Feb 16, 2017

Mythos und Wirklichkeit

"Many books go out of date and few remain iconic and critical to understanding an issue. The book in hand belongs to the latter category, the true classics. Simha Flapan was born in Poland 27 January 1911 and immigrated to Palestine as an idealistic “socialist Zionist” in 1930. He was national secretary of the Mapam party and head of its Arab Affairs department. Simha Flapan unfortunately died while his book went to press in 1987. However, the book was really revolutionary and hence it is now in German." 
I wrote this forward but never shared it with the readers of my blog. I highly recommend for English speakers to read the original book and for German Speakers to read the German translation published in 2015 with my forward. Anyway here is the forward I wrote to the German version of this remarkable book.

Forward/Vorwort  (in German) to Simcha Flapan, "Die Geburt Israels. Mythos und Wirklichkeit," Semit edition bei ZAMBON, Frankfurt/M. 2015 http://zambon.net/index.php?id=23&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=16&cHash=b31f316288177a61c0f7b3d7a8757a25

Forward By Prof. Mazin Qumsiyeh, Professor and Director, Palestine Museum of Natural History, Bethlehem University, Occupied Palestine

Many books go out of date and few remain iconic and critical to understanding an issue. The book in hand belongs to the latter category, the true classics. Simha Flapan was born in Poland 27 January 1911 and immigrated to Palestine as an idealistic “socialist Zionist” in 1930. He was national secretary of the Mapam party and head of its Arab Affairs department. Simha Flapan unfortunately died while his book went to press in 1987. However, the book was really revolutionary and hence it is now in German. I am sure had Flapan been alive, the publisher would have gotten him to write a very relevant forward in a form of a new edition. I am sad I never met Flapan but I am honored to reflect on why this work is so critical. The well-chosen title “The Birth of Israel: Myths and Realities” immediately draws attention to perhaps one of the most astounding historical events of the 20th century that still shapes conflicts in this part of the world and even beyond.
The tragic history that was unleashed here with the idea of Zionism was not unforeseen. Every Zionist leader knew that their project to colonize Palestine will create misery and mayhem because no colonization can be done nicely or with the support of the native people who will have to be expelled. Flapan does not give his opinions but he shows by documentary evidence how this tragedy happened. Palestine was to be transformed from multireligious and multi-cultural society (Jews represented less than 5% of the population in 1897) to the monolithic “Jewish state”. Ethnic cleansing achieved this goal and today 7 million Palestinians are refugees or displaced people (of a total Palestinian population of 12 million). This is the “miracle” of the Birth and growth of Israel. This miracle took a combination of military might, collusion by leaders near and far (including Arab leaders), and a lot of propaganda. Flapan exposes the myths that many Zionists told to justify their crimes. Flapan successfully tackles the biggest seven lies (myths) that Zionists used to create and perpetuate the state of Israel. The myths include things like the acceptance of partition by the Zionist leadership paralleling rejection by Arab leaders, the myth of a small Israel fending off large Arab armies (David vs. Goliath), the myth that Israel is looking for peace, and more. The most devastating myth is that of Israeli lack of responsibility for the creation of the Palestinian refugee “problem”. He demolishes these myths with irrefutable sources, most of them are actually from Israeli leaders themselves. This was a pioneering achievement and Flapan’s book opened a section of the wall of lies and myths to be followed by many Israeli honest writers such as Hillel Cohen, Baruch Kimmerling, Ilan Pappe, Tom Segev, Avi Shlaim, and Israel Shahak. Earlier many Palestinian historians have written extensively on the real history that is not the mythologized history of zionism (e.g. Aref Al-Aref, Walid Khalidi, Sami Hadawi, Emil Tuma, Nur Masalha etc).

The most important figure (the midwife) in the “birth of Israel” was David Ben-Gurion and the current book reviews extensively the record of this founding figure. We learn from Flapan things like what Ben-Gurion said in 1937 as to explain why a small state will help consolidate power “for the gradual conquest of all of Palestine”. We can trace this consistent thinking ten years later when Ben-Gurion explained that “After the formation of a large army in the wake of the establishment of the state, we will abolish partition and expand to the whole of Palestine.” We learn in this book of Ben-Gurion’s statement that he sees transfer as moral and we read his orders to remove inhabitants in many places and we learn about his creation of a “transfer committee”. Members of this transfer committee (Dannon, Weitz, Lipshitz) are exposed as racist ideologues who made many incriminating statements. In a fair world such individuals who led or participated in these actions would have been tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity. But Zionists were well placed in western countries and managed much misinformation as well as used the world sympathies after WWII to hide horrors committed to create the Jewish state.

But it is not just these amazing quotes that are relevant, but the nuances of wheeling and dealing reminiscent of the novel “The Godfather” that we become privy to by reading Flapan. We learn much about negotiations that ensured a declaration of independence that lacked any relevance to borders of the new state and from the wrangling between parties not about the morality of transferring population but merely about how to do it. We learn about the policies and practices that emanate from the Zionist maxim of maximizing geography (Palestinian land for the Jewish state) while minimizing demography (of the native Palestinians). We learn how international politics and local maneuvering were done with sophistication and cunning to hide the massacres and the ethnic cleansing. We learn about the collusion between Zionists and King Abdullah of Jordan to thwart the formation of a Palestinian state, a collusion that was crucial in the devastation inflicted on the local Palestinians in 1948-9. We learn that the Zionists, intoxicated with their power, even abandoned the favorable agreement made with Abdullah and moved forward with expansions. This is not unusual in colonial histories (e.g. in the Americas). Abdullah was assassinated for his collusion by a young Palestinian nationalist in 1951.

I find it remarkable that the insights that were revealed by Flapan in this book are echoed by previously classified and now declassified assessment from Western Intelligence agencies. For example, on 28 November 1947, the US Central Intelligence Agency correctly predicted the mayhem that would arise because of President Truman’s support for creation of a Jewish state. They also accurately predicted that “In the long run no Zionists in Palestine will be satisfied with the territorial arrangements of the partition settlement. Even the more conservative Zionists will hope to obtain the whole of the Nejeb [Naqab], Western Galilee, the city of Jerusalem, and eventually all of Palestine. The extremists demand not only all of Palestine but Transjordan as well. They have stated that they will refuse to recognize the validity of any Jewish government which will settle for anything less, and will probably under-take aggressive action to achieve their ends.”(document declassified 16 Jan 1978).

Flapan’s meticulous research shows the remarkable extent of the efforts to destroy native Palestinian civilian lives, drive people out, and create an ethnocracy with apartheid laws. Flapan uses the term population transfer (which Ben-Gurion found desirable) rather than the term ethnic cleansing which Ilan Pappe and others used. In this book we find a very good discussion of Plan Dalet, adopted in March 1948 and implemented on the ground to drive the natives out. We find good discussion of how the plan was put into force by forces under Yitzhak (break their bones) Rabin to drive the residents of Lydde (Lod) and Ramle out not in a heat of battle but to “cleanse” the area.

Why is demolishing these myths still as relevant today (2015) as it was in 1987 when Flapan died? It is because these myths provided and still provide useful justification for continued injustice. They basically create the fog that allows Israel to be both an apartheid racist state while claiming western values and “democracy”. It allows the state with the fifth strongest army in the world to be the only state with undeclared stockpiles of hundreds of nuclear weapons to claim its “vulnerability” and push other states to fight wars on its behalf. The current book is thus relevant even as some of its details may have become outdated. For example, Flapan mention Israel’s rule over 1.5 million Palestinian in the West Bank and Gaza in 1987 (the number is now 4 million).

As I discussed in my book on “Sharing the Land of Canaan”, abandoning myths helps us get correct diagnosis leading to applying appropriate therapies and a better prognosis. The sobering assessment bolstered by the declassified documents of the historians such as Flapan is that political Zionism is a racist colonial ideology built on myths and is incompatible with peace. This is perhaps not what Flapan wanted us to conclude. In his earlier book “Zionism and the Palestinians’ (1979)  he wrote that “To dispel misunderstanding, I want to make it clear that my belief in the moral justification and historical necessity of Zionism remains unaffected by my critical reappraisal of the Zionist leadership. The history of Zionism demonstrates the extent to which the urge to create a new society, embodying the universal values of democracy and social justice, was inherent in the Zionist movement and responsible for its progress in adverse conditions.” Towards the end of this book, we hear a slightly different Flapan put much of the burden for change on Israel (especially considering the asymmetry of power). Flapan apparently remained a Zionist though distraught at the (predictable) shift to the right in the Zionist discourse. This is different than the trajectory of other historians like Ilan Pappe or politicians like Avraham Burg who moved farther away from the Zionist narrative. But political opinions aside and no matter how Flapan would have evolved his thinking, his contribution to debunking the myths of Zionism ultimately also chip away at the ideology itself and thus help us get closer to peace with justice.

Burg, Avraham 2008. The Holocaust Is Over: We Must Rise From its Ashes. MacMillan, New York.
Flapan, Simha 1979. Zionism and the Palestinians. Croom Helm, London.
Kimmerling, Baruch 2001. The Invention and Decline of Israeliness: State, Culture and Military in Israel. University of California Press, Los Angeles and Berkeley.
Kimmerling, Baruch 2003. Politicide: Sharon’s War Against the Palestinians. Verso, London.
Kimmerling, Baruch and Joel S. Migdal 1993. Palestinians: The Making of a People. Free Press, New York.
Pappe, Ilan 2006. The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. Oneworld, London and New York
Pappe, Ilan 2011. The Forgotten Palestinians: A History of the Palestinians in Israel. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT
Qumsiyeh, Mazin 2004. Sharing the Land of Canaan: Human Rights and the Israeli-Palestinian Struggle. Pluto, London.
Qumsiyeh, Mazin 2015. Kanaan: Ein Gemeinsames Land: Menschenrechte und der Israelisch-Palestinensische Kampf. Zambon Verlag, Frankfurt am Main.
Shahak, Israel 1997. Open Secrets: Israeli Nuclear and Foreign Policies.  Pluto Press, London
Shahak, Israel 1994 (New edition 2008). Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The weight of 3000 years. Pluto Press, London.

Shahak, Israel and Mezvinsky, Norton 1999 (New edition 2004). Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel. Pluto Press, London.

Dec 30, 2016

ConSiences of Humanity

Thomas Merton wrote:  "Into this world, this demented inn, in which there is absolutely no room for him at all, Christ has come uninvited. But because he cannot be at home in it – because he is out of place in it, and yet must be in it – his place is with those others who do not belong, who are rejected because they are regarded as weak; and with those who are discredited, who are denied the status of persons, and are tortured, exterminated. With those for whom there is no room, Christ is present in this world. He is mysteriously present in those for whom there seems to be nothing but the world at its worst."
John Kerry is delusional if he thinks he can temporarily curb the appetite of those who believe in an ideology of conquest, subjugation and exceptionalism (“chosen people”) to save “Zonism”. His claim that Shimon Peres told him that 78% of Palestine is enough and that they should let the Palestinians have the other 22% is simply not believable. Shimon Peres never changed his views from his youth as a disciple of Ben Gurion (Rabin and the two of them masterminded the ethnic cleansingand destruction of 500 towns and villages between 1948 and 1950). To his last breath Peres was a racist, a bigot, and an unrepentant war criminal (not to mention his build-up of Israel’s arsenal of WMD). He always believed Jews are smarter, chosen, and are entitled to rule over geate Israel and like his mentor, he thought a two-state support is mostly for propaganda. Like his Zionist colleagues whether they believed in God or not (and most of them did not) or they were “left” or “right”, he believed in something they consider more important than all of that: the unity and destiny of the chosen “Jewish people” (a myth no more true than “the Muslim people”, the “white people” or the “Christian People”). This tribal racist thinking infects “left” and right Zionist Jews alike. The only difference between left Zionists like Kerry and Right Zionists like Trump’s son-in-law is merely over tactics (such as timing of applying force and timing of applying diplomacy) not ultimate goals. The even bigger delusion is that it is possible to exploit the differences between the Zionists over tactics to save Israel from historical trends that are inevitable and as predictable as sunrise.

We heard the delusional parameters Kerry copied from the Clinton parameters which in turn were ones with a genealogy that goes back to Ben Gurion of the 1920s (public speeches not his private diaries and letters to his son where he articulated the same vision of greater Israel as his right wing critics and explained that speaking of partition is merely for outside public consumption and that actions on the ground is what matters to achieve the goal of a Jewish empire/Greater Israel). Now here are six parameters based on reality instead f the Kerry delusional parameters:

1) There never is and never was any justification for colonialism whether Jewish colonialism here or white colonialism in South Africa. Corollary is that Zionism is racism and is not compatible with peace.

2) There are 12.5 million Palestinians (50% inside Palestine) in the world and no peace can happen without return of refugees, self-determination and full equality (negated by a concept of a Jewish state or a Muslim state or a Christian state for that matter).

3) Colonialism has one of only three outcomes/models: a) win by the natives at great cost (Algerian model), b) genocide of natives (Australia, USA, New Zealand model), c) integration in one country for all its inhabitants (including descendants of the colonizers). Since options (a) and (b) are virtually impossible here and now (21st century) that leaves option (c) which is in any case the most common outcomes in similar cases. Dozens of countries in central and south America, Canada, Southeast Asia, and South Africa follow that pattern. A “two-state” mirage is just that and will never happen/can never happen (see my book “Sharing the Land f Canaan” to explain why, it is available at http://qumsiyeh.org/sharingthelandofcanaan/ ).

4) Zionism existed before creating the “Jewish state” and will survive after it is ended and becomes a democratic state for all its citizens and the returning refugees. It is an ideology of parasitism and “chosenness” that transcends geography and speaks of contentedness of all Jews around the world and their mutual interest and bonding. Zionists who live in other countries (including those that shape US’s foreign policy whether executed by a democrat or a republican) readily tell you that Israel is their insurance policy that they could always go to if there are “troubles”. It is sort of like the island of the pirates of the Caribbean that was a safety net. Any Jew who challenges such notions and believes that Jews can be American or German and should be loyal citizens of their own countries first or that Israel should be treated like any other country and and forced to comply with International law (including allowing Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and lands) is looked at as a self-hating Jew. Hence John Kerry and Madeline Albright and people like them who “discover” their “Jewishness” would not want to be called “self-hating” and they do everything to help Zionism (ofcourse from the “left” angle of tactics as Trump will do it from the “right” angle).

5) In the near future, US policy will continue unchanged as it was since 1967 and the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty (Israel lobby ensured scuttling the fact that it was a deliberate attack). The US has been and will continue to subvert US interests in favor of Zionist intersts. That the mainstream  media and Hollywood are managed by zionists (whether "left" or right) will probably help this trend continue until the US declines as a world power significantly more (largely due to this Zionist parasitism). The Palestinian and Arab leadership would be wiser to hitch their wagons to different horses before they end-up like Saddam Hussain and Qaddafi. China, Russia, and Iran are certainly not the most desirable countries but at least those horses are not chained by the Zionist masters and watch their own interests instead of Israel's. The big fuss over Obama's abstention and Kerry speech is blown out of proportion: Since 1967, every US President has allowed a very few/rare UN Security Council Resolutions directed (mildly and without sanctions) against Israeli policies. Obama has allowed the fewest (one in 8 years) Carter allowed the most (14 in 4 years): LBJ 7 Nixon 15Ford 2 Carter 14 , Reagan 21, GHW Bush 9, Clinton 3 ,GW Bush  6, Obama 1. None of these had any significance in changing the steadfast policy that the US supported Israel, shielded it from |International law, and funded its aggression. You cannot credibly claim you do not like your son beating other children with clubs that you keep buying for him!!

6) You can fool all the people some of the time or some of the people all the time but you cannot fool all the people all the time. The internet has begun to fray the Zionist hegemony of the media. Note that even in the most moderate of media outlets like PBS, they bring left and right Zoionists to argue but they never allow you to hear from antiZionist or post-Zionist. Other media outlets are owned and operated by either left Zionists (e.g. New York Times, CNN) or right wing Zionists (e.g. Fox News). But more and more people are seeing this and the jig is coming up and that is why Zionists moved to using their lobbies to legislate silence (criticism of Zionism becomes “anti-Semitic”). In doing so the Zionists do not care that they are moving Western governments to become undemocratic (curbing free speech). Their short term calculations that this helps their cause will just as surely backfire as their pushing the US to enter World War I in exchange for getting the Balfour and Cambon declarations or pushing the US to go to war on the Iraqi people. The former partially led to WWII which was not good for anyone and the latter cost US taxpayers $3 trillion and ended up benefiting Iran. Before that the push for the war on Lebanon strengthened Hizbollah. After that came the Zionist push for the war on Syria (ostensibly to break the Shia crescent of Lebanon-Syria-Iran) and Yemen hoped to “win” and drive Arab states into the lap of Zionism. But every push has a counter-push and every action has a reaction (basic physics as basic human psychology).

Some Zionists can *talk* about partition but show me one of their leaders who publicly acknowledge that we native Palestinians (Christians and Muslims) have rights of sovereignty. The reason they can’t is that if they recognize our rights even just over Ramallah, their whole ideology collapses. After all, what is the difference between that and recognizing our rights in Haifa, Jaffa, Nazareth etc  Hence the two state idea remains a figment of an imagination to lead to peace like the mirage of the desert will not lead to water.

What does it take to change dynamics? Challenge both versions representing Zionist interests: Clinton’s and Trump’s (Peres’ and Netanyahu’s). Work for a global uprising against those who actually appoint such puppets. That remains the 1% versus the 99%. Our message to all people (starting with Jews and Israelis who still support Zionism): end your delusions, join the 99% and let us work for a better world where justice prevails and all are treated with dignity and respect regardless of their religious belief (or lack thereof). As Martin Luther King Jr once said “w eiter live together as fellow human beings or perish together as fools.” 

For an example of real mobilization for change, see the Zapatistas.
 ConSiences of Humanity Conference organized by Zapatistas. A great step in what we have always called for a global intifada against the racist capitalist systems

Is Team Trump Instructing this New Year’s Grinch OFAC to Destroy JCPOA? by FRANKLIN LAMB
[OFAC is  Office of Foreign Assets Control in the US Treasury Department run by a Zionist and JCPOA is now commonly referred to by Zionist media as the Iran deal]

Why Obama waited 8 years to take on Netanyahu http://mondoweiss.net/2016/12/obama-waited-netanyahu/

A videotape from 1961 where Benjamn H. Freedman (a Jewish American who converted to Christianity) tells a bit of history that is relevant to current events https://youtu.be/x8OmxI2AYV8

Dec 26, 2016


Will Mahmoud Abbas turn success into failure (again) or will he finally show backbone to use the UNSC resolution to save what remains of Palestine? By Prof. Mazin Qumsiyeh, Bethlehem, Palestine

DEDICATION: This post is dedicated to Mohammad Al-Ghaz and all similar suffering children of Gaza. Mohammad was interviewed a year ago while selling newspapers in the streets. He was asked what he wishes for the new year 2016 and he impulsively answered “like die.” He went on to explain that his life is so miserable and he cannot go to school and has to work hard to find food for his family. Mohammad got his wish this Christmas season as he slipped on the roof of a four story building as he was trying to get some wood (video in Arabic here http://bit.ly/2hqYUPh ). The UN says Gaza will be uninhabitable by 2020. The two million people of Gaza including 1 million children are threatened with massive deaths (genocide). Please remember these one million children who are losing hope in humanity and do something to end Israeli apartheid. And of course the over 400 million children in the world who go to sleep hungry like those Palestinians in Gaza.

Fatah joined the PLO in 1968 and at the same year, there was the first conflict in which Zionist colonial military had to retreat (at Karama through Jordanian and Palestinian resistance). What quickly followed is a defeat in 1970 that was due to lack of knowledge and strategizing and understanding the nature of the society and government in Trans-Jordan at the time. So the PLO was kicked out of Jordan and went to Lebanon in 1970. The only silver lining was that the Palestinians in the 1967 occupied areas started to depend on themselves forming unions and other organizations that developed into the 1974 uprising. The 1973 October war was almost a success militarily except for the US interventions under Zionist Henry Kissinger de facto presidency in foreign affairs (Nixon was too busy with Watergate etc to be an effective president).1973 remain the only real war between contending armies Arab and Zionist (others Arab armies did not fight and in many cases were colluding like in 1948). But the success was political in showing the Israeli state as vulnerable. A 1974 uprising cost Israel a near total collapse of its economy.  But as will happen later, the PLO leadership of Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas turned success to failure by pushing the 10 point program in late 1974 which in essence contradicted the PLO charter and accepted partition (UN general assembly “recommendation” 181 and 194). In exchange for this "compromise" (capitulation), Palestinians got assassinations, a right wing government in Israel in 1977, increased colonial settlements, and the Egyptian government betrayal.

But again we Palestinians picked ourselves up and resumed the struggle which culminated in a major uprising in 1987 that again shook Israel to its core. Instead of capitalizing on this success, Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas pushed for a meaningless “Declaration of Independence” that basically recognized oppressors' legitimacy (under the guise of accepting UN resolutions). Thus the UN could not be holier than the Pope and rescinded its 1974 resolution that equated Zionism with racism (which it is). This capitulation led to Oslo accords harvesting not even low lying fruit but rotten fruit from under the tree. This again saved the Zionist project and more than 50 countries that did not recognize Israel before did so after Oslo. Oslo II agreement in 1994 especially made sure that the Palestinian Authority becomes a subcontractor for the occupation. And between 1993 and today, the number of colonial settlers in the West Bank went from 150,000 to 750,000 (more per square kilometer than inside the Green Line). These were all by Palestinian leadership decisions. Palestinian technical experts (legal, mapping, historical, locals who know the terrain) who were in the negotiations all tell the same story of ignoring their council and forging ahead by the hierarchy. All agree that much more could have been obtained. Many quit in disgust. This is snatching failure from the jaws of success. The pattern repeated with International Criminal Court (ICC), the UN etc for example after Goldstone report (withdrawal), after the BDS call of 2005 (Abbas did not support it and actually spoke against it insisting that only settlement products should be boycotted).  The list goes on and on.

 The UN Security Council (UNSC) issued a resolution in 1980 condemning the settlements in the occupied territories as contrary to the Fourth Geneva conventions. But as capitulations continued (see above), the US got emboldened and started to veto every resolution that was clearly based on International law vis a vis Israel. The USA used its veto power or the threat of veto to thwart any attempt to make Israel comply with human rights and International law. After 36 years and in the last month of President Obama, the USA decided not to veto and simply to abstain (all other 14 members of the UNSC voted with the resolutions. Donald Trump, Egyptian military dictator Sisi, and the Israeli puppets in Congress failed to dissuade Obama from this partial decency (should have voted with to make it unanimous). In any case most analysts consider this resolution a success even though it a) has no enforcement mechanism, b) also equates violence of colonizer with “violence” of colonized, c) does not even mention the word Palestine,

Now, what will happen with this latest resolution? ssuming it is not "too little too late" and regardless of the reasons Obama allowed it passage it after thwarting similar resolutions, two and only two options are before us:

Option 1: The PA goes on in the same pattern as before (especially its security collaboration to protect Israel from any form of meaningful resistance that impacts a cost). Israel already rejected the resolution and is proceeding with colonization activities.  Saeb Erekat, Chief Palestinian Negotiator simply told journalists that he wishes 2017 s a year of ending the occupation and that they will approach the US under its new administration as well as other countries and “ask” that they do something. Israel will annex Maale Adumim consolidating apartheid further (e.g. http://shabiba.com/article/167492 ). PA official speakers from Abu Mazen down to mayors and Fatah revolutionary council members will recite the same scripted speeches over and over again (we want a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital; those who are a little, not much, braver, will say that and implementing UN resolution 194 on refugees; none will dare say anything about the 50 laws that discriminate against Palestinians living inside the green line). This is hoping some savior comes (sorry, Jesus Christ came and Mohammad was recognized the last prophet and we do not anticipate more now).

Option 2: The PA tells the International community that as of a particular date (say in two weeks) unless Israel announces and implements a total freeze (under UN supervision) on all buildings in all the occupied territories and lifts the siege on Gaza, the PA will stop security cooperation. As Israel will not do this and will retaliate, things will get worse but this is a desperate situation and delay cannot happen this time. It is an opportunity that cannot be lost in the middle of transitions between Obama and Trump. Obama will have to deal with it and so will Trump (and us and Israel). It might be actually the last chance for leadership of Fatah to show some new backbone that salvages the Palestinian cause. If not I am use that following option 1 will result in a new grass-root liberation movement to come before 2020 that will reinvigorate the mission of a pluralistic secular democracy (original PLO Charter) in all of Palestine which will eventually succeed (there are already 6.2 million of us here, more than 50% of the population). History will not be kind to those who miss this opportunity at best they will say that their incompetency caused too much suffering or that they were outright traitors for putting personal interest ahead of public interest. It is never too late to correct a mistaken course. It takes courage to admit mistakes. Being humble as the Buddhists say is the first step to greatness.

Oct 12, 2016

Wings of change

This last week we were ecstatic to launch two significant environmental awareness and activism projects with Bethlehem area schools. The two projects have different angles and are funded by two different groups (Canadian and US consulates). In one project we focus more on composting and recycling centers and it involves a different set f schools.  In one we develop modules of environmental education. The recycling and upcycling of solid waste is a key component. It was so rewarding to see the spark in students’ eyes grow stronger. Environmental clubs are being set-up at several marginalized schools and in the one school which already had an experience in forming such a club, we helped them reactivate it and guide it it in a productive direction. We work in partnership with the ministry of education and with UNRWA schools and with the Environmental Quality Authority. University students and other volunteers use the experience of helping in this project to empower themselves. Below is a story from one of our volunteers (Doris is 82 years old) about one of the workshops. Thank you Doris, Elias Handal, Mohammad Najajreh, Khawla Abualia, Reena Daeed, Dalal Assi, Mohammad Abusarhan, Jessie Chang, Revien Binas, and many others for great teamwork on this project. I also just gave a talk in Jordan on use of botanical gardens and museums in valuing ecosystem services. Visitors continue to come to the museum from around the world to use the facilities and change behaviors. Tomorrow students from Dar Al-Kalima college will come to learn about fauna and flora.

Journey of Discovery at the Palestine Museum of Natural History  
By Doris Norrito

Students visiting the Palestine Museum of Natural History were rewarded with an excitingly different approach to learning, one that involved not only discovery but taking the lead in action to take charge of their future.
Traditionally, a lecture approach was considered the pathway to learning, tedious drills driving facts and figures into young minds. Museums were collections of artifacts from the past with little relevance given to the present and less to the future of our planet.

Mazin Qumsiyeh, professor and director of PMNH believes in an action approach that takes young people on a path of discovery by learning from the past and present, asking what they want their world to be like then having them take action and develop plans to make the change in the world they want to see.

On Saturday, 8th of October, Museum staff welcomed 9th and 10th grade girls and their teachers from Nahaleen School and 7th, 8th and 9th grade girls from Beit Jala School. Discovery began in a lecture room on the lower level of the Mar Andreas building, which houses the Museum on the second floor.

Students were each given a bag containing a T-shirt, cap, notebook, pen and ID tag. Professor Qumsiyeh explained how to write data. An introductory film showing field work done at the Museum and research techniques followed. A cartoon representing the “progress” of man in his journey to make “His” life easier graphically showed the negligent impact and lack of concern and living without respect for the environment created. Man’s pursuit of conquering the environment leads to his inevitable demise. The young people “get it” – setting the stage for a will to make change.

Encouraged to question and seek their own answers, enthusiasm blisters the room as questions, discussion and responses expand thinking within an environment at odds with outside forces working to restrict creativity. “Change demands collective work,” Qumsiyeh says.

A tour of the Museum and outdoor grounds begins with half the group taken to the exhibition room on the second floor of the Museum where Elias, a research scientist, explains laboratory work, while Mohammad leads the other half on a tour of the outside grounds. Olive, fruit and nut trees surround the area; a pond, bee hives and a greenhouse that includes three large fish tanks and hydroponic plants that receive recycled fish water.   
After lunch, students are given direction by Mubarak, Reena, and Khawla in how to set up an environmental club in their schools that includes an election of officials for their club.  The duties of officials were outlined. Minutes of meetings were to be written and reports given at another meeting to be held at the Museum in a few weeks.

Students were encouraged to ask questions that stimulate discussion and raise issues leading to solutions. One such question was raised about the future use of electric cars as being a solution to fossil fuel pollution. Yes or no: give reasons for your answer. Can there be solutions and what are they?

Another posed the question of how to promote awareness of the environment and who cares more, the younger or older generations. A second group under a different project arrived on Sunday. There were four schools represented – girls from 5th, 6th and 7th grade girls from Virgin Mary School, 6th and 7th grade boys from Beit Sahour (Al-Ta’akhi) School, 10th and 11th grade from Bethlehem Secondary School for girls and 11th grade from Bethlehem Secondary School for boys.

In spite of age differences, the groups interacted well showing mutual understanding of environmental issues and coming up with thoughtful solutions. One discussion was about having students cleaning school restrooms. Though hired personnel clean, signs could be made to discourage litter, water waste and care for plumbing.

Students said as they looked around the Museum grounds, they got ideas about what they could do in their own schools to control waste and preserve the environment. For example, staking two or three old warn tires, making a seat and painting them colorfully make decorative chairs. Using spent tear gas canisters as holders to germinate seeds or to grow young sapling plants.

Qumsiyeh incorporates peace, empowerment, and environment as non-violent resistance to the harsh conditions under occupation. “If we liberate the mind we can liberate our bodies,” he tells the students in introductory discussions about the Fertile Crescent and how important it is to care for this Palestinian landscape treasure.  
More than depicting just the still life of the past, the Palestine Museum of Natural History is a living entity of the present and the promise of a future placed in the hands of young people equipped with the wings of change.
The role of museums and botanical gardens in demonstrating cultural ecosystem services: Case study and outlook
By: Mazin Qumsiyeh, Professor and Director, Palestine Museum of Natural History, Bethlehem University
Abstract Presented at conference organized by GIZ and the Jordanian Government on ecosystem services, Crown Plaza Dead Sea region 10-11 October 2016

The global environment is facing unprecedented challenges due to human activities ranging from climate change to large scale extinctions to destruction of forests. The threats are diagnosed at accelerating pace and alarm bells are ringing widely about a point of no return that we either crossed or about to cross. More research on diagnosing what ails ecosystem services than on effectiveness of various remedies. Behavioral changes among individuals via environmental awareness and education is considered a crucial component. Here we examine the role of well-structured free-choice institutions of museums and botanical gardens in societal change leading to valuing and preserving cultural and natural ecosystem services. We discuss a case study of a nascent Palestine Museum of Natural History and its botanical gardens now well established as part of an Institute of biodiversity and sustainability. The mission of PMNH is to research, educate about, and conserve our natural world, culture and heritage and use knowledge to promote responsible human interactions with our environment. Much was accomplished so far (see palestinenature.org). For example we explain how school students are using the museum facilities not only to enhance critical thinking and science skills but to develop practical knowledge and create programs that value and protect the rich heritage in nature (and associated cultural folklore of nature). We also engaged in a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis of PMNH and discuss potential spread of this successful model throughout the region. We conclude that valuing ecosystem services in the MENA region (Arab World) would benefit significantly from expansion of this model in other cities band countries and propose a mechanism to do this via a network of institutions concerned with education for ecosystem services.

Sep 2, 2016

Colonial settlers

I just attended a demonstration by Israelis and Palestinians that fell under the rubric of demonstration for “peace based on two states for two people.” I won’t get into the issue of the two state “delusion” since I wrote a whole book on the subject which you can read here  [1]. But I do want to reflect on what I observed and show you some illustrative pictures of how such events are used in the Israeli hasbara (propaganda) campaigns. The Israelis were a mix of good intentioned individuals who knew nothing of the reality of settler colonialism that is the state of Israel or really knowledgeable Zionists who wanted to prove to Palestinians (us) that they are not as bad as they really are (and in the process say “look Israel is a democracy that allows opinions to be expressed).  A good example of the latter category is this guy who is a good friend of a settler security official.

"Friendly demonstrator" with settler police officer

The slogan “two states for two people” is also racist and only corroborates colonialism.
Settler colonial entities like Israel [2] ace one of three possible outcomes and never get resolved via a two state scenario. The three models historically known are: 1) the Algeria model, 2) The Australia/New Zealand model, and 3) (most common) the Latin America/South Africa model. The third model is the most common outcome of colonialism and the one that the vast majority of native people always support whether in South Africa or Palestine.
Says "freedom" but verbally they call for two states
crossing streets but not allowed to staywhile this settler allowed on street

Many of the Israelis attending the demonstration as I said are good intentioned “left wing” who did not study their own history well. They have this delusion that the problems for Israel and Zionism started in 1967 with the military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. But the main problem started much earlier in the late 19th century with the notion of transforming a multi-religious and multi-cultural society called Palestine (at the time 97% not Jewish) to a “Jewish state of Israel.” This idea called Zionism by necessity entailed ethnic cleansing, massacres, home demolitions, 1967 occupation and other symptoms. We should not confuse one of the symptoms (e.g. 1967 occupation) with the underlying etiology of this disease.  Unfortunately many Palestinians (like Chief Buthalesi in South Africa during apartheid) adopted the Zionist language. So some of the Palestinian demonstrators today wanted freedom for Palestine “from Hebron to Jenin”!!! But even these soft demands for 1/5th of the Palestinian land stolen got booed by passing settler cars who honked and gave us fingers.  The demonstration was mainly drawing attention to the plight of the Palestinian political prisoners, many of them where on hunger strike hoping to end their detentions without trial for months (also called “administrative detention).
Just in case we get ideas! Me next to masked soldiers
more for "just in case"

Meanwhile, the Palestinian public is numbed by economic need, accumulated debts, mental occupation, lack of water (our museum guest apartment had no water for two weeks now), and much more. The self-declared leadership is not concerned with people’s lives but is merely concerned with their own selfish interests. The idea of holding municipal elections under occupation used to be a challenge to the occupation when held in 1976. Today it is a distraction and a chess game between various factions. The real significant events happen elsewhere with little media coverage.

It has been almost 100 years from the time of the British Balfour declaration and French Jules Cambon declaration in support of Zionism issues in 1917 partially as a quid pro quo to get Zionists to lobby for the US entrance into World War 1.  Much mayhem has happened since then. Some more important events than others. There was the formation and Zionists take-over and of the “Federal Reserve Bank” in the US that ensures printing money backed only by US military power to become the world “reserve” currency (a sham system of debt and credit that enriched thousands by that impoverished billions). There was the financing of both sides of wars from WW2 to the Iran-Iraq war. There was Vietnam and Cambodia where millions were massacred. The war on Iraq that cost three trillion dollars and the lives of about a million Iraqis was a war for Israel (see [3]).  The Zionist elite are enjoying major political successes: normalization with many Arab governments, PLO now exists only in name and only to help be a subcontractor for the occupation. But they are suffering from some setbacks: 1) strengthening of the Iran-Syria-Hizbollah-Russia-China alliance, 2) growth of the boycotts, divestments, and sanctions movement [4], 3) population growth of non-Jews under the apartheid Israeli rule (now and for the first time since the 1948 ethnic cleansing, there are less than 50% Jewish), 4) the dream of creating sectarian states in the Middle East by the intelligence services of Israel and the US is evaporating (this was supposed to normalize sectarian Israel).

Many gave us the finger, I gave the V sign

at least we bought good grapes

Much has been happening that causes rational people to question the future of the Zionist project known as the Jewish state of Israel. The last pregnant Palestinian young women shot by an occupation army was Sara Haddoush Trayra.  It is too soon to declare that she will be the last victim. Israel also released the body of Bahaa Ulayan, a bright young man who helped form a reading ring around the old city f Jerusalem and promoted reading among many young people in schools and universities throughout the occupied areas. Israel had murdered him and held his body for 11 months. Israeli colonial settlers continue their theft of Palestinian lands, their destruction of Palestinian homes and their promotion of racism as law of the land [5]. These and millions of other examples are the signs of a moral bankruptcy that is acceleration t is too soon to declare the Zionist empire failing but many signs point to an arrogance of power that is only seen in dying empires that stretch themselves too thin. Yes, Israel get $4 billion of US taxpayer money (more federal aid to Israel than any state of the United States).

The explosion yesterday that destroyed an Israeli satellite two days before it was to launch is causing many in the circles of elite power to ponder the changing landscape. The Israeli company Spacecom was to be sold for $285 million to a Chinese company. The deal, announced only last week was pending the successful launch of the satellite (dubbed Amos-6) but now the deal is off. Whether accident or divine intervention or something else, this is worrying Israeli elite apartheid rulers. The wind, as the Arabic proverb goes, does not always  g the way the ships want to go.

There is a concerted Zionist campaign to oust Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labor party in the UK with much money and extortion and propaganda being spent (but may ultimately fail as evidence by the large crowd attending any Corbyn appearance). Corbyn dares to put British and human public interests front and center. Zionists want a puppet like they had in Clinton I (the philanderer corrupt) or the upcoming Clinton II (the war criminal corrupt). As public opinion shifts in the US as it did in Britain and Europe, inevitably it will trickle to the government. As Jill Stein has little chance  Trump and Hillary might accelerate the demise of the US empire and thus be the last of the “lesser of two-evils” charade. Meanwhile, we the people must change our approach and stop playing the game using the rules placed on us by the bankers.

[2]  Israel the last of the Settler Colonies
[5] See the list of over 50 laws that discriminate against non-Jews in the “Jewish state” https://www.adalah.org/en/law/index (ofcourse for those of us in the West Bank there are hundreds of other discriminatory “laws” being the military orders)
[6] Confessions of an Economic Hit Man 

Aug 16, 2016

Eight Years

It has been 8 years since I moved back from the USA to occupied Palestine and it may be worth a brief reflection. I accomplished much since then (of course I am surrounded by good people starting with my wife and immediate family members to students and volunteers who believed in what we were doing and to hundreds of supporters around the world). Briefly, under difficult circumstances in 2008-2016, I (with support)

1- Published many scientific research articles including critical ones on environment and genetics

2- Wrote books (one published in 2012 on Popular Resistance in Palestine and two on the way)

3- Founded and directed a clinical cytogenetics laboratory

4- Mentored dozens of graduate and undergraduate students

5- Taught over 8 different courses ranging from molecular biology to anthropology to biodiversity at four colleges and universities

6- Founded and directed the Palestine Museum (PMNH) of Natural History and Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability (PIBS) including its nascent botanical garden. http://www.palestinenature.org

7- Traveled throughout occupied Palestine and collected over 8000 specimens and over 10,000 photos that are a basis of current and future research

8- Traveled and represented Palestine in over 20 countries

9- Wrote over 200 articles on issues ranging from popular resistance to the one state solution to BDS.

10- Spoke to over 5000 visiting internationals about the situation

11- Spoke to thousands of locals on issues ranging from environment to human rights

12- Created jobs and helped some students manage their financial burden with some scholarships and work-study programs

13- Organized dozens of workshops that built human capacity

14- Built working relationships with dozens of local and international groups

15- Performed a number of consultancies to local and international agencies that made a direct impact on course of human development and the environment

16- Read over 500 books and hundreds of articles that helped me change and grow as an individual

17- Built friendships with hundreds (and met thousands)

18- Challenged oppression wherever it was found (via demonstrations, media work, etc) and got arrested a few times and questioned by intelligence services of three countries ;-)

All of this was done while struggling against not just Israeli occupation with its repression (e.g. inability to import things normally, lack of freedom of movement) but some Palestinian societal backward culture including nepotism, patriarchy, bureaucracy, and corruption. We were learning as we go how to deal with people (including the “mental occupation”). We gave chances to some who abused them and some who benefited from the chances to improve themselves and serve Palestine. But what sustained me/us was good honest people who I met and worked with everywhere. Hundreds of individuals like you on this list who helped us in so many ways by donations, volunteerism, actions, and other kinds of support. Of course what we have done is miniscule compared to what needs to be done. And there are many millions of candles in this darkness. We are humble enough to realize that we can only continue to achieve with collective work towards a peaceful., just, and SUSTAINABLE world.

Staying in the US would have been much less demanding on my physical and psychological health (and with a six figure income would have been financially “logical”). And there was lots of activities we were doing in the US for Palestine, for global peace, and for the environment. Much remains to be done within the US as it continues to be the country that is in the words of Martin Luther King Jr "the biggest purveyor of violence". It certainly is the most enabling and the major sponsor of apartheid Israel and the endless wars in neighboring countries (conflicts thought to serve Israeli interests). Without the US support “Israel” would fold in two weeks and would have to become a democratic country for all its people and allow the Palestinian refugees to return. However and having said all of that, the decision to return to Palestine was the best decision I made in my life and this feeling grows stronger every day. The most important accomplishment I feel will last generations is my mentoring of young people. I would like to spend more time with young people (this is part of the reason we built PMNH/PIBS) and work harder at helping people help themselves. As I look forward with optimism to the next eight years here (If I live that long), I want to sincerely thank all of you who contributed and continue to contribute your time and energy.

END OF REFLECTION. Now for other good news

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America voted overwhelmingly in the annual convention to set up a screen and not invest in any company that profits from Israel's occupation. They also called to end US unconditioonal aid to Israel. The Green party of the US developed a great latform on the question of Palestine (see below) that is based on human rights and justice. Social media are abuzz after the disastrous choice of Clinton and Trump to be nominees of the "democratic" and "republican" parties. Many argue that this continuing deterioration was a predictable outcome of the permission of lobbies (like the Zionist lobby to shape elections) and/or an expected outcome of several elections where people vote for the lesser of two evils rather than vote their conscience.

Following the diminishing water supply to Palestinians in the West Bank and the severe water shortage and pollution in the Gaza Strip, a light installation was held simultaneously in eight locations: Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Boston, New York, Houston, Johannesburg, Melbourne and Perth, Australia. In an illuminating display of lights reflected in water, activists from four continents stood near lakes and beaches creating the message “WATER IS A RIGHT” in various languages.

Green Party Statement on The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

Our Green values oblige us to support popular movements for peace and demilitarization in Israel-Palestine, especially those that reach across the lines of conflict to engage both Palestinians and Israelis of good will.

We reaffirm the right of self-determination for both Palestinians and Israelis, which precludes the self-determination of one at the expense of the other. We recognize the historical and contemporary cultural diversity of Israeli-Palestinian society, including the religious heritage of Jews, Christians, Muslims and others. This is a significant part of the rich cultural legacy of all these peoples and it must be respected. To ensure this, we support equality before international law rather than appeals to religious faith as the fair basis on which claims to the land of Palestine-Israel are resolved.

We recognize that Jewish insecurity and fear of non-Jews is understandable in light of Jewish history of horrific oppression in Europe. However, we oppose as both discriminatory and ultimately self-defeating the position that Jews would be fundamentally threatened by the implementation of full rights to Palestinian-Israelis and Palestinian refugees who wish to return to their homes. As U.S. Greens, we refuse to impose our views on the people of the region. Still, we would turn the U.S. government towards a new policy, which itself recognizes the equality, humanity, and civil rights of Jews, Muslims, Christians, and all others who live in the region, and which seeks to build confidence in prospects for secular democracy.

We reaffirm the right and feasibility of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in Israel. We acknowledge the significant challenges of equity and restitution this policy would encounter and call on the U.S. government to make resolution of these challenges a central goal of our diplomacy in the region.

We reject U.S. unbalanced financial and military support of Israel while Israel occupies Palestinian lands and maintains an apartheid-like system in both the Occupied Palestinian Territories and in Israel toward its non-Jewish citizens. Therefore, we call on the U.S. President and Congress to suspend all military and foreign aid, including loans and grants, to Israel until Israel withdraws from the Occupied Territories, dismantles the separation wall in the Occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem, ends its siege of Gaza and its apartheid-like system both within the Occupied Palestinian Territories and in Israel toward its non-Jewish citizens.

We also reject U.S. political support for Israel and demand that the U.S. government end its veto of Security Council resolutions pertaining to Israel. We urge our government to join with the U.N. to secure Israel's complete withdrawal to the 1967 boundaries and its compliance with international law.

We support a much stronger and supportive U.S. position with respect to all United Nations, European Union, and Arab League initiatives that seek a negotiated peace. We call for an immediate U.N.-sponsored, multinational peacekeeping and protection force in the Palestinian territories with the mandate to initiate a conflict-resolution commission.

We call on the foreign and military affairs committees of the U.S. House and Senate to conduct full hearings on the status of human rights and war crimes in Palestine-Israel, especially violations committed during Israel's 2008-2009 invasion of Gaza ("Operation Cast Lead") as documented in the 2009 "UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict"("The Goldstone Report") authorized by the UN Commission on Human Rights.

We recognize that despite decades of continuous diplomatic attempts by the international community, it has failed to bring about Israel's compliance with international law or respect for basic Palestinian human rights; and that, despite abundant condemnation of Israel's policies by the UN, International Court of Justice, and all relevant international conventions, the international community of nations has failed to stop Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights in Israel and the OPT, while Israeli crimes continue with impunity. We recall that ending institutionalized racism (apartheid) in South Africa demanded an unusual, cooperative action by the entire international community in the form of a boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against apartheid South Africa, and that BDS can become the most effective nonviolent means for achieving justice and genuine peace between Palestinians and Israelis, and for the region, through concerted international pressure as applied to apartheid South Africa; and that Palestinian resistance to ongoing dispossession has mainly been nonviolent, including its most basic form—remaining in their homes, on their land; and that while Palestinian armed resistance is legitimate under international law when directed at non-civilian targets, we believe that only nonviolent resistance will maintain the humanity of Palestinian society, elicit the greatest solidarity from others, and maximize the chance for future reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. However, we also recognize that our appeal to Palestinians to continue to resist nonviolently in the face of ongoing existential threats from Israel is hypocritical unless accompanied by substantial acts of international support. We recall that in 2005, Palestinian Civil Society appealed to the international community to support a BDS campaign against Israel, and that in response the Green Party of the US endorsed this BDS campaign in 2005. Therefore, we support the implementation of boycott and divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era, which includes pressuring our government to impose embargoes and sanctions against Israel; and we support maintaining these nonviolent punitive measures until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people's inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law by

-Ending its occupation and colonization of all Palestinian lands and dismantling the Wall in the West Bank
-Recognizing the fundamental rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
-Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

We recognize that international opinion has been committed to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Yet, we view the two-state solution as neither democratic nor viable in the face of international law, material conditions and "facts on the ground" that now exist in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Given this reality, we support a U.S. foreign policy that promotes the creation of one secular, democratic state for Palestinians and Israelis on the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan as the national home of both peoples, with Jerusalem as its capital. We encourage a new U.S. diplomatic initiative to begin the long process of negotiation, laying the groundwork for such a single-state constitution.

We recognize that such a state might take many forms and that the eventual model chosen must be decided by the peoples themselves. We also acknowledge the enormous hostilities that now exist between the two peoples, but history tells us that these are not insurmountable among people genuinely seeking peace.

As an integral part of peace negotiations and the transition to peaceful democracy, we call for the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission whose inaugurating action would be mutual acknowledgement by Israelis and Palestinians that they have the same basic rights, including the right to exist in the same, secure place.

Jul 21, 2016


Abdullah Issa (photo left) was a Palestinian child living in Syria (family of refugees after the ethnic cleansing of 1948 by Israel). He was captured and accused of helping the Syrian government. He had injuries and was thought to be also treated for thallasemia. Pictures show the bandaged boy of perhaps 10 or 11 years old with a catheter in his arm. His captives had him in the back of a pick-up truck (perhaps having taken him from his hospital bed). As he pleaded with them they ignored him and directed their message to the camera against Syrian government then slit the throat of this child. The killer militia shouted Allahu Akbar as the boy was mercilessly murdered. This group is funded and/or supported by the governments of the US, Turkey, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. They were considered by those four governments as “moderate rebels”.

On the same day that Abdullah was beheaded, a Palestinian boy roughly the same age (Mohyee Sedki Tbakhi, photo left) was shot by the Israeli occupation forces. I could not help note the similarity between the two as they looked like twins. As happens, only by intensifying our efforts are we able to cope with such tragedies. Coincidentally I accepted an invitation by the US Consulate in Jerusalem for Independence Day celebration (the event was held July 20th rather than July 4th here). Such trips to Jerusalem (without an Israeli permit) are always painful for me but the contradictions and conflicting emotions here were high. The area is in West Jerusalem long since transformed to a “Jewish city” the only real remnant of Palestinian next to the consulate is a cemetery (Mamilla or Maman Allah). But development is even eating away at that space and what is left of it is treated as a garden park. (photo: Me at the cemetery- a Palestinian visiting remaining Palestinians)
Perhaps two or three hundred people were at the consulate including many high level Palestinian officials and some Israeli officials (including many with blood on their hands). Many attendees were there for varied reasons. They dutifully listened to Consul General Blum give a good political speech highlighting need for peace and coexistence. Palestinian and Israeli beers were served (Dancing Camel beer!). Palestinian Knaffeh was served by Palestinians ut Shawerma sandwitches were served as “Israeli” food from the Waldorf Estoria! Equalizing occupier with occupied and colonize with colonized serves a clear agenda that has no space for liberation but encourages “coexistence” (status quo). But the consular staff are kind hearted and good intentioned. Many even told me privately they disagree with the policies but they are only doing what they were told to do.

Coincidentally this event was also held in parallel with the republican national convention, an event with much news coverage (for good or bad). I could not help but reflect on the state of the US in 2016 and to do so by taking time away from very important work I am doing (like analyzing the state of the Palestinian environment). Like analyzing any project, perhaps someone ought to sit down and do a proper and detail SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) to this human venture called the USA. Like all human organizational structures (including religions and political institutions everywhere), it starts with an idea that is then adapted to human needs at various intervals.

The original 13 European colonies in what became known as “America” shed their allegiance to Britain and with the help of France declared their independence in 1776. Despite a constitution that says “all men are created equal” voting in the new democracy was restricted to white male land owners a. Nearly a hundred years later, slavery was abandoned and much later women got the right to vote. Civil rights were allowed to blacks only in the 1960s. The US is now a nation of hundreds of millions (6%) of the world population but consuming nearly a quarter of the glob’s natural resources. It is a country of contradictions and has always been so. Advanced science and medicine went in parallel with committing war crimes in Vietnam. Art, music and culture that spread around the world together with death and destruction. High charity among a largely devout, simple and kind population but also domestic iolence, highest incarceration rate in the world and racist discrimination and murder of blacks. Movements like Black lives matter and challenging Islamophobia are growing but face daunting challenges. The biggest challenge is that I is a society driven by money and special interests. So islamophobia will continue to be promoted by a media under much influence from the Zionist movement.  The circus like atmosphere of the upcoming democratic convention will only be slightly better than the Republican convention.  That is because these is a system of elite interests that want it so.  But ultimately I believe changes happen in the US when enough people stop believing politicians and act to push policies through. That is how the US public pushed for civil rights, women right to vote, ending the war in Vietnam (genocidal war), ending support for apartheid South Africa, and getting 40 hour work week.  That pressure (and it is not a matter of voting another politician in or out) is what changes society. That pressure must also now increase to end US support for apartheid Israel, end US support for the Saud Royal family, end US attacks on Arab countries, end the escalation against Russia that could lead to war, really tackle climate change (and not via the weak step taken in Paris), tax the rich people fairly and take care of education for the young people and much more.

I do love fellow Americans (as I do all human beings even Israelis). I do not have to agree with US foreign policy and in fact my dislike of that AIPAC-led foreign policy that is bankrupting the US is born out of my love for fellow US citizens especially people who challenged or challenge the system. There are people like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. There are thousands of good Americans just on my own email list. I consider them the best hope for evolving the US out of this craziness.

Now on this “binarity”: have you noticed that the media and politicians repeatedly tell us that the world is binary? President Bush once said after 11 Sept. 2001: you are either with the terrorists or with us (I told them sorry I am with neither of you). Two million civilians killed since then and the same politicians and terrorists (both are killers) give us the same choice). They try to convince us that we have one of two choices (third choices or more are discounted). I must vote either for racist madman Trump of egotistical war monger Hilary Clinton who both lick the boots of Zionists and will kill more civilians. There are other choices!. Why can’t I choose to reject both Turkish Ordogan and the plotters of the military coup against him? Edward Said once told us we do not have to choose between a secular corrupt dictatorship and rule by Muslim Brotherhood. I do not have to support Zionism to be for Jewish rights. I do not have to support the Assad regime to be against the Saudi/US/Israel supported “rebel” groups who are nothing more than mercenary terrorists. We have many choices. It is time we exercise them.