Aug 16, 2016

Eight Years

It has been 8 years since I moved back from the USA to occupied Palestine and it may be worth a brief reflection. I accomplished much since then (of course I am surrounded by good people starting with my wife and immediate family members to students and volunteers who believed in what we were doing and to hundreds of supporters around the world). Briefly, under difficult circumstances in 2008-2016, I (with support)

1- Published many scientific research articles including critical ones on environment and genetics

2- Wrote books (one published in 2012 on Popular Resistance in Palestine and two on the way)

3- Founded and directed a clinical cytogenetics laboratory

4- Mentored dozens of graduate and undergraduate students

5- Taught over 8 different courses ranging from molecular biology to anthropology to biodiversity at four colleges and universities

6- Founded and directed the Palestine Museum (PMNH) of Natural History and Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability (PIBS) including its nascent botanical garden.

7- Traveled throughout occupied Palestine and collected over 8000 specimens and over 10,000 photos that are a basis of current and future research

8- Traveled and represented Palestine in over 20 countries

9- Wrote over 200 articles on issues ranging from popular resistance to the one state solution to BDS.

10- Spoke to over 5000 visiting internationals about the situation

11- Spoke to thousands of locals on issues ranging from environment to human rights

12- Created jobs and helped some students manage their financial burden with some scholarships and work-study programs

13- Organized dozens of workshops that built human capacity

14- Built working relationships with dozens of local and international groups

15- Performed a number of consultancies to local and international agencies that made a direct impact on course of human development and the environment

16- Read over 500 books and hundreds of articles that helped me change and grow as an individual

17- Built friendships with hundreds (and met thousands)

18- Challenged oppression wherever it was found (via demonstrations, media work, etc) and got arrested a few times and questioned by intelligence services of three countries ;-)

All of this was done while struggling against not just Israeli occupation with its repression (e.g. inability to import things normally, lack of freedom of movement) but some Palestinian societal backward culture including nepotism, patriarchy, bureaucracy, and corruption. We were learning as we go how to deal with people (including the “mental occupation”). We gave chances to some who abused them and some who benefited from the chances to improve themselves and serve Palestine. But what sustained me/us was good honest people who I met and worked with everywhere. Hundreds of individuals like you on this list who helped us in so many ways by donations, volunteerism, actions, and other kinds of support. Of course what we have done is miniscule compared to what needs to be done. And there are many millions of candles in this darkness. We are humble enough to realize that we can only continue to achieve with collective work towards a peaceful., just, and SUSTAINABLE world.

Staying in the US would have been much less demanding on my physical and psychological health (and with a six figure income would have been financially “logical”). And there was lots of activities we were doing in the US for Palestine, for global peace, and for the environment. Much remains to be done within the US as it continues to be the country that is in the words of Martin Luther King Jr "the biggest purveyor of violence". It certainly is the most enabling and the major sponsor of apartheid Israel and the endless wars in neighboring countries (conflicts thought to serve Israeli interests). Without the US support “Israel” would fold in two weeks and would have to become a democratic country for all its people and allow the Palestinian refugees to return. However and having said all of that, the decision to return to Palestine was the best decision I made in my life and this feeling grows stronger every day. The most important accomplishment I feel will last generations is my mentoring of young people. I would like to spend more time with young people (this is part of the reason we built PMNH/PIBS) and work harder at helping people help themselves. As I look forward with optimism to the next eight years here (If I live that long), I want to sincerely thank all of you who contributed and continue to contribute your time and energy.

END OF REFLECTION. Now for other good news

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America voted overwhelmingly in the annual convention to set up a screen and not invest in any company that profits from Israel's occupation. They also called to end US unconditioonal aid to Israel. The Green party of the US developed a great latform on the question of Palestine (see below) that is based on human rights and justice. Social media are abuzz after the disastrous choice of Clinton and Trump to be nominees of the "democratic" and "republican" parties. Many argue that this continuing deterioration was a predictable outcome of the permission of lobbies (like the Zionist lobby to shape elections) and/or an expected outcome of several elections where people vote for the lesser of two evils rather than vote their conscience.

Following the diminishing water supply to Palestinians in the West Bank and the severe water shortage and pollution in the Gaza Strip, a light installation was held simultaneously in eight locations: Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Boston, New York, Houston, Johannesburg, Melbourne and Perth, Australia. In an illuminating display of lights reflected in water, activists from four continents stood near lakes and beaches creating the message “WATER IS A RIGHT” in various languages.

Green Party Statement on The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

Our Green values oblige us to support popular movements for peace and demilitarization in Israel-Palestine, especially those that reach across the lines of conflict to engage both Palestinians and Israelis of good will.

We reaffirm the right of self-determination for both Palestinians and Israelis, which precludes the self-determination of one at the expense of the other. We recognize the historical and contemporary cultural diversity of Israeli-Palestinian society, including the religious heritage of Jews, Christians, Muslims and others. This is a significant part of the rich cultural legacy of all these peoples and it must be respected. To ensure this, we support equality before international law rather than appeals to religious faith as the fair basis on which claims to the land of Palestine-Israel are resolved.

We recognize that Jewish insecurity and fear of non-Jews is understandable in light of Jewish history of horrific oppression in Europe. However, we oppose as both discriminatory and ultimately self-defeating the position that Jews would be fundamentally threatened by the implementation of full rights to Palestinian-Israelis and Palestinian refugees who wish to return to their homes. As U.S. Greens, we refuse to impose our views on the people of the region. Still, we would turn the U.S. government towards a new policy, which itself recognizes the equality, humanity, and civil rights of Jews, Muslims, Christians, and all others who live in the region, and which seeks to build confidence in prospects for secular democracy.

We reaffirm the right and feasibility of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in Israel. We acknowledge the significant challenges of equity and restitution this policy would encounter and call on the U.S. government to make resolution of these challenges a central goal of our diplomacy in the region.

We reject U.S. unbalanced financial and military support of Israel while Israel occupies Palestinian lands and maintains an apartheid-like system in both the Occupied Palestinian Territories and in Israel toward its non-Jewish citizens. Therefore, we call on the U.S. President and Congress to suspend all military and foreign aid, including loans and grants, to Israel until Israel withdraws from the Occupied Territories, dismantles the separation wall in the Occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem, ends its siege of Gaza and its apartheid-like system both within the Occupied Palestinian Territories and in Israel toward its non-Jewish citizens.

We also reject U.S. political support for Israel and demand that the U.S. government end its veto of Security Council resolutions pertaining to Israel. We urge our government to join with the U.N. to secure Israel's complete withdrawal to the 1967 boundaries and its compliance with international law.

We support a much stronger and supportive U.S. position with respect to all United Nations, European Union, and Arab League initiatives that seek a negotiated peace. We call for an immediate U.N.-sponsored, multinational peacekeeping and protection force in the Palestinian territories with the mandate to initiate a conflict-resolution commission.

We call on the foreign and military affairs committees of the U.S. House and Senate to conduct full hearings on the status of human rights and war crimes in Palestine-Israel, especially violations committed during Israel's 2008-2009 invasion of Gaza ("Operation Cast Lead") as documented in the 2009 "UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict"("The Goldstone Report") authorized by the UN Commission on Human Rights.

We recognize that despite decades of continuous diplomatic attempts by the international community, it has failed to bring about Israel's compliance with international law or respect for basic Palestinian human rights; and that, despite abundant condemnation of Israel's policies by the UN, International Court of Justice, and all relevant international conventions, the international community of nations has failed to stop Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights in Israel and the OPT, while Israeli crimes continue with impunity. We recall that ending institutionalized racism (apartheid) in South Africa demanded an unusual, cooperative action by the entire international community in the form of a boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against apartheid South Africa, and that BDS can become the most effective nonviolent means for achieving justice and genuine peace between Palestinians and Israelis, and for the region, through concerted international pressure as applied to apartheid South Africa; and that Palestinian resistance to ongoing dispossession has mainly been nonviolent, including its most basic form—remaining in their homes, on their land; and that while Palestinian armed resistance is legitimate under international law when directed at non-civilian targets, we believe that only nonviolent resistance will maintain the humanity of Palestinian society, elicit the greatest solidarity from others, and maximize the chance for future reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. However, we also recognize that our appeal to Palestinians to continue to resist nonviolently in the face of ongoing existential threats from Israel is hypocritical unless accompanied by substantial acts of international support. We recall that in 2005, Palestinian Civil Society appealed to the international community to support a BDS campaign against Israel, and that in response the Green Party of the US endorsed this BDS campaign in 2005. Therefore, we support the implementation of boycott and divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era, which includes pressuring our government to impose embargoes and sanctions against Israel; and we support maintaining these nonviolent punitive measures until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people's inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law by

-Ending its occupation and colonization of all Palestinian lands and dismantling the Wall in the West Bank
-Recognizing the fundamental rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
-Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

We recognize that international opinion has been committed to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Yet, we view the two-state solution as neither democratic nor viable in the face of international law, material conditions and "facts on the ground" that now exist in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Given this reality, we support a U.S. foreign policy that promotes the creation of one secular, democratic state for Palestinians and Israelis on the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan as the national home of both peoples, with Jerusalem as its capital. We encourage a new U.S. diplomatic initiative to begin the long process of negotiation, laying the groundwork for such a single-state constitution.

We recognize that such a state might take many forms and that the eventual model chosen must be decided by the peoples themselves. We also acknowledge the enormous hostilities that now exist between the two peoples, but history tells us that these are not insurmountable among people genuinely seeking peace.

As an integral part of peace negotiations and the transition to peaceful democracy, we call for the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission whose inaugurating action would be mutual acknowledgement by Israelis and Palestinians that they have the same basic rights, including the right to exist in the same, secure place.


  1. God bless you.
    Wish I had one hundredth of your energy.

  2. God bless you.
    Wish I had one hundredth of your energy.

  3. Very inspiring. Keep up the good work.

  4. I cannot read any more of this anti-Semitic Green Party platform, which perpetuates the foul "blood-libel" myth that some Israelis are Palestinians. No, I'm sorry, I got that wrong. It perpetuates the anti-Semitic "blood libel" myth that no Israelis are Palestinans. When you frame the conflict as "Israelis versus Palestinians", well, try this: you essentially identify Israelis as whites and Palestinians as non-white ("people of color", what have you). Ask the next self-identifying Jew you meet is she is a white. Consider her answer carefully. See the actual evil, which is to say, see the actual cavity where some good thing is missing, in all its blood-curdling lineaments.

  5. Dr. Mazen we need more copies like You and less copies like them to get ready of occupation. good luk
    G. Olayan

  6. Mazin,

    Thank you for your continuing courage and example; and also for the opportunity to comment here.

    One of the reasons Palestinians find themselves as captives in their native land is that activists fail to identify their opposition. "Israelis" are not the opposition since we all know there are Palestinian Israelis within "Israel". The opposition is Jews, both in Israel and here in the US. Part of me wishes you had remained in the US, for I feel that is where the battle needs to be fought. Without US aid, German aid, British aid, etc., support for the Jewish state would vanish.

    Speaking only for the US, this support comes from Jewish communities throughout the country. So-called religious institutions - synagogues - mask their political agenda with religious facade. As you know our group has protested outside a Zionist synagogue for over 12 years. Had the rabbi been serious about wanting us to disappear, he would only have to remove the Zionist Entity flag from his pulpit.

    This he refuses to do, because "the centrality of modern Israel is at the head of [Conservative Judaism's] core values". Source: The Sacred Cluster: Core Values of Conservative Judaism by Ismar Schorsch.

    When/if you begin to hold the Jewish community accountable for the support of your oppression, you will undoubted lose supporters. That only means that your supporters have been laboring under a hidden agenda: they (JVP, IJAN, Green Party, etc.) have never demanded and end to Jewish supremacism in Palestine.

    Are they really your supporters, or merely setting the rules of engagement they wish you would adopt? Take for example the Green Party statement you've enclosed: First thing on their agenda is to promote Jewish suffering OVER Palestinian suffering: "We recognize that Jewish insecurity and fear of non-Jews is understandable in light of Jewish history of horrific oppression in Europe."

    If your opposition - masked as your friends - toss out Jewish WWII suffering, challenge them on this topic. We should not merely nod our heads in agreement with them, then wonder why Jews treat Palestinians as cruelly as they have (the mere question may produce the answer). We should, for instance, request of them to produce even a single wartiime photograph of a homicidal gas chamber, allegedly the Weapon of Mass Destruction for Europe's Jews. We've been lied to about bars of soap allegedly made by Nazis, lied to about lampshades made from human skin; is it not reasonable to question other aspects of the story? (I think it is, certainly when "supporters" lead off with it)

    Best wishes to you, Mazin. Keep up the fight.

    Henry Herskovitz

    We recognize that Jewish insecurity and fear of non-Jews is understandable in light of Jewish history of horrific oppression in Europe.

    Ismar Schorsch writes in The Sacred Cluster: Core Values of Conservative Judaism, that the centrality of modern Israel is at the head of its core values. Conservative Jews...visit Israel and support financially every one of its worthy institutions. Israeli accomplishments on the battlefield and in the laboratory, in literature and politics, fill them with pride.

  7. I'm an American who has been reading your posts for 5 years and am deeply inspired by your consistency. Your capacity to do this for 8 straight years in the face of very little positive change is incredible. I hope you continue your struggle as I'm convinced that it's lives like yours that are at the heart of how social change happens. Consistent chipping away at a wall which seems like it will never break. But the consistent chipping away at it makes it weaker and weaker until one day it has to fall.

  8. Mazin
    Thank you is not enough for all you have accomplished throughout the years. You are a beacon of light for Palestine, as an educator, researcher, humanitarian and historian. God bless you.

  9. Very good Professor Mazin Qumsiaya. Thank you for your valuable and sincere efforts and thoughts. Wording all or most of your actions in favor of Palestine and the people who live on it, must be appreciated by all. Freedom, peace and elctions are all what the area needs. Thank for your achievements in teaching, and the Natural Museum and other activites. We are proud of you and assure you that history will recall Mazin Qumsiya for centuries to come.

  10. So many Israel defenders say it: We recognize that Jewish insecurity and fear of non-Jews is understandable in light of Jewish history of horrific oppression in Europe.
    Is there any fear and insecurity of the Jewish settlers when burning Palestinian families asleep in their home, uprooting thousands of Palestinian olive trees or throwing stones to Palestinian children on their way to school? I do not believe in the slightest feeling of insecurity or fear by all young Israelis (obliged with army service), as they receive superior feelings in their daily work of oppression. Israel is a fascist state
    and will remain so as long as we permit it.