Nov 28, 2020

Work ethic

 The last three days and two nights, my wife Jessie, I, and Zohar (all of us are volunteers) worked and slept at the museum because of the closure. Two others came by yesterday for daytime work by successfully walking through the checkpoints. During food breaks and working in the garden in the stillness of not having too many people around was good for body, mind and spirit. My wife is Chinese (born and lived in Taiwan). I learned so much from her about so many things from inner beauty to work ethics (that you must work hard if you want to succeed and make a difference in your life). When I lived in the US and had a large lab employing many people, I learned that there are differences in work ethic between individuals and cultures. By far the Chinese and Japanese I employed had amazing work ethic. This is a generalization & of course there are people with amazing work ethics everywhere and from every background. My mother raised a row of children born less than two years apart (in my case 11 months apart) while also teaching hard- the first married woman allowed to teach in our region. Growing up, I never found her sitting with other ladies chatting (she was always too busy for that). My uncle Sana Atallah published 12 research papers and finished his PhD age 26.5 (he was killed in a car accident six months later age 27). He was busy 16 – 17 hours a day seven days a week. His master degree advisor Lewis at the AUB was also hard-working. His PhD advisor happened to become my master degree advisor at the University of Connecticut (Prof. Ralph Wetzel) and was a role model for me. I was his last student before he was forced to retire but he kept on going. As a child I admired this. Uncle Sana and my mother were raised in a home that also taught and practiced work ethics. My maternal grandfather and grandmother were amazing diligent industrious people. My grandfather, an orphan from WW 1 rose from zero and built himself on his own with hard work to become teacher, principal, author, philanthropist, attentive father to 8 children and much more.

The people with great work efforts come from all walks of life. I recall how hard my late friend Prof. Edward Said worked (you could also judge this from his writings and teaching loads). On the other spectrum there is also a person named Rami who is a university employee in the maintenance department. His refugee family lives in Aida refugee camp in crowded quarters. He works so hard and has an amazing work ethic. I hired him to work beyond work hours both at home (cleaning, painting etc) and at our Institute ( There are also many of the farmers we work with (many are women) who get up before dawn to work the farm or workers forced to stand at the Israeli checkpoint at 4 AM to get to their work on time. I could tell you names of hundreds of hard working people I personally know here in Palestine, in the US, and in the 45 countries I visited. Of course I can name thousands who do not have good work ethic (they want jobs and salaries). But I always think people change. People improve. People can and do succeed when they really put their mind to it. While we envy Chinese diligence and work ethic, we can indeed transform our societies IF we focus on transforming ourselves and teaching children to work hard (Einstein said it is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration). It is persistence/resilience.

The Palestine Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability has a motto: respect (for ourselves, for others, for nature). The mission includes research, education and conservation (sustainability). Research everything (we publish 1-2 papers per month) then education then we can build sustainable happy societies. We also need to research work ethics and what it means then educate about it then implement it in sustainable ways. I researched Chinese work ethic (and others) and my Chinese wife still educates me. I still lean new things and improve daily. Here is a more academic analysis of Chinese work ethics published in 1985 (even before China’s economy mushroomed) but that I only discovered today - worth reading for ALL of us who want to transform our societies I read everyday before going to bed. Last night I was re(reading) Joseph Cambell (another person with good work ethic) and a wonderful storyteller. I found his book because we moved and consolidated our books to the new museum library and I was putting his book  under the bookshelf  “Self-Improvement”. His amazing way of retelling wonderful myths/stories of the ancients show us not the meaning of life but the meaning of experience of living. Those who experience life at that deep level develop work ethic and will have ability to produce beyond their wildest dreams. They also not coincidentally really learn, contemplate, literally & smell the flowers. This, as Campbell shows us, leads to true spiritual awakening (what we call bliss, nirvana, or true happiness).

Nov 19, 2020

Is there any hope for the USA?

When I lived in the US, I occasionally was shocked listening to right wing talk shows like those of Bill ORiley & Sean Hanity or the vulgar non-sense of Howard Stern and Jerry Springer. Holywood movies glorified violence and vilified Arabs and Muslims. Owners of the corporations that ran these media had two agendas: making money and helping Zionism. Now Foxnews owned by Zionist Murdock is even outflanked on the right by Newsmax and One America News (essentially fascist in orientation)! It is vey sad. Palestinian and other Arab Ametricans who were/are visible or tried to do something were targeted. I was one of those. If you want to read a little about this, see and the below from fellow academic Thomas Nagy who decided to leave the (perhaps hopeless) USA to live abroad in 2003. I left the US in 2008 not because of pressure but because I thought I could serve humanity better in Zionist occupied Palestine than in Zionist occupied USA. In retrospect, that was the best decision of my life. But I still care about the US where I have family and thousands of friends and followers.

The mass movements like Black Lives Matter remind us of the movements in the 1960s that did change the US (after much turmoil). But the establishment gurus learned from these things and are certainly far more entrenched today than say at the time of Nixon and Kissinger. Obama’s first appointment as president elect was for Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, a bigoted Zionist who put Israel interests ahead of US interests. That is why in 8 years, the Obama administration bombed many countries in the Arab world. Biden selection of anti-BLM Zionist VP Kamala Harris and his selection of a Zionist Jewish chief of staff were expected (he could have chosen at least Elizabeth Warren as VP a bit more moderate). Biden  proudly proclaimed himself a Zionist. If he actually assumes office (a 60-70% chance and not just because of Trump but also his health condition) he will be worse than Obama. The moneyed intersts win either way. But the calamity facing the USA today is far worse than when Obama took office. Over 160,000 new infections per day and an economy that is drowning in debt (government, corporate, and individual). The US currency can no longer sustain itself based on the fiction of the strength of the US economy (an economy based on imperial control of world economy that is already dissolving). China and Russia are rising. If you missed it, just last week China led the formation of the largest free trade block on earth (comprising 30+% of the world economy and 16 countries in Asia plus Australia and New Zealand but minus the USA!!). The US paper tiger is still able to twist arms of countries like Bahrain, UAE, and Saudi Arabia but that is only because they are run by brutal uneducated dictators who do not care about the will of the people or even know how to read history to understand its trends. What is needed in the US is a system change so that politics respects the will of the people. The 350 milion US citizens should not be forced by a trigged system to chose “the lesser of two evils”! The majority of citizens would not want the US to remain the “biggest pervayor of violence in the world” (words of Martin Luther LKing Jr). They do not want billions of their tax money going to Israel. Why not give them the right to vote on such things? The 13.5 million Palestinians and 6.2 million Israeli Jews should also be given a fair chance to vote for the form of government they like here in a post apartheid era. I am sure the majority wouldvote for a secular democracy with real checks and balances like the ones found in some northern European countries. Since my last question to readers generated many good responses posted in the comments section at the blog ( This one is also left without a definitive answer and I hope readers chime in: how the US can be transformed to be more democratic, more respectful of himan rights, not cozy to dictators and apartheid regimes (like Israel) etc. Do you agree with the below or do you think there is hope? What is the way forward? Either put your comments in teh comment section here or email me. 


Nagy was number 6, I was number 5 on Pipe's list-Mazin

Why I am leaving this Country: Daniel Pipes and the Failure of Democracy in America

by Thomas Nagy


It is instructive to know how the wonderful democracy that the U.S. is exporting through its own very real WMDs actually works. There are worse governments than the US democracy, but surely there are better ones, and US democracy is not worth exporting or imposing on anyone except the most desperate.

It is necessary to give the context to my small, modest insight into the reality of American democracy.

It has to do with Dr. Daniel Pipes. Dr. Daniel Pipes is a rather belligerent fellow who has been wonderfully successful in intimidating the vast majority of US professors into near total silence despite: (1) two major wars that are getting progressively worse (from the official US viewpoint), (2) a threatened nuclear war with North Korea that has the potential of killing us all, down to the cockroaches that have amazing resilience to radiation, and (3) a domestic economic crisis spinning out of control thanks to the insane quest for world dominance and the maniacal looting of the US by the chums of Bush, the First and Bush, the Second.

The case of such a gem of free enterprise as B2's Kenny Boy Lay[1]  of Enron infamy comes readily to mind, but you could point to a great number of other pirates of gangster capitalism who have, quite simply, cheated the American people out of life savings or merely stolen a big chunk of their retirement money.

So one might suspect that all is not well. Indeed.

The good Dr. Pipes identified the six leading university professor villains in the US.  I'm number 6 in a column [2] in the New York Post, a newspaper that is perhaps just a few steps up from pure trash, but one which is widely read and distributed.  I can get it easily here in Washington, D.C. In the column, Pipes falsely accused me, among other things, of providing aid to the Saddam regime.

B2's nomination of Pipes to the U.S. Institute of Peace [3]  is rivaled only by B1's naming of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court.

Now here comes my modest insight into how government really works in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Foolishly, I thought this truly bizarre nomination would afford me a chance to clear my name and end or reduce my harassment (Pipes had called for adult supervision for the six evil professors). Since Pipes nomination by B2 required the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate, I asked to be a witness in a public hearing. I asked for three minutes and a chance to put documents into evidence that would restore my good name and show the greater suitability of Pipes for the CIAs assassination bureau (I'm sure it has a more noble name) rather than the US Institute for Peace.

At first, I thought, Gosh the system of democracy can work, because I thought I had an agreement with the staff of the ranking member of the Senate[4] Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions[5] , the committee to which Dr. Pipes nomination had been sent, for a 3-minute testimony and a chance to submit documents.

After hearing nothing further from Senator Edward Kennedy[6] 's office for weeks, I discovered that there had been a misunderstanding. Goodbye to any chance of being a witness, goodbye to a chance to submit documents into evidence, goodbye to a chance to clear my name and end the harassment.

That misunderstanding was hard to accept, but it was nothing compared to step 2 of the workings of what baby slayer with sanctions former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has called the indispensable democracy.

Committee Chairman Sen. Judd Gregg [7]  (R-NH) decided against a hearing for my accuser, but instead opted for an executive hearing on July 23rd evidently without witnesses or documents. Its now possible that Sen. Gregg's committee and the Senate itself could fly Pipes though to his anointment like a

stealth bomber through radar without any scrutiny. There goes any meaningful advice and consent. Technically, the Senate, using tricks like executive sessions, could give its advice and consent based on no witnesses and no evidence. How democratic! Is this a great country or what?

This is a microcosm of how the greatest and longest lasting democracy in history (etc., etc.) works. If one dare speak of even the possibility of a defect in the operation of Camp X-Ray, or putting Pipes into such a position

of honor and trust, then the totally corrupt committee system of Congress that would make any tyrant blush can block criticism total power, but with the appearance of fairness.

Members of Congress disguise this disastrous blemish by using pompous phrases like, I'd like to thank my distinguished colleague, the Chairman and thank him for allowing me time to speak. The committee chairman may permit other members to speak, but the chairman runs the whole shabby show: agenda, witness list you name it.

The rest of the hypocrites properly worship the chairman in the hope that if they live long enough, they will, one day they become a god (oops, I mean committee chairman). So much for democracyvery sad, very tragic, very disastrous to the people of the US and the world.

So unlike the movies, I don't get my day in court.

Continuing to teach in the US is no longer an option for me, particularly since evidently I will have no chance to clear my name before Congress.

So I am moving to Canada in a few days where I will apply for citizenship and try to rebuild my 20-year university career in a functioning democracy.

I think Canada's secret is simple: a small, peace keeping-oriented military; a small weapons industry; no empire to rule and no countries to conquer. (Sending trigger pullers to Afghanistan was an aberration. Canadian troops die if they must but as peace keepers, not as killers of essentially defenseless people.)

I hope to die in Canada and atone for my stupidity and culpability in paying taxes to the most well-oiled killing machine in history, the United States of America, by teaching peace studies and promoting pacifism, which I think is the only force powerful enough to overcome Americas super weapons.









Nov 12, 2020

أسئلة وباء


كيف نتعامل مع أزمة متصاعدة ونحافظ على سلامتنا العقلية ونساعد الآخرين؟

طالبات في معهد فلسطين للتنوع البيولوجي والاستدامة 

مر ما يقرب من عام منذ بداية هذا الوباء العالمي مع أكثر من 50 مليون مصاب ومات أكثر من مليون. يمكن لكل فرد منا أن يحسب الخسارة الشخصية الاقتصادية والبشرية. دول مثل الهند والبرازيل والولايات المتحدة تضررت بشدة بسبب قيادتها الفاسدة. لكن كل بلد ومنطقة في العالم عانت. هنا في فلسطين كمثال لا تزال معدلات الإصابة بالفيروس في ارتفاع خاصة في غزة. فقد العديد من الفلسطينيين في غزة الأمل وكثير من الشباب حتى ينتحرون. ليس فقط جائحة فيروس بل جائحة العنصرية والاستعمار المنتظم. ينشر الصهاينة الكراهية والانقسام لتعزيز أهدافهم في جميع أنحاء العالم (عبر هوليوود وسيطرتهم على الإعلام) لكن بعضهم بدأوا يشكو في العالم الذي يصنعونه وهل سيكون قابلاً للعيش حتى بالنسبة لأصحاب المليارات. ارتفعت سوق الأسهم التي يراقبها الأغنياء والأقوياء مثل ترامب ونتنياهو بسبب اللقاح المحتمل المفترض. لكن هذا اللقاح ليس رصاصة سحرية. سيكون توزيعه كابوسًا لأنه يتطلب البقاء باردًا جدًا. الفيروس يتطور أيضًا وسيكون هناك فيروسات جديدة.. بصفتي عالم أحياء وعالِم في علم الوراثة الطبية يمكنني أن أخبركم أن هناك عددًا كبيرًا جدًا من البشر والكثير من الفيروسات حولنا تتطور وستنتشر. يعلم الجميع أيضًا أن النظام الاقتصادي الحالي (الرأسمالية / الاستهلاكية) ليس قادرًا على التعامل مع الحقائق الجديدة (الأوبئة ، تغير المناخ ، الحروب الكارثية) ولكنه أيضا في الواقع سببها. ومن هنا يأتي التحدي الذي يواجه عامة الناس: كيف نعيش ونخلق عالمًا أفضل لضمان أن يعيش جيراننا وأصدقائنا وأطفالنا أيضًا حياة كريمة؟

يريد معظم الناس بالطبع البقاء على قيد الحياة كأفراد ومحاولة التكيف بأفضل شكل ممكن في أوقات الأزمات. لقد رأيت أشخاصًا كان لديهم وظائف الآن يتسولون في الشوارع من أجل البقاء أو يغرقون في الديون. الديون آخذة في الارتفاع (فردية ، شركات ، حكومية) في جميع أنحاء العالم. قليلون هم الذين مرتاحين ماديا إما عن طريق استغلال الآخرين (أسميها طفيلية) أو من خلال تعلم الاعتماد على الذات (مثل المجتمعات المتعمدة ، والزراعة لإنتاج طعامنا ، إلخ). هناك دروس للتعلم من السكان الأصليين. حتى في الأماكن التي نسيت طرقها القديمة يمكن إحياءها. على سبيل المثال ، تمكن أسلافنا الكنعانيون وحتى أسلافي منذ 3 أجيال من إعالة أنفسهم بالكامل من الأرض (محيطهم المباشر). هذا حتى عندما يكون الموسم الأخضر سوى 3-4 أشهر في السنة في فلسطين. أنا أعلم أنه قابل للتنفيذ. قمنا بتطوير حديقة مجتمعية وببساطة تقنيات الزراعة المستدامة المستوحاه من الأجداد ننتج 70-80٪ من طعامنا (بما في ذلك للمتطوعين). يتم إنتاج القليل من النفايات. هذا يجلب لنا الرضا والشعور بالسيطرة (مفاتيح لما يسمى السعادة). ومع ذلك هذا ليس كافيًا لأن الناس من حولنا لا يستطيعون الحصول على وظائف لائقة أو إطعام أسرهم أو إعالة أنفسهم أو الشعور بالتمكين ونحن نساعد القليل منهم. الرضا الشخصي حتى عن نجاح الفريق كما هو الحال عندنا  لا يزال ناقصًا عندما ينهار نظامنا البيئي. مجموعة صغيرة من الأشجار السليمة لا يمكن أن تعيش على المدى الطويل عندما يتم تدمير بقية الغابة. في هذه الحالة هو حتى بقية النظام البيئي العالمي.

عندما بدأت في كتابة هذا في ليلة بلا نوم لم أكن متأكدة إلى أين أذهب. لكن بعد ذلك اعتقدت أن الأفضل هو مجرد سؤال القراء عن أفكارهم. هناك الكثير من السلبية في هذا العالم (تبررها حالة عالمنا). هناك القليل من البؤر الإيجابية التي تقوم بأشياء جيدة (ويجب أن نفخر بها). نريد أن نروج لهذه الأخيرة بينما نتعامل بواقعية مع الأولى. يلعب علم النفس دورًا كبيرًا في ذلك كما يدرك أي شخص: لا يمكنك مساعدة نفسك أو مساعدة الآخرين إذا كنت مصابًا بالاكتئاب. شعارنا لمعهد فلسطين للتنوع البيولوجي والاستدامة هو "الاحترام: لأنفسنا وللآخرين ولبيئتنا". هذا ليس سهلا. الكثير منا (بمن فيهم أنا) الذين لا يزالون غير متأكدين من الاتجاه يتوقون لسماع كيف يساعد الأشخاص المختلفون بعضهم البعض لتطوير هذه المستويات الثلاثة من الاحترام. كلنا نتعلم. نحتاج جميعًا إلى دعم معنوي و فكري خاصة في هذه الأوقات الصعبة (الوجودية بالفعل لجنسنا البشري). الإنسان هو كائن اجتماعي. لقد أدى النظام العالمي الرأسمالي (الغربي) إلى تركيزنا بأعداد هائلة في تجمعات سكنية ومدن وأيضا عزلنا من بعض (حتى عن الجيران والعائلة). وتم عزلنا جسديًا وعقليًا وأدى الوباء إلى تفاقم هذه العزلة. كيف نتعامل مع ذلك؟ كيف ندعم بعضنا البعض؟ كيف نتواصل ونتواصل أكثر (عبر الإنترنت)؟ ما هو النظام الاقتصادي والاجتماعي الجديد الذي يجب أن نبنيه ليحل محل النظام المتدهور / الفاشل الذي ورثناه؟ نتوق لسماع رأيكم هنا.


 How do we individually cope, keep our sanity in a spiraling crisis, and help others?  

 Girls exploring nature at the Palestine Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability

It is almost a year since the start of this global pandemic with over 50 million who were infected and over one million died from. Everyone of us can count personal loss economic and human. Countries like India, Brazil, and the US were especially hit hard because of their corrupt leadership. But every country and region in the world suffered. Here in Palestine as an example, the viral infection rates are still on the rise especially in Gaza. Many Gaza Palestinians lost hope. Many young people are committing suicide. It is not only a pandemic of a virus but the pandemic of systematic racism and colonialism that spread. While Zionists spread hate and divisiveness to advance its goals around the world (via Hollywood, Bloomberg and Fox News etc), even they are starting to rethink what world are they making and will it be livable even for the billionaires. The stock market watched by the rich and powerful like Trump and Netanyahu went up because of the supposed potential vaccine. But this vaccine is no magic bullet. Its distribution will be a nightmare since it must be shipped on dry ice and stay very cold (freezer facilities of that kind are not found in most areas). The virus is also mutating and there will be new viruses. As a biologist and medical geneticist I can tell you there are simply too many humans and lots of viruses around us evolving.  Everyone also knows that the current economic system (capitalism/consumerism) is not only unable to deal with the new realities (pandemics, climate change, catastrophic wars) BUT IS ACTUALLY THE CAUSE OF THESE. Hence the challenge for common people: how to survive and create a better world to ensure our neighbors, friends, and children also live decent lives? 

Most people of course at the most basic instinct want to survive as individuals and try to adapt as best as they could in times of crisis. I have seen people previously with decent jobs reduced to begging on the streets to survive. Debts are rising (individual, corporate, government) around the world. Few are doing well either by exploiting other people (I call it parasitic) or by having learned self sustenance (like intentional communities, farming to produce our own food etc). There are lessons to learn from indiginous/native people. Even in places that have forgotten their ancient ways, these can be revived. For example our Canaanitic ancestors and even my own ancestors as recent as 3 generations back were able to sustain themselves fully from the land (their immediate surrounding). This even when the green season is but 3-4 months of the year in Palestine.  I know it is doable. We developed a community garden and with few simple (permaculture techniques) we produce >70-80% of our (including volunteer) food. Very little waste is produced. This brings us satisfaction and a sense of control (keys to what is called happiness). Yet this is not sufficient because all around us people are unable to have decent jobs, feed their families, support themselves or feel a sense of empowerment. Personal satisfaction of even creating a team success (as at still seems deficient when our ecosystem is falling apart. A small batch of healthy forest cannot really survive long term when the rest of the forest is being destroyed. In this case it is even the rest of the global ecosystem.

As I started to write this on a sleepless night I was not sure where to go with it. But then I thought the best  is merely to ask readers for their thoughts. There is so much negativity in this world (justifiable by the state of our world). There are few positive foci doing good things (and we should be proud of those). We do want to promote the latter while realistically dealing with the former. Psychology plays a great factor in that as anyone realizes: you cannot help yourself, or others if you are depressed. The motto we came up with for our Palestine Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability is "Respect: for ourselves, for others, for our environment". This is not easy. Many (including me who are still unsure of direction) would be curious to hear how different people help each other to develop these three levels of respect. We all are learning.  We all need emotional and intellectual feedback/support especially in these difficult (actually existential to our species) times. Homo sapiens is a social species. The (western) capitalist world system while packing us into urban areas (increasing urbanization) has ironically also isolated us in separate compartments/ apartments (physically and mentally). COVID-19 exacerbated this isolation. How do we cope with that? How do we support each other? How do we connect and communicate even more (online)? What is the new economic and social system that we should be building to replace the decaying/failing system we inherited? Please put your thoughts in the comments section of this blog or email me and I will post them.