Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
Opinion Editorials, March 2010
Israeli Occupation Army Wanted Me
By Mazin Qumsiyeh
Al-Jazeerah & ccun.org, March 8, 2010
The Israeli army invaded our neighborhood at 1:30 AM Tuesday morning waking up my mother, wife and sister. Heavily-armed soldiers blocked roads during "the operation". When my family opened the door, they demanded to see me. They were told I have already left to the US. After many more questions, they left a paper that states I am to appear at the military liaison office next Monday.
My sister and wife told them I will not be back by then. Clearly the warning from that military officer at Ush Ghrab that I mentioned in my last email, was based on knowledge of this. I guess I am a wanted man now for engaging in nonviolent protest! Those who were at that event and have video, please contact me. What disturbs me is not the risk to me; any action against oppression is taken knowing there are personal risks. What disturbs me is that this has an effect on my family and thousands of friends around the world who care (and some of it unpredictable).
My 76 year old mother asks on the phone that I not go back and that I work in the US for a while, a very painful suggestion for a mother to make about her only remaining son near her! I try to assure her that I have done nothing wrong and will not leave her…but she brings up many examples of people who also did not do any violence and were arrested, imprisoned, and their families had to go through a lot.
A friend who heard about this stated I have nothing to worry about, that
this was to hassle me to get us to stop being active. Another lost sleep
trying to figure out what we can do. I assure her that I will
carry on with my speaking tour as planned and that this will blow over one
day. (the song “we shall overcome someday” comes to mind).
It is paranoia inherent in the philosophical underpinnings of the
ideology. That ideology embraced by a subset of Jews (Zionism) simply
teaches that “we are God’s chosen people, He gave us this land, we cannot go
wrong when behaving against the Goyim especially those who happen to be here
when we arrived to reclaim and cleanse our lands, and International law and
human rights laws do not apply to us.” It is self-destructive
delusions that are inculcated during early education and perpetuate the
myths of uniqueness. It leads to the kind of behaviors that are now
difficult to hide (the ethnic cleansing of 1948 was only a beginning). But
even some Israelis are shedding these mythologies and joining the struggle.
In the end, we will live together despite all this repression.
I just arrived in the US to give a series of talks on Palestine as part of the 6th International Israeli Apartheid Week <http://www.apartheidweek.org/> www.apartheidweek.org (my schedule is below*). 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 let threaten me and let me know that they are keeping taps.
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.
Call the Israeli ambassador 202 364 5500 or email <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org> email@example.com Email the Consulate General of the US, Jerusalem - <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org> email@example.com Call the Israeli consulate in Philly 215 977 7600 Contact the Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Near East Affairs - Jeffrey D Feltman 202 647 7209
Action call 2: CALL TO ACTION!!
*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.
Northestern 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"
9:30-11:00 a.m. UMass, Boston, MA, Healey Library 11th floor (H11-0011B).
Driving, Stamford to Pittsburgh 7-8:30 p.m.First Unitarian Church of
Pittsburgh, 605 Morewood Av., Pittsburgh, PA
Driving, Pittsburgh to Oradell, NJ.
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>
Action: Land Day to be marked with Global BDS Day of Action Statement,
Palestinian BDS National Committee, 1 March 2010. The BDS National Committee
(BNC) is calling on you to unite in your different capacities and struggles
for a Global BDS Day of Action on 30 March 2010 in solidarity with the
Palestinian people and for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against
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