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)

Our demonstrations here continue as does the Israeli repression.  On Friday, demonstrations in Al-Ma’sara, Wad Rahhal, Bil’in., Ni’lin and elsewhere. Injuries and arrests (including our dear friend Hassan Breijiya from Al-Ma’sara).  On Sunday, at Beit Jala demonstration, Israeli occupation soldiers were acting crazy, hitting and shoving people. Local organizer Imad was detained and roughed up. I was arriving a bit late and was prevented from entering the site.  I tried to go down through the hills and was spotted by an Israeli soldier who pointed his gun at me and said he would shoot if I do not go to him and then proceeded to abuse me physically and psychologically.  He only released me after the end of the demonstration (45 minutes later).

In good news, the chorus of decent people and groups speaking out about the illegal Israeli attack and massacre of the Gaza freedom flotilla activists has grown: The Episcopal Church, the Pope, the United Methodist Church, Presbyterians, Congregationists, Lutherans, Quakers, Palestinian Christians, Churches for Middle East Peace, National Council of Churches, Sabeel, trade and civil organizations, and many political leaders (although the political leaders are merely trying to be political). Shimon Peres and other Israeli criminal leaders have become persona non grata around the world. Israel’s response to this growing chorus of condemnation is to dig its heels in its policies.  Even Apartheid South Africa would never have thought to criminalize within its borders dissent by its own citizens

The crimes I saw on the Mavi Marmara. Lubna Masarwa writing from Kfor Qara, Live from Palestine,

Israel’s Siege of Gaza and Attacks on the Humanitarian Aid Flotilla – Legal Background

Coincidentally the attack on the humanitarian ships happended near the anniversary of the Israeli attack on USS Liberty (and one passenger was victim of both attacks). The video watched by 580,000 people  and a documentary on the event

ACTION CALL From Free Gaza Movement

Please TAKE ACTION and DEMAND that the United Nations launch an independent investigation into the Israeli attack against unarmed relief ships in the Freedom Flotilla. DEMAND that the international community stop simply condemning Israel’s brutal and illegal blockade of Gaza – and start doing something to end it!

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, The United Nations, New York NY 10017
tel: +1 212 963 5012, fax: +1 212 963 2155 email:

For three days as they were held in captivity last week and unable to speak on their own behalf, Israel presented the massacre against civilian passengers on the Mavi Marmara as self-defense against a “lynching.” Now that the passengers are returning to their home nations, the global community is hearing a much different story, not just regarding the May 31st attack but also new allegations of brutality in the treatment of several
passengers afterwards once they were in custody inside Israel. Free Gaza is posting these survivor testimonies on our website, and we will continue to provide updates as more passengers share their experiences.

As the passenger accounts trickle in, survivors portray the Israeli military as using excessive and disproportionate force against activists not just on the Mavi Marmara but the other passenger ships as well. Use of tasers, electric shocks, rubber bullets and live ammunition (both on board and from the helicopter hovering above) are documented.  Multiple passengers tell eyewitness accounts of soldiers refusing to allow medical treatment of injured passengers, specific and focused targeting of journalists on board and beatings of passengers after their arrival in Israel, causing at least two passengers to need hospitalization.

“Keeping passengers held in captivity so that they could not share their perspective was a deliberate attempt by Israel to cover up what really happened on the Mavi Marmara that fateful night,” notes Free Gaza co-founder Greta Berlin.  “They knew what the passengers would be recounting, but they hoped that by delaying the release of their testimony until days after the immediate incident, media coverage would be buried as backpage follow-up stories or dismissed purely as old news.” She adds.

In her testimony, Annette Groth, a German Parliamentarian who was a passenger on Mavi Marmawa validates that assertion saying “The scandal is that we have to fight the Israeli images only with words. The Israelis confiscated all the activists’ cameras, computers, and mobile phones.”

These accounts reveal an “alternative narrative” of the attack on the Freedom Flotilla that cannot be reconciled with the Israeli version. CONTACT Secretary General Ban Ki Moon today and DEMAND an independent investigation!
Mazin Qumsiyeh

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