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Mazin Qumsiyeh <mazin@qumsiyeh.org>

Message body
A Syrian colleague who is in his 9th decade of life wrote commenting on
what he had witnessed in his life. Starting with the Ottoman rule (that
many Turkish leaders long to revive) he went on to describe why we Arabs
fell for the binary notion of having to choose those who oppressed us for
five hundred years and those who were to become the new oppressors from the
West (starting with France and Britain and now the USA). It made me think
about the same dichotomous false choice they give us today: we either side
with Iran and Russia or with Saudi Arabia, Israel and the US. My friends’
conclusion about the earlier periods is that the people moved in these
directions because they had limited social and economic progress. I wish he
elaborated on this issue of social progress. I am an educator dealing with
students and with society under tremendous pressure all the time. When I
look back to the 1960s and 1970s I recall as a child and then youth how
there was indeed more curiosity about the world. Young and old would sit
together and talk about new discoveries in the world. We would discuss
science, we would think about advances in astronomy and in physics and in
chemistry. No topic was off limits and we debated evolutionary theory,
nature of and existence of a god, environmental issues and more. Politics
was simpler: we all rallied against Zionism and imperialism. We did it
based on objective observable evidence and logic. We viewed notions of
sectarianism and religious-based governance as “retrograde” ideas that can
be dismissed and dismantled with logic and the revolutionary spirit.
Things have changed since then. Zionism and imperialism did suffer setbacks
(in Vietnam, in 1973, in liberation struggles). However, being flush with
cash and the weakness of the human condition, they were able to create
counter-revolutionary structures that ensured dominance. In regimes like
those in “Israel” and “Saudi Arabia” repression increased gradually and
right-wing fanaticism became mainstream in society. Arab leaders became
more and more subservient to Zionism and imperialism. The regimes learned
to manipulate the masses to give them another false choice: stability (with
dictatorship) or chaos. In Egypt, people were forced by propaganda to
believe that he choice was between a retrograde Islamic rule (recreating a
society of the Middle Ages) or a brutal military dictatorship subservient
to the US/Israel. In Palestine we are supposed to either take theocratic
Hamas rule or autocratic Fatah rule. School teachers are on strike after

failed promises for the past 10 years from the Palestinian authority (PA)
which spends 43% of its budgets on “security”. These teachers should be
honored instead. Yet at Bethlehem University we displayed photos of the
dozens of martyrs fallen and more falling each day as Palestine remains
under colonial brutal occupation. That Mohammad AlQeeq ended his 93 days of
hunger strike and will survive is a small ray of light in this sea of
darkness. We understand that all choices are risky for the PA but this
cannot be an excuse for maintaining a status quo that is increasingly
untenable. We still do not accept that the PA does not want to pursue
Israel in international tribunals because they are afraid for their petty
positions of power. The PLO did issue a statement about the British
attempts to stifle BDS at the behest of the Zionist lobby. In part it says:
“In practical terms this means that such bodies are forbidden from
exercising their democratic right and freedom of choice not to be complicit
in the Israeli settlement project and to take a positive, moral and legal
stand in the face of such a war crime. This represents a serious regression
in British policy and it would empower the Israeli occupation by sending a
message of impunity. In order to accommodate the Israeli occupation, the
British Government is undermining British democracy and their own people’s
rights. Such a law would have prevented British citizens from taking
peaceful actions against the South African Apartheid. Such a law also
contradicts international responsibility and even the UK’s own practice
when it comes to entities violating human rights.”
Hillary Clinton in a letter to Haim Saban (leaked to the Guardian): if
elected president she will give a green light to Israel to kill not just
2000 Gazans but 200,000. But we also do not accept much from someone who
considers Henry Kissinger her friend (a rabid Zionist war criminal
responsible for destruction of millions of lives). All other leading US
candidates (Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Sanders) are no better. The reason western
elites could get away with this is the friendliness of local “Arab elites”.
Take Egyptian dictator Sisi who praised Netanyahu or Saudi king Salman who
is funding Wahhabi terrorism education and weapons around the world and is
committing genocide in Yemen. But despite all the subterfuge, Zionism
remains the largest promoter of these activities around the world (we must
remember that it was British Zionists who appointed the Saud family as
rulers of Arabia). Just yesterday, we heard sirens here at the Jewish only
colonies built on stolen Palestinian lands. This was an exercise in

preparation for the upcoming attack on Gaza. Israeli terrorist army has to
attack Gaza to test new weapons. Most “Israeli” weapons are repackaged US
weapons tested on the captive guinea pigs or the two million residents of
the Gaza strip (an open air prison under siege). And Indian elite leaders
plan to buy 3 billion worth of these "battle tested" Israeli weapons. But
how we common human beings away from positions of authority behave will be
critical. Apathy cannot be the answer. Our work with young Palestinians is
expanding at Bethlehem University, in the fields, in high schools etc. We
are also writing and speaking (just finished two articles one on BDS and
the other on role of civic society in a changing world). We wish more
people join us (http://palestinenature.org).
Warning – Graphic video of the suffering of political prisoner Mohammad
Al-Qeeq (held without trial and on hunger strike for three months now)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPuCraX0GfU
BDS movement faces attack in six state legislatures by Alex Kane
http://mondoweiss.net/2016/02/bds-movement-faces-attack-in-six-statelegislatures
Israel violates over 80 UN Security Council Resolutions
http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2010/01/27/rogue-state-israeli-violationsof-u-n-security-council-resolutions/
Mazin Qumsiyeh
Professor and Director
Palestine Museum of Natural History
Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability
Bethlehem University
Occupied Palestine
http://qumsiyeh.org
http://palestinenature.org
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