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A New Decade | Mazin Qumsiyeh

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This post first appeared on the website of Mazin Qumsiyeh, Professor and Director, Palestine Museum of Natural History, Bethlehem University. http://palestinenature.org, http://qumsiyeh.org, http://popular-resistance.com.

We entered 2020, a year that heralded an unlivable situation in Gaza according to the UN and a new decade that many are predicting will radically transform the world (either make it or break it on many fronts from world peace to climate change). Locally a recent article in Arabic summed up the previous decade. It covered things like the unfulfilled expectations from the Obama administration which while trying to talk peace supported Israel in money and protection at the UN to expand colonies in the occupied territories. It covered the strengthening of Zionist support to right-wing parties around the world (US, UK, Brazil, etc.), gains of UN recognition for the state of Palestine (including joining UNESCO), inaction on climate, growth of Zionist colonial settlements, Trump’s destructive moves to accommodate Israeli colonialism, numerous attacks on Gaza population (testing Israeli new weapons and killing>1000 civilians), settler attacks on civilians (including burning a whole family), UNSC 2334 resolution that was miraculously not vetoed by the Obama administration (on the applicability of Geneva conventions), and the return marches from Gaza that started in
2018 and still ongoing and still faced by shoot-to-kill at peaceful demonstrators. The year was capped by Trump accepting the Zionist Chutzpah that anti-Zionism is the same as anti-Semitism followed by (20 December) the International Court of Justice declaring there is ground to investigate Israel for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Dare we hope for a good new decade? In my view that only comes from making the right diagnosis and applying therapy starting with ourselves. In her 1987 book “When Society Becomes an Addict,” Anne Wilson Schaef brilliantly articulated characteristics of addicted societies (which also inflict addicted individuals whether to drugs or alcohol). They include things like Chaos (opposite is structure/organization), lying and dishonesty, Denial of reality, attack on and attempts at invalidation of others (not cooperation and teamwork), ethical deterioration, Fear (as opposed to courage to take
bold decisions). The crisis orientation overwhelms the capacities of an addictive system. Stress leaves most people in an addictive system exhausted and helpless. Communication confusion is always present and empty promises are always used to offer a false hope in addictive systems. Healthy persons who are recovering from an addictive system are attacked also. Simplistic dualisms offer a pretense of reality and control in addictive systems e.g., you are a patriot or a traitor. I leave it to you if you agree that US, Israeli, and even Palestinian societies are addicted. In our case, I had analyzed our “addictive illness” in a recent chapter in a book on post-colonialism in which I used the “mental colonization” analysis. I articulated ways to get off of this which is to start with a nucleus of positive individuals (not saheeja) and grow it methodically and scientifically. It needs a lot of work (proactive, not reactive) and effort and self-sacrifice. The ten-step process for getting over addictions is to start with acknowledgment and fully embracing the fact of our addictions. In this case, it means to stop the charade of Oslo and challenge all the other symptoms of our addiction. I believe this is the decade to be cured and get freedom/liberty.

Freedom is never given to oppressed people from outside. It must be generated by resistance and via pressure primarily from the inside (outside help is welcome as with BDS just like in South Africa). Our motto at palestinenature.org is respect and it is respect at three levels (respect for ourselves, for others, for nature). That first level is most critical: It is empowerment. So let us pull up our sleeves and get to work to make this decade the decade of the end of colonization, greed and racism and a decade of clarity (20/20 vision ;-), peace, justice, equality AND saving our planet from ourselves!

NOTE: On Saturday, Jan. 18 at 6 p.m., Mazin Qumsiyeh will speak at the Palestine Museum US, 1764 Litchfield Turnpike, Woodbridge. The Shafer Lecture is a continuing project of Promoting Enduring Peace (which gave its Gandhi Peace Award to Omar Barghouti in 2017). Qumsiyeh is the Director of the Palestine Museum of Natural History at Bethlehem U. See this National Geographic page about him: www.nationalgeographic.org/find-explorers/mazin-b-qumsiyeh. He was the Director of Cytogenetics at the Yale Medical School for a number of years and has written “Sharing the Land of Canaan” among other works. He lives in Palestine near Bethlehem.

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