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

Also on facebook
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Caring for Palestine: Christmas Tree Lighting in Manger Square

We just had the Christmas tree lighting in the Manger Square, Bethlehem and
it was beautiful. It was appropriate to reflect on challenges and
opportunities in the ongoing struggle. If we believe that Jesus brought the
message of peace, the tumult in his era seems remarkably similar to this
era of occupation, repression, religious zealotry, corrupt leaders etc.
Yet, 2014 could be summed up as the year in which the parameters of the
struggle were made much clearer. It is a struggle between the elite rich
who have increasingly pushed for more police and military to protect their
gains and suppress the 99.9% of the world that is suffering.  From Ferguson
to Gaza to Kobani, the struggle continues.

In this year, we need to remember the tragedy that is Gaza, the tragedy
that is Jerusalem, the tragedy that is Palestine but, we also reflect on
that hope that like the story of resurrection seems to capture hearts
and minds of millions of people. Yes, we did suffer the incalculable loss
of thousands of Palestinians butchered this summer in Gaza. We remember
that despite the promises given by politicians, Gaza even became more
isolated and the noose tightened on the lives of 1.6 million human beings.
Egyptian and Israeli governments seems hell-bent on strangling any
remaining potential for normal life. The situation is dire and getting
worse daily. Thousands of common people did help and we sent some money
and some supplies but the situation demands more.

The same is also true for Jerusalem where Judaization efforts are accelerating
(which includes ethnic cleansing of native Palestinians and removing/threatening
our religious, cultural and historical infrastructure). Trigger happy soldiers and
settlers still kill Palestinians almost every other day with impunity.

But let me talk of the positive things. Hundreds of Christians from around
the world attended the conference marking the fifth anniversary of the
launch of the Kairos Palestine document (see ). The
conference was appropriately themed around living with dignity. In my
lecture, I spoke of a long history of struggle to live with dignity,
resistance and hope. Life also goes on for our little extended family (and
I mean by that students and volunteers who work with us). This year we
marked a new milestone as we launched the Palestine Museum of Natural
History in the summer. We worked very hard to make sure the first public
activity at the museum was a success: a large science festival where
hundreds of children from 14 schools (one kindergraden) came to the Museum
and did some very important experiments (touch, feel, do) from 20-29
November. The feedback from students and teachers was amazing. We also
built a pool and started to do planting and permaculture work on site which
will become a beautiful natural botanical garden in the middle of
Bethlehem. Much more work is needed. We are always looking for volunteers
(for all sorts of tasks from gardening to computers to scientific research)
and we are beginning to explore and ask for potential funding. To help us,
please visit (volunteering) (donations)

Also Donate to Shepherds’ Night Festival in Beit Sahour

Boycott Coca-Cola (BTW it is also healthier for you 🙂

Virtual 3D tour of Church of Nativity

I am on the advisory committee of a project by Ads Against Apartheid, which
is trying to promote Palestinian Human rights through a national
advertising campaign. They ran advertisements already in the Boston subway
system this summer. I feel they can really move people on this issue. Here
is the link to their Indiegogo campaign, which explains their project in
more detail:

Come visit us and keep the hope alive

Mazin Qumsiyeh
Professor and Director
Palestine Museum of Natural History
Bethlehem University