People asked me about the latest “reconciliation” agreement between Fatah and Hamas. Most Palestinians here are skeptical of the sincerity of leadership in Fatah and Hamas and most still think these leaders are driven by narrow factional and personal interests than by interest of Palestine.
Noticeably absent was the popular Front For the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the largest secular faction after Fatah. Women leaders also complained about the exclusion of women voices. Youth were also absent as most of those politicians are my age or older. In my talks (and I give several every week to visiting delegations and local people), I emphasize that people must wake up and push politicians to do the right thing. That is how history changes: via people especially youth and women. Of course, many wish that politicians show some leadership for positive change but we the people have to act. Meanwhile, we have an ongoing slow genocide of the Palestinian people. 7.4 million are refugees/displaced people and that number keeps growing. Those of us who against all odds remain here are subjected to unspeakable restrictions and squeezed into ghettos/cantons by an apartheid regime worse than in Apartheid South Africa and the most profitable occupation in history (thanks partly to the Oslo accords). But I do see positive signs of people acting here and there regularly. So many internationals show so much solidarity because Palestine today is the lightning rod against western hypocrisy and racism in the same way that South Africa provided such a beacon in the 1980s.
I am especially encouraged by young people here. We just concluded a bio-medical conference in Nablus where our students excelled in giving results of their research. The volunteers I work with in nature are excellent (I spent yesterday classifying butterflies with one such volunteer for our nascent natural history museum). We work with undergraduate and graduate students on issues ranging from pollution to infertility to biodiversity to cancer epidemiology.
I continue to send letters to editors and occasionally some are published. This one below is significant in that it was published 25 April in the Wall Street Journal (the most significant Journal for Western business leaders):
Israel and the Palestinian Christians: As Palestinian Christians we deal with the Israeli repression daily
Regarding Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Ron Prosor’s “The Middle East War on Christians” (op-ed, April 17): For brevity, I want to address one aspect, which is the supposed protection by Israel of Christians. As Palestinian Christians we deal with the Israeli repression daily. Even with my U.S. passport I was not allowed to enter Jerusalem for Easter as most Palestinians continue to be denied their religious freedom. Israel destroyed 530 Palestinian villages and towns and created the largest refugee population on earth after World War II. Churches and mosques were equally targeted for destruction. And in its expansion in the rest of Palestine, Israel started building colonial settlements after 1967 on our occupied lands (illegal per international law). Bethlehem is now a ghetto with a wall around it. Israel has over 50 laws that discriminate against
non-Jewish Israelis and hundreds to discriminate against Palestinians in the occupied areas. For those interested in information from Christians, please look up the powerful statement by all Christian denominations here called “Kairos Palestine” (www.kairospalestine.ps) instead of Mr. Prosor’s attempt to divert attention and mislead readers.
WHAT CAN YOU DO FOR HUMAN RIGHTS? http://qumsiyeh.org/whatyoucando/