Apr 29, 2011


We finally toured the devastated village of Awarta Wednesday and were stunned at what we saw and heard.  On the way, we stopped by a tiny village called Izbet Al-tabib, a village of 350 people was served with a new order by the Israeli military to take over a significant portion of their land. The wall that will be built and isolate this land behind it is supposed to "protect" the illegal highway 55, an Israeli road built already on Palestinian lands to serve the Jewish colonies built on the rich Western water aquifer of the Palestinian West Bank.  Yet, instead of building the wall on the colonial road 55, it is to be built a long distance from that to the north side near the village houses with the idea of capturing the rich agricultural land between.  The villagers do not know what to do beyond going to the biased Israeli courts run by Israeli judges that obviously favor Israeli colonial interests.  The work on the wall is slated to start Sunday and the villagers asked if we could all go there then. Leaving this small devastated village near Qalqilia, we headed east towards Nablus and Awarta. 

After a quick lunch in Nablus hosted generously by our friend Dr. Saed Abuhijleh, we drove the short distance to Awarta.  We enter the rich valley from the Western side and past the Israeli military camp and notice the colonial Jewish settlements dotting the hilltops around the valley.  The native village of 6000 brave souls is on the slope to north side of the valley and villagers have to face this scene of growing colonial settlements on their lands.  The main colonial settlement built on stolen village lands is called by Jewish settlers Itamar.  Over 12,000 dunums (4000 acres) of Awarta's lands were already taken by this colony inhabited by the most rabid and fanatical of Jewish settlers.  Two Palestinians from Awarta were killed for coming within 500 meters of the fortified fencing of this colony.  This is one of the many reasons why we are very convinced that the whole story about the killing of a settler family by two teenagers from the village of Awarta is a lie.  But the killing of these settlers set stage for a ransacking of the village by the colonizing army of the state of Israel.  Beating people, massive destruction, torture and more was inflicted on the village of 6000 people as collective punishment.  It is hard to describe what we saw and heard.  The video just reveals a glimpse of it.

The village has already suffered repeated attacks from settlers in the past.  Just last year, settlers and soldiers executed (shot at close range) two youths (18 and 19 year old cousins Salah and Muhamad Qawariq) who were working their agricultural field.  Villagers asked us why there was no outrage and no one held accountable in any of these atrocities.  We are all 100% convinced that that the settler family was not killed by the Palestinian teenagers that are claimed as culprits by the Israeli authorities.  The story the colonial army gave is so full of holes that it is simply not plausible.  Things that do not make sense:

-Why would two young teenagers not involved in politics, one of them a straight A student in his last year of high school and the other a westernized rapper enjoying his life decide to do such a thing? Killing children is especially not tolerated in our culture no matter what?
-How could such a pair manage to bypass one of the most heavily guarded and secured colonies in the WB.  How would they cut through the electrified security fence and its other barriers in a settlement that brags that it is the most secure of Jewish colonies in the West bank.  How could two strangers manage to stay in the settlement for two hours and even go back to the same house supposedly after leaving to get an M-16 gun that happened to be just sitting there in a bedroom (army story)? 
-Why would two people who committed such a crime go back to studying and enjoying their lives for days even after one of them was arrested, questioned for 10 hours and released? Why not run away?
-There were reports in Israeli papers that a Thai worker who has not been paid thousands of shekels as being involved but then this suddenly disappeared from print.  Why?
-What of the villagers' contention that this whole incident is calculated to acquire 1000 more dunums of their lands?
-Why did Israeli authorities not allow media scrutiny of what was really happening?
-Why did Israeli authorities not allow independent investigation or International protection or presence to witness what was really going on?
-Why would the two young people be denied access to lawyers and family visits?

These and hundreds of other questions poured out from the villagers.  I was particularly shocked to hear from Um Adam, a 77 year old grandmother (14 living children, over 75 grandchildren).  She herself was arrested with hundreds of others and forced (like all of them) to take a DNA test and to put her fingerprints on a document in Hebrew that she does not read.  She, like hundreds, was not allowed access to lawyers during their detention.  14 of her children and grandchildren are still kidnapped by the colonial soldiers.  One of her Children still held by the Israelis is the volunteer head of the Municipal council. Another child is the only doctor in town.  The homes of these two children, her home, and many other homes were ransacked and heavily damaged (the fascist soldiers had clearly come to destroy as an act of collective punishment).  The doctor's room and his medical books and supplies were not spared. While we visited nearly three weeks after the damage and after much of the houses were tidied-up with help of international volunteers, we still could see significant evidence of the damages. To punish a whole village in such a fashion reminds us of the worst regimes in history. 

It is a stain on humanity that the world is silent about these practices of land theft and destruction of people's lives. Now that Hamas and Fatah are reconciling some of their differences, I wonder if any of them (in positions of "authority") will do something for the villages of Awarta or Izbet Al-Tabib.  We are angry and sad and we ask all decent people (Israelis, Palestinians, and Internationals) to shed what is left of our collective apathy.  We must insist that settlers be removed from all stolen Palestinian lands and that Palestinians be provided protection.  If the Palestinians can't be provided protection by neutral parties, then it is almost certain that, based on our history of 15 uprisings, a new uprising against this injustice will be carried forth.

"Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,.." preamble of the universal declaration of human rights

"If we make peaceful revolution impossible, we make violent revolution inevitable." John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Apr 26, 2011

Soldiers, settlers, and sheep and more

Quick note to those in Palestine: Please join us at the AICafe on Tuesday 26 April at 7pm (Beit Sahour at Jadal Center) for a panel discussion about September 2011 Declaration of a Palestinian State: What Should Activists Do? With Palestinian activists Lubna Massarwa, Murad Jadallah and Muhammed Mustafa, moderated by Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh.

Below is a link to a brief four minute video of sights and sounds from Friday and Saturday in Palestine.  We had participated in the demonstration in Beit Ummar where soldiers tried to prevent farmers from getting to their
lands.  We were partially successful getting through the soldiers' lines and entering one of the plots that is threatened near a colonial settlement. Settlers dumped their sewage on 3 acres of land of Beit Ummar the day after our peaceful demonstration.  In another sideline, we succeeded in helping a poor family cure their injured donkey (named Ra'd or Thunder); medicines donated by a Beit Sahour veterinarian.  A day later we got the family a sheep and her baby lamb but soon found out we were not giving them a decent sheep (old, teeth missing) so we returned it and brought a far better sheep and her weaned lamb. The family will mget milk, butter and cheese now. The cost was nearly $750.  $200 was already donated by a friend in the US. Let
us know if you want to contribute to this or similar projects.  Anyway, the video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPCMmebvFq4

Great Video: Beit Sahour, the Shepherds' field, this Easter

Video of my talk on popular resistance at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI that generated some opposition (and lies from a local Zionist leader) http://www.vimeo.com/21109629

This is brilliant (Yale students put fliers explaining evictions):  Flyers threaten eviction, raise awareness
Students for Justice in Palestine: Discriminatory evictions are real By Omar
Mumallah, Abeer Obaid, Samer Sabri, Yaman Salahi

Come visit Palestine and join the struggle

Apr 23, 2011

On Easter, mocking Jesus, and more

On Easter, Palestinian Christians and Muslims from the West Bank are still forbidden from entering Jerusalem (except holders of special permits, I am not one of those few). In Bethlehem, we still hold the religious observances but it is not a festive occasion since the economy is still devastated by the colonial occupation (Israeli apartheid system) and what is left of the tourism business is controlled by Israeli Zionists.

Mocking Jesus and the crucifixion on Israeli TV

Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi of Israel threatens the President of the United States

[By the way: the Ashkenazim are descendants of European Khazars, the vast majority of them converted to Rabbinical Judaism in the 8th-10th century AD, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khazars and Shlomo Sand's book and on the issue of genetic studies, see my analysis as a Medical Geneticist here: http://www.qumsiyeh.org/chapter3/ ]

[Opinion] Recognising Palestine?: The efforts of the Palestinian Authority to push for statehood are nothing more than an elaborate farce, writer says.

Pressure on law conference threatens free speech by Cecilie Surasky (Jewish Voice for Peace): "Why were these mainstream Jewish organizations so troubled by the academic pursuit of legal approaches to securing Palestinian rights and freedom?"

Pictures of the killers of Vittorio Arrigoni: The lead terrorist it turns out was a Jordanian who tried to kill his partners with a grenade (killing one and injuring another) and then killed himself. He is believed by many to have once worked for Jordanian intelligence services and had arrived in Gaza recently, recruiting young people with a "Salafist" ideology (perhaps to discredit Hamas) http://www.moi.gov.ps/news/25968/

Take Action: House Resolution Provides Israel Impunity for Gaza Crimes
[I urge all people around the world to pressure their governments also on the now clear attempts to subvert and divert the Arab revolutions to serve Western interests. The call should be to end support for the regimes but also not meddle in the uprisings. Supporting the regime of Bahrain and Yemen while trying to interfere in Syria and Libya is not acceptable.]

Egypt girl that helped "incite revolt" (as the system described it) or promote freedom (as we call it). I shared this video before but it is worth sharing again to remind us (Arabs and non-Arabs) of what this is REALLY about. Watch it to the end. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FcSs9_FY0Cs

Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD

Apr 18, 2011

Prisoners' day

The olive and citrus trees were blooming all over Palestine on Prisoners’ day.  Pink irises, red puppies, and yellow flowers weave interesting patterns among the endless green carpet underneath the fruiting almonds, fig, and loquet trees.  Green almonds are eaten with a pinch of salt and are addictive.  There are already some ripening loquots. We harvest new green grape leaves (waraq dawali) to make a most amazing dish. Amid this beauty and abundance of nature, there is also beauty and abundance among those of us humans who are still connected to nature and partially free.  But we remember the nearly 7000 political prisoners (see below).  They cannot be forgotten especially since 750,000 of the Palestinians on the outside have been on the inside! We visited with a poor family in Hebron area whose father spend some time in jail. Their immediate concern was that the family donkey has a problem with his leg; the white and fairly large donkey is after all the only source of transport for the children who walk to school 7 km (nnearly 5 miles) each way.  A nice veterinarian in Beit Sahour gave us the medicines free and hopefully we can help the family of 8 (6 children ages 5-16) buy a goat which can provide them with milk and cheese. 

On Palm Sunday,  we visited Jerusalem (even though I do not have a "permit" from the occupiers). This even commemorates the entering of Jesus, the Palestinian who spoke Aramaic (the precurser of Arabic), into Jerusalem; then under foreign occupation knowing that his liberty and his life were at stake.  The acts of civil resistance by Jesus continue to inspire Palestinian Muslims and Christians.  My colleague and dear friend Lubna Masarwa, an amazing activist, introduced me to an old women who has been selling used cloths on the side of the street and having to run away each time the occupying authorities show up. She is a strong women with big hands, piercing determined eyes, a wrinkled face that tells a thousand stories of suffering but also of persistence and resilience. She has no family here, all her children and grandchildren and other relatives are in the besieged Gaza strip.  We met with the staff and employees of the Al-Quds community action center (see www.cac-alquds.org) and learned of the amazing work they do to help people on the ground.  Also on Sunday in Ramallah we met with members of Al-Hiraq Al-Shababi (the youth movement), amazing and inspiring activists who had just done a demonstration in front of the Ofer prison on Prisoners day.  We remembered and held vigils for prisoners and for murdered activists (including our heroes Juliano and Vittori). The people I chose to associate with are those flowers of Palestine, full of positive energy, willing to sacrifice, willing to believe that the future can only be better than this reality of colonialism, racism, oppression, incarceration, and murder. One of those is Faris Badr, a 19 year old who was captured when there was a peaceful demonstrations by families and friends of prisoners on prisoner day on Sunday. It was sad to see mothers and brothers and sisters tear-gassed and pushed back and attacked for wanting their loved ones freed. It is sadder yet to see one more youth added to the growing list of political prisoners.

Two years ago, Israeli occupation forces attacked the people of the Gaza strip putting as one of their goals to retrieve the one and only Israeli prisoner held by the Palestinian resistance (tank crewman Gilad Shalit is by definition a war criminal engaged in acts of an occupying army). Meanwhile, thousands of Palestinian political prisoners are in Israeli jails, prisons, and concentration camps.  Some are guerrilla fighters.  Some are elected parliamentarians.  Some are women.  Some are children.   Many have been held without charges and without trial in “administrative detention.”  All are prisoners of an unjust colonial power that has no right to hold even one of those comrades in struggle. There is no freedom struggle without a struggle to free those who pay the heavy price of being held by the colonizers.  Liberation movements worth their metal understand the significance of emphasis on political prisoners. 

We do have some notorious political leaders in Israeli jails. Here are just three of the most recognized names:
-Marwan Barghouti: led the Tanzim activist group under the umbrella of Fatah and member of the Palestinian Legistaltive Council (PLC) (http://www.freebarghouti.org/)
-Ameer Makhoul: director of Ittijah network of NGOs inside the Green Line (1948 areas) (
-Ahmad Saadat: General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine also member of the PLC

In Israeli jails is the longest serving political prisoner (Nael Barghouthi, nearly 34 years in jail) who is already in the Guinness book of world records. Recently, a video surfaced on Israeli TV showing prisoners being beaten and shot in a most inhumane way by the criminal military unit named "Masada" (after the mythological story that was weaved by Josephus but that has no historical evidence).  Many prisoners died for lack of access to medical care. Relatives of prisoners from Gaza were denied visitation rights for years.  For those from the West Bank, visitation is rare, sporadic and associated with many restrictions. 

Israeli forces also continue to target political dissidents who happen to be Israeli. Mordechai Vanunu servbed his time for exposing Israel's nuclear secrets but even though released from jail, he was and continues to be targeted . And Israeli activist Jonathan Pollak is in Israeli prison as punishment for his political activity. 

Thus it si fitting for all of us who work for freedom of Palestine whether outside of Palestine or in the large open-air prisons (the concentration areas we live in like Bethlehem and Gaza) to remember all those who are held by the apartheid system in the smaller prisons scattered throughout Palestine. We must demand loudly for their release so that they get to enjoy tehir family and the smell of the lemon blossoms and the feel of the growing olive and grape leaves.

During the siege, time becomes a space
That has hardened in its eternity
During the siege, space becomes a time
That is late for its yesterday and tomorrow
(Mahmoud Darwish, A State of Siege)
For more on the seige see http://gazasiege.org/

A bedouin in cyberspace, a villager at home

Apr 13, 2011

Optimism and change

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

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

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

Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD

Apr 9, 2011

From Deir Yassin to Gaza

I am back in Palestine after a long 40 day book tour in which I visited 3 countries, 16 US states, gave talks 67 times and interviewed on TV and Radio extensively. Over 3000 wonderful contacts were made. I thank all who helped make this possible and all who attended my talks. My apologies for my poor name-face association with older age.  Yet, the sweet home coming occurred on 9 April, 2011 the anniversary of the massacre at Deir Yassin and, just in the past three days, 18 Palestinians were murdered in Gaza by the same occupation army; including a man and his grand-daughter. I penned a poem along the way:

April 9, 1948 to April 9, 2011: Deir Yassin to Gaza
(by Mazin Qumsiyeh, Written on the way back home, dedicated to Juliano*)

My kind old mother laments
Decades of memory that transcends
Fake Gods and fake peace offers
who bless nichsayon** and slaughter
our eyes fail to see or just lament
blood of a child licked off a pavement
By stray thirsty cats
with more morals than army brats
Our ears fail to hear
voice of Dr. Izzeldinne echoes
“I shall not hate” anguished cries
After three beautiful daughters
With a tank shell and a niece in slaughters
Our noses feail to smell
The whiff of death mixed with gun powder
Or the vomit of our tortured
Our hearts fail to feel
the punctured womb by the old home
the severed girl’s head by the mosque dome
Our fingers fail to touch
an anguished young mother
Looking for a child
Jews, Christian, Muslims wail
The lost humanity to no avail
the generals must have their joy
to test their newest toy
in Gaza white phosphorous back in use yesterday
impunity from war crimes thanks to the US of A
billionairs must make more dollars
zealots must sacrifice children at altars
Gabriel can stay a knife but not drones
And hate can murder a thousand Julianos
While the apathetic multitude watch TV
Obliviously focused on their shopping spree
Bypassing love and responsibility
Chasing gadgets, hate, and vanity
Next news bulletin.... get the experience
Next anniversary..awaken the conscience??

*The Jenin Freedom Theater and Juliano in his own words (excellent video by Jen Marlowe) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQGqmLyunm0

**Nichsayon: Hebrew for Ethnic cleansing

Avnery on two new racist laws in Israel

Associated Press biased reporting on Gaza

‘The Goldstone Report’ now belongs to the world by ADAM HOROWITZ, LIZZY RATNER, AND PHIL WEISS
And another opinion
The Goldstone Chronicles  By ROGER COHEN 
To “Goldstone”: (Colloq.) To sow confusion, hide a secret, create havoc.