I just arrived in the US to give a series of talks on Palestine as part of the 6th International Israeli Apartheid Week (my schedule is below*).
|Israeli soldier: “You are Mazin Qumsiyeh, you are going to try to leave to the US today, I advise you not to go!”
The day I left Palestine was a bizarre/strange day to say the least. The second Sunday in Beit Sahour to hold events to protest the increased military presence was to contain a land reclamation activity. The torrential rains put a damper on that option but lifted our spirits since it proclaimed a great planting and harvest season. In three days, we received over 85% of the total needed rainfall for the season!! Nothing like this happened here in over 15 years. But there was enough of a clearing that over 60 people gathered at Ush Ghrab. It included Dr. Moustafa Barghouthi and his supporters. Because we had originally planned no demonstration for this Sunday, we (the members of the popular committee in Beit Sahour) asked that they do not chant and that they fold their banners.
Because there was no military, we decided to honor a request from our visitors and give them a quick tour of the military camp site. But just after we arrived at the top of the hill and were about to spend five minutes explaining the tumultuous history of this site, the Israeli soldiers came barreling up the hill in their military jeeps. Giving us five minutes to go back down and refusing to negotiate, things unfolded rather quickly. The soldiers threw about a dozen concussion grenades. Three young people from those who came from outside Beit Sahour tried to throw stones. I and two others tried to stop them. But before we knew it, tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets were fired by the military. I went to my car, pulled out the bullhorn (which we did not intend to use since we were not planning a protest) and explained in no uncertain terms that we in Beit Sahour do not appreciate or welcome anyone who throws stones as we in the committee have agreed on only peaceful popular resistance.
Within a few minutes, the crowds had dispersed and rain had resumed heavy so it ended. At a particularly tense moment, an Israeli intelligence officer walked up to me and stated simply “You are Mazin Qumsiyeh, you are going to try to leave to the US today, I advise you not to go!” It was a surreal moment to threaten me and let me know that they are keeping tabs. I simply answered that "what I do and don’t do is up to my conscience and the rest up to Allah." We continued with our plans and we think the rather harsh response to our presence foretells of the army's insecurity. Arriving to the US safely, I feel I am again in an occupied, unsafe land where Zionists like Joseph Lieberman, Wolf Blitzer, and Alan Dershowitz need to be challenged just like our challenge to these Israeli soldiers. I am sure some of the local Israeli-apologists will be at my talks, and we will have opportunities to continue the dialogue. Before I give you my talk schedule though, I wanted to share to action calls.
Action call 1: From Playgrounds For Palestine
We are sending out this CALL TO ACTION to alert our supporters about a troubling development in the Oush Grab Peace Park, the site designated for a 2010 PfP playground installation.
The Israeli military is trying to implement a decision to confiscate community and privately held property belonging to the community and families in the Palestinian Christian town of Beit Sahour.
Included in this swath of land is the treasured Peace Park, which serves as a community space, park and recreational facility where Palestinian families gather daily and was to be the site of one of PfP's next playgrounds. We ask you to call and write to Israeli officials in order to protest this action, call upon them to stop the construction of the watchtower, prevent settlers from attacking the park, and cease any idea of building a settlement in the site.
Follow the link and enter zip for to contact local congressmen -
Call the Israeli ambassador 202 364 5500 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 202 364 5500 end_of_the_skype_highlighting or email email@example.com
Email the Consulate General of the US, Jerusalem -
Call the Israeli consulate in Philly 215 977 7600 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 215 977 7600 end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Contact the Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Near East Affairs - Jeffrey D Feltman 202 647 7209 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 202 647 7209 end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Action call 2: CALL TO ACTION!!
The Sheikh Jarrah Neighborhood Committee and Just Jerusalem call on you to join our struggle against the occupation of East Jerusalem. Please circulate this call and help organize solidarity protests throughout the world: WE WILL NOT BE STOPPED!
On Saturday March 6th please join us in our protest to stop the Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem. At 7:00 PM we will be holding a mass rally in Sheikh Jarrah against:
- The forced eviction of the Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah
- The Jewish settlement of East Jerusalem
- The undemocratic attack on political protest
50 Palestinians have already been evicted from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah. Another 500 are threatened. If the settlers and their government allies succeed, all Palestinians in East Jerusalem are threatened. If we stop them in Sheikh Jarrah, we can stop them elsewhere. We call on all groups who support the struggle for Palestinian rights and for a just and lasting peace for Israelis and Palestinian, to hold solidarity protest vigils on March 6 near Israeli consulates and embassies abroad.
The Sheikh Jarrah Neighborhood Committee
Just Jerusalem – the Israeli Coalition for a just solution in Jerusalem
For more information on the struggle see our blog
*Tentative Schedule of Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh in the US March 2nd: In Oradell, NJ Evening drive to Waltham, MA
10:15 a.m.-12 p.m. meeting Anne Marie Codur at Northeastern
12-1:30 p.m. Northeastern University Law School, Room Dockser 30, 400 Huntington Ave. Boston, MA
5-6:00 p.m. Brandeis University, Zinner Forum, 415 South Street, Waltham, MA “Palestinian life and struggle under Israeli occupation”
7-8:30 p.m. St. John's Methodist Church, Watertown, MA
9:30-11:00 a.m. UMass, Boston, MA, Healey Library 11th floor (H11-0011B). 100 Morrissey Blvd., 617-287-5900 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 617-287-5900 end_of_the_skype_highlighting “Israeli Apartheid and Palestinian Non-violent Resistance”
2-3:30 p.m. Brown University, MacMillan Hall 117, 167 Thayer St, at Thayer and George Streets, Providence, RI
7-8:30 p.m. UUSIS (UU Church), 20 Forest Street, Stamford, CT “Peace is Possible: A Perspective on Israel & Palestine”
March 5: Driving, Stamford to Pittsburgh
7-8:30 p.m. First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh, 605 Morewood Av., Pittsburgh, PA
Driving, Pittsburgh to Oradell, NJ.
Evening in NYC attending Edward Said's daughter's play off Broadway, 83 East Fourth St, Manhattan.
11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. the Assembly Room, downstairs in the office of the AAUP/AFT (American Assoc. of University Professors), 11 Stone Street, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, Driving directions available at http://www.rutgersaaup.org/contactus.htm or by phoning Denise at (732) 964-1000 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (732) 964-1000 end_of_the_skype_highlighting, ext. 15
Evening leaving for Palestine
Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh (formerly of Yale and Duke universities) teaches at Bethlehem and Birzeit Universities in occupied Palestine and chairs the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People. He is author of a number of books, including Sharing the Land of Canaan: Human Rights and the Israeli-Palestinian Struggle and the forthcoming Hope and Empowerment: A history of Popular Resistance In Palestine. He will share with us his first-hand experience of living in a troubled land and discuss strategies for a peaceful resolution of the present conflict in the region. There will be ample time for questions and clarifications.
Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD, A Bedouin in cyberspace, a villager at home
READ HIS BIO AND MORE LETTERS BY
MAZIN QUMSIYEH FROM INSIDE PALESTINE