Mar 24, 2020

global call

A global call from Palestine Action for the Planet  [comments to or add them below]

More and more people realize that the current global political and economic structures are unable to deal with global climate crisis, the endless conflicts, proliferation of WMD, and the increased frequency of pandemics. This is no longer just a question of morality and rights but a question of our survival as a civilization and as a planet facing mass extinction. 

World War II transformed our planet in ways not foreseen before, including creating instruments like the United Nations ostensibly to stop wars and conflict and encourage cooperation across borders. Yet we have had many wars and economic blockades and inequality that have killed tens of millions of people since 1945. A large part of this had to do with the flawed system created: the dominance of five nations at the UN, the presumption that challenges in 1945 would be the same as our challenges decades later, and the hegemony of the United States, then thought to be more benevolent than others as a policeman of the world. This hegemony includes the use of the US dollar in global trade and as a reserve currency even after the US dropped the Bretton Woods agreement in 1971. The IMF and World Bank instruments also drifted to become tools of hegemony and control.

This system, whether one thinks it worked for a while or not, is clearly unsustainable in the 2020s and beyond - an era of global challenges such as climate change and pandemics. The COVID-19 crisis shows clearly that we cannot continue in this system of supposed “growth” in certain national economies via rampant uncontrolled capitalism and hegemony of rich individuals and corporations who can and do usurp democracy, including via mass media. The rich thus got richer and the poor poorer even in supposedly rich countries. 

We humans of all backgrounds, living across this planet must work together to create new paradigms and systems. We collectively make this urgent call to restructure: not just to face this COVID-19 crisis, but to face climate change and future global challenges.
Boldly, we demand and will work towards these objectives:

1)  The institutions created following World War II were dominated by the five victors and now must be democratized and transformed to serve all people of this planet particularly the impoverished people. This can be done via votes proportional to populations and via ensuring collective global security.  A new program for a healthier global system can and must be developed with the widest participation of professionals and the general public. It will build on the excellent UN Sustainable Development Goals ( and other conventions such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights ( Building on those is with the aim of sustainability and survival of our species and our fragile ecosystems. But communities and countries can also start such programs without waiting for change in the UN system.
2) Measuring development by GDP or the averaged PPP (GDP per person averaged at a national level) is a misleading approach and ignores human needs. We demand that governments do not burden future generations with debt and an illusion of growth that is profiting few at the expense of the many. The earth has plenty of resources and production to keep all of us healthy and well-fed when we reset our priorities towards: social services (the elderly and others in need), agriculture (especially permaculture), health, education, and research (technological advances that help sustainability).
3) Drastically reduce military spending (increasingly militarized police) and redirect to serve rather than kill and exploit people. Even a small fraction of the 1.8 trillion spent on the military annually would be enough to end hunger and cure pandemics.

4) We can choose to respond to crises without giving-up on our liberties. History has shown that national authorities remove our liberties in crises and then rarely return them in full. To address this, citizens must vote directly on certain issues and all measures must expire and be renewed, if need be, within a reasonable timeframe via a vote by citizens

5) Nationalism as a political organizational structure has run its course and like other systems before it (city-states, kingdoms, and empires) must now evolve into a new system to face new realities of global threats. The nature of a new system needs significant thinking, but it is clear that to respond to an increasingly global crisis (climate change and pandemics), we have to have both local empowerment and global systems of joint struggle and solidarity. A corollary of this is that certain natural resources such as the Amazon rainforest and oceans must be protected as a planetary resource, and not left to the whims of national systems that can shift quickly for greed and imperialism. Thus, we must strengthen local communities, particularly native people. Another corollary is that we must limit national authority and create new systems that challenge colonialism, racism, sexism, and exploitation.

6) We must abandon our consumerist ways by living simply and humbly and reducing our footprints on this earth. We aim for zero-waste, for using renewable energy, for growing our own food in our own communities, and for cleaner, and healthier environment for all of us (humans, fauna, flora).  Reduce, Recycle, Refuse Refuse. Reduce our use of water (e.g. via compost toilets, proper water management, etc.) and of material and supplies (living humbly). Reduce solid wastes, plastics, and fossil fuels (towards final elimination). Recycle what cannot be eliminated. But most significantly refuse the urge to shop (consumerism).

7) Decrease building of massive and much unneeded infrastructure like stadiums and dams and increase vegetation preferably with native trees and bushes.

8)   Reconnect to nature and learn from it. Ecosystem balance must be restored. We humans must recognize ourselves as part of nature and live in harmony with it.

Mar 21, 2020

21 March

Mothers' & Spring day, government hypocrisy, Gaza prayers for the world, medical qualifications, and one way how to spend time productively by taking virtual tours of museums & sites....All below.

A big salute to all mothers on mothers’ day especially my mother and my wife and all the mothers especially in this first day of spring in Palestine (beautiful flowers in our museum garden). Mothers (and all women) are our salvation & our future especially in such bleak times. 

Our hearts  go  to all who lost loved ones  in this pandemic and to all who are suffering from it. Few are friends and acquaintances (and are receiving this since this is sent to all 50,000 plus emails), we share our love for all people. Particular worry for people in Italy and Iran: one person dies now in Iran every 10 minutes and one person in Italy dies every 2-3 minutes (and health services are at the brink of collapse).  We are  grateful to Venezuela and Cuba for sending doctors to Italy. We are grateful for the Italian young lady journalist who handed US Secretary of state Pompeo dog food telling him he could eat it and learn to have some loyalty. We are grateful for decent Arabs who show solidarity with Palestine and outrage at their governments’ acquiescence in handing Israeli intelligence agents  highly valuable medical supplies.

Some people said in response to my last message that we should not criticize governments and factions during this tough time and we should leave the criticism for the good time? The logic escapes me. It is precisely during difficult time that citizens are awakened and must hold them responsible. Pushing them now is certainly the most likely to help, Should Israelis not hold Netanyahu responsible for his racist remarks  about Arabs (continuing even in his daily “briefings”) or at least for his power grab shutting the court that was set to try him last week and closing the Knesset? Do you think our politicians are not taking advantage of this catastrophic situation to advance their narrow interests at the expense of people interest? Why do you thank Trump now holds a press conference daily when the first three years in office he barely appeared before press except for Fox News and the like (hate mongering media)?  And isn’t Trump & Netanyahu responsible for many deaths in besieged Iran, Venezuela and Gaza? Isn’t Mahmoud Abbas and Haniya responsible (Maybe not equally 80%/20%)since 2006 for the state of division afflicting Palestinian politics that cost us so much more suffering on the hands of the colonizers? And please do not tell me your political leader or congressperson is altruistic.

Other readers asked about my own qualifications to speak of medical and viral issues. For the record, I was professor in medical schools at famous universities (Tennessee, Duke, Yale) and am a medical geneticists who was director of medical labs in the past three decades. I also teach biotechnology now (including genetic engineering etc) and published over 150 scientific papers, a third of them medical.

Gaza residents prayed  Friday in mosques and tomorrow in churches for the rest of the world which has allowed and abetted blockade to continue. They hope the rest of the world having tasted on a small scale what Gaza endured for many years that we all show sympathy and solidarity and joint struggle against oppression.

Testimony of one Israeli veteran soldier on Gaza

And Yemen is like Gaza. (Must see) Atiaf Alwazir remarkable Tedx talk about YEMEN

 Innovations inspired by Gaza

Time to spare sitting at home? Besides working and volunteering from home (contact us if you want ideas on how to help us :-) you can take these virtual tours of museums around the world (and soon we will have one for the Palestine Museum of Natural History)

Virtual dive in several ocen locations
Street walk/graffiti exploration
Nature walk virtual        
Google art and culture virtual tours 2500 museums
Hermitage Museum, Russia

Mar 19, 2020

أسئلة مصيرية

بلدتنا بيت ساحور تخضع لحظر تجول كامل. حتى التسوق للطعام محظور. ذكرت لجنة الطوارئ أنه يمكننا استدعاء المتاجر لتوصيل الطلبات للمنازل. ومع ذلك ، لست متأكدًا من كيفية عمل ذلك لأن معظم الناس يحتاجون إلى أموال لا يملكونها وإذا كانوا يمتلكونها في البنك فمحظور عليهم الذهاب إلى أجهزة الصراف الآلي وحتى لو وصلوها فإغلاق البنوك في منطقة بيت لحم يعني الماكنات فضت من زمان. هذه كارثة عالمية. أرغب أيضًا في التحقق من المحتاجين ومساعدتهم ولكن يجب أن أعرف كيف يمكننا القيام بذلك بموجب حظر التجوال الكامل. جميع الموظفين في المنزل ونحن نحاول القيام بالعمل على الرغم من كونه يمثل تحديًا نفسيًا. ولكن يجب علينا الحفاظ على معنوياتنا مرتفعة.

تقوم السلطة الفلسطينية ببعض الأشياء الإيجابية ولكن مثل جميع القادة السياسيين الآخرين ليسوا في الواقع بمنأى عن الاعتبارات السياسية ولأنهم يتمتعون بحرية الحركة والكثير من الموارد فقد لا يفهمون تمامًا احتياجات الناس. كما زادوا التنسيق مع نظام الفصل العنصري بشكل كبير. تنتهز إسرائيل هذه الفرصة لتطبيق اللمسات الأخيرة من خطتها للهيمنة الكاملة والتطهير العرقي والفصل العنصري. جاء جيش الاحتلال حتى إلى بيت لحم (مرتديا الزي الواقي) وألقى القبض على ثلاثة شباب من منازلهم. من المؤلم حقا أن فعل السلطة الفلسطينية إصدار بيانات ومنع تجول. وبالتالي لدي أسئلة مصيرية:

لماذا لا تملك السلطة الفلسطينية الكرامة لاستخدام هذه الأزمة للتخلي نهائياً عن أوسلو والتوقف عن خدمة الاحتلال من خلال إعفائها من مسؤوليتها عن صحة وتعليم الناس المحتلين بدلاً من استخدام الديون والأموال الخيرية للأمن؟

لماذا يستخدمون مكبرات الصوت ويلقون خطبًا حول حظر التجول أو "التباعد الاجتماعي" ولكن لا يشرحون لعامة الناس كيفية التعايش ، وكيفية البقاء بدون دخل ، وكيفية الحصول على "اتصالات اجتماعية" (مساعدة بعضهم البعض مع الحفاظ على "الإبعاد الجسدي")؟

لماذا لا تزال أولوياتنا المالية مشوهة لصالح الجيش والنخب وجزء ضئيل للصحة والزراعة والتعليم والبحث؟ على سبيل المثال ، تنفق السلطة الفلسطينية 40 +٪ من ميزانيتها على الأمن وقليلًا جدًا على المجالات التي كان من الممكن أن تساعدنا في تجاوز هذه الأزمة.
إذا كانت الحكومات لديها سلطات طوارئ ، فلماذا لا تستخدمها لفرض ضريبة على الأغنياء مثلا 5 ٪ من ثروتهم واستخدامها بدلاً من زيادة الديون؟ إذا فعلوا ذلك فقط لطبقة المليارديرات ، فسيكون لديهم مئات المليارات !!

لماذا لم ترسل الوزارات بما في ذلك الحكومة المحلية والصحة (وليس فقط في فلسطين) نداءً للحصول على الخبرة في المجالات الأكثر احتياجًا (مثل التثقيف الصحي المجتمعي وعلم الأوبئة والتغذية وما إلى ذلك)؟

لماذا تساعد كوبا والصين العالم في حين أن البلد الأغنى على وجه الأرض (الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية) بالفعل يعاقب هذه الدول (عقوبات على إيران وكوبا وفنزويلا واليمن وسوريا وغيرها ، ومعاقبة مالية على الصين وروسيا وفلسطين، وترامب يكرر عنصريته بكلمة "الفيروس الصيني"

لماذا لا يتم الإعلان عن باندميك  لـ 25000 شخص يموتون يوميًا من الجوع ، أو أكثر من 10000 شخص يموتون يوميًا بسبب أمراض يمكن الوقاية منها مثل الملاريا ، أو المئات الذين يموتون يوميًا بسبب الحصار (مثل غزة وفنزويلا وإيران)

لماذا لا يُحاسب السياسيون لعدم الاستجابة لتحذيراتنا كعلماء (والعديد من الأعمال المنشورة) بأن مثل هذه الأوبئة كانت حتمية؟

لماذا يسمح الناس لحكوماتهم بتكديس سلطاتهم لاستخدامها من أجل المنفعة السياسية التي تنتهك حقوق الناس في الأزمات ويعرفون أنه عندما تنتهي الأزمة ، لا تعاد هذه الحقوق إلى الناس مثل قانون باتريوت الذي لم يُلغ أبدًا منذ عام 2001؟؟؟

لماذا تضيف الدول الغربية إلى ديون حكومتها (اقرأ الناس) لمساعدة الأغنياء والشركات على البقاء ولكن ليس الناس (أكثر من 400 مليار في المملكة المتحدة ، 1 تريليون في الولايات المتحدة)؟ يصبح عامة الناس (دافعي الضرائب) أكثر فقرًا ويواصل الأغنياء زيادة ثراءهم.

لماذا يثق الناس بالحكومات التي ثبت مرارًا أنها تكذب؟ لماذا نسمح للدولة العميقة  Deep stateبالاستمرار في منحنا خيارات مثل كلينتون ضد ترامب وبايدن ضد ترامب وعباس ضد هنية ونتنياهو ضد غانتس)؟ هل ستجعل هذه الأزمة هؤلاء السياسيين يغيرون طرقهم؟

أنا أعلم فقط أن كل واحد منا يحتاج إلى البحث أعمق في قلوبنا للإجابات والأهم من ذلك إلى العمل الدؤوب. قبل 19 عامًا ، كتبت مقالًا بعد أزمة 11 سبتمبر 2001 تشرح الخيارين أمامنا (بشكل جماعي): نحافظ على الطرق القديمة (الجشع ، الرأسمالية المتفشية والموت معًا) أو نعتني ببعضنا البعض وللكوكب. صحتنا وصحة الكوكب على المحك. هذا تذكير صارخ آخر. فلنأمل أن نتخذ الخيارات الصحيحة ونضغط على السياسيين ونختار الحياة. لا يمكننا أن نتصرف مثل القوارض تتجه نحو الجرف.
ابق بشريًا وسالما

Questions and curfews

As of last night our town of Beit Sahour is under complete curfew. Even shopping for food is prohibited. The emergency committee stated that we can call shops for home delivery. However, I am not sure how that would work out since most people need money which they do not have and if they do have it in the bank would need to go to ATMs which are prohibited and banks are closed in the Bethlehem district so they cannot re-stock the ATM machines. This is a global catastrophe. I also would like to check on needy people and help them but I have to figure how we can do that under complete curfew. Staff are all at home and we try to do work though psychologically it is challenging. But we must keep our spirits up. 

 The Palestinian authority does some positive things but like all other political leaders really are not immune from political considerations and as they have freedom of movement and lots of resources, they may not quite understand people's needs. Also coordinations with our apartheid oppressors increased dramatically. Israel is taking this opportunity to implement the last touches of its plan of complete hegemony, ethnic cleansing and apartheid. Their occupation army even came into Bethlehem (dressed in full protective corona gear) and arrested three people from their homes. Truly sickening that all the PA does is issue statements. I thus have questions:

Why is it that the Palestinian authority does not have the dignity to use this crisis to finally give up on Oslo and stop serving the occupation by relieving it of its responsibility for the occupied people's health and education instead of using debt and charity money for security?

Why do they use loudspeakers and give speeches about curfews or "social distancing" but not explaining to common people how to cope, how to survive with no income, how to have "Social connections" (helping each other while maintaining "physical distancing")?? 

Why is it that our financial priorities still skewed in favor of military and elites and a tiny fraction for health, agriculture, education, and research? The PA for example spend 40+% of its budget on security and so little on the areas that could have helped us weather this crisis.

If governments have emergency powers, why not use them to tax the wealthy say 5% of their wealth and use it instead of racking up debt? If they do this just to the billionnaire class, they would have hundreds of billions!!

Why is it that ministries including local government and health (and not just in Palestine) did not send out one call for expertise in the areas most needed (like community health education, epedemiology, nutrition etc)?

Why is it that Cuba and China help the world while the supposed richest country on earth (USA) actually punished these countrie (sanctions on Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, Yemen, Syria etc, financial blocks on China and Russia, and Trump calling it repeatedly the "Chinese virus")
Why is it that a pandemic is not declared for 25,000 who die daily from starvation, over 10,000 who die daily from preventable diseases like malaria, or the hundreds who die daily from blockaded (e.g. Gaza, Venezuela, Iran)

Why is it that people let their governments amass powers to use for political benefit that infringe on people's rights in a crisis and they know that when the crisis is over governments do not return these rights to people (e.g. Patriot act never repealed since 2001!)?

Why is it that western countries will add to their government (read people's) debt to help rich people and companies survive but not the people (over 400 billion in UK, >1 trillion in US)? Common people (Tax payers) become poorer and rich people continue to get richer.

Why do people trust governments that have been repeatedly shown to lie? Why do we allow deep states to continue to give us choices like Clinton vs Trump and Biden vs Trump and Abbas vs Haniya and Netanyahu vs Gantz)? Will this crisis ever make such people change their ways?

I know only that each of us needs top dig deeper in our hearts for answers and more importantly for actions. 19 years ago, I wrote an article after the crisis of 11 Sept 2001 explaining the two choices before us (collectively): We keep the old ways (greed, rampant capitalism and die together) or care for each other and for our planet. Our health and the health of the planet are at stake. This is yet another stark reminder. Let us hope we make the right choices, pressure politicians, and choose life. We cannot act like lemmings going towards the cliff. 

Mar 12, 2020

Will humanity fail?

Will humanity fail or rise to the challenge?

Obviously human beings are being tested: pandemics spreading around the world (and after coronavirus, there will be others much more deadly), the collapse of oil prices that led to financial market collapses, the climate change (we have really 7 or 8 years left to make drastic changes in lifestyle to avoid the irreversible damage), the technology gone rampant and killings and nature (5G, chemical and biological weapons), the accelerating risk of nuclear war, and much more.  How we deal with this as individuals and communities is really existential. There are bad signs and good signs. Let us give some examples of both and then of areas where we could go either way). Please post other good and bad news in the comments on this blog.

Example bad news first

1) Regarding Coronavirus, it has become officially a pandemic and the failure of many governments to take it seriously will have catastrophic consequences in those areas (like Italy and the US). Some governments are using the pandemic as an excuse to increase repression and discrimination instead of using it to bring peace with justice. The genocidal sanctions on Iran for example has been tightened causing needless deaths of many.  And even though Israeli cases are far more than Palestinian cases, restrictions and blockade tightened in our ghettos/bantustans (our own apartheid regime) and settlers are free to travel anywhere. Bethlehem is blockaded only for its Palestinian residents not for the illegal Israeli colonial settlers living here. Iran released tens of thousands of prisoners to protect them; Israel brought in a sick doctor and cut services and stopped family visits to the thousands of Palestinian political prisoners. The catastrophic economic situation around the world impacts the most vulnerable communities. Poverty will skyrocket and the billionaires will stay billionaires! “Israel” with all its money and resources (fleeced from us and others) is focused on being anti-Palestinian instead of working to better the lives of all its citizens including Palestinians. Greece and Turkey play football with Syrian refugees and the genocide in Yemen is ongoing and I shudder to think what would happen as the virus spreads in such devasted countries like Syria, Yemen, and Libya.

2) The climate change catastrophic situation is not dealt with and the political structures look like will not be changed. Because of cheating and rigging to prevent Bernie Sanders from getting the democratic nomination (driven mostly by Zionists), the choice in November will be to vote for one xenophobic puppet and another (Trump vs Biden) or sit it out. Trump will win (the power of incumbency and more money from Zionist billionaires) and we will be run for four more years by a fumbling megalomaniac. In either case the US will continue to topple governments that serve their people and install puppets similar to the one they put in charge of Brazil who will finish off the Amazon rainforest.

Good news:

1) In many locations, people quickly responded aggressively to the virus and seem to have contained the situation including at the source of the virus (Wuhan province in China) where new cases continue to decline. Medical personnel around the world have been nothing less than heroes. Among Palestinians we were pleasantly surprised by how serious it was taken and every one of the 31 cases reported in the past few days has known source and well controlled with hundreds observing the self-quarantine (only two people did not and they are now forced to do so and maybe penalized!). So many people are helping other people.  “Other good news in this front is the scientific development of simplified cheap tests and quick progress on anti-viral cures.

2) Young people around the world are aware like never before. Part of it is they understand increasingly how the system is rigged, that 99.9% of politicians lie to them, and that their future cannot be left to such politicians. They take things into their own hands, mobilize, help fellow human beings and are increasingly realizing that their future is at stake. Extinction Rebellion is the fastest growing movement on our planet.

Now there are things that we cannot predict where they go yet. Will decision makers do the right thing and learning from the past realize that “business as usual” cannot go on and that they need to think of the collective human interest? Will we learn that the horrors of World War I and WWII were indeed repeated including actions of ethnic cleansing and slow genocide even by some people claiming to be heirs to the victims of similar atrocities? Will some countries use Israeli made drones to oppress people & shut down borders to refugees or will they really work for peace and justice instead of supporting repressive regimes like “Saudi Arabia” and “Israel” who cause these problems? Will those who attended the large AIPAC conference including congress people realize there is so much more hard from that besides getting Coronavirus (four were infected and mingling)? Will politicians put their personal financial and political interests ahead of our (and their’s) children future? Will the world (including our Arab countries and Palestine) remain run by mediocre people focusing on their own narrow self-interest? Will Israeli society and global Zionists continue to drift farther to the rights (racism, fascism etc)?

We did not learn from our history. As WWII was ending and Germany and Japan were already defeated, the US fired the first two shots of the next war with the Soviet Union (that is the Hiroshima and Nagazaki terror bombing). Then we had Korea, Vietnam, Palestine and many many more atrocities against peole to serve colonial and imperial powers. In the past they got away with it. Today, this is existential to all humanity and as was said by a prophetic voice: we either live together as fellow human beings or we perish together as fools. When I said this to an audience in a recent talk in Europe, they asked about probabilities: I said 20% and 80% but the probability of 20% to survive as a species is getting smaller – the window of opportunity is closing. We must all reach deeper in our hearts and minds (and soul if you believe) and summon our best to fight. It is the epic struggle for our existence.

Gazan Girl Fighting Cancer Died After Israel Denied Her Parents’ Visit. She Won’t Be the Last

Five things to know/do