Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding

Opinion Editorials, April 18, 2009


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Photos through young eyes in occupied Palestine

By Mazin Qumsiyeh, April 18, 2009


Trying to maintain sanity here in this mad house of Israeli apartheid is not easy.  Gaza has dropped off the world news because the slaughter rate is no longer 50 civilians per day but only the weak and sick are starving and dying under siege.  When Gaza is mentioned it is in a different context (like the Hizballah operative who was trying to help the resistance in Gaza through Egyptian territory and is causing a diplomatic row with ripples across the Middle East).  

But the International media is not focused on the endless suffering either in the occupied Gaza strip or the West Bank (including East Jerusalem). Israel continues its assault on the natives everywhere (inclduing bedouins in the Negev and villagers in teh Galilee).  The policy has not changed with change of governments or presidents: Zionists build Jewish infrastructure and towns with one hand and with the other demolish existing life and livelihood of native people.  Two families were evicted today in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Arab East Jerusalem in a never ending quest to judaicize the city. 

Three days ago soldiers came and stole building material and a container at a worksite for the municipality of Beit Sahour (in Ush Ghrab) and reiterated a demolition order for the children playground.  We the native/indigenous people try to cope/adapt and yes resist in various ways.  This is true whether in isolated villages that lost most of their agricultural lands or in overcrowded ghettos of places like Bethlehem and Nablus (where village people and other refugees poured in after they lost their lands) or in exile and refugee camps in diaspora.  

Resistance is done sporadically in some places like Bilin, Nilin, AlWalaja, and Gaza.  But it is a spark and a light in the heart of every Palestinian and person of conscience in this world.  A spark that may weaken sometimes but can erupt into a brilliant flame.  Resistance came in waves of uprisings every few years (renewed by a new younger generations, most of it civil resistance): 1891, 1902, 1921, 1929, 1936, 1956, 1970, 1979, 1987, 2000. 

Resistance is also maintaining humanity and a semi-normal life in abnormal oppressive circumstances. By going to school, by eating, by drinking, by having weddings, by delivering babies, by trading, by praying, by hoping, dreaming, cursing, loving, …  These days we celebrate Easter here.  Resurrection of Jesus Christ and thsi gives us hope of Palestine and life rising like teh phoenix out of the ashes. And it will, nay it must, happen.   

Just come to Palestine and see it and live it. We had the first biotechnology conference in Palestine with amazingly good research papers presented and an attendance of 120 scientists ( ).   I see bright inquisitiveness in student eyes at universities and schools.  To be inspired, please browse through these photos by the youth "Who Am I? Palestine through Palestinian eyes"  (from the program Images for Life at AlRowwad Center, Aida refugee camp). Around 20 young photographers participated (you may consider inviting the exihibit of photos to your area in Europe or North America, simply fantastic).

As it is Spring here, the  lemon and orange blossoms give a fragrance in the air that is truly uplifting.  Young plants are everywhere.  Butterflies, insects and (in the few remaining water wells) frogs.  Even the desert is blooming.  Here are pictures taken by my wife on a trip to Birzeit and in the desert wilderness of Mar (Saint) Saba Monastery on an educational trip with a group of tourism students

In Al-Walaja village northwest of Bethlehem, several natural springs were confiscated and made off limits to the village.  Only one well still remains accessible to them.  Even here when we visited last week, settlers were everywhere having “picnics” and one told us that the water pool will be drained and the water utilized through pipes for Jewish colonies.  I was looking for frogs and I am doing a study on frogs in Palestine.  Already one of the five species of frogs in teh Holy Land became extinct because of the Jewish Zionist development (destruction of its habitats in Mamilla pools in Jerusalem).  Nature suffers as much as native people (all are endangered).  Please intensify your work for justice, come visit us in Palestine, and speak out despite the attempts to silence (some failing some succeeding, see below).  We act because it is right to act and we can live comfortably in our own skin.

Action: McCarthyism in America on the rise.  The misnamed Anti-Defamation League (it is actually a defamation league) tried to get Michigan State University to cancel the invitation for Archbishop Desmond Tutu as a commencement keynote speaker.  Thankfully they failed. On the other hand, Prof. Norman Finkelstein is a meticulous scholar of history and was barred from speaking at Clark University. Please put a comment at the bottom of the article above and send a polite but blunt letter to the President at and letters to the local newspaper   Worcester Telegram and Gazette Action: Canadian filmmaker John Greyson turns down offer to premiere at the Tel Aviv LGBT film festival "The Israeli apartheid forum this week, and particularly Naomi Klein’s speech, helped clarify my thoughts. Her words took me back to the BDS movement of the eighties, against South African apartheid, and the first 16mm film I ever made, which was in support of that struggle"  Write to thank him at   And two articles worth reading. 

Salim Vally: The campaign to isolate apartheid Israel -- lessons from South Africa Hazem Jamjoum: Not an Analogy: Israel and the Crime of Apartheid.


Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD






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