Oct 20, 2013


                               Some participants cooking an Arabic dish

Just returned from a trip to Kenya where I facilitated four days of workshops for a group of young people (18-26) who came from several countries (Tanzania, Kenya, South Sudan, Zambia, Sri Lanka). I like to work with young people and this also provided a chance to summarize many things that may be useful as a transition from one chapter to another. I share with you the outline of what we discussed and did because it represents a distillation of experiences and resources that might be useful to readers whether activists or potential activists

But two more notes first. I visited and was touched by the scene at Westgate Mall in Nairobi following the recent terror attack. This and others social and political injustices are always sad statements on the status of the human species.  We have a long way to continue working to get people away from wars and conflicts to peace, justice, harmony, and to take care of our suffering planet. I also visited colleagues at the National Museums of Kenya and I hope soon we will develop cooperation in biodiversity/environmental research especially on small mammals and some invertebrates (notably scorpions). The last time I was in Kenya was in 1985 so this was a pleasant reminder of the beauty of the country and its people.

A short workshop (4 days) on activism for Palestine human rights (and other issues)
Outline of covered material

People and the Land: Developments of Canaanite agriculture, civilization, alphabets/languages, and religions. Before the wave of European Zionist colonization, Palestinians were of various religions: about 85% Muslim, 10% Christian, 5% Jewish, Bahai and others. Throughout nearly 15000 years of civilization, Palestine was and remained despite occasional failed efforts to change it) multireligious and multicultural society.  See http://qumsiyeh.org/chapter2
Raed, Basem. Hidden Histories: Palestine and The Eastern Mediterranean. Pluto Press. 2010
Whitelam, Keith W. The invention of Ancient Israel: The Silencing of Palestinian History.  New York, Routledge. 1997.

Evolution towards Zionism: Use of religion for political purposes (e.g. Crusades, Zionism). 19th century ethnocentric nationalism, European “anti-semitism” (misnamed as it is actually anti-Jewish),
Said, Edward The Question of Palestine. New York: Vintage, 1992.
Ellis, Marc. Israel and Palestine out of the Ashes: the search for Jewish identity in the twenty-first century. Pluto, London, 2002. See also my review pf this book at http://qumsiyeh.org/outoftheashesbymarcellis/

Ehnic Cleansing/Refugees
How 530 villages and towns were depopulated.  Complicity in this crime against humanity etc.
Documentary film and discussion of “Jaffa: The Orange’s clockwork”
Documentary film and discussion of “The Land Speaks Arabic”
Other resources:
Masalha, Nur. Expulsion of the Palestinians: The Concept of "Transfer" in Zionist Political Thought, 1882-1948. Washington, DC: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1992. 
Pappé, Ilan. The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. Oxford, UK: Oneworld, 2006.
Occupation and Colonial settlements: Documentary Film and discussion of” Occupation 101” (covered in workshop in Jordan)

Human Rights Violations: many areas were discussed including attacks on water rights, education rights, freedom of movement rights (including the apartheid wall), land rights, religious rights.  Google for resources and especially study human rights reports from the N and independent organizations like Amnesty, Physicians for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, B’Tselem, Yesh Din etc. See also http://qumsiyeh.org/chapter9/

Case Study of Gaza Strip: Documentary Film screening and discussion of “Gaza Strip”
Case Study of Jerusalem: Judaizing the city and destroying its character that existed for hundreds of years. http://qumsiyeh.org/chapter5/

Israeli Apartheid  (inside and outside the Green Line) as worse than South African apartheid (Film not shown but worth showing is Roadmap to Apartheid). Israel as a colonial racist state.  See http://qumsiyeh.org/chapter7/
Jiryis, Sabri. The Arabs in Israel. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1976. Translated from the Arabic by Inea Bushnaq.

Violence and Terrorism: Relevant reading
Show film and discuss “Divine Intervention”

Palestinian Political Structures and Popular Discourse
Evolution of Palestinian political discourse from the late 19th century till today.  Importance of the many key uprisings (1881, 1904, 1921, 1929, 1936, 1948, 1956, 1971, 1974, 1981, 1987, 2000) to the changes in political configurations in Palestine.   Palestinian constants (thawabet).   Nature of the resistance in relation to corruption, political representation and exclusion etc. The negative impact of the Oslo “surrender” accords.

Palestinian culture/art/music/food
-We listened to some music and watched dabka
-We cooked a bit of Palestinian food
- We read some poetry
-We saw a short theater play (from Al-Rowwad in Aida Refugee camp) see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkMXoukhHzk
- We discussed the role of poetry, theater and other art forms in the struggle

International context/law: UN resolutions (both security council and UNGA), 4th Geneva convention, Intl Convention against the crimes of apartheid and racial discrimination, Israel use of chemical and other banned weapons. See also http://qumsiyeh.org/chapter12/

(see activism manual here http://qumsiyeh.org/activistmanual/ but we need to update this)

Information gathering tools and resources:  Need to acknowledge our biases. More information can always shed light on the subject. Critical thinking and data analysis tools to sort through the myriad available information (including junk and propaganda)

Popular resistance in Palestine, a history of hope and empowerment: http://qumsiyeh.org/popularresistanceinpalestine/
-King, Mary Elizabeth. A Quiet Revolution: The First Palestinian Intifada and Nonviolent Resistance. New York: Nation, 2007.
-Qumsiyeh, Mazin. Popular Resistance in Palestine: A history of hope and empowerment. Pluto Press 2010.

Ways to act for peace with justice globally: We went through this list http://qumsiyeh.org/whatyoucando/ of 65 ways we can each do something for peace and justice (this is applicable not just for Palestine but elsewhere).
-Power of images, maps, photos, see for example http://qumsiyeh.org/palestine101/
-Stohlman, Nancy and Aladin, Laurieann (ed.)  Live from Palestine: International and Palestinian Direct Action Against the Israeli Occupation.    Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 2003.

Media Activism and activism in the age of the internet: see for discussion purposes reading material here (http://qumsiyeh.org/activistmanual/ chapters 6 and 7) and also http://www.ifamericansknew.org/

Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions BDS (covered in workshop in Jordan). But see also http://qumsiyeh.org/boycottisrael/ We discussed also how we can mobilize for global activism on 9 July 2014 (the 10 year anniversary of the International Court of Justice ruling on the illegality of the apartheid wall and colonial settlements built on Palestinian land). See http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/index.php?pr=71&code=mwp&p1=3&p2=4&p3=6
Other Resources

Christian Role and a direct action:
-Palestinian Christians and their communities (see e.g. http://qumsiyeh.org/christianlinks/).
-Kairos document and its importance, see http://www.kairospalestine.ps/. We also had two volunteers translate the text into Swahili and make copies.
- A group of the young people then went to local churches near our meeting to talk to them about Christian role in bring peace with Justice.  Using the document and discussions is effective.  This was a practical action to show it can be done.  More will be done.
-Answering the oxymoronic “Christian Zionism”. See for resources Kairos and also
Halsell, Grace, Forcing God's Hand: Why Millions Pray for a Quick Rapture ... and Destruction of Planet Earth. Amana, 2002.
Wagner, Donald. Anxious for Armageddon: A Call to Partnership for Middle Eastern and Western Christians. Herald Press. 1999.

Lessons from other struggles sand importance of networking and global action
Documentary film viewing of “A force more powerful” and discussion of power of popular resistance. We reviewed lessons via comparative analysis from India, US civil rights, Palestine, and South Africa.

Looking to the future
Human Rights as a pivotal way to move forward (e.g. use the Univesral Declaration of Human Rights, http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/
The One Democratic State Movement
Moral imperative of working for peace with justice in Palestine (the Holy Land)

"There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth: 1) not going all the way; and 2) not starting."

"Non-violence is the constant awareness of the dignity and humanity of oneself and others; it seeks truth and justice; it renounces violence both in method and in attitude; it is a courageous acceptance of active love and goodwill as the instrument with which to overcome evil and transform both oneself and others. It is the willingness to undergo suffering rather than inflict it. It excludes retaliation and flight." Wally Nelson, conscientious objector, civil rights activist, and tax resister

Oct 6, 2013


(Paid agents have already put their comments on this article on Maannews; you can answer them!!)

Palestinians do have options for change and resistance
By Mazin Qumsiyeh

On November 28, 1947, the CIA predicted accurately the meaning of Truman's push to partition Palestine: "Armed hostilities between Jews and Arabs will break out if the UN General Assembly accepts the plan to partition Palestine ... the resulting conflict will seriously disturb the social, economic, and political stability of the Arab world, and US commercial and strategic interests will be dangerously jeopardized ... The poverty, unrest, and hopelessness upon which Communist propaganda thrives will increase throughout the Arab world."

It has been 20 years since the Oslo process and we can engage in a postmortem analysis of the dozens of failed initiatives and plans for "peace," or pacification. Some would tell us our choices are or were limited. Ten years ago, our departed friend Professor Edward Said wrote: "Who is now asking the existential questions about our future as a people? The task cannot be left to a cacophony of religious fanatics and submissive, fatalistic sheep ... We are that close to a kind of upheaval that will leave very little standing and perilously little left even to record, except for the last injunction that begs for extinction. Hasn't the time come for us collectively to demand and formulate a genuinely Arab alternative to the wreckage about to engulf our world?"

Today, seven million of the 12 million Palestinians around the world are refugees or displaced people. There are some 5.8 million Israeli Jews and nearly 6 million Palestinians who live under the rule of the apartheid Israeli state. Half the Jews who live in Palestine/Israel are immigrants.  Israel stole most of the land and now controls some 93 percent of the land of Palestine (before the British invasion and the Balfour Declaration, native and Zionist Jews collectively owned only 2 percent of Palestine).

It is tempting for some people to lose faith in the possibility of liberation and justice after 132 years since the first Zionist colony and 65 years after the 1948 Nakba. There was a phrase in the 1960s civil rights struggle, "free your mind and your ass will follow." Surely when we free our minds we will see there are many options, despite the attempt of our oppressors to convince us that our options are gone, save for surrendering or issuing empty slogans.

Surely, we as a people can and do chart a path forward. What are our options outside of sloganism or defeatism? That is to say, outside of current policies of endless talk or endless negotiations while weak?

The other options are not magical nor new; many have already articulated them in clear visions in countless studies.

Why not revive the original charter of PLO to liberate all of Palestine? Why not democratize the PLO to really represent the 12 million Palestinians around the world? Why not refuse to suppress resistance and instead engage in massive popular resistance throughout historic Palestine?

Why not engage in resistance in areas outside of Palestine? Why not target Zionist companies and interests world wide by economic boycotts and even sabotage? Why not expose and confront the network of Zionist lobbyists that support war crimes and support Zionist control? Why not engage in educational campaigns and media campaigns and lobbying around the world?

Why not build alliances with powerful states that could provide protection or support, like China, Russia or Brazil? Why not promote boycotts, divestment, and sanctions? Why not work through international agencies including the International Court of Justice to bring Israeli war criminals to justice and challenge membership of Israel in the UN and all its agencies? Why not do all the above and even more?

Politicians are reluctant to consider change because they believe they are important. To justify their inaction and lack of backbone, they even lie.

But people can and do force politicians to change. Regardless of how they got into power or the nature of governing systems, leaders cannot afford to ignore strong people demands. But if the people are complacent and ignorant, this is the best scenario for status quo politicians.

We saw changing policies in the Ottoman Empire from support of Zionism to rejection. We saw changes in British policies in response to the Palestinian revolution of 1936 and continuing pressures even recently when the British parliament voted against attacking Syria on behest of Israel.

And we saw the power of resistance in 1987-1991 in challenging both the complacency of leaders in Tel Aviv and Tunisia. Surely we can also learn lessons from the limitations of military might whether in Vietnam in the 1960s or in Iraq in 2003, or Lebanon in 2006, or Gaza in 2008.

More recently we can see dramatic shifts and retreats in issues dealing with Syria and Iran. History is dynamic and not static nor is it to the liking of status quo politicians.

The original Zionist project was for control of the area between the Euphrates and the Nile. Here we are 130 years later and even the area between the Jordan and the Mediterranean is roughly at parity between Jewish Israelis and Palestinians. When Balfour declaration was issued in 1917, there were 650,000 Palestinians in Palestine; today there are nearly 6 million.

Surely this is not a hopeless scenario. After denying our existence, the Palestinian flag now flies around Palestine even inside the Green line. Surely this should not be at the expense of Palestinian flags on security uniforms preventing Palestinians from engaging in resistance or as backdrops with Israeli and American flags in endless negotiations.

Martin Luther King, Jr stated once: "Cowardice asks the question - is it safe? Expediency asks the question - is it politic? Vanity asks the question - is it popular? But conscience asks the question - is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular; but one must take it because it is right."

The author is a professor at Bethlehem University. He previously served on the faculties of the University of Tennessee, Duke and Yale.

The views expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect Ma'an News Agency's editorial policy.

Oct 4, 2013


Netanyahu tells Obama to keep illegal sanctions on Iran and that he can get AIPAC to help resolve the US budget conflict (a conflict caused in large part by trillions spent for Israel)! Livni tells J Street that the Israeli Occupation Army is a great army and that its is only fighting terrorists (even though she admitted her own parents were members of the Irgun terror organization and have met while robbing a British train). Abbas tells US Jewish leaders that Palestinians can give-up on 78% of Palestine. Obama tells the UN that he seeks peace between the “Jewish state” and the Palestinians…..

There are two problems with politicians in positions of power (Obama, Livni, Abbas, Netanyahu, Boehner, Berlusconi, Hollande et al.): 1) they do not see a need to change because they believe they are God’s gift to their people, and 2) they lie in just about every public pronouncement they make. I think the evidence for these two points is so overwhelming that it became common wisdom among people: “don’t trust politicians.” But we also need to acknowledge that people can and do force politicians to change. Regardless of how they got into power or the nature of governing systems, leaders cannot afford to ignore major and strong demands by their people.  But if the people are complacent and ignorant, this is the best scenario for politicians who by nature are comfortable with the status quo.

Conversely there is people power which insists on challenging evil with love.  This week in Palestine there was twice efforts to break through the apartheid wall in AbuDis, there was rebuilding of demolished homes in Khirbet Makhoul, there was resistance to persistent Jewish colonial attacks on the third holiest site in Islam, there was successful pressure to release three peace activists detained at a checkpoint, there was removal of a metal gate that blocked the road from Cremisan to Al-Walaja village, and hundreds more of these actions.

9th Annual Taybeh Oktoberfest on Saturday and Sunday, October 5 and 6, 2013, outdoor grounds space of the Movenpick Hotel Ramallah
Bavarian Band members from the Musikkapelle Leobendorf will perform along with local groups like Khalas Arabic Rock Orchestra, Jay Baker-Hip Dan Hop; We Are From Here/Muzi Raps; Mina Band-Traditional Palestinian music; Apo and the Apostles ; Mixed Team/Nablus & Sound of Soul/Qalqilia; Dave Kirreh will debut his song about Jerusalem with Adi Khalefa, the hilarious standup comedian as master of ceremonies.

Panel in which I spoke in Poland about the Arab Revolts

Sabeel's 9th International Conference in Jerusalem 19-25 November 2013
Topics covered: The Bible and the Palestine-Israel conflict, mapping the war inside Syria, present and future challenges of Christians in the Middle East, “Hewish and Democratic” the impossible plan for Israel, and more details at http://sabeel.org/events.php?eventid=263

Solidarity Movement for a Free Palestine was founded by a group of Palestinian activists who believe that the Palestinian people have a right to defend their human rights, in accordance to international law. Popular resistance is vital in challenging the occupation.

Stay human

Mazin Qumsiyeh