Ukkel - Avenue de l'Observatoire 40 1180 Brussel (UCCLE)
Madrid. C/ Velázquez 150, 7º
Ambassade d'Israel - Paris
Bern (Bern, Switzerland)
Houston, TX
Consulate General of Israel, 6380 Wilshire blvd. Suite 1700, Los Angeles CA, 90048 & Consulate General of Israel, 456 Montgomery Street, San Francisco, 94104
Israeli Embassy
122 Pembroke Road, Ballsbridge
Dublin, Ireland
Ambasciata d'Israele, via Michele Mercati 12, Roma
Israelische Botschaft Auguste-Viktoria-Str. 74-76 14193 Berlin
Boston Israeli Consulate
20 Park Plaza
Boston, MA
Israeli Embassy, 2 Palace Green, London W8 4QB