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 had a meaningful event commemorating Deir Yassin massacre in Beit Sahour on Friday even as the Israeli regime holds memorials at Yad Vashem overlooking the village ruins and ignoring the injustice of building a state on the ruins of another people’s lands.  We had a good trip to Birzeit and Ramallah Saturday (and a talk by the mayor of Bethlehem Saturday night) and participated in more actions on Sunday. Representing the popular committee against the wall and settlements in Beit Sahour, we joined with our friends in Beit Jala, a town which lost nearly half its land to Israeli Jewish-only colonial settlements over the past four decades.  Now town residents are prevented from getting to additional areas near the apartheid walls and bypass roads (all to serve illegal Jewish colonies on Palestinian land).  The weekly Sunday demonstration proceeded as expected: soldiers stretching barbed wire across the road, activists speaking to those present (including soldiers) in Arabic, English, and Hebrew.  There was a poignant moment when a young German girl tried to speak to a soldier who even refused to look her in the eye.

We then drove to Hebron to show a visiting teacher from Denver what it is like to have 400 racist settlers ruin life for 150,000 Palestinians.  The settlers took over some buildings, built a few other sites and make life in this largest Palestinian city hell for its inhabitants (Hebron is largest now because cities like Nazareth, Jerusalem, and Jaffa have had much of their Palestinian population ethnically cleansed).  On the way to Hebron we stopped by to visit our friend Musa Abu Maria in Beit Ummar only to be told by his family that he was arrested the day before by the Israeli occupation authorities.  He was arrested while helping farmers in their land where settlers repeatedly uprooted trees.

I am trying to get a steadier hand and better editing for youtube videos of these things.  Below is my latest attempt which I end by a more mundane segment showing poor children who we took to a park ( they have not been to a park for 2 years). We had Knaffa (Palestinian dessert) with those children at that time but did not have the camera then so I show what Knaffa looks like in Bethlehem with our small group that visited Hebron earlier. Awad Abu Swai, spokesman of the Popular Campaign against the wall and settlements is visible. Anyway, here is the video

In other news, Israeli authorities instituted new regulations that will allow them to deport thousands of Palestinians in contradiction to International law. According to Haaretz “the first Palestinians likely to be targeted under the new rules will be those whose ID cards bear home addresses in the Gaza Strip – people born in Gaza and their West Bank-born children – or those born in the West Bank or abroad who for various reasons lost their residency status. Also likely to be targeted are foreign-born spouses of Palestinians.”  (IDF order will enable mass deportation from West Bank.  And according to the Haaretz editorial: “Implementing this new military order is not only likely to spark a new conflagration in the territories, it is liable to give the world clear-cut proof that Israel’s aim is a mass deportation of Palestinians from the West Bank. While all Jews can settle wherever they wish, in Israel or in the territories, Israel is trying to deprive the Palestinians of even the minimal right to choose where to live in the West Bank or Gaza.”

And the summer looks like will come with even more drastic restrictions on use of water (already Israeli settlers use 80% of the West Bank Water). Maan news reported that “Four days after an Israeli minister threatened to restrict the West Bank’s water supply, Israeli authorities closed off the main water source used for agriculture in a Jordan Valley village on Sunday, committee members and lawyers said. ” (Israel shuts off water to Jordan Valley farms)

In positive news, the Israeli authorities are under pressure after having exposed how little freedoms exist in the fascist state.  There appears to have been a 4-month Israeli gag order and undue pressure on a  journalist plus house arrest for his alleged source.  Now that the gag order was lifted thanks to the leaks internationally and over the internet making it illogical, there are many questions.  Yet, Israeli media are not asking why journalists are being punished for revealing that Israeli occupation authorities engaged in extrajudicial executions even after the Israeli high court ordered the practice ended?    In any other country, the revelation would ensure the punishment not of the journalist but of the military leaders (violating in this case not just International law but even Israeli high court rulings).

In other good news, there have been growth in the Boycotts, Divestments, and Sanctions; for example see this good action at H&M in Europe:

Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD
A Bedouin in Cyberspace, a villager at home
Popular Committee to Resist the Apartheid Wall and Settlements-Beit Sahour
Professor, Bethlehem and Birzeit Universities
Chairman of the Board, Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People,

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