090510-qumsiyeh4Dr 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)

We now have three videos up on youtube for  the historic march that breached the apartheid walls on Palm Sunday insisting on right of freedom of movement for Palestinians.  Ten people of the original 16 are still held by the occupation forces (as were the donkey and horse used in the event! )

Since then, the Israeli authorities are trying to punish the town by preventing even those few with permits from crossing between Bethlehem and Jerusalem (again a war crime to do collective punishment). But the people will not succumb and in Bethlehem area we had other events in the days that followed.  It also happened that Tuesday was land Day and hundreds of demonstrations, vigils, and other events were held not only in Palestine but throughout the world.

I will start with our own event in Beit Sahour.  Land day events were appropriately held at Ush Ghrab (threatened area of the Bethlehem district) and despite an Israeli military presence at the site, the events involved participation from over 1000 individuals from throughout the district (several towns and villages represented).  Over 300 women and their very young kids participated (also a belated celebration of International Women’s day).  Six high schools sent buses.  We also had volunteers and activists of all walks of life.  See story and video and photos at :

The main action this year was in the town of Sakhnin in areas occupied since 1948.  Over 10,000 attended the events from throughout historic Palestine.
See pictures here (scroll to bottom, truly inspiring),1,2.html and Haaretz story here It is a shame the this event is covered widely throughout the region but not in many western media outlets.

In other areas, the Israeli troops attacked demonstrators (e.g. in Budrus where several civilians were injured including a TV reporter, and in several locations in Gaza near the borders were Israeli troops opened fire on demonstrators killing a youth and injuring many). Actions were also held outside of Palestine on Land Day (which is also International Day of Boycotts, Divestments, and Sanctions against Israeli Apartheid).  An example of action from over 400 events world-wide is shown in this video (again illustrating what a few individuals can do to make a huge impact)

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