Jun 10, 2017

Finding goodness

It has been a very challenging week. Not in terms of life or our (volunteer) work. I and my wife continue to work seven days a week and accomplish a lot as full time volunteers at the Palestine Museum of Natural History and Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability. Even subkitting more research manuscripts than I expected (one or two a week in this period) and more grant applications (2-3 per month). Our garden is blooming and we harvest regularly things like strawberries, tomatoes, basil, mint and more. Visitors to the museum are regular and whether young or old, they go away motivated and energized to do something. So things are going well. No, what made it a challenging week are two things expectation and analysis. In analyzing the world situation (thinking globally while still acting locally) we observe how difficult a landscape humanity faces. Rich Arab leaders that are puppets of the western world continued wasting billions that rightfully belong to the people. Hundreds of billions of Arabian Hijaz money wasted by the rulers as a bribe to Trump and to attack other fellow Muslims (in Iran, Qatar, Palestine, Yemen). But lest you think I take sides against the Saud family, let me be clear. Edward Said once put it, we do not have to choose between fanatic dictators and fundamentalist religious fanatics. So I am neither with the Saudi or with the Qatari royal families or their agendas. There are now three axes in the Middle East:
Axis 1- Saudi Arabia, Emirates, Egypt, Israel, USA
Axis 2- Qatar, Turkey
Axis 3- Syria, Iran, Russia, and possibly China (for now keeping a distance)

Axis 1 now decided to go after axis 2. Axis 2 is considering moving for protection to axis 3. The US is solidly behind axis 1 but keeping leverage via axis 2 (US bases both in Turkey and Qatar). The US is trying hard to undermine axis 3. Israeli leaders brag about how their strategy of aggressive war, strong military and strong lobbies ensured this geopolitical structure working to their advantage. Lieberman and Netanyahu openly flaunt the friendly relations with “Sunni states” against Iran and Hamas and Hizballah. To echo this, axis 1 “leaders” (unelected dictators) list any resistance group fighting Israeli colonialism as terror group. In Palestine, the Fatah leadership follows axis 1, Hamas axis 2, and the PFLP axis 3. The Palestinian street is looking for alternatives and seeing little on the horizon. I do not want to overanalyze this situation. The question that always stays is “what is our individual roles”? The struggle is to stay optimistic, look for the positives and build on them towards a future of peace, justice, and sustainability.

We do not have to line-up with governments, we do have to a) speak truth to power, b) build something positive despite incredible odds, 3) try to find and encourage the goodness in ALL humans. Briefly, we must indeed challenge corruption and greed that leads to war and conflict. My own trepidation is I see both large scale greed and corruptions (Trump, the kings of Saudi Arabia and the Emirates and General Sisi of Egypt) but I also see small scale beginning of greed and corruption in people here in Palestine even under occupation. How do we make sure that people we know do not continue down that path (addictive destructive)? Building something positive on the ground like a small permaculture farm can therapeutic and can cause a small ripple effect. But how can we enlarge his to have many such positive ripples that stir the sludge that is lurking underneath, give oxygen, allow life to grow and purify the water? Perhaps this is where the third element comes in: try to find and encourage the goodness in ALL humans. This is the most challenging task. It is easy to see points of light everywhere. Millions of people actually, the last evidence of this is how millions voted their hopes not their fears in England despite a concerted campaign by the elites to vilify leader of the Labor party as an “antisemite”. Hundreds of activists share their positive action every week with me (I have a large email list of tens of thousands of activists). What is more difficult is to see how we can light more candles and ensure that once an activist candle is lit, that t is protected, enhanced, and enlarged. That is a more challenging task.

I would love to hear from readers new ideas of how we can do this better and more efficiently. It is existential (as I wrote in another message): we either quickly learn to do this and live together in peace and harmony or “we perish together as fools.”

I will be engaging many hundreds of people in discussion around these issues in my upcoming trips (the US this month and England in October see http://qumsiyeh.org/upcomingevents/ ).


  1. Mazin, we find inspiration in your words. We also found Rev. Naim Ateek's reflections about the 50th anniversary of the Occupation to be compelling. Your work is a model of creative coping in spite of the oppression. Keep writing..We keep the issue of Palestinian human rights in front of the American public.

  2. i can only Hope ~
    However, thankfully the CiC (commander in chief) is the lafffing stock of the world ~ better than the war monger HRC. I wish Putin was my president! but really the problem is Capitalism...
    Thank you for your uplifting view Mazin.
    But at least in Montana we have another migration to be thankful for.
    Billings, MT

  3. Thank you of your analysis of the Quatar-issue. It is engaging that you manage to keep a positive view of development in the region.

  4. Terrible how the Arab ststes link with some great powers, are still wooing others, but betray the Palestinian cause. Do please keep your updates coming. All the best! Prof. Aron Chenoy, India

  5. Dear Mazin’

    Please continue your struggle for a better future for us Palestinians and Israelis and for humanity at large. Your inspired and inspiring work and analysis goes to the heart of what is wrong with the world.

    I have been losing sleep over the new split in the Arab oil dictatorships and find it scarier than what it seems. I am scared livid by the following analysis of what underlies the new vilification of Qatar: I think it is the starting move in a vicious chess game. For the past decade or so, Netanyahu has been itching to nuke Iran. The USA has not approved such a plan. Perhaps he now has obtained the needed permission. The (عليهم) attack on Qatar is only an attempt to get Iran to make its first move to justify attacking it. My only reassuring hope is that wiser minds and hearts in the USA will stop the deadly game. The other hopeful thought is that we all know that Iran invented chess and will play it smartly. It may seek to realign itself with powerful third parties, perhaps involving the political sleeping giants of China and/or India. All we can do at this stage is to wait and see.

    As to your final question and challenge regarding “new ideas of how we can do this better
    and more efficiently” all I can say is keep up the good work you and Jessie are doing. I live by the principle of acting instead of preaching and you are doing that just fine. More power to you. Perhaps we will get to see you this summer.

  6. I am honoured to have met, visited and listened to you in a recent Sabeel 'pilgrimage' to Palestine though many Israelis have told me "there is no land called Palestine" and "there is no people called Palestinians." !! I am amazed and thankful that you do what you do. May God give you continued strength and insight.

  7. Congrats 4 yr article in al monitor on yr Mus. W all horrible news from our beloved Palestine civil society is still there and making dvzmces.