EVENTS IN BETHLEHEM AND THE REAL ROAD TO PEACE 23Sep10 September 23, 2010

There are good events in the Bethlehem area in the next few days and we could use your participation/support: 1) Thursday 3:30 PM, land reclamation in Wad Rahhal , 2) Friday at Noon, march from the mosque area to the apartheid wall in Al-Walaja (important to come to encourage this village that is valiantly trying to stop the wall encircling the village), 3) Monday and Tuesday beginning 9:30 AM rehabilitation for Land in Al-Khader (destroyed by settlers).

My wife’s photos of Palestine: Wildlife photo album
Apartheid wall album

As I keep hearing the mantra of a “new” opening for peace in the Middle East, I am reminded of the statement issued by Amnesty International in March 2001, stating that “a major flaw of the process that began with the Oslo Agreement of 1993 was that peace was not founded on ensuring respect and protection for human rights. if human rights are sacrificed in the search for peace and security there will be no peace and no security”.  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), adopted by the UN General Assembly on Dec. 10, 1948. The next day, the UN General Assembly also adopted Resolution 194, which dealt specifically with human rights in the Israeli-Palestinian context and included establishing a conciliatory commission, sharing Jerusalem, and guaranteeing the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and lands. To this date, neither UDHR nor General Assembly Resolution 194 have been implemented. 62 years later, Israeli apartheid still seems to get away literally with murder. The UN Human Rights Council just issued a report on the massacre of activists in the flotilla ship bringing aid to Gaza.  And just yesterday Jerusalem was up in flames after a settler mercenary murdered a Palestinian in occupied East Jerusalem.

Israel, armed to the teeth by the US, is the strongest military power in the Middle East. The state harbors hundreds of nuclear weapons (with a don’t ask don’t tell policy supported by the US) as well as other WMD. It receives billions in US taxpayer largess every year. And the US government has vetoed over 35 UN Security Council resolutions that attempted to hold Israel accountable to international law and human rights in the region.  This is a state that caused the largest post-WWII refugee crisis that is still unresolved.  The ethnic cleansing accompanying the foundation of this apartheid Jewish state meant the destruction of 530 villages and towns.  It has become well known as the Palestinian Nakba or catastrophe.  But this is an ongoing process that still involves many homer demolitions and deportations of people even today. 62 years of ethnic cleansing must come to a stop and must be reversed.  Today 7 million of the 11 million Palestinians
around the world are refugees or displaced people.  Palestinian Christians and Muslims who owned and used 93% of historic Palestine in 1947 have now been reduced to use of 8.3% of the land.

In 2007, Ehud Olmert, then prime minister, declared: “If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights [also for the Palestinians in the territories], then, as soon as that happens, the state of Israel is finished.” More recently, making a similar point, Ehud Barak, Israel’s defense minister, said “as long as between the Jordan and the sea there is only one political entity, named Israel, it will end up being either non-Jewish or non-democratic … If the Palestinians vote in elections, it is a bi-national state, and if they don’t, it is an apartheid state.”

There are resolutions at the UN that were almost forgotten but should be and can be activated.  Here is one that calls on all governments to cut and freeze all economic or other ties (ie. Boycotts and sanctions)

To achieve our rights despite Israeli massive military might and support from western governments, we must as before depend on themselves with support from people of conscience in the rest of the world (for example via the International Solidarity Movement and the movement for Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions).  Palestinian popular resistance has been inspirational even as we faced massive violent repression, loss of our lands, restrictions of movements, concentration camp like Ghettos, walls of apartheid and much more. Bishop Desmond Tutu and all major South African leaders described this situation as worse than what existed in Apartheid South Africa.   One year after the International Court of Justice ruled on the illegality of the apartheid wall and colonial settlement activity, the
Palestinian civil society organizations issued a call in 2005 to the world community to engage in the same kinds of activities that helped bring an end to Apartheid in South Africa.  This includes BDS until Israel complies with International law including basic human rights (on issues of refugees, equality, and ending occupation/colonization).  This is the assured road to a durable peace. We hope you will join us as we walk it.

Adalah organization video on treatment of so called “Israeli Arabs” (Palestinians who stayed in Palestine despite the attempt at ethnic
cleansing)

Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD
A Bedouin in Cyberspace, a villager at home
http://www.qumsiyeh.org

Professor, Bethlehem and Birzeit Universities
Chairman of the Board, Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People,
http://www.pcr.ps


Mazin Qumsiyeh teaches and does research at Bethlehem and Birzeit Universities in occupied Palestine. He previously served on the faculties of the University of Tennessee, Duke and Yale Universities. He served on the board/steering/executive committees of a number of groups including Peace Action Education Fund, the US Campaign to End the Occupation, the Palestinian American Congress, Association for One Democratic State in Israel/Palestine, and BoycottIsraeliGoods.org. He is now president of the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People. He advised many other groups including Sommerville Divestment Project, Olympia-Rafah Sister City Project, Palestine Freedom Project, Sabeel North America, and National Council of Churches of Christ USA. He is an active member of a number of human rights groups (Amnesty, Peace action, Human Rights Watch, ACLU etc.). He published several books of which the most acclaimed “Sharing the Land of Canaan: human rights and the Israeli/Palestinian Struggle” which was also translated to Spanish.


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