Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
By Mazin Qumsiyeh
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, July 20, 2010
It took over 10 hours to cross from Amman, Jordan to the Ghetto of
Bethlehem, a distance of 60 miles. From the first moment on the
bridge from Jordan, we begin to be immersed in Palestinian suffering.
The 19 days outside of Palestine are not possible for most Palestinians.
Yet, this was not a vacation and I gave many talks and spent lots of time
in cars, trains, and planes. During the travel time, we can have
time to think and reflect on many things and this short essay on
Palestinian responsibility is a fruit of many hours of this.
During this trip I met many Palestinians, far more than before. Many
were dedicated activists and others attended our talk out of curiosity or
a sense of obligation. In Jordan we stayed with close friends
(Palestinians originally from Hebron). We interacted with many
others of all backgrounds. We even had a chance to briefly visit one
of the many proliferating malls in Amman (this one is called ‘Mecca
The mostly Palestinian population, like the rest of the society in
Jordan, is divided between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’. I was reminded
of my visit with the Wheels of Justice bus tour to New Orleans months before
the catastrophe of Katrina Hurricane and flooding. There in the deep
South in richest country on earth was also a city that is deeply divided
economically. The hundreds of customers whether in a rich mall in Amman or
New Orleans have the same ‘choices’: Starbucks, United Colors of Benetton,
and MacDonalds, trendy shops with latest lingerie and other fashions.
The reality of life just 30 km to the west in the occupied areas is as
alien to those Palestinian shoppers as it is to their American counterparts.
I thus pondered on our collective human responsibility to address injustice.
Nowhere else in the world today is there a more obvious example of massive
and blatant injustice of ethnic cleansing, colonization, murder, and
distortions of reality than that associated with creation and maintenance of
a ‘Jewish [Zionist] state’.
That this process was initiated and promoted by Europeans and later
Americans leaves the people of these countries with the duty to act to
rectify this injustice. Many take this very seriously. I was touched
by the passion and dedication of many Italians to the Palestinian cause.
But ultimately, the main responsibility for Palestinian liberation and
wellbeing falls on us Palestinians.
In my visit to
Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, I was saddened to see the basically
inhuman conditions of life. Yes, we must blame the Lebanese government
for this but we also must look in the mirror. How many Palestinians
who are of the ‘haves’ category are actually caring enough with deeds (and
not mere words) about their fellow Palestinians. While we seek and
appreciate solidarity and joint struggle with all people, we must rely on
ourselves first and foremost.
I just finished a book on history of popular resistance in
Palestine. That there are millions of Palestinians in Palestine
despite all the Zionist effort is testament to the efficacy and depth of
this resistance and caring. That millions more who were forced to
leave refuse to forget where they came from indicates the fallacy of the
notion advocated by Zionists of ‘the old will die and the young will
forget.’ But keeping the attachment and acting strongly to defend your
right are two related but separate issues. And those who are truly dedicated
to act for the cause in any nation remain a minority that we should try to
How many people get involved and how many dedicate their life
to the struggle can be the deciding factors in the success of any liberation
movement. Success can come using mixtures of different tools. No two
liberation movements follow the same paths. Lessons can be drawn from
Places like Algeria, Vietnam, and South Africa but these stories are
different and liberation in Palestine will be different when it comes (some
would say if it comes). I believe we have significant and unique
opportunities to move forward positively.
Here are just five of hundreds of reasons for my optimism.
The International civil society is emerging and mobilizing in unprecedented
large numbers to help challenge the oppression and colonization in Palestine
(think of the growth of social media activism, websites, International
Solidarity Movement, Free Gaza Movement, Freedom Flotilla etc.).
2. The Zionist project represents the antithesis of morality and justice in
such a blatant way that no caring and decent human being can ignore.
It is obvious to all that it is wrong to ethnically cleanse a country of its
native inhabitants in order to bring people of a particular religion and
create a state of such immigrants with a set of racist laws to ensure
hegemony. Thus, it carries the seeds of its ultimate destruction within its
own ideology. Its persistent war crimes and crimes against humanity
(in Deir Yassin, Nablus, Jenin, Gaza, Lebanon, international waters etc) are
but the natural symptoms of the pathology.
3. The Zionist
project is now recognized internationally (despite the massive propaganda
efforts) as a destabilizing force not only locally but internationally.
From its inception in the 19th century, political Zionism survived only by
creating divisions and wars. But people are tired of conflicts and
wars. Wars also used to have little cost to the Zionist movement.
In the last few years, the cost of war has risen and Zionists cannot wage
wars without some blow back hitting them where it really hurts (think
Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza in 2008/9).
4. The growth of the boycotts,
divestments and sanctions (BDS movement) has been phenomenal (visit
bdsmovement.net for details). The Israeli government is frantically trying
to suppress this but they always end up promoting it by their own arrogance
of power. The arrogance of power that allows Israel to lose Turkey as
an ally or to forge passports of ‘friendly countries’ will lead them to lose
what few allies they have left.
5. For every act of murder or
destruction, for every attack on a human rights activist, Israel creates
many folds more resistance. The murder of Rachel Corrie generated thousands
of Rachel’s and her story is now known by millions (Google gives 1.9 million
hits). After the attack on the flotilla of 6 ships, we will now have 60
ships arriving in September. Each of the hundreds of activists who were
unjustly kidnapped in International waters, mistreated, and stripped of
his/her belongings is now a lifelong activist for Palestine.
over the Bassem AbuRahma (see videos at
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F91H8sR64Ro ) and thousands of other
innocent Palestinian victims of Israeli crimes. We cry over the many
internationals who lost their lives such as Rachel Corrie (see
the victims of the Mavi Marmara (see
To honor these martyrs for this good cause, we must turn tears into
action and shatter any remaining ‘deafening silence’ and negativism among
our people (and here I mean Palestinians and other fellow human beings). We
do see corruption, defeatism, and lack of self confidence among many people
(Palestinians and others). We must challenge these human frailties but
this can only be done by putting out positive actions and examples.
As we learn from basic physics, only the pluses can neutralize the
minuses. The good news is that we see more and more pluses and more and
more people deciding to get off the proverbial couch and get into the
fields. Here the harsh winds blow, the vultures circle, the dogs bark,
but the caravan of freedom moves on and we are getting good company and
making great friends along the way.
"Some people are always
grumbling because roses have thorns. I am thankful that thorns have
See also this related article ‘Of Cowardice
famous tenor Joe Fallisi who we met in Italy had created operatic songs for
As always, you are
welcome to visit us in Palestine
Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD
A Bedouin in
Cyberspace, a villager at home
Professor, Bethlehem and Birzeit
Chairman of the Board, Palestinian Center for Rapprochement
Between People, http://www.pcr.ps