Update fom Mazin Qumsiyeh, Palestine Museum of Natural History

I return to this country (and it is one country) to find the situation more
tense than it was two weeks ago when I left. An Israeli colonial settler
runs over Palestinian children killing one 5 year old and injuring another.
A Palestinian native runs over Israeli border police in Jerusalem killing
one officer and injuring several. Such incidents are increasing.

Zionism started here as a colonial movement to change a multi-religious flourishing
Palestine into JSIL (the Jewish state of Israel in the Levant). The support
of western powers was and continues to be critical for JSIL’s establishment
and (increasingly more expensive) maintenance.  Colonial movements must
destroy, on one hand, the native society and build a new society. In the case
of colonization of Palestine (now called Israel), the destruction is breathtaking.

7 million of us are refugees or displaced people (out of a population of 12 million).
Land left for us to live on in historic Palestine is about 8% (that includes the ghettos
left for us in the Galilee, Naqab, Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the West Bank). Millions
of settlers from Europe and other parts of the world now control 92% of the
land, more than 90% of the water, all border crossings, and all other
natural resources in the country. The Zionist policy of “might makes right”
has meant that human rights and international law are not applicable here.
This adds to the frustration and anger of the native people.

The natives were deprived of real leadership (previously the PLO) and instead has now a
“Palestinian Authority” (PA) approved by the US/Israel.  The PA men, more concerned for
their jobs than the future of Palestine, now act as subcontractors for the occupation.
This was the trap that was created in the negotiations in Norway in 1993 (subsequently
referred to as the Oslo accords). Since then, the number of Israeli colonial settlers in the West
Bank alone rose from 180,000 to 650,000. More and more life for the remaining Palestinians
has become unbearable (unless they are from the  elite of the PA, most in Ramallah).

And, to maintain a racist system meant an Israeli educational and social system that increasingly
pushes its population to the extremes. The chauvinistic, schizophrenic system marches along
the road of fascism oblivious to the future. Homes are being destroyed, millions of us are
denied the right to live in most of our country and even the right to visit and pray in churches
and mosques in Jerusalem. The efforts of transforming the country to look more “Jewish”
accelerate especially around Jerusalem creating more tensions. Decent Israelis are leaving the
system (300,000 now live in Germany where the fastest growing Jewish population is). Local
Palestinians with no place to go are getting desperate. The pressure is building as a pressure
cooker builds steam. Acts of individual violence that we see are merely a symptom of this
unsustainable system. And the danger is spreading.

The Jewish State of Israel in the Levant (ISIL) has to have new states like Sunni (ISIS) and Shia
and others so that it becomes “naturalized” instead of the only apartheid system in Western Asia.
Still our choices are there: 1) might makes right, or 2) human rights including abolishing religion
based states and insist on secular democracies. The first path leads to a lose-lose situation
and the second to a win-win for all. There is no lose-win scenario (as MLK once said we either live
together in equality as fellow human beings or we perish together as fools).

Hanging between the two roads will mean only more extremism, more violence, and more injustice.
Choosing democracy, human rights, and justice is not easy and we pay a price (financial, physical, etc).
It is we the people who must push for that (everyone now recognizes that our politicians are mostly
hypocritical, self-centered fools). The day I returned is also the day the US “elections” gave us an even
more subservient congress bent on further destruction of US economy to serve special interests.
Some of us pay heavier prices than others and some are even killed (many of my own personal friends
were killed in non-violent demonstration). Some lose jobs or homes. Some are injured. Some spend
years as political prisoners. But this is a struggle that is existential and must be engaged in.

How to do it and maintain dignity, humanity, and inner peace is a challenge.
“You can’t be neutral on a moving train” so apathy is collusion with oppression. When
our short time on this earth nears its end, will we regret standing by or, will we be proud
that we tried our best to make it better? The choice is obvious.

For those wondering about my nearly two weeks in Europe: I met hundreds of people,
spoke at over 15 events in three countries (France, Switzerland, and Norway),
established good contacts and initial discussion that could help establish joint projects
between our Palestine Museum of Natural History and some European groups in ways that
bring us closer to sustainable development, democracy, and justice (i.e. help us travel
along that win-win road). All and any partnerships with people who share this vision
would be welcome. A luta continua (the struggle continues).

Mazin Qumsiyeh

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