Mazin Qumsiyeh: Resistance to incredible odds and repression

Mazin Qumsiyeh

Cattle Egret - alive, but with amputated wing

Cattle Egret – alive, but with amputated wing

I am so grateful for all that is happening in resistance to the incredible odds and repression practiced by the elites in power. While some may get activism or compassion “fatigue” , there are literally millions of people deciding to leave their apathy behind and put their hands with other people to work. Our tiny little small part of the world – Palestine now an apartheid sate called a “Jewish state” – has become a major center of global activism.

This centrality can be due to many factors:

1.Religious centrality to three main religions, one of which was hijacked for political purposes locally in the past (Christianity –> Crusaderism), the other hijacked in the past 150 years and is still strongly hijacked (Judaism –>Zionism) and the other more recently and in nearby areas beginning to be hijacked (Islam –> Isis and Wahhabism).

2. Nowhere else on earth is Western government hypocrisy more evident than in Palestine. While the western leaders speak of democracy and human rights, they support an apartheid racist “Jewish state” that engaged and engages in racism, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing (so far 7 million of us Palestinians are refugees or displaced people). Thus, this is the Achilles heel of Western propaganda.

3. The 12 million Palestinians in the world, most refugees and others squeezed into bantustans have been remarkably peaceful and tolerant and had a long history of popular resistance for the past 130 years that provided a stellar example to the world (see my 2012 book “Popular Resistance in Palestine: A history of hope and empowerment”).

4. Israeli citizens and the global community are increasingly joining hands with us to demand justice as the only road to peace.

5. More and more people realize that peace in the “Middle East” (Western Asia) and around the world is dependent on peace for Palestine. Zionism with its (sometimes dominant, sometimes subservient) twin US imperialism are and have been most destructive forces in causing global conflict.

But what really gives us optimism daily are the people we interact with.

Students at the universities who see the importance of knowledge (power) and come to school with enthusiasm even in the face of suppression of their movement.

Farmers that work hard in their fields even as land and water are being taken from them by the occupiers.

Unarmed young demonstrators showing bravery in challenging the heavily armed Israeli forces (who occasionally murder them).

Thousands of political prisoners and “administrative detainees” who resist the prisoners (one on hunger strike is close to death).

Activists who sometimes sacrifice comforts to be with us.

Organizers of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activities around the world who refuse to be silenced by illegal measures their governments try to impose on them to suppress free speech.

Volunteers at our activities from refugee camp youth centers like Al-Rowwad to our Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability (

Sometimes small actions make us retain our sanity and gives joy and meaning to our lives. Just this past week:
– A small village of Izbet al-Tabib managed to gather 300 demonstrators protesting the illegal confiscation of land and resources to serve settlers.

-We saved a cattle egret (bird with long legs and beak from the heron group) which had been shot and with a macerated wing. We did an operation that saved its life (unfortunately the wing had to be amputated).

-We released a fox that was drowning in a water treatment pool in the Bethlehem garbage dump site.

– My tourism class did an exercise to help in a local tourism promotion project.

-We noted several species of butterflies in our botanic garden already and the flowers of rare orchids and even the Star of Bethlehem.

-We had our first class in biodiversity for the new masters program in environmental biology at Birzeit University.

-We received dozens of visitors to our facilities and added to our very large network of friends (now tens of thousands)

-We submitted two small grant proposals (we hope to start to do major fundraising soon for our museum, botanical garden, and institute of biodiversity and sustainability)

-Our aquaponic system is doing great and we expect our first harvest next week (lettuce)

– We said goodbye to some volunteers and we welcomed others who helped us build this institution.

We expect to receive more volunteers next week including a professor from Jordan and an aquaponics researcher from Switzerland and at least 10 students from Bethlehem University doing their community service.

We are so grateful for all the above and we welcome volunteers and supporters with all backgrounds and skills. We are guided by love and respect (to ourselves, to others, then to nature).

We are strengthened amid all the suffering (here in Gaza, in Syria, in Yemen etc) by human connections and by caring for each other.

“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.” Alphonse Karr

Stay human

Mazin Qumsiyeh
Professor and (Volunteer) Director
Palestine Museum of Natural History

This week:
Israeli soldiers beat detained Palestinian teenaged boys
Palestinian Teacher Among World’s Top 10
Reconstruction Of Gaza: Zero Buildings, Massive Profit
Should Jews Have To Pay Reparations for Slavery? Richard Kreitner