Nov 30, 2011

Is hypocrisy sanctified?

Below this rough (perhaps harsh) "poem" are some action items

Is hypocrisy sanctified?

Is hypocrisy ignored?
As children of lesser gods cleansed!
While colonial settlers from Europe enriched
and 7 million Palestinian refugees created
dozens of massacres committed
And 540 villages and towns depopulated
putting us here them there as planned!
While speaking of security not for the colonized
And Safety not for the occupied

Is hypocrisy sanctified?
When big brown eyes teared
As Mother was gunned
And Americans mourned
for Rachel bulldozed
While soldiers celebrated
a mission accomplished
and we, who were not chosen or selected
our dead we buried
our wound we licked
or in our drinks we drowned
even shopped while silenced
or behind closed doors muttered
or news on TV cursed
to the world as it is adapted

Is hypocrisy unquestioned?
When rich Abe Foxman "feels" discriminated
and the new Goebles called Regev worried
and Friedman in his column squeaked
Netanyahu hugging racists demanded
and a bar bouncer minister bellowed
and they all told us to be silenced
for only Jewish suffering was allowed
and apathy on today's atrocities encouraged
as the altered school curricula deemed
a whole history manufactured
bible myths promoted
while archeology ignored
and conflicts promoted
to fulfill prophecies
Hope diminished
Love massacred

Is hypocrisy worshipped?
When some Palestinian politicians adapted?
Their revolutionary spirit long quenched
And with VIP cards in 5 star hotels dined?
And their European-funded studies accumulated
While even prayers in churches and mosques were stopped
and a thousand year old tree was uprooted
And an old man became partially blind
for his olives behind the fence withered
and after a second stroke he was buried
But not in his land….
his neighbor said "with no choice I worked"
So that "with shekels from occupiers I was paid"
But others in suits in front of cameras their mouth opened
And to the dry hot dusty air contributed!

Is hypocrisy normalized?
When, not Bahrain but Syria sanctioned!
And not Yemen, but Libya attacked!
Belligerent Israel with its nukes supported
While Iran, attacking no one, is bullied
And so what if western politicians lied?
After they took the paid junkets and were bribed?
Isn't it normal for prostitutes to be sold?
And keep millions in apartheid?
While to millions the truth denied?
And poor Americans lose their homes?
While billionaires get more enriched?

Is hypocrisy easily digested?
When 20 racist laws are codified
In an apartheid country supposedly democratized
Or when an Israeli soldier's life is venerated?
While Thousands of Palestinian chained…
A hundred thousand Injured…
With high walls Surrounded….
In Bantustans warehoused….
Millions ghettoized…
And graves of hundreds of children overflowed…
And as collateral damage justified
an army with a state is called moralized!

Is hypocrisy elevated?
When on Yom Kippur they pledged
Sins and lies to be purified
And their US made F-16s bombed
refugee camps with explosives obliterated
While an old woman in Silwan evicted
And humanitarian ships pirated
Peace Activists on the deck executed
As the dreaded word "bitachon" regurgitated
And again and again Al-Araqib demolished

Is hypocrisy deified?
When monotheistic religions distorted:
Jacob with Elohim/El-lah struggled
And in triumph Isra-El renamed!
When idols like Zionism worshiped
and can't be challenged
by inferior gentiles who can't understand
and by us the native "roaches drugged"
Yahweh gave the deed to the land
to those who can create gods from Gold
and gold from hasbara as they lobbied
for yet another war and got readied

Is hypocrisy venerated?
when myths are believed
Jewishness and Zionism worshipped
And ashes of murdered Jews used
Even as living survivors screamed:
not in our name can history be politicized
and "never again" must not be Judaicized

Is hypocrisy exalted?
Or a global intifada launched
London to San Francisco echoed
Wall Street to Sidney "occupied"
our unity in humanity finally emerged
hypocrisy exposed!
Humanity reclaimed!
Love ascertained!

Action: over 1 million people already signed this petition for Palestinain independence

Direct elections to the Palestinian National Council Wanted

Action to sign petition: Kenn Starr (Clinton Nemesis) and President of Baylor: Stop Persecution Against Prof. Marc Ellis

Travel Palestine - Rediscover Your Senses

Mazin Qumsiyeh
A bedouin in cyberspace, a villager at home

Nov 23, 2011

Freedom Ride and more

This weekly compilation is rich with material to choose from: amazing videos and stories from our first freedom ride, a video call to action for the Global March to Jerusalem, a positive action example, a story from Haaretz on our friend Ashraf AbuRahmah, Moshe Dayan's widow saying that Zionism had run its course, Rafeef Ziadeh's brilliant poem "We teach life", an interview with me in Portuguese, Ran Greenstein on "How to fight the Israel-Apartheid analogy in four easy steps", an article about what is happening in Egypt from Egyptian blogger Dr. Ezzat,  and a Jewish call to action.

Video and footage of the freedom ride (excellent in superimposing images from the US civil rights movement to thre current era) (from Ann Paq of Activestills) (collage of videos from Jewish Voices for Peace) (part 1 ogf four videos from an ISM activist)

More stories and commentary on the Freedom Rides

Take Action: Global March to Jerusalem (video)

Positive action example: Cambridge: Boycott Sabra & Tribe!

Our friend and colleague Ashraf AbuRahma, a real believer in nonviolent demonstrations and who never threw a stone is charged with throwing stones.  This case has other twists.  Amira Haas tellxs of "The banality of a Palestinian's arrest"

Moshe Dayan's Widow Ruth: Zionist Dream Has Run Its Course: These startling words were uttered last week in Tel Aviv by 95-year-old Ruth Dayan, widow of one of Israel's founding fathers

Rafeef Ziadeh poem "We teach life"

 (interview in Portuguese) ‘História da região independe da ONU’

Occupy the Occupiers: A Jewish Call to Action

Ran Greenstein: How to fight the Israel-Apartheid analogy in four easy steps – a guide for useful Hasbara idiots

Occupy Tahrir Square vs. Occupy America: “We could all temporarily lose sight of who is pulling the strings in this counter-revolution currently playing out in Egypt … but make no mistake, the thousands in Tahrir square will not lose hope nor can they afford to.”  Dr. Ashraf Ezzat

Petition: To Congress & President Obama to stop military aid to Israel:
(this is an old petition that was never publicized but it might be worthwhile to reinvigorate now) Petition : "Right of Return and one secular democratic state"

Nov 16, 2011

Honored as a Freedom Rider

I was honored to be a freedom rider and it was team effort at its best (those who rode and the many who worked behind the scenes).  Two other Palestinians were also arrested with us who were there as a reporters/observers not participants. All eight of us were released eventually pending potential trials. Fajr kindly gave us a ride to the edge of Beit Sahour from Ramallah (we were released at Qalandia checkpoint) where my wife met us there with my car and then she and I gave a ride to Nadim and Badi' to Hebron.  I thus arrived home at 1:30 AM and the phones started ringing again at 7 AM.  I am extremely tired and with a headache but wanted to send you a brief report and links to stories about this amazing and inspiring experience. While released, we are still charged with "illegal entry to Jerusalem" and with "obstructing police business" pending potential trial. 

This was one of the most heavily covered media events I ever participated in.  It was also streamed live on the internet and nearly 100,000 people signed a petition of support for us freedom riders ( Thus, I do not need to write to you in detail about how three buses refused to let us board and then one driver (who later told journalists he did not know what was going on otherwise would have also refused) allowed us on the bus and what happened on and off the bus.  Below are some links to stories published that give you a taste of this. Note especially the signs that we carried and showed before we rode the bus and from the windows of the bus (I am the one with the "DIGNITY" sign).  Perhaps I will write more personally when my mind is clearer and I have had some sleep. But there are two anecdotes that happened that are kind of unusual and funny and in some way worth telling while they are fresh in my mind:

-They took me to the Shabak ("Israeli intelligence") guy before they took me to the investigator for the bus issue.  The Shabak guy did not ask me about the bus at all.  He introduced himself as head of the Shabak area of Ramallah (and previously of Nablus and Jenin).  He asked me if I was abroad recently.  I said yes.  He said what happened when you came back.  I said I was interrogated at the bridge.  He said "come-on interrogating is a big word". I said I do not know what else to call an 8 hour delay including 2 hours of actual questioning.  He said what else they told you.  I said that the interrogation would continue and that there is a captain "Suhail" or "Suhaib" or something like that who will call me later.  He said that that it is him and his name is "Shihab"!  I said "well then maybe we will save another visit"! He told me that is not likely as I seem to continue to "cause problems and violate laws". I said there is something called international laws and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Denial of freedom of movement and entry to Jerusalem while allowing colonial settlers to live on our land and have freedom to travel in and out of Jerusalem on segregated buses is a violation of the International Convention Against the Crime of Apartheid. We also engaged in a political discussion and I explained about why Israel now has no incentive for peace (the three main sources of income for it would all dry up if there is peace) and my views of a democratic, pluralistic country for its entire people.

-One young Ashkenazi soldier was very arrogant and even called me "Professor Teez" (Teez is arabic for "ass").  We all (freedom riders) laughed it off and I told him that I did not insult him and that when someone insults me they demean themselves first.   When he repeated it after my interrogation by the Shabak, I stood up and confronted him and the Druz officer intervened and the soldier moved away. There were other incidents with other people similar showing that our collective attitude was strong, defiant, and resilient.  We all had Palestinian Kuffiyyas and kept wearing them.  Fadi even wrapped himself in the Palestinian flag the whole time except when they did the full body search.  We have some video from inside the compound which I will share later.

I came out to find the news that the Zionist mayor of New York Mike Bloomberg ordered the clearing out of the "Occupy Wall Street" protesters for now; a very important protest *.  But my reading of history and trends tell me that the global intifada will only accelerate as a result of repression by the powers to be.

Freedom Riders odyssey: (there is a picture here of me being taken off of the bus)

*Arundhati Roy: Occupy Wall Street is "So Important Because It is in the Heart of Empire"

Nov 11, 2011

Land Confiscation

(Please scan for important action items at bottom in bold)

Back to the (ab)normal and unpredictable situation here in Palestine.  I give talks to visiting international delegations, we deal with problems, we organize activities, we attend events including various forms of non-violent resistance, I teach students, I do clinical service, I write on my upcoming books, eat great food, have wonderful conversations etc.  I keep up with the news of my friends who were on the boats to Gaza. The Canadian abductees arrived home. Some Irish abductees were re-imprisoned. Israeli armed guards prevented them boarding planes at the last minute (more at  But the world is outraged and politicians while still attached to their failing positions, are feeling besieged by their own people.  Delegations from Sweden, Ireland, the US, and many others pass through Palestine and then stay in touch via the internet learning and becoming even more active against the idiotic policies of mainstream Western politicians.  Thousands of people are finally saying: we will not take it anymore.  The Empire and its servants are pushing for a war on Iran now (after they pushed for an illegal war on Iran) but judging from average people reaction and the jitters in the stock market, there is no constituency for war.  I do not think it will happen.  Racism will lose anyway, with or without their racist wars.

New Land Confiscation in Beit Jala (Bethlehem area)
(today there was a prayer for peace in the area with clergy from different denominations)

Action 1: For Palestinians who can attend, we will have a meeting Saturday 12 Nov 2011 at 4 PM in Ramallah to plan a series of activities including on Tuesday 15 November, on Christmas, on Land Day, on Easter, and more.  Join us.  Email for details and to confirm attendance.

ACTION 2: Get your Palestine solidarity pack from "If Americans Knew" in time for the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People (November 29) and hold an event of solidarity/support

ACTION 3: Join us in Palestine
November 15 (Tuesday) Palestinian Freedom Riders to Challenge Segregation By Riding Settler Buses to Jerusalem. Meeting point: the Ramallah Cultural Palace at 1:00 PM
on March 30 for the Global March to Jerusalem
(autonomous North American GMJ group at
and April 15-21 for the Welcome to Palestine Campaign, and

Young and Jewish: This is a great video (must see)

Funding illegal Israeli settlements? Priceless. by Bernard Keane
Visa, Mastercard and PayPal all enable donations to be made to US-registered groups funding illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank in defiance of international law but restricted donations to wikileaks!

Disarm the conflict (Who is arming the occupation)

Join Interfaith Peace builders Upcoming Delegations to Palestine

Americans Pay Dearly to Maintain Israel's Nuclear Secrets by Grant Smith

U.S. renews financial aid to Palestinian Authority.  Action comes after top AIPAC-supported congressional leaders drop their opposition. The Obama administration assured the occupied congress that this is in the national interest of the US and that "Israel does not abject" to renewal of this "security assistance."

Présentation de la nouvelle mission Bienvenue Palestine II. Le vendredi 25 novembre · 18:30 - 21:30
Lieu de présentation: Rue du Chevreuil n°4 à 1000 Bruxelles  Près de la place du jeu de Balle

Stay human

Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD

Nov 9, 2011

Netanyahu admitted lying before

I do not know why people are surprised at what Sarkozy and Obama said to each other in private about Netanyahu as a liar.  This is after all the same Netanyahu who gave a speech to dozens of Likud Party members in Eilat in which he admitted this is his strategy. According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz (15 July 2001): " his audience a bit of advice on how to deal with foreign interviewers (Netanyahu said): 'Always, irrespective of whether you're right or not, you must always present your side as right.'"  So Netanyahu admits lying and Sarkozy and Obama merely agreed with Netenyahu and most of the Israeli public that the current Israeli prime minister is a liar.  And here is Netanyahyu, thinking cameras are off, bragging about how easy it is to manipulate the US and go around the Oslo commitments: (make sure to click CC for English subtitle.)

The faux pas at the G20 apparently happened when Sarkozy and Obama were alone and a microphone connected to a media room was still on.  Sarkozy apparently said to Obama at one point that he cannot stand Netanyahu who is a liar and Obama answered that he has to deal/work with him every day.  While unintentional this shows something more disturbing about politicians than the issue of lying (which they are well known for). They know what is right but they act based on fear of lobbies and they lie about what they know to their public.  I think Western politicians buy the anti-Semitic notion of Jewish influence and control (a notion unfortunately propelled by Zionist Jews).  As one Zionist leader once said "we rather be feared than loved."  And as anyone who knows fear (including the one Zionist spread among Jews), it is always the image of it than the reality that matters.  I personally think that just a few more people acting on their convictions rather than on their fears would change things.  If Obama and Sarkozy stand up to the Zionists while they are in office (not like Carter after he left office), what would happen? The answer is: we will have a better world and these politicians would be more popular.  I say this because I do not think Sarkozy is smarter than the average French or Obama smarter than the average American.  The people know and the people do not like to be lied to and pulled to wars to serve the racist ideology of political Zionism.  This is especially the case when the leaders of this ideology claim they want peace and security while they do everything in their powers to undermine peace and security.

Those of us who do not have memories stretching back decades, can at least think of the 2003 war on Iraq and who pushed for it, with what lies (WMD, terrorism etc) and what was their real motives (people like Perle, Wolfowitz, and yes Netanyahu).  Now the same criminal gang is pushing for a war on Iran.  Unfortunately, like the war on Iraq, there are self-interested Arab leaders who think this is an opportunity to support the power that keeps them in power (US government which is under fear of influence of the lobbies).  I am worried about the collusion of dictatorships in the Arabian Peninsula who (mistakenly) think that such a war might end the Arab spring.  But after my visit to Egypt and Jordan and talking with Arabs from other countries (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain etc), I am convinced that they (policy makers in Washington and Tel Aviv who push for war) are miscalculating again just like they did with Iraq. The neocon conservatives/Zionists who pushed for the war on Iraq believed it would strengthen Israeli hegemony.  Instead it strengthened Iran and groups like Hezbollah and Hamas.  An attack on Iran might only accelerate the already evident decline in colonial power. I know some Palestinians would like to see that but others like me believe it is too costly in lives of Iranians and Israelis (and of course Iranian weapons will not distinguish Israeli from Palestinian lives as we are  intricately mingled now thanks to Israeli colonial activities all over historic Palestine). I hope politicians in power see the danger before it is too late.

Media Advisory and action call (join us): On Tuesday 15 November Palestinian Freedom Riders to Challenge Segregation by Riding Settler Buses to Jerusalem

Witness occupation
Israeli soldiers told to cleanse Gaza
Israeli soldiers at Qalandia checkpoint
and here at an impromptu checkpoint

Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD
Join us in Palestine
on March 30 for the Global March to Jerusalem
(autonomous North American GMJ group at
and April 15-21 for the Welcome to Palestine Campaign, and

Nov 7, 2011

Interrogation on way back

I finally came back to Palestine after a long and costly trip (in many ways) including today's interrogation by the Israeli Shin Bet (which I am told is "to continue"). 

I arrived at the Israeli side of the bridge from Jordan before 10:00 AM.  I was home after questioning that is not yet complete at 6:30 PM.  First they made me wait in the hallway for almost 4 hours (much longer than the wait on the way out).  Later there was more waiting and a lengthy questioning. I used the time to chat with others in the waiting area including visiting international delegations. One Christian pilgrimage group was from China and they were especially interested to hear from me as a Palestinian Christian.  I also used the time to read a book I bought in Egypt about the Egyptian revolution.  When my name was finally called I was escorted to the same intelligence room I am now familiar with.  There I am asked to wait again in a corridor.  Then they called me and for a thorough new body and personal belonging search.  Then I was sent to speak with a guy who was drinking tea with lemon.  His first question was 'how are you'.  I said I am fine except you guys bother me on the way out and the way in.  He said something about me bothering them so they bother me.  Shahar (his name) spoke Arabic and we spent about an hour together (last time there was the good cop-bad cop, this time it was just one investigator). 

They send him from Bet El (colony near Ramallah) and hence my long wait in the hall.  He then proceeded to ask questions about where I have been and what I have been doing.  I kept reminding him he could read my public blog as I generally chronicle life regularly and I told him I will be also blogging about today's experience too.  I told him I will not have any more information for him than what is in my (already detailed) blog.  He asked about the people who have organized the boats to Gaza, I said names are public and on press releases and I will share some of the eyewitness accounts also in my blog (this one; see below for personal testimonies :-). He asked about me and I told him to check my website for details about my background. He said as "a Christian and one who had come back from Egypt" I should see what Muslims are doing to "the Christians" (my mind was analyzing this tribal language of us and them and I understood how he thinks in tribal notions).  I tried to educate him about coexistence, history of Christian-Jewish-Muslim relations in the Middle East, and more but he changed the subject. 

I did mention a bit about my work on popular resistance (including showing him my latest book).  I said I am working on other books and they will have lots of details including about the great International solidarity shown with the Palestinian people (I am hoping they will read and get transformed ;-).  Just about every other question I was able to give him a bit of "political information" (about the siege on Gaza, about ethnic cleansing in 1948, about the wall etc.) to which he only had the canned myths he was taught (about violence of 1929 and 1936, partition "accepted" by Zionists, Arab countries wanting to destroy Israel, "terrorism" etc.)  When I tried to present him data or evidence to contradict these myths, he would change the subject.  After a lengthy interview, he was tired and I was hungry. He then asked that I speak to someone "more knowledgeable" than him (I assumed his superior).  I said fine and that is up to them but then I found he was speaking about another meeting in Gush Etzion colony.  I said to him "the last time they called me to that place they had me waited for several hours and then just took my phone number; I do not like wasting valuable time."  Shahar made a phone call to his superiors.  I do not know what they told him but he decided to continue the interrogation. 

On the bus from Jordanian to Israeli side, I met a nice elderly lady from Aboud near Ramle who had lost her bus ticket; she was 9 years old when she was ethnically cleansed and now lives in Al-Jalazoun Refugee camp. I recalled this destroyed village as I told Shahar about the 530 Palestinian villages ethnically cleansed in 1948.  In the end he and another man told me that this is to be continued and that I am to expect a phone call from a "Captain Suhaib" (I think that is probably not his real name). I sometimes feel sorry for these individuals who are part of this big occupation machine.  I wished that they would learn to connect on a human level with people under occupation. 

Just a short note about my short trip to Egypt: my timing was bad as most people were out with their families for the holidays but I still managed to talk to the most important people in Egypt: the common people.  Taxi drivers, a doctor, police officers, students, a hotel clerk, of varied backgrounds (Christian, Muslim, religious, secular etc.)  I learned that there is still a long way to go in Egypt.  There is still corruption (even airport police officers who were not shy in asking for tips) and there is still (healthy) political differences.  There are 85 million people by no means uniform or agreed on best way forward.  But compared to the last time I was in Egypt, I sensed a release of energy and freedom to express, freedom to demonstrate, and freedom to innovate.  Many elites who profited are still around and want to somehow profit.  Everyone I talked to is hopeful.  And of course everyone I talked to wants the siege on Gaza lifted and wants Palestine to be free.  One Egyptian told me: Indonesia took 10 years to go from a military dictatorship to a people civil democracy and then it started to prosper.  I told him I wish this great country the best as it tries to find its way and hopefully it will not take 10 years.

First contact with Tahrir
Israeli Navy: What is your Final Destination?
Tahrir boat answers (from Ehab Lotayf who is a poet activist and is still being held): The betterment of mankind!

While Israel apartheid Navy pirated ships in International Waters and kidnapped 27 passengers (they are slowly being released), the message across the world is still very clear and confirms the world’s view as expressed by several official UN committees: that collective punishment is illegal. Civil society organizations and people of conscience will continue to push until the illegal and immoral siege/blockade on Gaza is lifted.

The results of a new poll commissioned by the European Commission show that Israel is believed by Europeans in 15 countries to be the greatest threat to world peace, greater than North Korea, Iran or Afghanistan. Zionist establishment reacted with their usual delusional nonsense about anti-Semitism instead of starting to reflect.  Now they are pushing for a war on Iran (insane proposition).

(this youtube video is raw footage of the flotilla but it seems the Zionist sabotage it so it does not load much of the time)

Freedom Wave boats almost sunk, riders beaten, mistreated, deprived of their belongings, and denied access to family.  The organizers demand accountability.  The accounts from participants contradict the lies of the Israeli government report of peaceful piracy (and that is what it was):

Tears of Gaza: A documentary that explains why so many people care about Gaza

Good Action: Boston occupies the Israeli consulate to protest the piracy of the two ships

Good news: Aid convoy enters Gaza

ACT: Call-Out for Solidarity with Egypt: Defend the Revolution: A letter from Cairo to the Occupy movements & other solidarity movements; Occupy Wall Street & Occupy London respond. International Day to Defend the Egyptian Revolution on Nov 12th under the slogan “Defend the Egyptian Revolution – End Military Trials for Civilians"

WATCH: Israel blasts route of wall near Bethlehem. Residents of Bethlehem awoke to loud blasts Thursday as Israeli construction crews dynamited a planned route of the separation wall through a nearby village ... The construction is for a controversial separation wall cutting off the village of Walaja, which abuts an Israeli settlement outside Bethlehem, from other parts of the occupied West Bank.

Palestinian flags flown over European Women's Football Championship game in which France won over Israel 5-0.  Protestors wearing green T-shirt bearing "Free Palestine" in the front and "Boycott Israel" on the back briefly halted the game

Orwellian P.S. The Israeli police claim that there is a decrease in incidents of orthodox Jews spitting on Christian clergy in Jerusalem.  Christian clergy state that the phenomenon is still widespread and highly problematical. 

 Stay human

Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD
Join us in Palestine
on March 30 for the Global March to Jerusalem
(autonomous North American GMJ group at
and April 15-21 for the Welcome to Palestine Campaign, and

Nov 3, 2011

Egypt post-revolution

Israel is mobilizing their US funded and equipped army and navy to deal with peace activists on the boats  trying to visit Gaza and will likely attack them Friday morning.  See this LA Times story

Some of us scheduled to go on the boats to Gaza* but were not permitted to get on the boat are now visiting Egypt post-revolution.  On of us was held at the Cairo airport for nearly 8 hours making us think that change still has along way to go here.  Please let us know if you have Egyptian contacts we can connect with especially those who can brief us on the changes in the society post-Mubarak.  The Israeli occupation authorities did this last July with the Europeans trying to visit us in the West Bank (through arriving at airport in the Welcome to Palestine Campaign) and before that in blocking freedom flotillas and murdering peace activists like Rachel Corrie and like Turkish visitors.  The incident is uncomfortable for Israel because it exposes an apartheid system built on racism and violence. The best evidence of this is to compare the peaceful nature of those of us who tried or did get on the boats with the vicious verbal attack (preluding the actual navy attacks) on the flotilla ships. Here are things to contrast:

Call from Palestinians in Gaza to the international community

Amy Goodman interviews activists aboard the boats

Contrast those with comments posted on a misleading Jerusalem Post article (misleading because the siege is illegal and the Zionist Palmar had no authority or mandate to rule on its legality).  The UN Human Rights Council and International Legal experts all ruled the siege is illegal. But I think the comments on the story from Israelis is telling in terms of the sentiment of the privileged class in the apartheid regime

But again our job is to shed a lot of light and noise about these issues and to help a captive population begging us to help.   Please act by contacting media and politicians.  Also if you know anyone who can help us get into Gaza via Rafah, please write to me.

According to a British report Israel is upgrading its nuclear weapons.  According to Israeli papers is seriously considering an attack on Iran.  Put it together and it is not another Zionist driven regional or world conflict but a catastrophe beyond imagination.  The ghetto mentality visible from reading the comments in the Jerusalem Post or other Israeli papers show a deeply schizophrenic and paranoid psychology that is extremely dangerous: Zionists think that they can get away with the large scale ethnic cleansing of Palestine (war crimes and crimes against humanity) by creating perpetual conflict and scaring Jews to always be afraid of gentiles (what they refer to as ‘goyim’).  The rest of the world and especially Western countries need to understand this and treat Israel as the rogue apartheid state it is.

US citizens should not let more of this kind of charade goer on:

Action: As of October 28, 2011, the total number of Palestinian organizations participating in the GMJ is close to fifty, including 15 in Palestine, 14 in Jordan, approximately 20 in Lebanon and some from other countries.  The main list is at and a separate list for the autonomous North American GMJ group is at
and also join us in the Welcome to Palestine Campaign And April 15-21, and

Stay human

*See my earlier blog from Turkey point of boat departure at

Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD
Join us in Palestine in December
and the Global March to Jerusalem on March 30
autonomous North American GMJ group is at

Nov 2, 2011

I am not on the boats to Gaza

Dear friends and colleagues

This letter was written and rewritten four times as the ups and downs of the last few days.  When you get it two boats would have left Turkish waters and I am not on one of them.  I finalize this letter from a boat returning to port in Turkey.  Tears are dry (of joy at success of our comrads and sadness for not being with them).  The will is still there and I promise myself to get to Gaza next time.  The boats now in International waters are named Saoirse (  ) and Tahrir (, Irish and Arabic for Liberty and Freedom.  The Canadian steering committee that invited us to join selected 11 from the 36 slated to go because they were unfairly reduced to that number by the Turkish harbor master. We are very disappointed that 25 of us were left behind.  Some of us left behind are trying different ways to catch up and we may still succeed.  In fact if you do not hear from me in 24 hours it means most likely I have succeeded to get on a boat. We hope that those who took the boats do arrive to the besieged strip on the Mediterranean where 1.6 million people are held under and immoral and illegal blockade/siege.  A small group of us took a small boat to try to meet one of the boats in waters off the coast but that did not work out (Turkish coast guard and timing).  But it felt important to try.

  I personally wanted so bad to visit many friends in Gaza some of them I have not seen in years.  I wanted to visit Hiam and her family.  I last saw Hiam and her mother 10 years ago when we brought Hiam to CT (she was then less than 8 years old) to get a prosthetic eye after she was shot deliberately by an Israeli soldier.  She is one of hundreds of children who lost their eyes between 2000-2005 (for her story and pictures, see  I wanedt to visit with friends like Dr. Heidar Eid whom I saw only when he was able to get out of Gaza and I was able to get out of the occupied West Bank so that we can meet in a faraway country in Europe. I want to look in the eyes of Gaza children and tell them that we, the human family, care about them.  We will keep trying. I figure, not trying would be far harder on all of us.

We arrived at Istanbul at the 88th anniversary of proclamation of Turkey as a republic in 1923.  Ataturk’s Turkey evolved quickly into a modern state at par with other European states. On the news we witness earthquake destruction in Eastern Turkey and I see a beautiful young girl with casts on her legs smiling at one point, sad at another and I do not have to understand the language to understand human tragedy. The damage from this natural disaster is chillingly similar to the damage of the man-made disaster in Gaza: collapsed multistory building, burying dead, injured people.  But Gaza is not allowed to recover.

From Istanbul to Dalaman and then to a small lovely town where we stayed until the launch time.  People here are very friendly.  They become even friendlier (if that is possible) when they hear I am from Filistin.  But then the whole place reminds me of Filistin (especially northern Palestine areas of the Galilee).  I take a deep breath and soak the views of Olives, Citrus, Figs, Almonds, Loquots, mullberies, Jasmine, cactus, old stone terraces, and old men playing cards or backgammon. The colors are so bright, the smells so refreshing, the water so abundant.  Smiley comfortable faces with the wrinkles of the hillsides reflected on the faces of the old people.  The shops, restaurants and hotels are family run and the young are playful and energetic.  The evening call to prayer emanates from the mosque. The bicycles all around are never locked and even our hotel rooms were left open much of the time.   I feel like I am again visiting North Palestine where my grandmother is from a place that was also etched in her face and her memory till the day she died.

Before I proceed any further, I pause to tell you who were most on my mind in the last four days as we went through the ups and downs and countless meetings to come to this point.  What was on my mind were victims of the Israeli apartheid state including these US victims:

1) The 34 sailors killed on the USS Liberty attacked deliberately in International waters in 1967 (, ) and the survivors who have later died without ever seeing justice for the murderers.
2) Rachel Corrie, 23 year old American student killed deliberately by Israeli bulldozer in Rafah
3) Furkan Dogan, 19 y. o. Turkish American citizen, who was executed at point blank range on the Mavi Marmara ship (see and smuggled videos at  and )

I thought of their bravery as I watched fellow human beings from 10 countries try and even compete to get on boats (some have been to Gaza several times and some tried to get to Gaza several times).  Driven only by belief in our common humanity, I as a Palestinian cannot help but feel a weight of gratitude for these brave souls. We had lots of glitches in the past few days here with both bureaucratic and political rollercoaster. I will spare you the gory details because the ultimate goal is Gaza. Briefly, we arrived Saturday and were in meetings Sunday when negotiations started s the boats arrived at docks.  Monday we find that we are unable to accommodate all passengers per the Turkish authorities (who were not told our destination).  Monday night we had a meeting till nearly midnight. Tuesday was a an emotional rollercoaster as those selected were approached individually to give their passports. Those of us who were not asked knew then we were not selected. Passport data went to Ankara and further delays.  Wednesday at 11 AM came back green light to go but a little later, we heard glitches happening and the authorities were at the doc. When the boats finally left, five of us “the crazies” raced to our locally chartered boats to try and meet.  The cruise Wednesday did not succeed and we had to go back, disappointed.  But we hope that our colleagues on the Tahrir and Saoirse will not be intercepted by the navy of the apartheid regime that is enforcing an illegal and immoral siege on Gaza.

We live in an Orwellian world where humanitarian activists are persecuted and war criminals get wined and dined in five star hotels.  We live in a world where for seeking membership in a cultural and scientific organization (UNESCO) and getting it by a democratic vote:

- the organization is punished with losing members withholding dues
- the internet service of 4 million Palestinians under occupation is targeted by spams and attempts to shut it down (slowed down so far but it is not clear if the Palestinians will cope with this
- the occupation authority decides to “punish” the Palestinian population by building more settlements and by withholding Palestinian tax money (this is Palestinian money from their taxes due to them).
- the US congress cuts humanitarian aid going to the Palestinian people (not going to the Palestinian authority or even passing through its hands).

It was hard for me to see why we had to be secretive about a humanitarian operation like this.  It is hard for me to see why the Turkish authorities limited us to 11 passengers on each boat.  It is hard for me to see why activists had hard feelings about each other or why choices were made the way they were.  I had so many questions left on my mind but for now sadness and anticipation overwhelms everything.  

The human language is so limiting in expressing emotions and feelings on this day. Words like anticipation, exhilaration, hope, fear, love, are all rather limiting.  But there is one thing I think is interesting: when I am in the Galilee, in Al-Walaja, in Aida refugee camp, in an Israeli holding cell or jail, or attempting to get to Gaza, it is precisely these times in my life that I feel most alive and most human because I am having “joyful participation in the sorrows of this world”. Fellow human beings from Ireland, Canada, USA, Denmark and elsewhere are inspiring and I quickly became friends with those I did not know before.  They share me these strong feelings and this makes it even more meaningful. You can see why Vittorio Arrigoni ended his messages to us with the note “stay human”. May we all stay most alive and stay most human.

If you want to help, please use all possible communication means (emails, twitters, facebook, calls) to let all people especially media and politicians know you support lifting the siege on Gaza and you want our ships protected from Israeli piracy.  It is long overdue.

For a previous adventure of the Canadian boat, see

November anniversaries
2/11/1917 Britain issued the infamous Balfour declaration promising some one else’s country to become a national homeland for a racist Zionist movement
3/11/1956 Khan Yunis massacre by Israeli forces of civilians in Gaza
9/11   International Day of Action Against the wall (coincide with fall of Berlin wall)
10/11/1975 UN General Assembly resolution condemning Zionism as a form of racism
13/11/1974 PLO Chairman Address UN General Assembly
15/11/1988 Palestinian Declaration of Independence
22/11/1967 UN Security Council Resolution 242 "Emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war" and "achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem"
29/11/1947 UN GA 181 recommending partition
29/11 International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People inaugurated by the UN GA

Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD
Join us in Palestine in December
and the Global March to Jerusalem on March 30
autonomous North American GMJ group is at