Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Israeli Insult to Biden:
Silence is complicity
By Mazin Qumsiyeh
Al-Jazeerah & ccun.org, March 15, 2010
I am Mazin B. Qumsiyeh, a Palestinian American citizen who lived in the
US for 29 years before deciding to move to Palestine nearly two years ago.
I received my higher education (Masters, PhD, medical genetics board
certification) in the US and served as a faculty member in schools of
medicine at the Universities of Tennessee (2.5 years), Duke (6 years), and
Yale (5 years). I also helped start a private laboratory in New Jersey
that now employs 20 people. I wrote several books and the last one
to be published this year is titled “Hope and Empowerment: A History of
Popular Resistance in Palestine”.
What attracted me to the US was
the openness and welcoming attitude that allowed me to work not only in my
profession as an academic, clinician, and researcher but also to advocate
and speak out for human rights. I gave hundreds of talks and
participated in many vigils and protests for example against the war on
Iraq and for justice and equality in Israel/Palestine. There was of course
always a tiny vocal and rather aggressive minority of Jewish Americans who
were attempting to suppress the truth and defend the indefensible. But as
time passed by, more and more people of all backgrounds (Jews, Christians,
Muslims, etc.) got involved in the struggle for freedom. This is
because they knew that freedom for Palestinians and challenging the
delusional Zionist agenda is good for all people. This is true for
US citizens who already paid a heavy price in blood and treasure in places
like Iraq because of a special interest lobby in Washington that is now
pushing for conflict with Iran. Iran will certainly cost us far more
than the cost of Iraq (so far $3 trillion, few thousand dead Americans,
tens of thousands injured for life).
Once I relocated to
Palestine, I proceeded to do the same activities I was engaged in here in
the US. I teach at two universities (Bethlehem and Birzeit) and
helped establish a master’s program in biotechnology. I also pursue
my passion of educating others on human rights and engaging in other civil
resistance actions such as protests and vigils. Being a believer in
civil nonviolent resistance is not easy in an area where there is an
occupation and military rule. Recently, the situation deteriorated
in my home town and we became more active in our nonviolent struggle.
Concomitantly, the Israeli army decided to increase the repression.
The Bethlehem district is surrounded by Israeli settlements and military
installations on three sides. The 130,000 Bethlehem residents now
have access to only 20% of the original land of the district. And more
than half of those residents are refugees from the ethnic cleansing of
1948, or displaced people from post 1967 settlement activities. Now
the settlers, protected by the Israeli military, want to build a
settlement in the only remaining area of Bethlehem (to the east).
The town people of Beit Sahour (the Shepherds Field) is known for a
history of nonviolent resistance (including tax revolt in 1988-1989).
We are 70% Christian and 30% Muslim town with limited resources but highly
educated middle class (there are over 300 PhD holders among the population
It was thus not a surprise that the town
people decided to resist nonviolently the additional Israeli encroachment
on our town. We have already lost a lot of land. The Israeli
response was rather brutal. Our first prayer vigil was attacked
while the Lutheran priest was leading us in prayer (see video at
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4he1vayLrfo). Being a member of
the committee that organized that vigil and another peaceful event a week
later, I was targeted. An Israeli officer warned me not to
participate and threatened me saying he knew I was leaving to the US for a
lecture tour. the day after I left to the US, they invaded our
neighborhood at 1:30 AM (Tuesday morning) and demanded to see me. My
mother, sister and wife were terrorized for no reason. They told the
military I was already out of the country but would be happy to go talk to
them when I return if need be. The military left a paper that
demands I show up at their offices. I came back here to deal with this
through my lawyer but it looks like these were acts of intimidation and to
scare others. Mine is the mild case. There are far worst cases from
holding activists in administrative detention to shooting and killing
them. We now commemorate the seventh anniversary of the murder of
peace activist Rachel Corrie (see
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHCJ-wUIPV0). Justice must be served
and the oppression must end.
Being that Israel receives billions
in our tax money, I
as a US citizen ask our government to defend those of us (Americans,
Palestinians, others) who engage in nonviolent resistance. I ask the
US to finally put a stop to the Israeli colonial activities. The
spit in the face of Vice President Biden by announcing new housing units
in occupied Jerusalem cannot pass with a insincere apology about "timing".
The US can demand an end to settlement activity and even a
removal of the settlements. We saw that US power when President
Eisenhower demanded Israel end its
occupation of Gaza and the Sinai in 1956 and Israel was forced to comply.
The media editors can begin to cover reality
of oppression here and how taxpayers contribute to it.
People must declare where they stand for the
tide is shifting and the day of reckoning is upon us just like in the
civil rights movement or the anti-apartheid struggle. History will
not be kind to those who stand and watch from the sidelines.
Silence in this case is clearly complicity.
Prof. Mazin Qumsiyeh