New Palestine Museum of Natural History

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Compassion fatigue is a term I heard many years ago perhaps when there were
a number of natural and man-made disasters and conflicts in the late 1980s.
The term came to my mind in the last few weeks. Another saying: think
globally and act locally. So thinking globally, I was thinking how humanity
could descend to such barbarity around the world.

How could African migrants risk their lives to leave countries wrecked psychologically and
economically by colonial Europeans to seek to arrive in the same continent
that subjugated them? How could Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims be slaughtered
in the thousands by the majority Buddhists and surviving people end up in
boats and sent back to starve and die at sea rejected by nearby countries
including countries like Indonesia with Muslim majorities? How could
relatives of Jewish holocaust survivors engage in racism and ethnic
cleansing for native Palestinians while relatives of Armenian holocaust
survivors lead amazingly rich productive caring lives? How could a very
wealthy country like “Saudi Arabia” (the quotes are needed because it is an
imposed name for a country stolen by the Saud Family) spend billions to
support the US/Israeli agenda of destruction and mayhem in countries like
Yemen and Syria? How could a pilot who claims being Muslim drop bombs on
Muslim civilians? How could a powerful and rich country like the USA be so
occupied by the Zionist lobby that they send their “police” to train in
racism and oppression in Apartheid Israel and then go back to kill blacks
in American cities? How does the world tolerate the continued siege on Gaza
and its starving and dying population (the largest open air prison with 1.7
million inmates whose only crime is being born in Palestine)? How could the
world stand by and let Egypt execute political dissidents or imprison them
for decades simply for demanding freedom from the entrenched military
dictatorship funded by US taxpayers?
The US and Canada Zionist lobbies just might succeed in getting unconstitutional
laws passed to ban standing up for human rights (supporting BDS against the
apartheid regime).  It might get worse with the lobby getting the subservient
governments to force the political neutered Palestinian leadership to accept a
version of apartheid (and no refugees’ right of return).  But then that is what the PA
leadership knew would happen when they signed the articles of surrender
known as the Oslo accords.

So did humans develop compassion fatigue and does this bode ill for our
future as a species? I do not know and cannot predict the future. I can
only act against the negative trends and draw closer to other activists.
When we do find people who still cares, we latch onto them and try to do
something together to keep our sanity. Palestinians were genuinely happy
that the Pope decided to canonize two 19th century Palestinians nuns as
saints and conclude an agreement recognizing “state of Palestine”.  Those
positive people trying to do good things are so needed when so many are
either apathetic or directly benefitting Israel while getting rich. Without
the few lights in the darkness, we would all be lost and very depressed.

Perhaps this is why the presence of volunteers around us in the museum and
the botanical garden/integrated ecosystem is so crucial to our health. When
we walk or work in the garden with others, we feel reinvigorated physically
and psychologically. In fact when we do any work together, we feel
empowered. On Nakba memorial day last week we had a number of activities
including installing a large visible plaque that included sections of the
famous poem by Tawfiq Ziyad (“here we stay”). The next day, we hosted a
workshop on trauma relief through herbal medicines and working on gardens.
We then hosed 44 Nazareth colleagues on a tour of Battir then lunch at the museum.
Yesterday we attended a meeting on biodiversity, did field work
and got two Bedouin children to help us near their camp by picking up some
round rocks we needed for our pool at the museum. They were so nice and so
friendly and their smiles even after the sweaty job will always be with me.
Their community spirit is strong even when they are threatened as a
community with evictions (was done to them before). So while thinking
globally we are able to act on location and keep going based on a vision
that all these borders and divisions and conflicts they foist on us will be
gone one day. We dream of an interconnected free society and of traveling
free from Bethlehem to Jaffa to Nazareth to Beirut and Damascus without
anyone stopping us at any border.
On my desk is a quote from the Dalai Lama “Never give up. No matter what is
going on around you. Never give up…”
Sometimes we do not know the best way forward but we should never give up.
I have a friend in Gaza whose son had spinal cord cancer and now partly
paralyzed and the family constantly calls for support. But that is one of
dozens of stories, needs fulfilled or unfulfilled etc. It is natural
occasionally to have doubts about our future as a species and frequently to
reassess our methods. But we must keep the hope alive. We must keep
dreaming, keep trying, keep working, and keep living. We must never give
up. We must “stay human” as Vittorio used to write to us.

South Africans apologize over forest planted on Palestinian village
(incidentally our studies and those of others show how environmentally
destructive was the planting of European pine trees to cover-up the
destroyed Palestinian Villages)

In Gaza, the Nakba is ongoing and you can help us end it

US press blacks out Israeli defense minister’s citation of ‘Nagasaki and
Hiroshima’ as model for dealing with Iran – See more at:

I was asked about Palestinian heroes:

Mazin Qumsiyeh

Professor and Director

Palestine Museum of Natural History

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