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Tunisia and Reshaping the Arab World

By Mazin Qumsiyeh

Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, January 25, 2011

Here in Palestine, we face a relentless assault not only on us and our lands but on truth, on decency, on nature, on dignity, and, dare I say, on God.  Israeli authorities are working overtime to transform the Holy City of Jerusalem from a multi-ethnic and multi-religious city to a distorted vision of what Zionists think Judaism is about (supremacy, ethnic purity, tribalism etc). They will be debating in the next few days a project for an additional 1400 "housing units" near Gilo colony.  The land targeted belongs to the village of Al-Walaja and the Town of Beit Jala. The Negev village of Al-Araqib was also just demolished for the 9th time*. More home and business demolitions were carried out in Jerusalem and the Jordan valley. Taking lands from Christians and Muslims, destroying over 2 million trees and countless homes and businesses are not just war crimes but crimes against humanity. We must continue to challenge these destructive policies and demand the international community bring those responsible to justice.  Please write to media, politicians, and all others (the internet allows you to get hundred of emails very quickly for decision makers).**

I think the empire's hold on the Arab World has begun to unravel and I think we see in Tunisia the first spark of a revolution that will reshape the Arab world for the better and spell the end of repression. In 1948, the insertion of Israel in the Middle of the Arab world was designed to dominate the area, keep the people disjointed, disunited and ruled by (Western-appointed) dictators.  In 1953, the US and Britain engineered the coup that removed the democratically elected government of Mousaddeq and placed the brutal Shah in power in Iran.  These moves worked for many years because people in the Arab world let them happen and offered limited resistance.  Things have been changing.  In retrospect, the year 1973 was pivotal as for the first time two Arab countries decided to fight to take back their stolen lands. Unfortunately, the US chose to save its monstrous creation from having to return all the stolen lands (and Sadat was willing to walk a separate line).   Then came the nonviolent people's revolution in Iran which got rid of the Shah in 1979. Since then Israel and its benefactor has attempted in vain to crush any Arab resistance by might.  Fom their invasion and occupation of Lebanon to invasion and occupation of Iraq, these evil forces attempted to keep the lid on Arab democracy and keep their hegemony.  Arab dictators were useful tools in implementing these destructive policies.  But many of us have long argued that these shenanigans will and must come to an end. 

As people around the world evolved beyond dictatorship and racism, we in the Arab world will too.  After all, why should people in Latin America (some that used to be called banana republics) be able to say NO to the neo-liberal and neo-colonial systems while we in the Arab world could not?  Why should Iran and Turkey be able to say NO to violations of International law and NO to hegemony while we in the rich Arab world stay silent?  The directions may be coming from Tunisia.  I have visited Tunisia twice and have many colleagues and friends that hail from Tunisia's beautiful towns and villages. My single largest scientific collaborator is a Tunisian scientist living in Paris.  I have commented on the similarity that Palestine and Tunisia has in geography, topography, climate, and village life.  Tunisians used popular resistance methods I discussed in my recent book on Palestine to get rid of a corrupt leader who had hung on to power for over 23 years.  But there are other Arab leaders who have been in power even longer.  It is time for real change, a change not to replace one face with another but to begin to form truly democratic institutions throughout the Arab world.  Our demands include democracy, transparency (including totally free and critical press), plurality, and justice.  We have enough natural and human resources to build new vibrant societies.  All we have to do is muster the will to free our minds.  Those of us who have done so and shed their inhibitions should also begin to discuss and ORGANIZE for the day after (after Zionism and after imperialism).  We have to begin to examine how we may repair the damage caused by the corrupt systems and build a better future.


** for 50 actions you can do, visit 


Tunisia's Revolution Was Twitterized by Firas Al-Atraqchi

Eitan Bronstein's insightful letter about why he set up Zochrot, an Israeli group that tries to bring attention to the ethnically cleansed Palestinian villages in the "Jewish state"

Boycott wins accumulate: Now Vanessa Paradis has cancelled her concert in Israel

Merci Vanessa ! Et merci Ó toutes celles et tous ceux, dans tous les pays, qui se sont mobilisÚs pour lui faire entendre la voix de la justice et de la paix !

Video of action:  

more at

Pebble People by Cindy Sheehan

"Our problems stem from our acceptance of this filthy, rotten system." Dorothy Day

Gabrielle Giffords, Tom Hurndall and Palestinian Children: Shot in the Head by Alison Weir

Jerusalem situation

Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD

A Bedouin in Cyberspace, a villager at home   




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