Sunday, October 02, 2016

From Palestine: Thinking Globally, Acting Locally

Thinking Globally, Acting Locally

by Mazin Qumsiyeh - Palestine

October 3, 2016

It has been nearly two weeks since my last message so I have a little more to say here than usual :-). In the political arena, lot of news but little positive change:

- A presidential "debate" in the USA was limited to the corporate and special interest parties' candidates. The third party candidates were not allowed (by rules set by the two corporate parties).

It is thus not surprising that real issues were not discussed. For example the 2 million Americans incarcerated or the role of the Israel lobby in pushing for endless wars.

Shimon Peres 1936, Age 13 

- Shimon Peres, a war criminal with blood of thousands on his hands died and he was eulogized by the Western imperial powers (US and British governments had the highest level delegations) but also by representatives from four "Arab" governments.

I had engaged Peres personally and embarrassed him in front of hundreds in April 2003 in Connecticut.

Peres was born as Shimon Perski in Vishniva, Poland (now  Belarus). He and his parents came as colonizers under the Zionist banner to Palestine in 1934 and he joined the underground Israeli forces, the Haganah, and served as a chief of its manpower division in the 1940s. He is the architect of Israel’s nuclear program. Appointed in 1953 as director general of the ministry of defense, he immediately started exploring the nuclear development. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Israel developed its nuclear program primarily with the help of France while maintaining the Peres doctrine of “ambiguity.” The US and Britain and other countries looked the other way. He was responsible for ethnic cleansing and numerous massacres (including teh infamous attack on a UN compound in Qana killing scores of civilians taking shelter there) He was given (with Rabin and Arafat) the Nobel Peace Prize for their infamous Oslo accords that transformed the PLO from a liberation movement to a subcontractor of the occupation. Nobel committee members signed a letter later regretting their decision as Peres continued his career of crimes.

- Mr. Mahmoud Abbas shunning public sentiments and all common sense decided to go to the spectacle of the Peres funeral, warmly shake hands with another war criminal (Netanyahu) and then listen to speeches glorifying the apartheid colonial state of "Israel". By contrast, Palestinian members of the Israeli Knesset had dignity and did not attend the political spectacle.

- The Jordanian signed a gas deal with Israel (as did the regime of Abbas before). Tens of thousands demonstrated against the normalization deals (both economic and political normalization). But the regimes may not care about sentiments of their people (we will wait and see).

- In his speech at the UN and in opening the Bethlehem diaspora conference, Mr Abbas again regurgitated his usual talking points about his hands being stretched always for peace, that he is patient, that he hopes the world community will help bring peace, that they did a conference for Iran and they should do one for Palestine, etc. He failed to set time tables for "waiting" (enriching those around him for 25 years now "waiting" while most Palestinian suffer). He failed to mention that Iran is different since it has dignity and has power and does not grovel. He failed to mention how" waiting" is exactly what Israel wants as the status quo is very lucrative (a profitable occupation to the tune of $12 billion/year plus arms exports tested on Gaza people and $68 billion more from the USA just approved by Obama and security guaranteed by the occupied "Vichy" government).

- People here are still upset from what a high level Palestinian official (Jibrl Rjoub) sarcastically described us native Christians as “the Merry Christmas group” and are still waiting for Mr. Mahmoud Abbas to say something about this. But the latter is disconnected from the reality of life here and shielded by a cabal of advisers telling him what he likes to hear so that they will not lose their lucrative jobs. It remains to be seen
how far down things go.

- We commemorated the 36th anniversary of the massacres of Sabra and Shatila in Lebanon. Horrific massacres by mercenaries of the apartheid state of Israel. Here is my published review of the book "Sabra and Shatila: September 1982" by Bayan Nuwayhed Al-Hout, 2004, Pluto Press, London and Ann Arbor, MI, 462 pp., 36 photographs, 5 maps

And here are reflections on “dark September”

- Jordanian intellectual and activist Nahedh Hattar was gunned down after criticizing the Saudi regime's genocidal war on Yemeni and Syrian people. He had also posted a cartoon on facebook that mocked the "jihadists" (western supported) who are supposed to be in heaven enjoying women and wine after slaughtering innocents. I re-posted the cartoon on my facebook page not because I agree with its contents but because I believe in freedom of speech 100% and believe it critical to not succumb to threats of violence (terrorism).

But there is positive news in the non-political arena:

Our museum continues to progress rapidly. We received good news of further financial and other support (in kind, time). Birzeit student strike is over and we are back in classes. International visitors and volunteers continue coming to Palestine to work with us.

I represented Bethlehem University as I was invited to give a talk on the status of research and education in Palestine at a conference about "Is there a crisis in Palestinian Universities" held at Birzeit University. I presented our example of making correct diagnosis followed by practical therapies including the fact that our new museum with two researchers and few students managed to publish 20 research works in two years. Our research paper on genotoxicity of recycling Israeli computers across the green line in teh Palestinian town of Idhna was accepted for publication. We created an institutional environment that educated thousands ranging from kindergarten children to university students to farmers and community members to international visitors. We travel regularly to marginalized areas to offer help and support. Our botanical garden is much better organized. I teach this semester at Bethlehem University, Bir Zeit University, Dar Al-Kalima College and Bethlehem Bible college.

There is a lot of hope in Palestine and we stay very busy at the museum, in doing clinical work, in teaching, in activism, writing and more. This hectic schedule keeps us hopeful and is the best antidote to being depressed because of the idiocy of politicians (American, Israeli, Saudi, Palestinian etc).

The Empire Files: How Palestine Became Colonized

Download PDF of full "This Week in Palestine" magazine Oct 2016 Issue:
Diaspora Palestinians

Watch: The National Theatre of Norway´s official apology for the cooperation with Habima (Israel)

Come visit us in occupied Palestine

And stay human

Mazin Qumsiyeh
A bedouin in cyberspace, a villager at home
Professor and (volunteer) Director
Palestine Museum of Natural History
Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability
Bethlehem University
Occupied Palestine
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