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End of time? by Mazin Qumsiyeh

 Basil Al-Araj is in a Palestinian jail. He is a young Palestinian
pharmacist who had worked at a pharmacy in Shufat Refugee Camp in
Jerusalem. I knew him because he is from Al-Walaja, a village that was
struggling as “Israel” builds a wall around the remaining houses of the
village (already 90% of the residents are refugees elsewhere). Village
wells and lands were stolen by the Israeli colonizers starting in 1948 and
continuing till today. Basil had a love of Palestine and a hatred of
injustice. Like most young people they searched for ways to act on their
convictions. He participated in nonviolent demonstrations at his village
but was not satisfied with their outcome. He read my book on “Popular
Resistance in Palestine” in Arabic and gave me his feedback. He said he
learned much about history of the Palestinian struggle. He said the book’s
Arabic could use some editing. He worked briefly as a researcher for the
Palestinian museum after he lost his job in Shufat. He tried other methods
of action. He and a few others tried to block the main road near the colony
of Maale Adumim.

 He and I and four others were the six Palestinian Freedom
riders arrested in 2011 while demonstrating Israeli apartheid policies [1].
These demonstrative actions were born of good intentions to help bring us
closer to freedom. I always lamented even as I participated in such actions
how the Palestinian leadership betrayed its people leaving young and old n
a sense “orphaned of leadership”. I worried not that the Palestinian cause
will die (I am by nature optimistic) but that the selfishness, ego, and
incompetence of self-declared leaders can only delay the inevitable freedom
and dispirit a population otherwise willing and able to liberate itself.
Now Basil and two friends of his have been arrested by the Palestinian
Authority and the news is buzzing that they had planned/plotted for an
armed attack against the Israeli occupation.  If this is true (and I have
my doubts), it would add to our conviction that the policies of Israel and
the Palestinian Authority (acting as sub-contractor for the occupation) are
failing and the choices faced by a whole new disenfranchised young
generation will be difficult.
Israeli colonial invaders bombed, injured and killed many Palestinians
including attacks on the mayors of Nablus and Hebron during the 1987-1992
uprising. After the Oslo process the Israeli security service did detain a
very large Jewish terrorist group that had caused much deaths and injuries.
They even caught them red-handed as they tried to plant bombs on
Palestinian buses. However, an amnesty bill was passed in the Knesset,
signed by the Israeli prime minister and the Jewish terrorists released
just before the assassination of Yizhak Rabin. The assassin did change
history as now it is impossible for any Israeli leader to show any courage
or dignity to go against the racist colonial settler mentality [2].

and his colleagues are doomed to suffer since we are told that the
Palestinian authority is bound by its pledges of service to Israeli
security even though Israel is not bound by any agreements it signed.
Israel benefited tremendously from Oslo process and completely ignores its
obligations (meager as they are under the agreement). Its profits from the
occupation rose sharply (400-500%) after Oslo. Now Israel makes at least
$12 billions a year from the occupation and that is not counting the land
and water it steals. Meanwhile Israeli terrorists with blood on their hands
roam freely in the colonial apartheid system. That system gets support from
selfish western leaders who Israeli intelligence learned how to
“domesticate” with carrot and stick approach. Money and media coverage can
be used both to help elect a candidate and help demolish a candidate
especially when combined with “skeletons hiding in their closets”.
But I always come back to what WE can do. It sometimes feels frustrating to
be running against corrupt systems that are ruthless and inhumane [4]. But
we are heartened by growth of solidarity (and BDS) around the world [5]. I
am finishing a visit to Siena, Italy where I gave several talks. The
reception and interest in helping is great. In fact only one Jewish Zionist
was encountered and she merely reiterated long discredited “talking points”
that only harmed her own cause (of support for an apartheid racist regime).
What I find amazing is that there is indeed “civility” still widespread
even as neoliberal/neocolonial world order dominates politics (in Italy,
US, Palestine etc).

I am reading this book I received as a gift from a
chair at the University of Siena. The book by Enzo Tiezzi is called “The
End of Time” and it is remarkable in its diagnosis of what ails planet
earth today. It does have an optimistic leaning in that we humans can and
will (hopefully) make the right choices to save our planet. Time is not on
our side; there is urgency to the matter. We must act NOW on issues like
global climate change and global inequality and poverty. Tomorrow it will
be harder than today which is already more difficult than yesterday!
That is why some of us are focused not just on political revolution
(needed as that is) but on cultural and educational and an environmental
revolution (basically a change in human behavior). Our own small
contribution in the latter part is now channeled via the Palestine Museum
of Natural History and Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability, both
at Bethlehem University (see Our challenge
remains to get more people out of apathy and to get more energy out of
already active people towards what I called 15 years ago “a global
intifada” (intifada literally means shaking off but most commonly
translated as “uprising”). Our challenge is to organize and act better in
our own small spheres which coalesce together to effect the needed
(existential) change.
[1] see
[2] See this excellent documentary on how Israeli “security forces” work in
a colonial system: The Gatekeeper
[3] At 80, Failed Abbas is Probed, Derided and Scapegoated
[4] see this video of Israeli ministers threatening BDS Activists
and here is a good analysis of what this means:
[5] if you simply google Palestine Solidarity, you get 4.7 MILLION website
hits! For example here is the most listened to Radio show in Luxemberg
covering a recent visit to Palestine by some colleagues from that small
state (with pictures) Wéi gesäit et mam Fridden am Noen Osten aus?
Stay Human and do come visit us in Palestine
Mazin Qumsiyeh
Professor and Director
Palestine Museum of Natural History
Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability
Bethlehem University
Occupied Palestine
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