THE ISRAELI ARMY WANTS ME 2Mar10 March 3, 2010

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Dr MAZIN QUMSIYEH is a tireless activist for Palestinian human rights who returned to his hometown of Beit Sahour in the Israeli-occupied West Bank last year and now teaches at Bethlehem and Birzeit Universities. The author of Sharing the Land of Canaan: Human Rights and the Israeli-Palestinian Struggle (2004), Qumsiyeh is both a human rights activist and a scientist who has a lengthy list of publications on genetics to his credit. The Electronic Intifada contributor Ida Audeh met with him in April and discussed advocating the Palestinian cause in the United States and his impressions about the current direction of the Palestinian struggle.

During the 29 years he lived in the United States, Qumsiyeh earned masters and doctoral degrees; taught at several prestigious universities, including Duke and Yale; co-founded activist organizations (Al-Awda, the Palestinian Right to Return Coalition and the Wheels of Justice Tour — a traveling tour bus that stops at different communities to educate them about Palestine and Iraq); and was a board member for numerous organizations. Since the mid-1990s, he has maintained email lists that focus on human rights and international law. His weekly postings now reach approximately 50,000 individuals and include reports of events and comments that are informed by a deep understanding of common struggles in other parts of the world. An optimist who advocates “having joyful participation in the sorrows of this world,” he includes in every e-mail at least one action that the reader can take to make a difference. (From an interview with Ida Audeh, The Electronic Intifada , 11 May 2009)

The Israeli army invaded our neighborhood at 1:30 AM Tuesday morning waking up my mother, wife and sister.  Heavily-armed soldiers blocked roads during “the operation”. When my family opened the door, they demanded to see me.  They were told I have already left to the US.  After many more questions, they left a paper that states I am to appear at the military liaison office next Monday.  My sister and wife told them I will not be back by then. Clearly the warning from that military officer at Ush Ghrab that I mentioned in my last email, was based on knowledge of this. I guess I am a wanted man now for engaging in nonviolent protest!  Those who were at that event and have video, please contact me.  What disturbs me is not the risk to me; any action against oppression is taken knowing there are personal risks.  What disturbs me is that this has an effect on my family and thousands of friends around the world who care (and some of it unpredictable).  My 76 year old mother asks on the phone that I not go back and that I work in the US for a while, a very painful suggestion for a mother to make about her only remaining son near her!  I try to assure her that I have done nothing wrong and will not leave her…but she brings up many examples of people who also did not do any violence and were arrested, imprisoned, and their families had to go through a lot.  A friend who heard about this stated I have nothing to worry about, that this was to hassle me to get us to stop being active. Another lost sleep trying to figure out what we can do.   I assure her that I will carry on with my speaking tour as planned and that this will blow over one day. (the song “we shall overcome someday” comes to mind).

But I am not different from hundreds of others.  Israel is cracking down on all popular/civil resistance activities in Palestine because: 1) there is no armed resistance now, and 2) Civil resistance is escalating and portending a new powerful uprising.  Israel’s repression of dissent reinforces in our minds the importance of civil resistance and that there is a price to pay for it.  Over 30 activists were arrested in Bilin over the past year, many others in Ni’lin, Al-Ma’sara and elsewhere.   The repression reveals the bankruptcy of the Zionist regime and its excessive paranoia that will IMHO eventually lead to its demise.  It is paranoia inherent in the philosophical underpinnings of the ideology.  That ideology embraced by a subset of Jews (Zionism) simply teaches that “we are God’s chosen people, He gave us this land, we cannot go wrong when behaving against the Goyim especially those who happen to be here when we arrived to reclaim and cleanse our lands, and International law and human rights laws do not apply to us.”  It is self-destructive delusions that are inculcated during early education and perpetuate the myths of uniqueness.  It leads to the kind of behaviors that are now difficult to hide (the ethnic cleansing of 1948 was only a beginning). But even some Israelis are shedding these mythologies and joining the struggle. In the end, we will live together despite all this
repression.

I have to consider various options in terms of responding to this particular event. If you have any advice, I would appreciate it.  My initial thought is that we should intensify our work for peace and human rights in this critical and historic period: write to the media, the politicians, neighbors and anyone who would listen.   Below is an action call for March 30th (Land Day) which I urge you to heed.  We can’t be neutral on a moving train and
there are times whether in the US in the 1950s and 1960s or in South Africa under apartheid, when silence was indeed complicity in crime.

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Action: Land Day to be marked with Global BDS Day of Action Statement, Palestinian BDS National Committee, 1 March 2010. The BDS National Committee (BNC) is calling on you to unite in your different capacities and struggles for a Global BDS Day of Action on 30 March 2010 in solidarity with the Palestinian people and for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel… http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11107.shtml


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