Home > Columnists > Excerpt from the Human Rights Newsletter from Mazin Qumsiyeh

Excerpt from the Human Rights Newsletter from Mazin Qumsiyeh

Today (March 21) in Palestine and many parts of the world is traditionally mothers’ day on the first day of Spring. The colorful carpets of flowers in the fields are the gift of Palestine to the mothers. My own mother is emblematic of Palestinian mothers. She is 82 years old and she lost her good friend in Deir Yassin massacre during the ethnic cleansing that marked the beginning of our Nakba (catastrophe). Her own mother is from Nazareth. She suffered a lot but never said so and always kept a positive spirit and love of people and life. From her I learned to be who I am. To her I owe not just my biological being but my psychology and all that I accomplished and hope to accomplish. To my wife (mother of our son) and my three sisters (two mothers, one grandmother) and to all the mothers out there and all the ladies whether biological mothers or mothers of others by action and example: utmost love and respect.

Even though our Palestine Museum of Natural History and its Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability did not officially open to the public yet, we do get visitors regularly (by arrangement). This past week we got a school from Nablus, farmers and Bedouins from the Jordan Valley, a women group from Nahhalin, and international visitors. I also spoke to a large group of students from Harvard University. Our dedicated volunteers did field work in places like Beit Qad in Jenin district and Wadi Qana and Tulkarem. Today we also had a nice lecture by Bassem Ra’ad at Bethlehem University and I had the honor of being one of the respondents. He is the author of the highly acclaimed book “Hidden Histories” (see review here http://electronicintifada.net/content/book-review-excavating-palestines-hidden-histories/3604).

We discussed how factual history is being suppressed in favor of a Zionist narrative that expropriated Palestinian Canaanitic history as it had expropriated our land, our natural resources, our religious sites, and even our food. Ra’ad’s recommendation is to do our own detailed historical research which we in the museum are doing. We are also learning for the sake of learning. At the end of this month that is dedicated to the environment, we Palestinians also have “Land Day” (started 1976) in which we reaffirm our connections to the land as native people and rejection of colonial activities. We will have events at the Museum in Bethlehem both on 30 March and 31 March (volunteerism, educational programs including a science cafe on 31 March about geology and paleontology). We could use volunteers in all areas from social media to internet to researching material (in history, languages, nature etc) to field work, to preparing animal and plant specimens, to photography, to permaculture, to fundraising etc. Our many volunteers all report satisfying and productive and fun experiences.

Send us an email if interested to join us at info@palestinenature.org and we can give you detail and also you can come by any day to the museum (open daily 7 days a week from 9-6 but call to arrange time at (02) 2773553.)

Many of us are tired of governments and are looking to build sustainable communities. Governments and their intelligence services and their lack of respect for human rights are wreaking havoc and promoting fundamentalism around the world (especially here in Western Asia). The silence of the US-backed government of Afghanistan and not punishing those who lynched a woman for burning the Quran. The public executions and torture by the IS-backed government of “Saudi Arabia.” The silence of US media on these and the atrocities of US-backed apartheid regime here. Most of us Palestinians who follow Israeli politics were relieved Netanyahu gets to be Prime minister again. Why?

See this by Ali Abunimah on “Why I’m relieved Netanyahu won” (must read analysis) http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/why-im-relieved-netanyahu-won.

Yonatan Mendel wrote in the London Review of Books before the election reflective on real issues and is likewise prophetic. I said the same thing before every election: We Palestinians prefer Netanyahu and company over Livni, Peres, Rabin and the like. The oxymoronic “left Zionists” sort of like “left Nazi” do more damage to native rights but with a sheep cloak (more like a fig leaf). The “right” has no such cloak and will move further right as Israel did at every election. Gideon Levy writing in Haaretz wonders if Israel and Netanyahu (a lying prime minister whose only accomplishment is killing Palestinians) actually deserve each other! Now it is up to the international community to decide how much of apartheid racism will it tolerate before deciding to give accountability. Or will they wait for genocide?

Anyway here are three analysis Yonatan Mendel http://www.lrb.co.uk/v37/n06/yonatan-mendel/diary.

Gideon Levy http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.647555.

This video from the Israeli media is beginning to go viral (Netanyahu and the USA)

(thoughtful) Reflections By An Arab Jew by Ella Habiba Shohat “War, however, is the friend of binarisms, leaving little place for complex identities…” http://www.bintjbeil.com/E/occupation/arab_jew.html

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

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