[Prefatory Note: Today is the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, as established by the UN General Assembly. It was on that day in 2012 that the General Assembly voted to recognize Palestine as a non-member observer state, a status similar to that enjoyed by The Vatican.
It was a symbolic victory for Palestine, made sweeter by overcoming the bitter opposition of Israel, and supported of course by the United State. Despite its concerted efforts to block any Palestinian reliance on international law to put forward their case for a recognition of Palestinian rights, Israel while opposing each and every move, when and if it loses, scoffs at the result as meaningless and changes nothing.
This year the UN agreed to have the Palestinian flag flying along side other member states outside UN Headquarters in NYC, another symbolic victory opposed by Israel. How meaningful is it? True, there is no lessening of the daily ordeal of Palestinians in their various settings, especially those living under occupation or in refugee camps in neighboring countries. Yet, aside from a slap at Israel that contributes to a growing sense of international outrage about the refusal to resolve the conflict, such symbolic moves are battles in the Legitimacy War that Palestine has been waging on many fronts, and with success. The civil society front may be the most important, which centers its efforts on the BDS Campaign that moves from success to success, building a momentum that is challenging the balance of forces that has allowed Israel to ignore Palestinian grievances for decades. From an international perspective, Palestine is now at the very least an occupied state and this has potential consequences in both diplomacy and international law.
I post below a comment from Mazin Qumsiyeh, a remarkable person, who lives the reality of occupation and exemplifies the spirit of nonviolent Palestinian resistance that seeks to counterpose a heroic normalcy against the quotidian cruelties of the Israeli occupation. I have found much inspiration in the example of Mazin and many other Palestinians, reminding me that we all, especially we Americans, share a responsibility to engage in struggle on behalf of justice for the Palestinian people, which is in the end the only foundation for a sustainable peace for both peoples. With so much attention these days diverted to other regional issues, especially ISIS and Syria, we who care about Palestine must especially raise our voices of protest and join in the concrete acts of solidarity that are having an impact.]
The message of Mazin Qumsiyeh:
“This is the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people as declared by the United Nations general assembly! But locally people see so little solidarity and Israel continues to violate basic human rights with impunity. For the past week, we mourned ten more young Palestinians killed, and we saw home demolitions, we saw the continued horrific siege of Gaza, we saw health and religious rights violated daily, and we saw roads blocked
to traffic (getting from one Palestinian area to another is becoming
impossible). I just returned from Hebron to Bethlehem, a distance that should take no more than half an hour. It took more than five hours because of closures etc. It is a police apartheid state that makes sure we do not have a normal functioning life. We watched as Turkey shot down a Russian airplane over Syrian territory (and lied about the issue since there is no way, they could have provided warning in the few seconds that the airplane moved across that tiny jetting Turkish territory), we watched as Russia provided evidence of convoys of stolen Syrian oil traveling to Turkey and
funding Daesh/ISIS, we shared on facebook videos of horrors committed by deluded human beings against other human beings, continued to see French government go down the same deluded path that the US government did after 11 September 2001, and continued to suffer from tear gas and other weapons used against us by Israeli occupation forces
Amid the horrors, at Bethlehem University, we welcomed Professor Zuhair Amr who is helping us in research areas on biodiversity, we worked at the museum and botanical garden, we continued our teaching (though students may miss some classes), we received more donation of time and resources from kind people, I gave a talk at an environmental conference about importance of research in environmental and health fields, we met great new people including award winning book writers and artists, and we continued to have joyful participation in the sorrows of this world?. To light a candle in this darkness keeps us sane.
For those in Palestine: You are invited to a workshop at the Palestine Museum of Natural History (http://www.palestinenature.org/visit/ ) 3-6 PMWednesday. Prof. Zuhair Amr and Prof. Mazin Qumsiyeh leading discussions and practical training on areas of biodiversity and environmental conservation. Reservations required 02-2773553 or email email@example.com For those who cannot attend, please donate to keep these activities going: http://www.palestinenature.org/support-us/
For all, please continue and expand your work in boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS), a movement that is accelerating the arrival of peace with justice. Here is a good report by the American Anthropological Association that is very well done which can be adapted to push for BDS in others groups.
American Anthropological Association Report
Prominent Artists Endorse the Cultural Boycott of Israel
Professor and Director
Palestine Museum of Natural History