The Nicest and Meanest People

By Dr. *

settler_violence_jew_israelWe see and meet the nicest people but we also see and meet the meanest people in . Every day here is an experience in extremes. We contrast an activist for peace in her 20s who speaks many languages with a settler who (joined by other ) attacks people picking their own olive trees (because he is brainwashed to believe Palestinians are not a “chosen people”). We contrast a young man getting up at 3AM to try and cross the countless hurdles to make a trek to make a living for his family with elites like Netanyahu who told members of his cabinet that “our challenge is to delegitimize the continuous attempt to delegitimize the State of . The most important arena where we need to act in this context is in the arena of public opinion, which is crucial in the democratic world.” We contrast the niece of Tony Blair who sacrificed so much to join and understand and sympathize with suffering with her uncle who cares little about people and prefers to keep his VIP photo-ops tightly controlled [1].

We see a woman trying to sell a few olives which she gathered with much hard labor from a few trees after their owners had finished harvesting them (a process we call Tsayyef). We contrast that with billionaire Zionist (Russian-Israeli) tycoon sentenced in France for arms dealings worth hundreds of millions of dollars (but of course he will for now escape justice just like Sharon, Olmert, Netanyahu and Barak). Israelis who are getting rich of selling weapons and training others to kill contrast with impoverished masses of gathered from around the world tricked into coming to a land that belongs to others under myths of Jewish nationhood [2]. Israel now having destroyed Palestine is merely a vehicle for elites to make billions exporting death and destruction in the Middle East and beyond while the gathered masses of suffer from “what next” syndrome. What next to distract the masses with (another war, another terror incident, another attack on mosque..). Colonial settlers squat in Palestinian homes in while owner families are made homeless as part of the ethnic cleansing that is Israeli policy since its inception. We see Israeli soldiers and officers in smug uniforms and smiles demolishing Palestinian homes [3]. We see Israeli officers starve 1.5 million Palestinians in the largest concentration camp in history called Gaza [4]. But we also see Israeli citizens like Ezra Nawi sentenced to prison for supporting Palestinians being ethnically cleansed [5] or Shir Hever writing and speaking out about the colonial oppression that is being done in their name [6]. We see Matzpen, Zochrot, and brave Israelis like Neve Gordon and Ilan Pappe expose ethnic cleansing and racism and support the Palestinian call for boycotts, divestment and sanctions. We see internationals in Palestine like Kristel who helped spawn a movement. We see Majd who helped mobilize Palestinian youth around the world. Jamal Juma’a, Eyad Burnat, Mohammed Othman (now languishing in an Israeli jail) and hundreds more who mobilized against the apartheid wall [7].

In one day in Palestine (in 24 hours to 8 AM Oct 26): Medics obstructed and injured as Israeli troops wound and beat people defending the Al Aqsa Mosque; Israeli soldiers abduct two 15-year-olds; Zionist fanatics attack olive harvesters and set fire to olive trees; Israeli F-16s terrorize Rafah; Night peace disruption and/or home invasions in refugee camp and 5 towns and villages; 3 attacks – 19 raids – 11 beaten – 16 injured-21 taken prisoner – 17 detained – 80 restrictions of movement… [8].

Outside of Palestine, we see decent principled politicians like Turkish leaders call a spade a spade (saying that Israel must be held accountable for war crimes). But we also see leaders like Husni Mubarak in Egypt collude with the occupiers in starving 1.5 million people and we see political leaders in Jordan, Egypt, and even some Gulf States hob-knob and schmooze with Israeli war criminals in elite conferences like the . We see a large conference was held in Madrid to support Palestine. San Francisco refused to be overshadowed by Chicago in their reception of the war criminal Ehud Olmert. Indeed they tried to arrest him! [9]. The 2009 National Campus Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Conference, taking place Nov20th – Nov 22nd at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts [10]. Anna Balzer (Jewish American) and Mustafa Barghouthi (Palestinian) will be on the daily show with Jon Stewart Wednesday 10/28 at 11 PM EST on Time Warner Cable repeats at 1:30 am EST and a few times during the day on Thursday(check local listings). [11]

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We could list tens of thousands of idiotic fools going with the systems of oppression of many backgrounds (yes including some Arabs and some Palestinians). We could list tens of thousands of brilliant activists everywhere who (had we lived in a fair world) should be political leaders. We indeed have had a less violent and more just society precisely because the former idiotic group is challenged at every turn. It has always been like this (think struggle to end apartheid in South Africa, think civil rights, think labor struggles etc). The real struggle we have and we have always had is clear to anyone with eyes to see. It was said that only dead fish go with the flow. So this is not a tribal conflict but a conflict between dead fish (or living dead as it were) that go with the flow and the living diverse population who swim against the current. What always gives us hope and energy is the beauty and diversity of the activist community seeking peace. They are non-conformist, diverse, and do not march to anyone’s orders (except their conscience to do what is right). Actions and the company of nice people give us hope and energy to work for a just world. Come visit us in Palestine!

1. see Quartet envoy’s eight-year-old niece sees the real Palestine http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=234091

2. Inventing Israel: Historian Shlomo Sand argues that ‘Jewish peoplehood’ is a myth “The key assumptions about Israel and the Jews are indelible. Forced from Jerusalem into exile, the Jews dispersed throughout the world, always remaining attached to their ancient homeland. Psalmists wept when they remembered Zion. A people were sustained by an unflagging determination to return to their native soil. “Next year in Jerusalem!” The triumph of Zionism—the founding of Israel—is the fulfillment of that ancient vow. The Israeli Declaration of Independence states it plainly: “Eretz Yisrael was the birthplace of the Jewish people… After being forcibly exiled from their land, the people remained faithful to it throughout their Dispersion and never ceased to pray and hope for their return to it and for the restoration in it of their political freedom..Now suppose that none of it is true…” http://www.tabletmag.com/news-and-politics/18203/inventing-israel/ At NYU, Shlomo Sand predicts the Jewish past and pastes the Zionists by Philip Weiss on October 17, 2009 http://mondoweiss.net/2009/10/at-nyu-devilish-shlomo-sand-predicts-the-jewish-past-and-pastes-the-zionists.html

3. Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OE9g9THMGTk

4. See http://www.youtube.com/gazafriends#p/a

5. See http://acrosstheborderline.wordpress.com/2009/06/02/ezra-nawi-the-face-of-israeli-human-rights-activism/

6. http://www.vimeo.com/6789827

7. http://freemohammadothman.wordpress.com/

8. Details sent in a report from a monitoring group in New Zwealand. To get on the list to receive the regular reports, write to [email protected]

9. Here is the amazing video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=491GOKwrN1s 22 activists, including several CODEPINKers, were arrested (http://bit.ly/OlmertWarCriminal )

10. Find out more and register at: http://www.hsjp.org/2009/09/21/CampusBDS/

11. The video is also posted the next day at http://www.thedailyshow.com/

* Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD, A Bedouin in Cyberspace, a villager at home. Author of Sharing the Land of Canaan: Human Rights and the Israeli-Palestinian Struggle. http://qumsiyeh.org

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