Dec 25, 2012

Beit Laham

Bethlehem (Aramaic for House of Laham, the Canaanitic God of Sustenance) area is decked in colors and the best and most beautiful lights are the smiles on the faces of our children.  On Saturday evening, we attended a Christian service that was a joint service with the National Cathedral in Washington DC. The Palestinian children bell choir was uplifting.   Children led the lighting of the candles at churches, the singing, and the choirs and they outnumbered adults in most activities.  We were blessed by visited homes of poor children of different faiths. On Monday 3500 members of marching bands/scouts (most youth under 18) led parades near the apartheid wall separating Jerusalem from Bethlehem towards the Nativity square. Some of the marching youth were Muslims.  The marching band from Gaza (Christian and Muslim) was not allowed to participate by the Israeli occupation authorities.  Earlier in the day, children in the square formed a large peace symbol and the words "LOVE ALL" with their bodies in front of the massive Christmas tree in the square.  The United Nations Work and Relief Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) had banners asking people to remember the suffering children in Gaza and Syria.   

Later in the day, the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement and the YMCA/YWCA Joint Advocacy initiative organized a children's program.  Laughing and dancing lasted for nearly two hours and then gifts were passed to the kids by Santa Clause.  We all should remember that Jesus was born 2000 years ago in a humble manger.  My ancestors, the Shepherds of Beit Sahour recognized the message of hope and acted on it.  They and Jesus were Palestinians living under a foreign imperial occupation managed by local individuals who claimed religion and law. Herod killed the Children of Bethlehem to advance the agenda of hate.  Jesus advanced the agenda of love. His family became refugees from tyranny (like millions of Palestinians today). Jesus challenged military occupation with non-violent resistance and chastised Pharisees and Sadducees for hypocrisy.  He called for peace and helped the oppressed. This important child of Bethlehem is recognized by Christians, Muslims, and most of humanity (including atheists and agnostics) as a great teacher and a saviour. He taught all humanity that it is important to tell the truth and stand with the weak and oppressed of this world. He taught by example.  Palestinian Christians believe he became the first martyr for non-violent resistance to foreign occupation of Palestine.  He said "let the children come to me" and implored us to believe in goodness in the same way that children do and then to ACT on our belief.  Whether we are Christian or not, this is the message coming forth from Bethlehem this season and all the time. 

If you are in the Bethlehem area let us get together and plan our actions for 2013 and beyond especially for the future of all children of our shared planet. 

Tuesday/Today 4 PM Candle Light march for Palestine in Beit Sahour starting at the Shephetrds' Field followed by festival of Christmas with music etc.

Wednesday 6 PM: Service at the wall neaer Rachel Tomb area

Friday: At Izbet Tabib (near Qalqilia), Bilin, and other localities in Palestine, join marches  against the apartheid wall

Video from the simulcast with the National Cathedral

"do not ask whom for the bells (of Bethlehem) toll, they toll for thee"   

Stay human

Mazin Qumsiyeh

Dec 20, 2012

Christmas behind the wall

We remembered the 20 children killed in Connecticut (where I last lived in the USA). We remembered them and we also remembered the 33 children killed last month by US funded Israeli war machine and the hundreds of Pakistani and Afghani children killed this year by US drone attacks.  We also remembered the tens of thousands of children killed this year by hunger and disease that could have been avoided if we had our priorities correct.  I just attended two conferences one indirectly dealt with children: one indirectly because it discussed environmental issues - my abstract is below) and one dedicated to serving Palestinian children (led by UNICEF).  So for this Christmas, I am making a pledge to focus on needs of children in 2013 and urge you to do the same.

Action: Donate to a charity that deals with children; here are three I am donating to this month among many:  1) 2) (tax deductible donations in USA, France ) 3)

Action: Thursday December 20th 6 PM: Christmas behind the wall gathering for families at Rachel's tomb area (Bilal's mosque).  Carols, prayers, and fellowship.  All are welcome. Organized by

Below are articles and also media contrtacts dealing with Christmas in the land of Jesus.  Whether one is a Christian or not, the situation here calls for examination.

Hope from Bethlehem by Mazin Qumsiyeh

Christians in the Holy Land today

Colonizing Christmas: Facts on Israeli Occupation and Bethlehem (Including Map)

List of Spokespeople for Christmas available at

ABSTRACT to Environmental conference
Two recent reports published this year raise additional alarm on the status of the environment in Palestine and lack of adequate human preparations to meet the challenges ahead.  The UN report on Gaza projections by 2020 highlight population increasing to 2.13 million, increasing population density to 5835 person/km2, depletion of water aquifer, and increase in water demand by 60%.   51% of Gaza population are children and there will be a shortage of 440 schools by 2020.  The study on Gaza did not take into account the effect of global warming.For example a world bank study shows that in the Arab world cumulative effect of global warming/climate change will be the reduction in thousands of dollars of household income by 2030.  The projected change will vary by country in all categories including especially water needs and availability.  The effect on Palestine will be severe (1948 and 1967 areas). It is far more severe in 1967 areas even if Israel allows those areas to use the water resources due to geography and population density (including existing refugees).  For example in the WB and Gaza between 2000-2009, water demand  was 567 million cubic meters while supply was 170 mcm.  This differential is projected by the World Bank report to become 1587 mcm demand and 96 mcm supply. There are other impacts of climate change, population growth trends, and the misguided attempt to isolate us under the guise of a two state solution on quality of air, biodiversity, ecologic capacity, sustainability of agriculture, and more. The data combined point to a catastrophic future unless dramatic political restructuring is carried out combined with social reengineering at a grassroot level.  Our collective and individual responsibility is to act now and urgently

Chinese writer: Palestinian issue source of global conflict

Have a happy, wonderful Christmas season.  May your new year bring you hope and empowerment to change
and …… stay human

Dec 5, 2012

Israel isolated

The developments in the last few days have been interesting to say the least.  Israeli papers are finally publishing stories showing that Israel assassination of the Hamas leader Jabari that began the latest attack was intentional and political.  Jabari was actually considering a draft ceasefre agreement reached between a Hamas representative and an Israeli with the knowledge of Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak and the Israeli hierarchy.  Perhaps that is why Barak announced quitting of political life knowing that this will come back to haunt him in the upcoming elections!  But Netanyahu and Lieberman are doggedly counting on the settler vote to win and had the plans ready ahead of time.  The vast majority of countries voted for accepting Palestine into the UN system as a non-member STATE (based on the 1967 borders but also with reference to UNGA resolutions 181 and 194).  Only Canada, the Czech Republic & a few tiny islands dependent on US aid voted NO with Israel & US.  Four days later, the United Nations voted to inspect Israel’s nuclear facilities (which had manufactured hundreds of nuclear weapons destabilizing the region).  The vote also calls on Israel to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty without further delay.  The vote again passed with vast majority: 174 countries votes for the inspection, six voted against, and six abstained.  The countries that voted against the resolution were Israel, the United States, Canada, Palau, Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands.  Shameful succumbing to Israel lobby by those very few counries (against their own people's interests).  But clearly Apartheid Israel is isolated and we must increase the pressure to isolate it further to achieve peace with justice.

The Israeli government arrogantly decided to continue violating International law: a) it rejected all relevant UN resolutions, b) it withheld Palestinian tax money (called stealing), c) it approved building even more colonial settlements on Palestinian lands (also called stealing), and c) it bribed and blackmailed politicians around the world (Israeli intelligence is good at getting dirt on politicians or even entrapping them) to avoid any concrete measures of punishment.  While all governments objected verbally (even the USA!), most failed to take any concrete measures against apartheid Israel for engaging in crimes against humanity.  In fact, some European countries and the US are applying pressure on Mahmoud Abbas (whose term expired two years ago) not to take actions in International fora to hold Israel accountable.

The Palestinian Authority is now on shaky ground and not only politically (because of the division) but economically and over 150,000 civil servants will likely not get paid this month.  All this emphasized to us Palestinians that liberation must come before governance.  We must depend on ourselves (with some help from civil societies around the world and few governments) and there are certain things that must be done NOW:  Fatah and Hamas and other Palestinian factions must implement their reconciliation agreements and the PLO must be reconsitituted on democratic ground to represent all 12 million of us and to deal with the grave challenges ahead.  History will not forgive leaders who can make and implement agreements with their colonizers (including Oslo and ceasefires) but cannot implement agreements with their fellow countrymen.  It is then possible engage in large scale popular resistance that gets most of the Palestinians to Participate and on solid footing and to take Israel to the International Court of Justice for breach of conventions like the Geneva Conventions, the Hague Conventions, and most importantly The International Convention for the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid  (see ). Most Palestinians see that salvation will not come from outside and that unless we Palestinians are serious about challenging Israel, we will remain under perpetual occupation.  There is a role for the international society and millions are now activists in the campaigns of boycotts, divestment and sanctions as we did it with Apartheid South Africa.  Just last week, Stevie Wonder canceled his participation in concert that would have benefited the Israeli occupation forces (IOF). 

Successes are mounting every week. I am back in Palestine tired but inspired by the energy especially of the youth in India whose conference was dramatically successful despite the odds.  Tears rolled up in our eyes as we witnessed Muslims, Hindu, Christians, Atheists, and others of India working hand in hand against racism in their own society (like Brahmanism/cast system discrimination) and racism in Palestine (Zionism). We all recalled the words of Mahatma Gandhi and other Indian leaders in opposition to Zionism and colonialism. Most were youth who are taking charge of their own future.  The alliance of Indian right-wing racism with Israeli and other racist/fascist movements now provides a joint target for popular movements around the world.  The internet provides a tool of organizing for the energetic youth who attended the conference in India (see ). On the other side of the world, thousands gathered and took important decision on the issue of Palestine at the World Social Forum in Brazil (see

It still rings in my ears: India Zindabad!! Palestine Zindabad!!

Israel and Palestine, an animated introduction from Jewish Voice for Peace

Report from the PLO on the ongoing settlement activities

Report from B'Tselem on "The E1 plan and its implications for human rights in the West Bank"

When It Comes to Gaza, Don’t Let Obama Speak for Black Americans: ‘Like an olive tree planted by the water, we shall not be moved’ by Jesse Hagopian

If Not Two States, Then One

Stay human

Nov 25, 2012

Gaza redux analysis

Analysis of conflicts and destruction should not be done in the heat of the moment when emotions are high. In wars, everybody loses but to variable degrees.  But certain parties can claim achieving certain goals they set for themselves.  Taking stock of the attack on Gaza, the players in this game come out differently (Civilians, Hamas, Fatah, the Israeli government, the U.S. etc) and it is worth reflecting.

-The civilian population:  As in all modern wars, most of the casualties are civilians.  162 Palestinians and 5 Israelis were killed during the Israeli attack and one Palestinian killed after the ceasefire was declared. This includes 30 Palestinian children.  Over 1000 Palestinians were injured and many will have to live with life-long injuries.  The damage in Gaza to infrastructure and homes is tremendous.  Gaza has not even recovered from the last attack 4 years ago. Donors promised to rebuild but never did. In the West Bank, several Palestinians demonstrating in solidarity with Gaza were killed and many injured and hundreds imprisoned by the Israeli occupation forces.  And Gaza remains the largest prison on earth. The last election war in Israel in 2008-2009 cost 1400  Palestinian lives (13 Israelis).  The number of injured is ten times more and is also skewed 100 to 1 (Palestinian to Israeli injuries).  The damaged structures including infrastructure is not even comparable.  Israeli occupation forces bombed Mosques, residential buildings, electricity grids, media offices, and government offices in Gaza while damage in reprisal attacks in Israel was minimal.  Depleted Uranium and other weapons also continue to increase cancers among civilians.

-Hamas: The recent conflict started when Israel assassinated a moderate military leader who was holding other factions to previous ceasefire understandings. The goal was electoral and for internal preparedness against a possible conflict with Iran. Israel's own estimates is that the stockpile of rockets was 12-14,000 and that Hamas used only10% which they will replenish.  Most analysis predict more money and weapons coming to Hamas since it gained much politically among Palestinians and among others.  The philosophy of Hamas includes things like "what was taken by force can only be reclaimed by force" and that "resistance works."  The ideology was certainly bolstered in the minds of many people.  But Hamas needs to show evidence of a coherent strategy to achieve its own goals beyond slogans and celebration of withstanding and resisting Israeli terror.

-Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian authority in Ramallah (PA) used to describe rockets fired from Gaza as stupid and ineffective.   Hillary Clinton visited to bolster the PA but the US position backing Israeli massacres meant further weakening. The Oslo accords became a distant memory and the PA largely irrelevant.  The long touted Palestinian reconciliation was talked about but few believe leaderships of Hamas or Fatah are genuinely seeking reconciliation.  The increased emphasis on the bid for admission to the UN as a "non-member State" is done without explanations about the exact language that is already being negotiated with the US/Israel to emasculate it from any real meaning.  There are also side agreements being worked out to have a PA promise not to bring Israel before International courts.  Losing face is not something that men, including Arab men, take easily.  Abbas and his colleagues in Fatah who benefited in the past from Oslo find it harder to climb down. But Gaza formed a joint operation room with all resistance fighters. Perhaps the decent people in Fatah who joined the resistance will provide the needed bridge.  Perhaps also people like jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi can help (he called for ending the useless negotiations and security coordination with Israel).  Perhaps with help of Dr. Nabil Shaath, Barghouthi can play a role in allowing for a face-saving exit strategy from the muddy sink hole of Oslo.

- Egypt after the revolution put itself squarely as a major player in Middle East politics and began to shed its Mubarak era image (if not substance) of being a puppet of the US government.  The Egyptian government led by President Morsy brokered the cease fire deal and managed to show diplomatic and maneuvering skills that gained it respect.  But the main audience was the Egyptian street and the anouncement right after the ceasefire deal was of consolidating power for Morsy.  Demonstrations were held in Egypt complaining about the dictatorial powers.  Using Palestine to strengthen internal control is a very old strategy used by many Arab leaders. What Egypt does about the gas fields off of Gaza shore or about allowing arming of the resistance is a more practical barometer of any real change in Egypt.

-The three architects of this war (Barak, Netanyahu, Lieberman) held a press conference and were grim and unsmiling as they announced that they “achieved their goals” and they will not hesitate to hit Gaza again “if rockets resumed”.  It seems even Israelis did not buy this.  But I think it is too simplistic to describe Israel as having “lost this war” (as some pundits are saying).  The publicly declared goals from this attack on Gaza are actually different from privately held goals.  The public goal to end the “threat to the south” (hence the name pillar of defense) is actually not the real goal.  In any case that goal failed since Hamas came out stronger from this.  But there are other undeclared goals: 1) bolstering election chances, 2) testing the weakest chain of the forces of resistance (Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Iran), and 3) testing the Israeli defense/preparedness mechanisms (a massive and real drill) including the iron dome missile defense system to prepare for wider conflicts to come (with Hizballah and Iran).  In the first, polls will soon show if the three benefited politically for the upcoming election.  To the second goal, the tested subject proved stronger than expected by Israel (the use of longer range Fajr-5 shocked many Israelis especially when these rockets reached Tel Aviv and Jerusalem). The third goal had mixed results but now Israel will spend a few weeks acquiring more iron dome batteries and organizing their warning system in a better way. It augurs poorly for Israel since they spent $750 million for a conflict with imprisoned Gaza Palestinians! A fourth goal may have been to test what the Obama administration does in its second term in office.  Some analysts predicted that Obama will be free in his second term in office to fulfill some of what he said in his Cairo speech nearly four years ago.  But the evidence showed he is still subservient to AIPAC and the Israel lobby in Washington.  Both in Israel and the US, there is a hope that toppling the Syrian regime if done soon may help in the war on the remaining axis (Hizballah and Iran).  Others believe the issue of Iran can’t wait.  In fact, before the ink was dry on ceasefire agreement, Israeli papers were reporting that Iran is moving dirt in one location in ways that suggest they are hiding nuclear activity.  

-Turkey had a hand in moving towards a Gaza settlement.  If the siege on Gaza is indeed reduced as stipulated in the ceasefire deal in significant ways, this will remove one of the three conditions laid down by Ankara on resumption of normal friendly relations with Israel. Overall, Turkey is interested in getting NATO support for its defense capability (including Patriot missiles) and cares more about its own interests than about the interests of people in Gaza.  Turkey would be satisfied with new calmer arrangements in Gaza even if it end-up profiting Israel.

-Iran:  Hamas did acknowledge Iranian help in developing its defense capabilities.  Iran said that Arab and Islamic countries should now see the value of helping the Palestinians and Lebanese defend themselves against US/Israeli aggression and hegemony.  If the ceasefire holds and if Israel improved its iron dome abilities with US support, and if Netanyahu/Lieberman succeed in being elected to form the next government, then it is very likely that Israel will be freer to attack Iran.  The Israeli right wing politicians are trying to get their house in order and to ensure US support to proceed to create more wars (they already started 6 wars in the Middle East with similar patterns).  Iran is obviously studying developments and lessons to deal with the contingencies.  

-The USA: US foreign policy is simply domestic policy as Henry Kissinger once said.  Absent Muslim-American and Arab-American effective lobbies, the Zionist lobby dictate US policy.  This may be changing as US elites realize that unconditional support of Israel has persistently weakened the US economically, politically, and morally.  More and more US citizens are connecting the dots between the frail and unsustainable economy of the US and its domestically generated (anti-American) foreign policy in support of apartheid and repression. People increasingly see that the Israeli push to get the US into a war on Iraq cost thousands of American lives and nearly three trillion dollars.  Hopefully they will see the repercussions of the Israeli push for conflict with Iran before it is too late.

-Perhaps the biggest loser was the truth.  Israel massive propaganda effort paid off as western media showed Israel “defending itself” and failed to report reality. There was no organized counter efforts to tell the real story or to pressure western media which dominate world media to move to balanced reporting.  Social media and electronic transfer of information helped a little by showing the extent of suffering and damage in Gaza but even here the effort could have been far better from the millions who sympathized with Gaza but did little to help get the truth out.  We as people of conscience need to do much better at challenging journalism that is biased, shoddy, and in some cases criminally complicit.

The impact of the latest attack also needs to be analyzed in terms of Israeli plans to cut-off Gaza from the Palestinian equation and dump it southward minus its rich gas fields offshore (which Israel still controls hence preventing fisherman from going to fish lest they disturb the lucrative potential $1 trillion in development). Joing impoverished Gaza with Egypt while keeping the natural resources would relieve a huge demographic problem for colonial Israel (1.6 million Palestinians live in Gaza including 1 million refugees).  This danger of “segregating” Gaza and making some long-term arrangement for it with the help of Egypt would free Israel to focus on building settlements in the West Bank, developing gas fields off Gaza shore line, Judaicizing Jerusalem, and tightening control of the West Bank Palestinians living in shrinking ghettos/people warehouses.  These ghettos can be either declared a state (archipelago state that would be transportationally contiguous via tunnels) or annexed to Jordan (which already has 3.5+ million Palestinians).

Both Hamas and Israel propagated the myth that there are two sides to the issue in occupied Palestine and that it is a religious conflict.  But you cannot equate occupier with occupied, colonizer with colonized.  Israel is an advanced country with the fifth or sixth strongest army on earth (or as one Israeli academic put it an army which has a country).  Palestinians are occupied colonized people, two third of us are refugees or displaced people.  Further, the struggle here is not between Israelis and Palestinians (or worst between Jews and Muslims) but a struggle between those who support apartheid (of all religions and backgrounds) and those who oppose it (of all religions and backgrounds). 

Many of us believe this is the time to push forward our human and humane vision of one democratic state in historic Palestine.  This pluralistic state would solve once and for all the historic injustice that afflicted the Palestinian people with the advent of Zionism.  It would lead to a durable peace.  The only available alternative is now seen to be a balance of terror for years to come and this is not appealing to anyone except those who mistakenly think it could allow them to form or retain their religious state. But history shows that Palestine was always multiethnic and multireligious and always rejected becoming a monolithic society.

Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD
Bethlehem University

Nov 16, 2012

Gaza Redux

For Gaza friends and others: How to stay connected if the internet is shut down
have a rooted android phone? You can install this app to make mesh network calls when the cell towers go down.

Actions: Emergency global actions for Gaza

Israel forces have been attacking Gaza, destroying power grids, destroying infrastructure and killingcivilians.  They intensified the brutal attack after two home made rockets landed in Tel Aviv. Hospitals in Gaza are at the breaking point trying to deal with casualties while under siege for years.  But resistance forces in Gaza also reported dowing an Israeli jet.  Israeli authorities are caught lying to their own people about the extent of damage coming from the resistance (e.g. saying the rockets were intercepted and did not fall while Israeli citizens see them fall, fires breaking and ambulances rushing in. I myself heard the sirens blaring in the settlements of Gush Etzion and heard the thud of one largeb rocket (presumably of the long range Fajr type). But now for an analytical comment.

Is history repeating itself?  The Israeli attack on Gaza this week is happening between the US Presidential elections and the Israeli (early) elections.  The attack on Gaza four years ago also happened after the US elections and before Israeli elections. Some Israeli citizens thus put an advertisement in an Israeli paper titled "No to the election war!"  Netanyahu and company today are trying to repeat what Olmert and company tried to do four years ago: pound Gaza into submission while gaining right-wing votes. This attack could also be a test of preparedness for a coming war on Iran (Gaza is weaker than Lebanon or Iran).  Early results show that the Israeli hasbara spin machine failed to make the attack on Gaza appear as "self-defense" and will fail at all its other goals just like happened in 2006 and 2008.  During the last attack on Gaza four years ago Israeli forces murdered 1400 Palestinians including nearly 400 Children in a period of just three weeks.  It was and remains a difficult propaganda task to hide the scale of atrocities against natives especially when all human rights groups and the UN describe such actions as war crimes and crimes against humanity. 

In Gaza just in the last 48 hours, the martyred Palestinians included two babies 10 and 11 months old.  Netanyahu hopes the Zionist media network and his bombing campaigns succeed in 2012 at what they failed to achieve in 2008.  Israel as an occupier/colonizer hopes to get away with murder while labeling any resistance from the occupied people as "terrorism."  In the age of instant communication it is difficult.  After repeated aggressive wars (e.g. in 1948, 1956, 1967, 1982, 2000, 2006, 2008, and now 2012), the world is finally waking up.  People of the Arab world who engaged in real democratic revolutions now demand real change.  It is symbolically significant that high level officials from Egypt and Tunisia traveled to Gaza during the current attacks.

People know that Israeli lobbies like AIPAC (whose website was hacked by Anonymous this week) keep pushing for wars including an illegal war on Iran in the same way as they pushed for the illegal war on Lebanon and Iraq before. The latter war was foisted on the Western public using lies (connections of Iraq to terror actions of 11 September 2001 and weapons of mass destruction).  The war cost thousands of American lives, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives, and $3 trillion in direct cost to US taxpayers.  People know that Gaza is still under occupation per international law as the UN itself reported.  Even Israeli spokespersons and an Israeli document released by court order showed Israel is engaged in collective punishment of Gaza population, a crime against humanity per international law. The UN warned of a humanitarian catastrophe if the Israeli siege of Gaza continues.  Israel also continues to target any and all humanitarian ships trying to break the siege.

Israeli politicians find it convenient every few years to launch a massive war to keep the "home-front" scared and united and hope to bolster their political careers. "Rooting out terrorism" and keeping "Israeli citizens safe" are now seen even by Israelis as simply propaganda.  Israeli intelligence reports submitted to the Israeli government showed that Hezbollah became even stronger after the Israeli attacks of 2006 and that Hamas came out stronger after the Israeli attack in 2008.  Impoverished Gaza is teaching all lessons.  Olmert and Livni discovered that war crimes do not necessarily translate into votes.  A more important lesson that may take longer to sink in is that safety does not come from oppression and ethnic cleansing, the two pillars of Zionism. Safety comes from justice.  Israel is a racist apartheid and militarized state that caused the largest remaining refugee population on earth (7 million of the 12 million Palestinians are refugees or displaced).  Peace can come by acknowledging wrongs and engaging in restorative justice.  After the return of the Palestinian refugees (including the one million in Gaza) to their homes and lands occupied in 1948, we can all live here regardless of religious or other backgrounds in one secular democratic state.  I suspect the Israeli immoral and cruel attacks on Gaza will hasten this inevitable outcome.

*Anonymous pulled AIPAC website down (this is the website of the third column that is destroying the American economy for the sake of Zionism)

Mazin Qumsiyeh

Nov 12, 2012

Doubling money for settlement

Today, Jewish settlers came to Beit Sahour to look over the area they want to build the new settlement on. Last night, settlers tried to burn a Palestinian family home in Tequa. This week, Israeli ministers give speeches that says they support new settlements and expanding existing colonial settlements.   The Jewish state's  finance minister even admitted doubling the financial support for these settlements built on stolen native Palestinian lands.  The last few days there was an escalation of the Israeli bombing raids in Gaza.  US-made airplanes, paid for by US taxpayers, and painted with the star of David, were used to kill several Palestinian civilians and at least two Palestinian militants (extrajudicial assassinations). Israeli occupation forces are threatening more strikes and more colonialism.  Many Palestinians were relieved to see Obama win the US presidency and some 80% of Arab Americans voted for him.  But Obama said nothing about these atrocities since his election.  

The US position is what it is and will change only when more Americans are made aware of the Zionist damage to US public and economic interests.  The Israeli position is also predictable until more Israelis can transcend their brainwashing.  What is less understandable and more disturbing is that we still hear the same rhetoric from the two "Palestinian authorities" which have no authorities and whose terms in office expired nearly three years ago: Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the West Bank. Some "leaders" of these factions reserve their most bitter verbal and even physical attacks against the other faction or anyone who might question the status quo.  Hamas "security" beat women in Gaza protesting for unity and Fatah "security" regularly arrest and imprison Hamas activists in the West Bank or even normal ordinary citizens who they suspect are not agreeing to their policies.  This included one of my own students who missed important lectures as he was being questioned by fellow Palestinians.

Absent a reasonably responsible leadership that puts the Palestinian cause ahead of factional and financial interests, this leaves most Palestinians desperate and frustrated.  Decent people are in all Palestinian factions but they are afraid to speak out within their own faction.  But then again, I say the Palestinians need to stop looking for salvation from current leaders, from Obama, from the Arab Spring or from anyone else.  The 1936 uprising started when the young people took to the streets despite the bickering Nashashibis vs Husseinis of that era.  It is time to do what young people have always done: depend on themselves unencumbered by the baggage carried by the older generation. I see this spirit in the young when I browse facebook pages in Palestine.  We need to only put our own necks out and also help our children show courage to liberate us all from the corruption that has become like an illness spread among families and among factions.  History will not be kind to those of us who join the corruption nor will it be kind to those who are apathetic and sit and wait. 

Relevant links for today:

Kairos Palestine: Christians of the Holy Land ask you to act this advent/christmas

What Zionism means to Uri Zakheim

Israel is responsible for "price tag" attacks, not just a few settler extremists Philip Bato

Israel Doubles West Bank Settlements Budget   

Palestinian Fighter killed In Gaza, Seven Palestinians Killed Since Saturday Evening

The Rothschild family wealth was critical in the formation of Israel.  Money still directs interests of wealth Zionist leaders who profit while poor Israelis and millions of Palestinians suffer. For a background on the family, see

Still having "joyful participation in the worroes of this world" and inviting you to come visit us in Bethlehem, the birthplace of the prince of peace

Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD

Oct 6, 2012

Oil, Zionism and more

Recent discoveries show that the Eastern Mediterranean area has huge energy fields which together with water resources could provide the impetus for new conflicts/wars. The initial estimates is that the area in the sea facing Palestine (present day Israel and the Gaza Strip), Lebanon, and Syria  holds 1.7 billion barrels of oil, 5 billion barrels of natural gas liquids, and an astounding 122 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas. Already Israel uses nearly 10 times more of our water per capita than we the native Palestinians use.  Already Israel controls most of the lucrative tourism industry in Palestine and most of our agricultural lands and other resources. Already Israel has very many millionaires and a few billionaires while 25% of Israeli Children live in poverty (and nearly half the Palestinian Children in Gaza and the West Bank). I guess there are those chosen and those who are even more chosen.

Meanwhile, there were large demonstrations demanding the Palestinian dueling authorities (in Ramallah and Gaza) stop political arrests.   And while our people are busy with local municipal elections, the Zionists intensify their assault on common decency.  Avigdor Lieberman and over 100 settlers came to my town of Beit Sahour Thursday wanting to build a new colonial settlement in the area of Ush Ghrab to be called Shdema.  So now the local committee is re-emerging to try to deal with this new challenge. And today (Saturday) Israeli authorities discovered a fairly sophisticated unmanned drone that apparently was hovering in the Neqeb (Negev) area and shot it down.  That shook the Israeli public and showed that all the sophisticated military gear in the world will not protect you from such efforts.  The world is changing and only justice to the native Palestinians can bring security and peace here.   

In this week's compilation of links below: evaluation of Zionism versus Judaism, BDS as key to just peace, Russell Tribunal on Palestine, Lutherans look at Israeli military, 5 broken cameras, why I dislike Israel, and why Oslo must go.

Very good analysis: A Basic History of Zionism and Its Relation to Judaism By Hanna Braun.

BDS key to a "just peace," says Palestinian Christian boycott activist . Joe Catron

Russell Tribunal on Palestine: Live proceedings from New York

 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and other churches call for investigation of military aid to Israel

The documentary that should make every decent Israeli ashamed: No moments of reprieve in the probing documentary by Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi, "5 Broken Cameras," which chronicles the struggle in the West Bank Palestinian village of Bil'in. By Gideon Levy

Giraldi: Why I Dislike Israel

Why Oslo Must Go

Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD
Chair, Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People
Professor, occupied Palestine
World Social Forum Free Palestine

Sep 27, 2012

Apartheid leader lectures the UN

The Prime Minister of Apartheid Israel just lectured the United Nations General Assembly! He spent most of his time nagging those present as if they were school children about Iran.  He even insulted their intelligence by showing them a diagram of a "bomb" and drawing a red line on it (yes literally with an actual red marker).  He also went about insulting 1.6 billion Muslims and even had the "chutzpa" to claim Israel is helping people around the world!  Those in attendance were less numerically and qualitatively than those who attended the Iranian president's speech.  Netanyahu thus utterly failed to anticipate the transformed reality around him and acted as if Israel can still run the show and start wars that others fight for it.  He must have not even been briefed on the Egyptian President's speech. The first democratically elected leader of Egypt received significant applause when he said that the world community must stop the hypocrisy and charade of injustice beginning with "the number one" issue: justice for Palestine.  Netanyahu merely dismissed Mahmoud Abbas's speech with just one sentence "we won't solve our conflict with libelous speeches at the UN or unilateral declarations of statehood." [No we solve them via continuing colonization]. He dismissed all Palestinians and their rights by claiming they need to recognize a "Jewish state" then they could be allowed a vague but "dimiltarized state".  The very moderate/accommodating PLO representative Mahmoud Abbas had said that he wanted to gain the overdue legitimacy for a Palestinian state at the UN and "not delegitimize Israel". But Israel has done a very good job of delegitimizing itself.  Israel in fact should be expelled from the United Nations because it failed to live up to its commitments to implement UN resolutions or to be a peace seeking nation. It also fulfils the requirement of being an apartheid state according to the relevant International Convention.  Netanyahu's war mongering and idiotic speech merely confirmed the obvious conclusion about this rogue state: it is run by lunatics. So on the bright side, perhaps putting the last few nails in the coffin of this apartheid system will come from lying racist idiots like Netanyahu.  The frustrated reaction from many world leaders and the shocked reaction by many others to Netanyahu's "lecture" give us great hope for the future. Indeed the racist mentality and arrogant criminal actions of this man and other Zionists could be the best accelerator for the end of apartheid Israel.   "The jig maybe up" as they say in English.

In the USA, Racist (Zionist) subway advertisements get makeover and challenges

The Deterioration of the Palestine Situation

The Zionist Destruction of the Iraqi Jewish Community

Update from New Yorkers Against the Cornell-Technion Partnership (NYACT)

Debunking the racism behind a two-state solution by Dr. Haidar Eid

Gaza unlivable by 2020?

Sep 17, 2012

30 years of mayhem

This is the thirtieth anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila massacre.  We now have documentary evidence of Israeli and American roles in this preventable massacre of hundreds of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians.** The intensity of private USA-Israel disputes must have increased in the past 30 years even as the mayhem also increased (for example one million Iraqis killed by US led sanctions, one million more by the illegitimate invasion and occupation beginning in 2003).  Netanyahu and other Zionists seemed very frustrated that attempts to bully the US into a war on Iran, like they did on Iraq, are failing.  Disputes that used to happen behind closed doors are now out in the open.   Israel is not even able to get the US to give them any assurances of protection if they attack Iran and Iran retaliates with thousands of improved missiles.  There is so much dissent now even within Israeli elites who directly benefit from stirring up conflicts.  Thus any decision to create more wars and suffering seems highly unlikely before the US Presidential elections in November.  Thus fortunes are being spent by the Jewish billionaire Sheldon Adelson and other Zionists "banking" on the Republican Mitt Romney.  A media frenzy led by Zionists will also not succeed unless we get an "October surprise". 

The Zionist attempt to stir a "clash of civilization" between Christianity and Islam is failing.  The angry protests being fomented drew less than 0.01% of the world Muslim population and most of these demonstrations were not similar to the attack in Libya that killed the US Ambassador to Libya and three other Americans.  The Zionists in charge of a significant portion of Western mainstream media tried to exaggerate and to stoke the fires but they are failing.  The largest demonstration in the Arab world is likely to be the well-disciplined Hezbollah led mass march and rally in Beirut Monday.  Its leader Hassan Nasrallah already stated that he rejects the violence inflicted on US diplomats in Libya.  The Libyan government was forced to admit that this was a pre-planned attack which likely had other motives (not the offending amateur video).  So many good people are working behind the scenes to ensure Zionists fail in their attempts to plant seeds of divisiveness and wars in so many fronts.  I actually feel the tide is shifting dramatically.  Perhaps that explains the frustration and anger of Netanyahu et al.  Unfortunately such apartheid regimes do their most damage in their last few years.  So the past few weeks Israel intensified its attack on the native Palestinians and issued more orders to transfer lands to racist Jewish settlers.

**See See also my review of an important book on the massacre: (For other important historical events that happened in September, visit

Nariman Tamimi arrest by occupation soldiers and her daughters' attempts to stop them

Report on unrest in the West Bank

Sussiya struggle to survive the onslaught of racist settlers

Welcome to Palestine latest campaign was an inspiring effort that we had the privilege and honor to work on.  While participants were not allowed into the West Bank through Jordan, they visited Palestinian refugee communities in Jordan and showed that Israel is a paranoid apartheid state.  For pictures and text (French and English), see

Forget the fairytale: the US doesn’t love Israel

The 1,000 year "dark ages" were dark only in Europe.  Inventions and progress in the Muslim world

Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD

Sep 12, 2012


We must condemn attacks done in the name of religion
by Mazin Qumsiyeh

The struggle against colonialism, imperialism, and Zionism by definition must be a human struggle for democracy, freedom, and human rights.  Those who profess such a struggle must not be silent when gangsters attack in the name of religion, any religion.  Whether it is the Jewish settlers who threw Molotov cocktails on a Palestinian family, the Christian Phallangist militias in Lebanon who massacred Palestinian civilians, the Buddhists who looted and burned Rohingya Muslims in Burma/Myanmar, or the Muslim hooligans who killed four Americans including the US ambassador in Libya.  Those who commit such horrific acts always have excuses: a film or burning a Quran or cartoons. The recent "insult" was a "film" of very poor quality by an Israeli director that pokes fun at Prophet Muhammad.  It is indeed despicable that in the USA there are people like Terry Jones who want to have public burning of the Quran or Samuel Bacile (Israeli who now lives in the US) who made this stupid film.  I lived in the US for 29 years and traveled in 48 of its 50 states.  It is a huge country and one cannot generalize on 300 million people.  For just about all my adult life I struggled against unjust government policies whether in the US or here in occupied Palestine.  I was unjustly investigated by the FBI and I also contended with attacks from racist Zionists on my character.  But I also cherished free speech and worked with the most honorable decent human beings who cared about others around the world.  For every single American who fomented hatred or committed a despicable act, I always found several Americans who are decent and caring and acted to help fellow human beings.  Some like Rachel Corrie sacrificed their lives to defend Palestinians who happen to be Muslims.

If we believe in democracy and freedom then we must insist on full democracy and freedom which include the right of foolish individuals to express themselves verbally and indeed even to speak against religions.  The maxim that no compulsion in religion must be observed and defended vigorously. Where modern society must draw the line is injury or killing of others.  True religion cannot be insulted by silly things like movies or cartoons.  And which is more offensive: starving Muslims without aid or a silly film? Which is more offensive and deserving of a challenge: judaization of Jerusalem or a few stupid cartoons?  Is it not the impact on true believers that matter?  Do such films or cartoons weaken the belief of true followers in any religion?  Do decent human being murder in the name of religion?  Would the violent reaction of a few goons instead weaken belief and also foment strife among humans (something religions tell us not to do)?  Is that why intelligence operations by Israel or Western governments to foment hatred and "divide and conquer" can also be accomplished with a few mercenaries? [Remember when Mubarak secretely sent goons to attack churches in Egypt to blame it on Muslim Fundamentalists or when Israel bombed western interests in Egypt to blame it on Arab nationalists].  We do know that extremists exist in every community and every religion.  Should the murderers regardless of their motives be excused?  What religious belief excuses killing people for what someone else supposedly did? What religion condones individual action without legal due process?

In 1979, a British comedy film "Monty Python: Life of Brian" was released mocking the biblical stories including that of Jesus.  Many Christian friends and relatives found it offensive.  I believed and still believe that "freedom of expression" is a cherished freedom that must be protected.  You cannot draw a line on this freedom of expression because each person would then have a different standard of what is acceptable or not.  We know from history how societies quickly descended down the slippery slope to end up unlivable.  We know that Europe was able to get out of the dark Middle Ages by shedding the controls on free speech wielded by a religious sect.  We know societies who banned television, music, and art.  We know the fate of societies that tried to erase their past by destroying shrines, monuments, and other archeological and historical treasures. Religion gives meaning and comfort to billions of people around the world.  If we want to defend religion in meaningful way, we should start by unequivocally condemning those who murder in its name.  Shouldn’t killers be brought to justice whether they claim Christianity, Judaism, Islam, or Buddhism as their "religion"?

Decent human beings of all religions must not remain silent.  Societies must educate children that they can both cherish their own beliefs while aggressively defending the right of others to free speech and expression no matter how silly, satiric, or offensive such speech might be.  We cannot succumb to the hatred generated by people like Sam Bacile, Terry Jones, John Hagee, many Zionists, or the killers in Benghazi.  History cautions us of dramatic consequences of such hatred.  Ultimately, all humanity is at stake.   
We lost a dear friend and colleague, Dr. Gabi Baramki.  May we remember him by acting as he did for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) on the apartheid state of Israel.  Boycott from Within activists Ronnie Barkan and Renen Raz pay tribute to Gabi Baramki by calling on the Israeli museum occupying the Baramki House to return the pillaged house to the Baramki family. The Baramki House: The Absent / Present.

The unrest, demonstrations, strikes and other actions continued in the occupied West Bank.  People have openly called for ending the Oslo agreements and its appendages like the Paris economic agreement.  They have also called for reviving the moribund PLO with elections and going back to being a liberation movement.  But I think a lot more pressure will build before the "leaders" take more than cosmetic steps.  After all, economy cannot survive under occupation/apartheid.
Video of Demonstrations

Amira Hass: Someone tell the Palestinians: It's the occupation, stupid!
The thousands who have demonstrated in the West Bank against the PA's economic policies play into the hands of Israel, which controls the resources but takes no responsibility

Boycott committee: Palestinian “Rawabi” tycoon Bashar Masri “must end all normalization activities with Israel”

Sep 7, 2012

In the occupied areas

This week, a Christian monastery near Jerusalem was vandalized by Israeli with one of the graffiti statements saying ‘Jesus is a monkey.’ A Bahrain kangaroo court upheld "convictions" of pro-democracy and human rights defenders including life terms for founder of a human rights center. The US is not acting on its own human rights laws and continues close working relationship with the ruling family which includes having a very big military base in Bahrain.  60 people seeking refuge in Turkey died by drowning, many of them were Palestinians. Independent sources confirm that at least two million Syrians were directly affected by the fighting in Syria, fighting that increasingly reminds us of civil war in Lebanon (done by proxies). Israel continued to engage in extrajudicial executions killing three young men with a missile in Gaza just two days ago. A school and community service center are threatened with demolition in Izbet Tabib (gathering Saturday there at noon for those interested in helping).  And the list goes on. 

As prices of food and basic commodities including gasoline rise, Palestinians under occupation feel the squeeze.  Poverty continues to rise and with it anger.  In every town in the occupied areas there were loud demonstrations closing streets to traffic and demanding change.  In one case more rational young people talked a few extremists to stop vandalizing and even joined hands to clean the street of rubble and put out burning tires.  Like all spontaneous uprisings, young people lead but many times their organization or agenda is not clear or not present.  Like in other situations, there are established political forces which try to co-opt, misdirect or destroy the nascent popular movement.  Some honest and decent people try to protect it. 

It is not clear where all this is heading. The economic misery here is caused by a combination of factors.  First and foremost is the Israeli occupation and colonization that was structured to build a Jewish state in Palestine while simultaneously destroying Palestinian lives.  Thus Palestinian agriculture, tourism, industry, education etc were methodically targeted and systematically dismantled in the past 90 years (started with Herbert Samuels, the Zionist high commissioner of Palestine under British rule).   But this Zionist plan could not have been executed without help: from western powers and from collusionist Arab leaders.  Any serious student of history will realize quickly the extent of the conspiracy to liquidate Palestine and Palestinian identity and replace it with the manufactured, fake, and oxymoronic "Jewish nationalism".  The monstrous product called the state of Israel is directly responsible for the fact that we have today millions of Palestinian refugees and we have had several very destructive wars.  This product is also the instigator of regional conflicts and wars (e.g. on Iraq and now pushing for a war on Iran).  Israel is increasingly identified as a major source of instability, a foreign body implanted in the middle of the Arab world in many ways sustained artificially by Western support. It is increasingly obvious that it is not even "good for the Jews". 

With the PLO's 10 point program in 1974 then the fateful Egypt-Israel peace treaty of the late 1970s, the Zionist movement felt invincible.  This directly resulted in Israeli ventures to crush the resistance by invading Lebanon in 1982.  It also led to the disastrous Oslo accords.  Creating a Palestinian authority (the PA) without an intention to end occupation, colonization, and apartheid was a brilliant Israeli move (initially thought of in 1968 but only implemented in 1993-1995).  The PA's mission was to make occupation even more profitable and less troublesome to the state of Israel.  Instead of 4000 Israeli soldiers in the Bethlehem area, we have 4000 Palestinian security personnel to ensure no friction. The accords also resulted in the illusion of a "peace process" underway to create "two-states" (something that was never and will never be in the cards).  20 years later, 650,000 settlers now live in the West Bank.  Judaization of Jerusalem is accelerating. Israel continues destroying Palestinian lives in the Galilee, in the Negev, in Jerusalem, in Gaza and in the other Bantustans.

Israel offers economic pacification with a twist to its silent partners in these crimes.  The Paris protocols ensured Israel's hegemony over natural resources, that Israel collects taxes from Palestinians, and that the Palestinian economy is merely a captive market for Israeli goods and services.  In return for this, Israel will not hinder but will facilitate "humanitarian assistance" coming from Western and Eastern countries.  The Palestinian economy transformation to a "donor dependent" economy was thus accelerated.  Some Palestinian elites got very wealthy (look at villas and SUVs in the Ramallah area just to see the extent of this).    

An artificial system was created to ensure a segment of the Palestinian population is comfortable enough to suppress any potential uprising against the occupation. This segment to protect the status quo would, as the Israeli argument goes, find it difficult or impossible to abandon privilege for the sake of larger national goals such as restorative justice.  Refugees and Jerusalem and liberation etc become old slogans put on the shelf or dumped in the trash bin so that the mahogany desks can be decorated with medals of "pragmatism", stamped by western donors.   I predicted several years ago that this system was unsustainable.  If nothing else, it is hard to keep enough beneficiaries of the 11.5 million Palestinians around the world to sustain it.  Even Israeli elites have started to question the ability of the PA to keep the lid on the restless, angry, and frustrated disenfranchized Palestinian population.  The Hamas-Fatah "division" is not the cause of the current sad state of affairs in Palestine.  It is a mere (mild) symptom of the deterioration in our political institutions over the past few decades.  

The Palestinian authority called for municipal elections for next month (October).  Municipal elections are already two years behind schedule.  A presidential commission and local branches of national factions policized what otherwise should be a civil service matter.  Here in my town of Beit Sahour, the mayor who is from Fatah decided to run again.  The last time the main challenge was from left-leaning parties. Hamas is hounded here (as are secular forces hounded in Gaza) so is not running.  The left parties are divided and if united could possibly win.  But something interesting is now happening.  The youth gathered to declare that they are neither with Fatah nor the left parties and do not like the way things have been running.   A facebook page gathered thousands and very interesting discussions ensued. Youth questioned why members of the city council from the left were not willing or able to challenge decisions made unilaterally by the mayor. Youth want a municipal council that is truly representative, effective, and transparent.  They reject actions of current political factions and reject tribal/familial patterns of operations.  They believe change for the better can copme from their own actions.  I noticed a shift among many members of our society towards this mode of thinking and working.  I noted even those who are members or supporters of political factions beginning to have internal discussions to reassess.  Sometimes these became heated discussions as I am told by some sympathetic insiders.

I think Palestinian society overall is dynamic, vibrant, educated and flexible.  This makes me optimistic that despite the many obstacles and problems we encountered (especially the "Oslo" disaster), we can regain our footing.  When all is said and done I am not betting on political leaders, I am betting on our people.  Our "history of hope and empowerment"* certainly makes this a sure bet.

*"Popular Resistance in Palestine: a history of hope and empowerment" published in 2010 very briefly goes over 130 years of confronting challenges of Zionism, Western and Arab Collusion.

Interesting article by Ali Abunimah
"Ramming through AIPAC’s desires – despite an apparent no vote – was a neat summary of how US elites make decisions when it comes to Israel. Both parties are in a bidding war to appease Israel’s most extreme supporters at home and abroad. If this means riding roughshod over their own members, the American public, world opinion, international law and the basic rights of the Palestinian people, then so be it."

في المناطق المحتلة

أحداث مؤلمة جدا هذا الأسبوع. منها قيام قطعان المستوطنين بالهجوم على دير في القدس وكتابة "يسوع قرد" على الجدران. منها ألأحكام بالسجن على المدافعين عن حقوق ألإنسان في البحرين. منها مصرع 60 شخصا غرقا العديد منهم فلسطينيون حاولوا اللجوء إلى تركيا. ومنها من مصادر مستقلة تؤكد أن على الأقل اثنين مليون سوري تضرروا بشكل مباشر من القتال الذي يذكرنا بالحرب الأهلية في لبنان. ومنها مواصلة إسرائيل سياسة الاغتيالات. وقرار إسرائيل هدم مجمع تاخدمات والمدرسة في عزة الطبيب (للمشاركة هنالك نشاط السبت الساعه 12) والقائمة تطول.

يزيد الضغط علينا تحت الاحتلال ويؤدي ارتفاع الأسعار (غذاء وسلع أساسية والبنزين) إلى ارتفاع مستمر في نسبة الفقر وفي نسبة الغضب الشعبي. في كل بلدة في المناطق المحتلة كانت هناك مظاهرات صاخبة وإغلاق الشوارع أمام حركة المرور ومطالبة بالتغيير. يؤلمنا أن بعض الشباب (ربما مدسوسين أو غير مثقفين) استغلوا الوضع لتخريب الممتلكات الخاصة والعامة. في بيت ساحور تحدث الشباب الأكثر عقلانية مع بعض المتطرفين لوقف التخريب وثم تعاونوا لتنظيف الشوارع من الأنقاض وإخماد الإطارات. مثل كل الثورات يقودها الشباب بعفوية وقد يكون النشاط غير واضح ألأهداف وهناك قوى سياسية تحاول ألاستحواذ أو التحكم أو منع أو تضليل الحركة الشعبية الوليدة. بالمقابل هناك أشخاص أمناء ومثقفين تعمل بصدق وإخلاصالزراعة،لحراك الشبابي المستقل.  

ليس من الواضح أين يتجه كل هذا. مجموعة من العوامل تلعب دورها في البؤس الاقتصادي والسياسي. أولا وقبل كل شيء الاحتلال الإسرائيلي والاستعمار. استهدفت الحركة الصهيونية بشكل منهجي كل ما يعيلنا: الزراعة ، والسياحة، والصناعة، والتعليم وغيرها. وطبعا كان هنالك تواطؤ وتعاون غربي وعربي. أي دارس جدي للتاريخ يُدرك بسرعة مدى المؤامرة لتصفية فلسطين والهوية الفلسطينية واستبدالها ب"القومية اليهودية" المصطنعة والوهمية. دولة إسرائيل مسئولة مسؤولية مباشرة عن أن لدينا اليوم ملايين من اللاجئين الفلسطينيين ومسئولة عن الحروب المدمرة والصراعات الإقليمية. وشعوب العالم تُدرك أكثر فأكثر الخطر من الكيان الصهيوني على أمن العالم.

للأسف مقابل زيادة التفهم والمساندة لنا فان قيادة منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية بدأت بالتراجع منذ برنامج العشر نقاط عام 1974 ثم جاءت معاهدة السلام بين مصر وإسرائيل ومنها رأت الحركة الصهيونية أنها لن تُقهر. هذا أدى مباشرة إلى مشاريع إسرائيلية لسحق المقاومة بغزو لبنان في عام 1982. وتبعها اتفاقات أوسلو الكارثية. إنشاء السلطة الفلسطينية من دون وجود نية لإنهاء الاحتلال والاستعمار والفصل العنصري كان خطوة رائعة الإسرائيلية بدأت بأفكار عام 1968 وطُبقت في 1993-1995). حددت إسرائيل مهمة السلطة الفلسطينية في جعل الاحتلال أكثر ربحية وأقل غلبة لدولة إسرائيل. بدلا من 4000 جندي إسرائيلي في منطقة بيت لحم، لدينا 4000 من أفراد الأمن الفلسطيني لضمان عدم الاحتكاك. الاتفاقات أسفرت أيضا عن وهم "عملية السلام" عبر مسار "دولتين" (وهو الشيء الذي لم ولن يكون). استفادت إسرائيل من تطبيع وضعا وازدهر اقتصادها بنفس الوقت الذي سار فيه الوضع الفلسطيني من سيئ لأسوأ. ولم يحاسب أحد على ألأخطاء أو الفساد. 20 عاما مرت وازداد عدد المستوطنين إلى 650,000 مستوطن يعيشون الآن في الضفة الغربية. تهويد القدس يتسارع. إسرائيل تواصل تدمير حياة الفلسطينيين في الجليل، في النقب، في القدس، في غزة وفي البانتوستانات الأخرى.

في مقابل البقاء شريكا صامتا في الجرائم إسرائيل تسمح باقتصاد التسول. بروتوكولات باريس الاقتصادية تضمن الهيمنة الإسرائيلية على الموارد الطبيعية وعلى معظم مفاتيح الاقتصاد الفلسطيني.  الاقتصاد الفلسطيني هو مجرد سوق أسيرة للبضائع والخدمات الإسرائيلية. حتى "المساعدة الإنسانية" القادمة من الدول الغربية والشرقية والتي أصبحنا نعتمد عليها مربحة للكيان الصهيوني. بعض النخب فلسطينية استفادت بفلل وسيارات وحسابات بنك ولم يتساءل أحد "من أين لك هذا".

تم إنشاء نظام لضمان اصطناعي لشريحة من السكان الفلسطينيين مبسوطة على وضعها ولذا مستعدة لقمع أي انتفاضة محتملة ضد الاحتلال. هذه الشريحة تعمل بقصد أو بدون قصد لحماية الوضع الراهن. الرهان الإسرائيلي والأمريكي هو أن من الصعب أو المستحيل التخلي عن امتياز من أجل أهداف وطنية كبيرة. العدالة والعودة للاجئين والقدس والتحرير وغيرها تصبح شعارات قديمة وُضعت على الرف أو ملقاة في سلة المهملات. بدلها يمكن تزيين المكاتب الممولة من الخارج  بميداليات "البراغماتية/الواقعية" المصنوعة في عواصم تدعي الديمقراطية والممولة من المانحين الغربيين. توقعت قبل عدة سنوات أن هذا النظام غير قابل للاستمرار فمن الصعب الحفاظ على عدد كاف من المستنفعين مقابل 11 مليون فلسطينيين غير مستنفعين. وحتى النخب الإسرائيلية بدأت في التشكيك في قدرة السلطة الفلسطينية الحفاظ على "الهدوء". هنا تكمن أهمية الحراك الحالي.

ربما توضيح بسيط لشرح أن التغيير قادم. دعت السلطة الفلسطينية للانتخابات البلدية في الشهر المقبل (تشرين الأول). الانتخابات البلدية تأخرت عامين عن الموعد المحدد بحجج مختلفة. لجنة رئاسية والفروع المحلية للفصائل الوطنية عملت على تسييس الانتخابات. رئيس بلدية بلدتي بيت ساحور هو من حركة فتح وقرر خوض الانتخابات مرة أخرى. آخر مرة كان التحدي الرئيسي من الأطراف ذات الميول اليسارية. أعضاء حماس مطاردين هنا كما القوى العلمانية مطارده في قطاع غزة ولذا ليس هنالك قوائم لها. تنقسم الأحزاب اليسارية وإذا اتحدت يمكن أن تفوز. ولكن شيئا آخر حديثا يثيرا لاهتمام الآن. تجمع الشباب ليعلنوا أنهم ليسوا مع فتح أو أحزاب اليسار ويريدون التغيير.  . الفيسبوك جمع الآلاف وتلت ذلك مناقشات واجتماعات مثيرة جدا للاهتمام. تساءل الشباب لماذا لم يكن أعضاء المجلس البلدي من اليسار راغبون أو قادرون على تحدي قرارات رئيس البلدية. الشباب يريدون أن يكون المجلس البلدي ممثل لهم وفعال ويعمل بشفافية. إنهم يرفضون بعض تصرفات الفصائل السياسية الراهنة و يرفضون الأنماط القبلية / العائلية. إنهم يعتقدون التغيير للأفضل ممكن بأيديهم. لاحظت وجود تحول بين العديد من أعضاء مجتمعنا نحو هذا النمط من التفكير والعمل. لاحظت أنه بدأت مناقشات داخلية حتى بين أعضاء أو مؤيدي الفصائل السياسية لإعادة التقييم. في بعض الأحيان كانت مناقشات ساخنة كما قيل لي من قبل بعض المطلعين المتعاطفين.

بالتأكيد للمجتمع الفلسطيني ديناميكية وحيوية ومرونة وهذا يجعلني متفائلا على الرغم من أن هناك الكثير من العقبات والمشاكل التي واجهناها (خصوصا "أوسلو" كارثة) وسنواجهها كشعب في الطريق إلى الحرية والازدهار.  ونحن لا نراهن على القادة السياسيين وخاصة أولئك الذين لا يسفتون شعبهم ولكن نثق بشعبنا الذي ضحى بالآلاف ولديه "تاريخ من الأمل والإنجاز" *.

* كتاب "المقاومة الشعبية في فلسطين: تاريخ من الأمل والإنجاز" الذي نشر في عام 2010 يُلخص أكثر من 130 عاما في مواجهة التحديات الصهيونية والغربية والتواطؤ العربي.

Aug 30, 2012

Rachel Corrie

It is hard to believe that we lost Rachel Corrie in March 2003.  Our pain makes it feel like only yesterday especially when this week a consistently biased lying Israeli judge justified his unjust verdict exonerating her killers by vilifying the International Solidarity Movement (see links below). As a Palestinian who happens to also hold a US passport and most importantly as a human being, I found the silence of the Obama administration on the murder of a US citizen particularly revealing.   Such occasions make us cry but also because we start to remember others: the first three that came to my mind were Vittorio Arrigoni, Bassem and Jawaher Aburahma, then to be followed by a flood of faces and names.  When will this injustice end and the murders stop?

As for hundreds of years, colossal injustices must be and are answered by people. Not just in the case of Rachel but the tens of thousands of civilians murdered since the beginning of the Zionist invasion of Palestine. In a short while we commemorate the massacres of Sabra and Shatila where over 1300 Palestinian refugees and Lebanese were brutally murdered by mercenaries of the Israeli state in 1982 (see ).  In the subsequent 30 years, with US direct and indirect support, the killing spree continues and the ethnic cleansing continues.  7 million of us are now refugees or displaced people.  In the middle of this darkness always come bright lights like Rachel and thousands of others.

Rachel lived her ideals and taught us to live based on these ideals.   In our last fleeting thought before we die, we never consider that we should have worked for more money or more power but we do think that the good that we do in life must have meant something.  Rachel reminded us of this.  Rachel's good deeds and memory will live long after her killers and the Israeli judge die in obscurity. Her memory will live long after apartheid ends in Palestine and we have return and freedom.  In that future, Muslims, Christians, Jews and others will join hands and hearts to remember this young girl and all the other martyrs along the way to equality and justice.

A poem I wrote March 16, 2008
Of humanity

People get shot, Rachel spoke
I am afraid, she wrote
Want to Dance
I can't believe
and so many of her remain
in the world
in her words
in our hearts
But today, with a lump in my throat
what paces in my thought
That strange phrase from a holy book
"they plan but God is the best of planners"
Nervously I ask it to slow down
explain yourself to a refugee spirit
what do you plan for the wretched souls
Why Rachel
Or Hurndall
Why Hiam and Marwa?
Why Faris and Al-Durra?
And who is this divine?
In us all?
Do I learn something on this fifth anniversary
of death of another innocent
Is it misery and pain?
Love and action?
Questions or answers?
Or will all I am left with is that smell of the air of Palestine
and the soil, that soaked soil
that Rachel's last breath took in
to give us the Spring
of our understanding.

 Rachel’s mother: Clearing the Israeli army in this murder is a bad day for :my family, for human rights, and for humanity”

Video shows it was cold blooded murder

Jewish Voices for Peace deplores verdict

ISM response

Worthewhile rereading Rachel’s letters

 Commentary by Michael Gillespie

What has become of our nation? Netanyahu regime has destroyed our livelihood, dreams, values and future; turned Israel into racist, violent state by Yael Gvirtz,7340,L-4270498,00.html

Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD

Aug 19, 2012

Man versus Cat

I have comments and news after watching accidentally two videos of cats and men

1) A cat dealing with a dead cat
2) Men proud of suffering and death of fellow men

While we should not generalize about either cats or men, increasingly some of us question the self-destructive nature of people on this earth.  What does keep us optimistic is that some groups of humans actually work to change the behavior in a positive way.  Millions do that.  I was proud to watch the great reception of the South African team which achieved several medals at the Olympics.  They were of mixed background: white and black, and various religions.  The all Zionist, all Jewish Israeli team were losers (and I am not speaking here of medals but of principles) who returned here without fanfare to an apartheid state reminds us that this cannot last.  But I dreamt of living to go welcome at the Lod Airport a winning Palestine Olympics team that includes Jews, Christians, and Muslims.  I know that this future of one democratic state is coming.  The example of South Africa is worth looking into.  Much struggle remains to be done in South Africa to achieve equality especially in economic issues. But we are long past the days when leaders of Apartheid South Africa met and collaborated in developing nuclear weapons and modes of repression with Jewish state leaders.

On Thursday settlers tossed a Molotov cocktail at a Palestinian car carrying a family from Nahhalin.  Six civilians sustained first, second, and third degree burns: They were a mother, father, and two children and two other relatives.  On Friday, Israeli Jewish colonial settlers attempted to lynch young Palestinians in Jerusalem leaving one critically injured.  Settler attacks thus continue despite the repeated assurance that "perpetrators will be found", the Israeli government is not really exerting any effort to do so as they failed to do previously with thousands of other cases. (text in English on the burning incident) (text in Arabic but with several pictures of the victims)
When settlers attack.  A sobering study of the skyrocketing Jewish colonial settler attacks on native Palestinians

Also on Thursday, Al-Araqib village in the Negev was destroyed for the 41st time. Background information

Also on Thursday, Israeli forces attacked media professionals trying to cover a story in Kufr Qaddoum.

Israel releases latest plan for Wall that will choke and encircle the Bethlehem-area village of al Walaja and drive its remaining inhabitants out

Books I read recently and recommend
1) Midnight on the Mavi Marmara: The Attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla and How it Changed the Course of the Israel/Palestine Conflict
2) Freedom Sailors (the story of attempts to breach the siege on Gaza)
3) Born in Jerusalm Born Palestinian: A memoir, Jacob J. Nammar, Oplive Branch Press

May we all be as good as that cat