Feb 22, 2012

Biology of Peace

Chapter in Book on Why Peace, edited by Mark Guttman see http://www.why-peace.com/
[This book is an exploration of aggression, and of the evolutionary (and revolutionary) process to peace. Through the insights of men and women, from a wide range of backgrounds, cultures, and perspectives, Why Peace presents stories of wars, invasions, and political repressions—down to the most basic levels of authoritarianism…]

Biology of Peace by Mazin Qumsiyeh

Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh teaches biology and does research at Bethlehem and Birzeit Universities in occupied Palestine. He previously served on the faculties of the University of Tennessee, Duke and Yale Universities. He is now president of the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People and serves on the board of Al-Rowwad Children Theater in Aida Refugee Camp. His main interest is media activism and public education. He has published over 200 letters to the editor and 200 op-ed pieces and been interviewed on TV and radio extensively (local, national and international). Mazin has published several books, including Sharing the Land of Canaan: Human Rights and the Israeli/Palestinian Struggle and Popular Resistance in Palestine: A History of Hope and Empowerment.

I grew up under Israeli occupation, a brutal military occupation accompanied by “colonization” (land theft). My family suffered, though not as much as other Palestinian families. It is hard to describe how much the occupation invades every aspect of one's life here: from eating and drinking to education and from healthcare to travel, from economy to freedom of religion. The antithesis of all of this repression, violence, occupation, colonization and war is, of course, peace. I was thus captivated by peace as a concept, a dream, a hope. Sometimes I was thinking of peace in terms of a state of external calm and lack of disturbance. In other times, I thought peace was related to freedom from repression. Now, I think of peace as being an inner peace, that only comes from acting on what we believe and freeing our minds of the bondage acquired from external sources.

In the Buddhist traditions, we are asked to seek, to have “joyful participation in the sorrows of this world.” I was reminded of this when I was held on July 27, 2011, along with some Israeli and Palestinian activists, in the Israeli military compound at Atarot. This was after being attacked by Israeli soldiers for participation in a peaceful demonstration in the village of Al-Walaja. This beautiful village in the West Bank is slowly being depopulated of its last remaining citizens. Simple and beautiful slogans is hard to apply here, as a wall will encircle the remaining houses of the village, cutting the inhabitants off from their livelihood and forcing them to leave.

How can we even begin to comprehend the sorrow that has engulfed the land of Canaan in the past few decades? The sorrows of the native inhabitants are so horrendous that it sometimes seems unreal. Of 11 million Palestinians in the world, 7 million are refugees or displaced people. The 5.5 million natives who remain inside the country (many displaced) are restricted now to shrinking concentration areas, amounting to only 8.3 percent of the historic land of Palestine.

According to the latest survey of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, some 26.2 percent of families live in poverty and 14.1 percent live in deep poverty, for a total of 40.3 percent living in poverty or deep poverty in the West Bank and Gaza. The situation in Gaza is worse than in the West Bank with 1.5 million people, most of them refugees squeezed in an arid part of Palestine, besieged, blockaded and denied even basic living necessities. This, the worst post-WWII horror inflicted on a people, indeed portends so much suffering. So how can we have personal peace, let alone joyful participation, when we suffer so much?

On a personal level, I have lost many colleagues and friends. Just in the last year alone, I have lost friends who practiced nonviolence and strove to peace: Juliano Mer Khamis, Vittorio Arrigi, Bassem and his sister Jawaher Abu Rahma. I lost many other friends and relatives to illnesses that seem to be increasing in our population. Cancer and heart disease have claimed the lives of many of those: my two brothers-in-law and four dear friends and fellow activists. All such losses certainly make deep scars that reach to the soul. Even routine difficulties in life stir us and disturb us, leaving us a little further from peace. So how can we aspire to peace while our own souls are still far from peace? I believe our internal turmoil is mainly due to a lack of understanding of human nature and the trajectories of history.

To understand humans and what drives us, we have to understand our biology, especially our early development. I taught developmental biology and researched how things could go wrong in early development. We all start as a zygote, a single cell which is the result of the union of the sperm nucleus with the egg nucleus inside the cytoplasm of the egg. That primal cytoplasm is a soup containing codes for proteins that allow the early embryo to get its initial organizational structure, even before the code in the nucleus of the zygote starts to shape the future of the individual. In a sense then, we all depend far more on “stuff” we get from our mothers than stuff we get from our fathers. In developmental biology we know that axis formation (having three dimensions: anterior-posterior, dorsal-ventral, left and right) comes from the cytoplasm of the egg from our mothers. In essence, without that initial material we get from our mother, we would simply be a round blob.

But the miracle of developmental biology is that the joining of 23 chromosomes from the sperm with 23 chromosomes from the egg make one nucleus. There are already endless genetic possibilities for those maternal and paternal chromosomes. This is because the process of producing sperm and eggs, called meiosis, not only reduces the chromosomes by half (from 46 to 23), but creates myriad opportunities for having very different sets of genetic variation, through recombination and chromosome segregation. That is why no two sperm and no two eggs are the same. That is why no two siblings are the same (except of course identical twins, which come from the same zygote).

The first cell divides to become 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64 cells. That early embryo implants itself on the uterine wall and the interdigitation of embryonic and maternal tissue forms a placenta. This remarkable structure is where nutrients are supplied to the embryo, and oxygen and CO2 are exchanged. Many embryos are lost along the way because they have genetic codes that affect these developmental processes. Some 15-20 percent of recognized pregnancies end-up spontaneously aborted (a natural selection process). Harmful mutations are the price that our species pays for possibilities of useful mutations. Mutations are the natural substances upon which natural selection operates. Useful mutations survive and travel to the next generation. That simple idea (developed and spread by Charles Darwin) revolutionized our understanding of biology and in turn has advanced a wide range of fields, from environmental research to medical studies.

The embryo developing in the uterus is, of course, subject to its environment. Both harmful and beneficial stimuli shape its very existence and future. That is why pregnant mothers are told to stay away from harmful materials (alcohol, tobacco and other drugs) and maintain a good diet. (Many Palestinian mothers delivered babies with blindness in the few years following the Nakba of 1948, because of vitamin E deficiencies in the refugee camps.) Some scientific studies also suggest a child’s brain development may be susceptible to nutritional food and toxin-free air and the absence of other harmful things. There are data that show that even music and the mother’s good mood influences the mental capacity and development of the child she is carrying. Needless to say, women in war zones do not produce the healthiest babies. This is why the impact of a military occupation is not just on the adults and children around but on future generations.

After birth, education from society may create tribalistic racist notions (e.g., Nazi Germany… or Israel today). Challenging these notions of superiority and striving for common good is possible, but it requires shedding some of the educational baggage that nationalistic and militaristic societies use to saturate young minds. At one level, this is more difficult today than in the past: Modern warfare is much bloodier than ancient warfare, but it is conducted from a distance.

Soldiers no longer come home to wash off the blood of their enemies from their clothes and swords. They come home with images of the tools that they have used to destroy enemies from a distance. The faces of their enemies are not familiar to them, only outlines in gun sights or on computer screens. The facial distortions and agonized screams of those killed do not reach the killers. Some of these killers like to pretend they do not imagine these things. They want to cling to the elements of their humanity. They may go back home, and even help an old lady cross the street or pass a candy to a child. But deep in their psyches, these killers know that they have destroyed a human being just like them, with flesh and blood, with feelings, with people who loved him or her.

On the other hand, the development of the internet and of methods of social communication allow a closeness of the human family in new and incredibly positive ways that promote social transformation towards peace and human rights. From the organizing against the World Trade Organization and International Monetary Fund in Seattle, to Tunisia and Egypt, people are finding their voice. Here in Palestine, we have had a vibrant activist community for decades. Increasingly, Israeli and international activists join hands with native Palestinians in our struggle for peace with justice.

After 20 years of fruitless negotiations between colonizer and colonized, occupier and occupied, even Palestinian elites have come around to see the power of the people. Engaging in international diplomacy while doing popular resistance is seen as critical in increasing the pressure to arrive at a just resolution. If the Israeli government remains intransigent and continues to build colonial settlements on Palestinian lands, the only remaining option will become adopted by more and more people: a push for a single democratic state throughout historic Palestine. That outcome may already have been guaranteed by the relentless expansionist Zionist project. By making a two-state option impossible and forcing us into close contacts, we (Palestinians and Israelis) are developing joint strategies to work for peace, even as walls are erected on our land.

What is remarkable is that humans of different backgrounds are coming to regard peace as personal, and to regard politicians as “behind the times.” All humans have behaviors that trace back to our ancestral primates. From sex to feeding to self-protection to ambition to control of space, we as a species are driven by these deep-rooted innate behaviors. To what extent we can control our behavior in a positive fashion determines our humanity. Governments endeavor to maintain the status quo of control over individuals and the manipulation of conflicts for their benefits. Yet, the achievements by individuals working together towards freedom, peace, and self-government are a testimony to the power that resides in us.

We learned from the civil rights movement in the US, from ending apartheid in South Africa, from the freedoms achieved in Eastern Europe, and from the Arab Spring. I believe the main reason this world functions (and the main reason we remain optimistic) is that good people are everywhere, endeavoring toward inner peace and extending it by deeds to achieve peace in our societies. This happens despite the push-back from governments who are happy with the status quo. Without this “people power,” we would have endless wars and endless repression and injustice. With it and with human cultural evolution speeding up, we indeed look forward to a day when no human life is lost in useless wars and conflicts, and all individuals are free from state aggression. It is up to us to work to accelerate the trend in history.

Feb 16, 2012


We had a really bad day today.  Nine Palestinian very young children were killed and 40 other children injured (some severely) in one horrific fiery traffic accident today and another child was killed in a separate traffic accident.  The day started with me breaking a glass and then having to talk to a lawyer about a notice I just received to go to military court on 1 April (more on this later as it becomes clear what I will be charged with).  Then I am rushing to do interview live on an international TV station then driving to Ramallah for an important meeting and then to my afternoon classes at Birzeit University.  Well, I never made it to the Ramallah meeting because the road was blocked for this horrific accident; an Israeli licensed trailer truck (driven by an Israeli Arab citizen) carrying fuel hit the Palestinian bus carrying children on a trip head on and the bus turned over and burst in flames (the bus burned not the trailer!).  This happened near the Palestinian village of Hizma and the villagers rushed to save the children. The Israeli cars could double back and go through the wall on the Israeli only roads.  We in the Palestinian cars had to wait as ambulance after ambulance took the dead and injured away.  Below are links to picture and video (some of the video was rightly blurred so that the disturbing images of burned children are not seen).  A person also sent me a link to Facebook pages in Hebrew where some sick Israelis thank God these were Palestinian Children (also see below).  But I also saw very kind comments by Israelis on the liberal Haaretz (though this also has anonymous ugly comments some could be misrepresenting who they are or trying to create division).  This made me really angry that a tragedy that saddened so many decent people (Jews, Christians, Muslims etc) is used in ugly fashions. 

Forgetting about my own personal troubles, I thus started to think based on the issue of compassion and dignity more.  A story like this should generate compassion and it certainly helps us identify decent human beings (like the Israelis and Palestinians of all religions who helped save the lives of so many children).  But why did so many ignore it or feel no compassion because it is not their children or belong to their self-identified (fictional) group.  A 33-year old Palestinian Khader Adnan is on his 61 days of hunger strike (because he is held without charge in so called administrative detention by Israel). How many will care if he dies or care now about him? Regardless of his background, isn't he someone's husband, someone's father, someone's son, someone's uncle? Below is a letter from a friend about Khader Adnan's situation.  These and other stories that break our hearts do not seem to elicit even a blip of compassion and care from millions who may tangentially hear about these things.  Some people say there is "compassion fatigue" among some of us but I disagree.  I believe once you have true compassion for fellow human beings you can never tire of it; compassion here is defined as compassion for all human beings not selected members of your "tribe", "nation", "religion" or other concocted group identity (to me this is the opposite of compassion).   

Eleven years ago (4 June 2001), I published this letter in Haaretz titled "Sincere condolences" about another tragedy which is relevant here:
"Upon hearing the news of the wedding party turned to tragedy by collapse of the building in Jerusalem, my shock and sadness were intense. It only got worse and turned to tears when I later saw the video footage and read about the alleged construction problems. The video footage reminded me of the footage of my sister's wedding. I was touched by the ordinariness and beauty of this event and then the tragedy that ensued. I grieve for the victims and my thoughts and prayers are with the families and with you all. Please accept my sincerest and humble condolences.
I am a Palestinian American who works for human rights, including the Palestinian refugees' right to return to their homes and lands. I believe that all people of Israel/Palestine must and will eventually live in one democratic and secular state with a constitution that protects all its citizens and treats them equally. We are so similar and it is a shame that political ideas (Zionism and other forms of nationalism) divided us. In 1967, as a 10-year old child in Beit Sahur, I witnessed something that still touches me to this day - a reunion between my grandfather and his Jewish best friend from high school. Two old folks who had not seen each other between 1948 and 1967. Two old folks who cried like children. Both are gone now. I thought of this, and how much I miss the wisdom of my grandfather as I saw the recent events and the tragedies and the victims of violence in our homeland.

My grandfather wrote to me in 1974 that if he was to give me one piece of advice for the future it would be to realize that the world changes and that we have to remove our own shackles, which come to us from society and culture. It is time we started thinking and reflecting carefully on the futility of separation, nationalism, and militarism. It is time to insist on and teach ourselves to live together in equality and humanity. If the Berlin wall tumbled, Apartheid in South Africa was dismantled, and Europe is unifying, why can't we do the same? Imagine if the billions of dollars we spend on weapons were spent to better our economies, desalinate sea water, develop closer relationships and friendships, and provide therapy for the over 17,000 injured in the recent violence.

In the midst of our tragedies, let us work together for a better world.
Mazin B. Qumsiyeh, Ph.D.

The accident
The article and image of the Facebook pages of the Israelis grateful these are Palestinian Children (scroll down past the French) http://www.palestinalibre.org/articulo.php?a=37816 But see above for my comments.
By contrast see comments under this story from the liberal, left leaning Haaretz

Below is a letter from a friend about Khader Adnan's situation

"I haven't been posting about Khader Adnan, a Palestinian political prisoner who entered his 59th! day of hunger strike today, because, to my shame, I felt overwhelmed, and I had no idea how to stir any reaction in you, how to make you understand that a man is dying, how outrageous this is. it felt so insufficient to just keep writing some emails that you'll probably not read, although i receive emails and posts about him several times a day. how do we make the reality of the immense abuse, murder, massacres etc of people in our area in any way clear to so many who have been told for too long that this has nothing to do with them, that this is "unfortunate", that "these things happen". if they happened to your brother, you would scream in outrage. but somehow, there is this wrong feeling that these things won't happen to "us" - a feeling that is based on a very shitty perception of all the victims of these crimes as somehow "others" - they are not us. we can't identify. And i can't help but write that any such feeling of "this has nothing to do with us" - together with the reality that if it did happen to any of "us", you WOULD feel outrage - is possible because there is somewhere the notion that your rights don't apply to "them", or maybe, they are less than, less human, or maybe they have done SOMEthing to deserve it? Because how can these things happen?

I am sorry that I am attacking you, my friends and family, in this condescending and presumptious way. I am dispairing, I don't know how to make you react - forget react, for one moment, how to make you REALIZE, ACKNOWLEDGE, FEEL - any more.
But here I am trying again, though in this pretty cynical way:

Khader Adnan is entering his 59th day of hunger strike to protest his "administrative detention" (meaning they imprison him without even charging him with anything, without the prospect of a trial and the possibility to defend himself, without letting even his lawyer know WHY they are holding him, etc.) and the outrageous treatment he received at the hands of the Israeli military/security/police etc forces (torture, denial of rights, humiliation, etc.).

If you don't know what 59 days of hunger strike mean - I am afraid every day to read he has finally died. He is in hospital, chained to his bed, still denied all kinds of rights. And yesterday, an Israeli court - after having POSTPONED the hearing of his lawyer's appeal to a decision that he will stay in administrative detention until May 8 - decided that in spite of his condition, HE WILL REMAIN IMPRISONED UNTIL MAY 8.
THIS IS A DEATH SENTENCE. Since day 45 of his hunger strike, Adnan could die any moment.
The judge furthermore argued that it is ADNAN WHO IS TO BLAME FOR HIS SITUATION."

Mazin Qumsiyeh
Striving to stay human

Feb 12, 2012

Corruption vs Dignity

A friend asked how activists keep going when so many people engage in corruption, stealing, lying, cheating, and harming others.  Here in Palestine, there are plenty of people who do these things and they are both Israelis and Palestinians.  Occasionally we also have the visiting Western politicians but that only adds marginally to these negative acidic waves that are destroying lives and livelihoods in their wake.  We could write books about all these negative things.  We could tell stories of humanitarian aid that ends in pockets of corrupt individuals (in both governmental and non-governmental settings).  I was sad once to even find out that money we raised for medical relief was used for promoting an individual political ambition. I was sad to find that one of the highest ranking Palestinian officials worked hard to destroy the will of resistance and then claimed that the absence of resistance is a validation of endless negotiations (begging and pleading for crumbs).  There are few books written about these things.  One for example is "Globalized Palestine: The National Sell-Out of a Homeland" By Khalil Nakhleh which is now out in English.* I read the Arabic version of this when it came out and I think it is a must read for everyone who want to understand how the Oslo accords and what followed sold out Palestine for money, corporations and made some Palestinians very wealthy with villas, fancy cars etc. The book also touches on how this system corrupted many Palestinians.  This subject needs deeper exploration and many more books but a few brief comments here are warranted. 

Let me start by saying that I use Palestine and Palestinians as examples for this not because we have more corruption than say Israelis or Egyptians but for two reasons:

1) I am more knowledgeable about this particular subject and writing about what we know best makes it more personal and gives us better insights as to weaknesses and strengths of humans.

2) We are under an existential threat: a colonial power that is interested in eliminating our presence from the land.  Most of our land is taken already (we are reduced to use of 8.3% of our homeland and these are disjointed cantons).  Most of our people are refugees or displaced people (7 million of 11 million).  Most of our economy (agriculture, natural resources, and tourism) was usurped by the colonizers.  The pressures on us are thus tremendous.  Strengths are critical and weaknesses are amplified and used by our colonizers to their advantage.  Without addressing weaknesses (not necessarily removing all of them but reducing them), it is hard to envision the final push to end the injustice and bring a durable peace.

Every hour here I am reminded of what the prophets of old days realized with contemplation and deep thought: that each human being is a battle field. From individuals who cheat, those who take foreign aid money to serve their own selfish interest, those who lie, those who misuse authority, countless employed and not doing much for an income that they cling to etc.

There is war is within each human mind: between evil and good, between love and hate, between tribalism and humanity, between corruption and dignity. Those who slid down the wrong path can be salvaged but it takes much harder work on their part than those who stayed true to their better-selves. The Buddha realized this is not an unnatural conflict but that it is part of who we are.  Only by deep meditation and reflection, he realized that it is possible to maintain a balance in favor of the goodness.  Only by this very deep reflection (in many religions this is called prayer), are we able to let go of the carnal desires and go higher in levels of understanding, empathy, and compassion for fellow human beings. Addiction to greed and selfishness (in the case of some also tribalism) must be challenged with firm kindness and without malice or hate. 

This is not to say we do not need revolution; we actually desperately need it.  But we must start with a revolution in our minds to get rid of all the nonsense that was put there by parents, teachers, clergy, and society.  This revolution should be about dignity and restoring self-respect.  Without liberating our minds from all those self-imposed chains in the form of internalized colonization, we will never be able to gain liberty.  It will be harder here in the Middle East than it was in Europe in the Middle Ages.  This is because religious doctrines (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) are more entrenched and because there are much Western interference (Started with Sykes-Picot and Balfour/Cambon).  Natural evolution to unlock creativity and human potential here is hard but not impossible. We are confident that eventually we will succeed because the trend in humanity is intermarriage, cultural mixing, separation of religion from state, and global connectedness. Our individual job is to accelerate this trend by openly promoting dignity and self-respect as the best antidotes to greed and corruption.   

Jewish Roots of Islam’s Extremism by Dr. Ashraf Ezzat
(Here I must say that the myths of the Bible about exodus and promised lands etc are repeated in Christian and Muslim Books and many take them as literal/historical not as metaphorical mythologies as they really are.)

Israel panel okays bill calling for tax exemption to 'Zionist' donations
(tax exempt for land theft, colonization, repression, ethnic cleansing)

Report: Under Attack: Golani Brigade's war on the Palestinian population of Al-Khalil (Hebron)

US Admits: Terror groups attacking Iran are linked to Israel

The Italian Movement For Boycott, Divestment And Sanctions (BDS) Against Israel Gains Strength http://www.countercurrents.org/westbrook020212.htm

Feb 5, 2012

Youth Conference and more

Items in today's email: Video of the event today at Al-Walaja (three arrested but subsequently released), Comments on the just concluded Herzliya conference, action item to do for Brussels Air, Youth Conference in Palestine in July, and more.

1) Video: On Sunday 5 Feb 2012, villagers from Al-Walaja and international supporters went to the area where the Israeli apartheid authorities were still destroying lands to build a wall that will isolate the villagers from their remaining lands and allow for further expansion of the illegal colonies of Gilo and Har Gilo.  Already over 90% of the village lands were taken for colonial settler activities in the past 6 decades. The area this short video was taken is just around the oldest tree in Bethlehem district (an olive tree > 3,000 year old).
2) The "Herzliya Conference" just concluded.  This is the annual conference that brings the elites of the Israeli military industrial complex together to plot "strategy" in a coastal town named after the founder of Political Zionism Theodor Herzl. This location is on ethnically-cleansed Palestinian land (see for history of the location: http://www.palestineremembered.com/Jaffa/Abu-Kishk/index.html).  Shimon Peres, a war criminal and architect of Israel's arsenal of Weapons of Mass Destruction appropriately opened as a key note speaker.  There were several sessions that touched on Iran including "Iran: Will Sanctions Work?" and "The Ticking Clock: Dissuading and containing Iran's strategic ambitions" where war criminals like Danny Ayalon debated whether it is enough to continue to use clandestine terrorist operations in Iran or whether we need to push the US to start another war like they did on Iraq (one million civilians killed so far) on behalf of Israel.  There was a session on "Galilee: Setting Priorities for Regional Development" where a number of Jewish Zionists discuss how to transform the Galilee into a Jewish area (without consulting the native inhabitants of the Galilee). The Galilee and Negev were left with a good number of Palestinians after the ethnic cleansing during the foundation of "Israel". There were sessions titled things like "Advancing Israel Normalization in the International Community" where efforts to whitewash apartheid are celebrated and plans for new propaganda and lobbying campaigns debated. There were also sessions celebrating the anniversary of the Jewish National Fund or KKL (Keren Keyemeth L'Israel), a group that participated for decades in ethnic cleansing and continues to do so (e.g. in the Negev where Bedouins are being displaced to Judaicize the Negev). Participants were also taken to military bases and training facilities of the apartheid army so that they could visit with the most moral army that caused the largest post-World War II refugee crisis and that has murdered over 25,000 children. There was even some talk about how to get Mahmoud Abbas (whose term has expired long ago) to return to fruitless and endless negotiations. After all, the "Peace process industry" needs to be revived so that more time is allowed for continued rape of Palestine (expanding colonial settlement etc)!  In over 20 sessions, not one dealt with what the natives of Palestine (Christians and Muslims) go through or how we feel.  To cap the "conference" the Israeli government made announcements of more land confiscation (e.g. 430 dunums in Nahhalin) and more home demolitions (e.g. in Al-Aqaba).

Shamelessly, the head of the United Nations Ban Ki Moon addressed this gathering of apartheid leaders. Also Mr. John Baird, foreign minister of Canada (with MP Irwin Cotler) came to claim that Canada supports Apartheid Israel.  Mr. Riad Al-Khoury from Jordan came and thus also lent his blessings to apartheid. There was also the Zionist Zoelnick (head of the World Bank) and a few other American Jewish Zionists "discussing" how best to get Israel even more money and arms from our taxes. 

I guess I should look on the positive side: that this year, there were less of those "Internationals" willing to show their faces at this circus.  But it is a distraction to blame these rich elites but ultimately it is our responsibility to make sure that we end their games of domination, war, and destruction.  People are taking on the responsibility of change and each of us can do more to advance peace with justice.  The horrific events in Egypt (where 80 people were killed when fans of two football teams collided) also remind us of the worst element of human weaknesses.  It then matters a lot what those who disapprove DO.  

Unfortunately, many of our closest supporters and even Palestinians themselves do not understand basic issues relating to Palestine and the Israeli apartheid system.  Because of these misunderstandings, they make devastating choices including for example supporting the mythical "two state solution".  I will not discuss here why it is mythical and why it is what led us to 20 years suspension of the Palestinian liberation Struggle in return for an industry of negotiations (yes an industry that is profiting some Palestinians who became invested in the status quo (i.e. in the occupation) and addicted to the "security aid" and "humanitarian aid" that comes primarily from the US and Europe (respectively).  I already discussed this in detail in my 2004 book "Sharing the Land of Canaan".  But I am also willing to debate anyone in pubic on these issues.
3) Example of action: I wrote to these email addresses the letters below about Brussels Air promoting Israeli apartheid.  Please read and if interested to write or take action based on your conscience, then please do.  That is how change happens in society: when enough people say enough is enough!

To Brussels Air and Ink Global

You did not respond to my earlier email (copy below) sent three weeks ago about your January 2012 Brussels Air magazine's shameless promotion of Israeli apartheid.  But then when I returned home from Belgium, I noted that this was not the first time you are promoting Apartheid Israel as a destination.  In fact, your web-page which I just checked http://www.btheremag.com starts out with the August 2011 issue promoting Tel Aviv and stolen Palestinian food (Falafel) as if it is an Israeli food "Tasting Tel Aviv: Where Fashion meets Falafel".  So I am now personally boycotting your airline and will be promoting a boycott of your airlines.

Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD

Dear Colleagues in Brussels Air and Ink Global

It was my first trip on Brussels Air and it will likely be the last.  Your B.There! Airline magazine soured my trip since it promoted apartheid.  Imagine if at the height of Apartheid in South Africa, your magazine chose to highlight the white part of the segregated country and promoted it in three distinct locations in one issue, something you do not do for any other of the nearly 200 destinations to normal cities/countries.  This is precisely what you did by promoting Apartheid Israel in three locations in your January 2012 issue: On page 14 you promoted “Tel Aviv Art weekend”, on page 50 you promoted a Tel-Aviv “food blog”, and in page 55 you had feature article advertising (free) an Israeli company (Uploads).  Brussels Air according to your magazine and website flies to nearly 200 destinations around the world.  Yet, I saw most of those not mentioned in this magazine let alone deserving of three free promotional items.

This alone is favoritism but is scandalous when we add the fact that Israel is recognized by people around the world as an apartheid state and there is a worldwide movement for boycotts, divestments, and sanctions (BDS) called for by Palestinian Civil Society. 

I realize Brussels Air contracts with a British company to do their magazine and the mistaken bias likely originated with Ink Global.  Perhaps in your next magazine you can promote Palestine alternative tourism (www.atg.ps and http://sirajcenter.org/ ) or highlight the way Belgians are traveling to help their fellow human beings like in the upcoming welcome to Palestine Campaign (http://bienvenuepalestine.com/). I would be happy to help.

I have an email list of more than 50,000 activists and depending on your answer to this email, I will write to them to encourage a boycott of this airline.  After all, there are other ways to travel without being pelted with free advertisements for apartheid Israel.


Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD
Palestinian – American Professor and author currently on speaking tour in Belgium
4) Sabeel 7th Young Adult Conference. Challenging Oppression, on a Donkey:  Christ, Resistance, and Creative Discipleship.
5) With Jack Lew's appointment, Jewish community again has a White House address By Ron Kampeas, Jewish Telegraph Agency
6) Mark Dubowitz, Jewish head of Foundation for Defense of Democracies, commends Obama for "shot across the bow"
(The "Foundation for Defense of Democracies" agenda is to fight for change only in countries deemed unfriendly to Israeli apartheid or US imperial tendencies but countries like Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and Jordan are not to be touched by these hypocritical groups)
7) And there is also the so called "National Endowment For Democracy"