How Could Humanity
Descend to Such Barbarity Around the World?
By Mazin Qumsiyeh
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, May 25, 2015
Compassion fatigue is a term I heard many years ago perhaps when there
were a number of natural and man-made disasters and conflicts in the late
The term came to my mind in the last few weeks. Another saying:
think globally and act locally. So thinking globally, I was thinking how
humanity could descend to such barbarity around the world.
How could African migrants risk their lives to leave countries wrecked
psychologically and economically by colonial Europeans to seek to arrive in
the same continent that subjugated them?
How could Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims be slaughtered in the thousands by
the majority Buddhists and surviving people end up in boats and sent back to
starve and die at sea rejected by nearby countries including countries like
Indonesia with Muslim majorities?
How could relatives of Jewish holocaust survivors engage in racism and
ethnic cleansing for native Palestinians while relatives of Armenian
holocaust survivors lead amazingly rich productive caring lives?
How could a very wealthy country like “Saudi Arabia” (the quotes are
needed because it is an imposed name for a country stolen by the Saud
Family) spend billions to support the US/Israeli agenda of destruction and
mayhem in countries like Yemen and Syria?
How could a pilot who claims being Muslim drop bombs on Muslim civilians?
How could a powerful and rich country like the USA be so occupied by the
Zionist lobby that they send their “police” to train in racism and
oppression in Apartheid Israel and then go back to kill blacks in American
How does the world tolerate the continued siege on Gaza and its starving
and dying population (the largest open air prison with 1.7 million inmates
whose only crime is being born in Palestine)?
How could the world stand by and let Egypt execute political dissidents
or imprison them for decades simply for demanding freedom from the
entrenched military dictatorship funded by US taxpayers?
The US and Canada Zionist lobbies just might succeed in getting
unconstitutional laws passed to ban standing up for human rights (supporting
BDS against the apartheid regime). It might get worse with the lobby
getting the subservient governments to force the political neutered
Palestinian leadership to accept a version of apartheid (and no refugees’
right of return). But then that is what the PA leadership knew would
happen when they signed the articles of surrender known as the Oslo accords.
So did humans develop compassion fatigue and does this bode ill for our
future as a species?
I do not know and cannot predict the future. I can only act against
the negative trends and draw closer to other activists.
When we do find people who still care, we latch onto them and try to
do something together to keep our sanity. Palestinians were genuinely happy
that the Pope decided to canonize two 19th century Palestinians nuns as
saints and conclude an agreement recognizing “state of Palestine”.
Those positive people trying to do good things are so needed when so many
are either apathetic or directly benefitting Israel while getting rich.
Without the few lights in the darkness, we would all be lost and very
Perhaps this is why the presence of volunteers around us in the
museum and the botanical garden/integrated ecosystem is so crucial to our
health. When we walk or work in the garden with others, we feel
reinvigorated physically and psychologically. In fact when we do any work
together, we feel empowered. On Nakba memorial day last week we had a number
of activities including installing a large visible plaque that included
sections of the famous poem by Tawfiq Ziyad (“here we stay”). The next day,
we hosted a workshop on trauma relief through herbal medicines and working
We then hosed 44 Nazareth colleagues on a tour of Battir then lunch
at the museum. Yesterday we attended a meeting on biodiversity, did
field work and got two Bedouin children to help us near their camp by
picking up some round rocks we needed for our pool at the museum. They were
so nice and so friendly and their smiles even after the sweaty job will
always be with me.
Their community spirit is strong even when they are threatened as a
community with evictions (was done to them before). So while thinking
globally we are able to act on location and keep going based on a vision
that all these borders and divisions and conflicts they foist on us will be
gone one day. We dream of an interconnected free society and of traveling
free from Bethlehem to Jaffa to Nazareth to Beirut and Damascus without
anyone stopping us at any border. On my desk is a quote from the Dalai
Lama “Never give up. No matter what is going on around you. Never give up…”
Sometimes we do not know the best way forward but we should never
I have a friend in Gaza whose son had spinal cord cancer and now
partly paralyzed and the family constantly calls for support. But that is
one of dozens of stories, needs fulfilled or unfulfilled etc. It is natural
occasionally to have doubts about our future as a species and frequently to
reassess our methods. But we must keep the hope alive. We must keep
dreaming, keep trying, keep working, and keep living. We must never give up.
We must “stay human” as Vittorio used to write to us.
apologize over forest planted on Palestinian village
(incidentally our studies and those of others show how environmentally
destructive was the planting of European pine trees to cover-up the
destroyed Palestinian Villages)
In Gaza, the Nakba is ongoing and
you can help us end it
US press blacks out Israeli defense minister’s citation of ‘Nagasaki
and Hiroshima’ as model for dealing with Iran - See more at:
I was asked about Palestinian heroes:
Professor and Director
of Natural History
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