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On the way forward, from Mazin Qumsiyeh

May humanity unite on May DayA friend sent an email with this quote in the signature line: Most of theproblems in life are because of two reasons: We act without thinking, or wekeep thinking without acting. Many of us have been thinking about andhoping for some better organizational structure of people engaged inseriously addressing issues of acting to create a sustainable peacefulworld. Many ranging from Kahlil Gibran, to Mahatma Gandhi to Martin LutherKing to Edward Said to the Dalai Lama have called for raising consciousnessand recognizing our common humanity and our common responsibility. Thefirst steps in increased action is increased knowledge and actually doingsomething. Towards this, we at the Palestine Institute of Biodiversity andSustainability invite you for a “brainstorming” meeting (directed toaction) "on the way forward".When: Thursday 4 May 2017 3 - 6 PMWhere: PMNH, map here to develop proactive cooperative work aimed at a) a human society inpeace and harmony with all living organisms (humans of all persuasions,animals, plants), b) long term sustainability.The meeting is in honor of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners. If youare interested,  please email RSVP and/or share your ideas

 48 Things You Can Do for 48 By Shimrit Baer of my favorite things is receiving Mazin Qumsiyeh’s “Human RightsNewsletters”, which combine news roundups with something poetic andinspiring too. He also often ends his letters with a list of suggestionsfor how to help ( ). I will take up #25and submit my own suggestions, as from a counter-Zionist Jewish PalestinianIsraeli citizen vantage point within what some call the “internationallyrecognized borders of Israel”, or what is more aptly called the “48 areas”.While for obvious reasons most activism focuses its energies on the WestBank and Gaza, it is the 48 areas – their suburban ethnic purity, theirtotal residential segregation, and their social engineering -- thatconstitutes the sacred core of the social structure of which the 1967occupation is a manifestation, a natural development, and a protectiveshell.I often think that the best thing the Zionist classes in Israel have goingfor them is that by and large the non-Zionist classes have no intention ofbreaking down segregated space inside the 48 areas, maybe because we thinkwe want segregation too. Maybe we do – but let us be conscious of thatchoice and own its consequences, then. The fact is that the Zionist classesare expending unthinkable resources globally, just to maintain an aura ofreliability and inevitability around their arrangement of space in the 48areas. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that the non-Zionist classes(which I’ll define in a moment) indeed organized to disturb “ZionistSpace,” the unit of measurement from which the Zionist State is derived:what forms could such disturbance feasibly take? And what would the Zionistclasses then do to defend purity of space against the visible presence ofthe wrong type of citizens in Zionist Space? What are the subversivepossibilities and limitations of the spatial act?Navigating Zionist Space every day you can’t but feel the awesomeimperviousness and solidity of it all. Yet if you break it down, you end upwith an extremely unsophisticated and crude, and hence vulnerable,imposition of separate cities, separate living room, and separateeducation. The structure, so it seems, would not be able to bend and holdunder strain of pressure, as would for example the far more crafty kinds ofsegregation that are imposed elsewhere through more roundabout post-civilrights policies.So if Qumsiyeh started a list with “67 Ways to act for peace with justice”in the occupied areas, I’d remix: “48 ways to act in/for 48,” or somethingof the kind. And the first item on that impossibly finite list: Try todesire to act. Turns out, it is far from an obvious given thatcounter-Zionists inside the 48 areas desire to act. Everyone acts throughresilience or resistance, via small everyday tactics of defiance andsubterfuge or by overt practices of resistance. By ‘act’, though, I meanacting in an organized and conscious way. Because of its violently heldmonopoly of all public institutions, the Zionist caste-class has succeededvery well in confounding the non-Zionist classes’ ability to act in anorganized way inside 48. The first thing must be a desire for thenon-Zionist quasi-class to act as such.A class analysis in conjunction with race-ethnicity readings of Zionism asa structure is based on the premise is that there is, and has always been,a non-Zionist quasi-class in the 48 areas comprising: (1) a caste of peoplewho, by birth, are rendered permanently excluded from the ownership of themeans of production of public institutions; (2) individuals born withinthe Zionist quasi-class but have who have dislodged themselves from it tothe extent of assimilation of counter-Zionist interests, of which economicreform and hence spatial reform constitute collective interests. With itsinstitutions centered and run from within the 48 areas, Zionism exists as aquasi-class that owns the means of institutional production– includingowning all the economic, military, educational and cultural means withwhich to reproduce itself, at the expense of the Palestinian castes and thenon-Zionist quasi-classes. One is again and again confronted with anargument for the creation of a counter-Zionist union here on the ground, anorganized space that is democratically structured, rule-bound (to protectthe weak), sufficient to itself, and capable of producing and circulatingideas.It seems that lately the byword in 48 is to act locally. There’s some logicto local actions when faced with the totalizing effect of the occupier’sglobal reach. In Israeli-Jewish counter-Zionist circles, the call to thinklocally might have something to do with the fact that the activist base isextremely small, as one of my BDS colleagues has recently argued: “Tochallenge…Israeli passivity…Israeli activists could focus on directsolidarity actions in the occupied Palestinian territories…even a smallnumber of Israeli citizens can make a real difference in the lives ofPalestinians … and embarrass the Israeli government.” ( Thisreinforces the idea that Jewish 48ers have to go to the West Bank, in orderto act in local issue-oriented ways. One would wonder why helping othersstay in place should be more important than combating segregation at one’sdoorstep, and one should also wonder why mobilizing against Zionism itselfis seen as too divisive or too futile for 48 activism. You could concedethat from a certain perspective, mobilizing around local issues andsticking thorns in the sides of the government is a logical way ofproceeding. There’s also freedom, one supposes, in being a local player,with no need to recognize an elected hierarchy or feel bound by a broaderconsensus. But democratic organization is a selfless business; it exists tonurture a unity of diverse civil resistance forms on the ground.As it is, there are many independent small scale groups mobilizing within48, working in niches, rarely under the express name of counter-Zionism.BDS from Within, for example, has two unique, almost non-interactive,bodies of the same name operating within the 48 areas, neatly divided bylanguage, space, and knowledges. Those who defend that state oforganizational chaos say that it’s a good thing to have different andcomplementary activist bases, but the fact is that they are notstrategizing together nearly enough. Whatever one might say, strategicdebates within 48 also remain heavily determined by race and class markers,a fault aggravated by the lack of coordination and the absence of a mutualeffort to connect the bases together and to broaden them. Anything done inthe way of explicit counter-Zionist organization would thus be a positivegood.As soon as openly counter-Zionist groups have emerged, they have beenrendered illegal and disbanded by the Zionist class, which of course has amonopolistic hold over all legislative and executive state institutions, aswell as cultural ones. Yet it is wrong to view as impossible a union underthe open banner of counter-Zionism. Correctly seen, it is an organizationalchallenge.Attention must turn inwards. Whoever you are, what’s your true and honestrelationships to Zionist Space?To go back: the Zionist quasi-classes don’t want to lose their monopoly.That is what they’re scared of, and it is patently absurd to think thatthere is anything that can alleviate that quasi-class’s collective anxietyexcept the eventual outcome of loss – together with a new, better, saferand more just power structure.It’s a self-evident interest of the non-Zionist quasi-class/casteconglomeration to want to seize the means of institutional production.There is disagreement about the specifics of form and content of thatstruggle, but once one accepts as social fact that it is the inherent andinevitable interest of the non-Zionist quasi-class to eliminate exclusiveethno-national ownership of social institutions and, specifically, ofspace, the political question will yield back answers on the ground thatare not overly dependent on any faraway, theoretical ‘solution’, worldevents, or academic discussions.We return again to the base problem that counter-Zionists are not ofnecessity politically conscious or conscientious. They just exist -- anunwanted force within a structure that is deeply compartmentalized and thataccords them different opportunities, rights and knowledges.Energies must at some point turn spatially. Especially now that theso-called genie of an apartheid analysis has been let out of even a UNbottle, one would urge the very materialist view and say that a societydependent on a system of segregation unto apartheid is not conceptuallycapable of understanding racism. First and foremost is a need to changespace itself.Indeed, as far as I can tell, the non-Zionist class struggling within andagainst the Zionist power structure has two main material (as opposed tomore discursive or symbolic) routes, one directly institutional (i.e., bysomehow regaining ownership of institutions and the economy) and the otherindirect and spatial. The first option is less immediately operable giventhe global power of the Zionist class system. But what can we do with thespatial option at home that we are left with?One way to begin is to form groups in one’s own area to strategize ways todisrupt “Zionist space”. For, logically, there must surely exist some waysin which an organized movement would be able to act to free itself of the“Zionist Space” noose – making disruptive moves spatially, materially,legally, culturally or discursively.Institutions at the hands of the Zionist class are specifically designedfor drying out all the non-Zionist institutions, through policies ofdisrepair, dilapidation, delegitimation, fear, and artificial distance.Yet, they’re constrained in their impossible-to-countenance calculus ofpure Zionist Space.Meanwhile, it is the non-Zionist class that can challenge innermostboundaries that have no moral or even real conceptual or institutionalprotection. In that, just like anything, resistance is constant innovation.There’s no one direction to go in– the main idea is to take back one’sspace.From here on in, I can only defer to Qumsiyeh’s list. Support for the 48areas is also support for political prisoners and those being persecutedfor their counter-Zionist ideas. It is also a support for Al Quds, and itsforgotten residents living under an apartheid “United Jerusalem”, over 80%of whom are living under the poverty line. It’s support for peoples to stayin place, even while it’s support for counteracting the reliability andstability of “place”. It’s a total challenge to the idea of Zionist-OnlySpace, including gated communities, kibbutzim, and housing projects withZionist admissions committees. It’s support for the spatial struggles ofoppressed and segregated peoples everywhere. This includes struggles forreparations for slavery and for racial injustices in the United States.Segregation and power are interlinked globally.The success of counter-zionist organizing within the 48 areas is crucialfor the outcome everywhere. The needs of the peoples in these areasinclude the need to act, a need not entirely addressed by BDS. While BDSstrategies of nonviolence are growing internationally, the same strategiesaren’t necessarily tailored for resistance groups within 48, not becausethese are dangerous and costly (as all resistance within is), but ratherbecause there has to be a way for the ordinary person on the street to beinvolved in them.============Leaked report highlights Israel lobby’s failures human and do visit us/support us (and do join us Thursday)Mazin QumsiyehA bedouin in cyberspace, a villager at homeProfessor and (volunteer) DirectorPalestine Museum of Natural HistoryPalestine Institute of Biodiversity and SustainabilityBethlehem UniversityOccupied Palestinehttp://qumsiyeh.orghttp://palestinenature.orgJoin me on facebook