Friday, November 06, 2015

A Palestinian Abroad: Ubud Writers and Readers Festival and More

Ubud Writers and Readers Festival and More

by Mazin Qumsiyeh  - Popular Resistance

The Ubud Writers and Readers Festival in Bali, Indonesia was a wonderful opportunity to meet so many great people. Just a few examples: Ati Nurbaiti (Indonesian journalist who covered the violence in Aceh), Avi Sirlin (Canadian who wrote about Alfred Russel Wallace), Christina Lamb (British bestselling author and leading foreign correspondent), Dorothy Tse (Hong Kong fiction writer), Eka Kuniawan (young brilliant Indonesian author of eight books), Hyeonseo Lee (escaping miraculously from North Korea and author of her memoir “The Girl with Seven Names”), Janet DeNeefe (Founder of the festival and author), Joseph Woods (Irish Poet and writer), Mohsen Hamid (award winning Pakistani writer), Mpho Tutu (ordained minister, author, leader, and daughter of Desmond Tutu), William Finnigan (USA author and Journalist), among many others.

I was the only Palestinian (perhaps only Arab) in the festival.

In my intervention on Thursday, I talked about colonial legacy in Western Asia (seeds sown 100 years ago by British and French and materializing today in places like Syria and Palestine). The next day with a panel called “Passport to…” we talked about refugees and limitations on movement etc. On Saturday, the focus was on Palestine for one hour with questions to me from British writer and journalist living in Singapore Michael Vatikiotis).

The only problem in the festival was censoring sessions dealing with the massacres committed by the US backed dictator Suharto (Zionist Henry Kissinger’s man) with hundreds of thousands killed between 1965 and 1968 and the massacres in Indonesian occupied East Timor (supported by Australia) from 1975 to 1999 (later East Timor gained independence).

This makes me think of why many states do not want to face their history honestly: Israel refuses to acknowledge its ethnic cleansing and massacres of native Palestinians, US having a federally funded holocaust memorial museum but no similar museum for the genocide of natives and of African slaves, Holland and Britain and other European nations not recognizing their legacies etc. But anyway, the Indonesian people we met (Hindu, Muslim, other) were all very nice and extremely hospitable and Bali is simply a beautiful tropical paradise.

I am back in Palestine tired but having learned so much from fellow writers and readers and we immediately engaged by hosting a meeting for some key activists in popular resistance (still ongoing workshops through Saturday). But there are also students to teach, museum work to do, olives to pick (once the rains stop), manuscripts to write, visitors to host, colleagues to visit, proposals to finish…etc.

On various occasions in life, I am reminded of the Letter from Birmingham Jail 16 April 1963 by Martin Luther King Jr [This is also where he quipped: Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere]:

“I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

Action: Around the world at 6 PM Palestine time Saturday 7 November, people in Palestine and abroad will sing and play the Palestinian National anthem to remind the world that a people still yearns for return, freedom, and self-determination after 7 decades of colonialism.

"Palestine is not a local issue, it is a global issue with global ramifications" ProMosaik e.V. interviews Mazin Qumsiyeh -

Five interesting videos that were heavily circulated on social mesdia that Israel does not want the world to see. For those who do not read Arabic, the first video is of soldiers lynching a shop worker and then arresting him, soldier chases and “captures” a child, Israelis dressed as Palestinians join a demonstration then attack and point blank shoot youth, 4. Kidnapping a child brutally from a shop and hitting owner, 5. Settlers in Hebron attack Palestinian homes -

Israeli soldiers tell Palestinians: ‘We will gas you until you die' -

[Apartheid occupation soldiers and settlers also continued shooting unarmed Palestinians for sport and in many cases caught on video or photos placing knives next to the Palestinian bodies to justify the murders]

Mahmoud Abbas says he does not want “right of return for 6 million Palestinian refugees but only a solution for them”. He says he is not going to cancel the surrender agreement of Oslo and he says other things to reassure racists. The most interesting in this Jerusalem Post article is the racist comments below it which should (but never will) shock Palestinians who try to please colonial racist Zionists with the simple terrifying truth: you can never give up enough of your basic human rights to please racists - only if we Palestinians completely disappear will Zionists be satisfied with us -

Israel’s attack on USA: Jerusalem Post confirms Israel knew USS Liberty was American -

Hundreds of Anthropologists boycott Israel and encourage more -

A condemnation of the assassination of Sa’d Al Atrash, and an urgent call for international protection:

We, the Palestinian General Union of Persons with Disabilities GUPWD) and Bethlehem Arab Society for rehabilitation (BASR), strongly condemn the assassination of Sa’d Al Atrash, who was shot by the Israeli military forces and left to bleed to death in Hebron on Monday the 26th of October 2015, according to local news reports. Sa’d - a beneficiary of BASR’s Economic Empowerment Program - was a 19 year-old man with Epilepsy / psychosocial disability. He has been a member of the Hebron branch of GUPWD who is keen on defending the rights of his fellow Palestinians with disabilities. He was actively involved in several advocacy initiatives of the Hebron branch of GUPWD to promote the right of persons with disabilities to work, to access information and public transportation. In this struggle, Sa’d was completely committed, but his efforts to advocate a better quality of life for marginalized persons with disabilities were mercilessly cut short by a bullet fired by an Israeli soldier for the false claim of attempting to stab him.

According to eyewitnesses, Sa’d was called by the Israeli soldiers while passing by; and as he stopped, he was surrounded by 4 soldiers who shot him dead with several bullets.

Sa’d had great ambition to achieve. During the career counseling phase, BASR economic empowerment team were immediately taken by the passion and enthusiasm shown by Sa’d towards his own personal and professional development and by his desire to take ownership of his future. As a result, Sa’d was registered at a vocational training center in Hebron, where he began to study for a diploma in electrical maintenance. He was so delighted to start this new chapter in his life, and began the program in September with complete commitment. A week before his martyrdom, Sa’d discussed his future plans at length with BASR team. Sa’d was not the first Palestinian with a disability to have been targeted by Israel. The ongoing occupation of Palestine has resulted in numerous deaths among Palestinians with disabilities, but also in countless injuries, arrests and traumas.

Since the beginning of October, 1003 Palestinians have been arrested, 50% of whom are children, as reported by the Palestinian Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs. Moreover, the Palestinian MoH reported 70 ruthlessly shot dead including 14 children, and more than 7200 injured.

The assassination of Sa’d, therefore, represents not just a grave personal tragedy for his family and friends, but starkly demonstrates the constant threat posed by Israel’s occupation forces and Palestinian General Union of People with Disability Bethlehem Arab Society for Rehabilitation settlers to Palestinian civilians, particularly those with disabilities. This threat comes from Israel’s regular and unlawful use of lethal force against Palestinian youth - which takes place against a backdrop of a range of Israeli-perpetrated human rights violations inflicted upon Palestinians in general - as well as the restrictions imposed by the Israeli occupation on the ability of Palestinian medical authorities to provide emergency services to those who need them.

Accordingly, we wish not merely to express our deep concern at Sa’d’s assassination, but to highlight that this assassination constitutes a flagrant violation of an individual’s right to life as enshrined under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Israel is a signatory.

Israel, as highlighted in recent reports from a wide range of human rights organizations, is demonstrably unable or unwilling to uphold its protective duties as an occupying power towards the Palestinian populace, as demanded under international law.

We therefore call for an urgent response from all relevant actors, including the provision of international protection to the Palestinian people, particularly those with disabilities. We sincerely hope that this wave of violence would be put to an end soon and that peace would prevail in the Holy Land.

Come visit us in Palestine.

In the meantime, Stay Human

Mazin Qumsiyeh
Professor and Director
Palestine Museum of Natural History
Bethlehem University
Occupied Palestine

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