Sunday, September 22

Mazin Qumsiyeh Writes On Common Morality

It is very hard sometimes to go on “having joyful participation in the sorrows of this world” (The Buddhist motto that I try to keep as a guiding principle) when we witness so much injustice, so much poverty, so many deaths, and so much hypocrisy.  The key word and the most difficult is “participation”.  How do we participate in a meaningful moral way in such a world?  How do we know if we are doing something to make a difference, or we are unable to make a difference?  “God grant me the courage to change the things I can, patience for those I can’t change and wisdom to know the difference.”  How can we find this wisdom to know.  We struggle with these questions daily because we see so much destruction, death, hypocrisy, and stupidity.  Here are just seven examples from many that occurred to us this week under occupation:

1. Two women (one handicapped) were murdered in the Israeli occupied areas this week, one in Deir AlGhosn area (Tulkarem) and one in Yatta (Hebron). This is called “honor killing” by some!  Is there a more horrible thing than to claim there is honor restored through murder. I think we should all write to the Palestinian authority to demand accountability for the murderers (they must be treated as any other premeditated murders).

2. The US and Israeli governments feverishly lobbied other countries to narrowly defeat a non-binding resolution at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that would have simply asked Israel to join the International Atomic Weapons Treaty. I think each of us should write to their governments that voted against or abstained to complain about this hypocrisy and collusion with an apartheid dangerous nuclear state.

3. The Egyptian military joined the Israeli military as Gaza's jailer making a desperate situation grow even more desperate. Sign petition here and write also to your media and politicians to demand pressure on the Egyptian military rulers: more info at:

4. The Israeli occupation forces manhandled EU diplomats and seized humanitarian aid for Palestinians being ethnically cleansed from the Jordan valley.  You can write to politicians and media.

5. The World Health Organization Refuses to Publish Report on Cancers and Birth Defects in Iraq Caused by Depleted Uranium Ammunition We should write to them and complain.

6. Nearly seven million Palestinian refugees still await implementing their internationally recognized right to return to their homes and lands.  Now we add two million Syrian refugees who are hosted by bordering countries (except Israel who does not take such refugees because it is a state for Jews).  Saudi Arabia and other gulf states who fund US wars and their own proxy wars on other countries  (including Syria) must be asked to pay poor countries like Jordan and Lebanon for the cost of hosting these refugees.

7. Israel continues to profit from the occupation to the tune of $10-12 billion/year. The boycott, divestmen, and sanctions movement is spreading.  You can help.  As an example, some activists decided to target Sodastreamwith a National Sodastream Day of Action - Saturday 28 September. Sodastream is a home carbonation device that is made in violation of International Law in an illegal Israeli settlement on stolen Palestinian land. The Geneva Conventions specifically prohibits this, and the International Court of Justice has advised that Israel’s settlements in the occupied  West Bank are illegal. Sodastream is profiting from the theft of valuable Palestinian water and land, and the exploitation of Palestinian labour.

To get involved please:
- Like and share the Facebook events page:
- Join your local action, posted here:
- Write to your local stockist – sample letter here:
- Organise your own action in your area on 28 September
- Invite your friends, colleagues and family to take action
- Leaflets and more information here:
- Get in touch/order campaigning cards:
Occupation Is Not Green: Boycott SodaStream!

The least you can do is be an arm-chair activist and use the wonderful gift of the internet to send politicians and media letters and inquiries.  It does make a difference.  Sometimes a short letter with two sentences is enough.  I find to be disciplined dedicating a set time every week to do that even 20 minutes or half an hour a week) can make a big difference.  The biggest difference is in our own hearts (satisfying our conscience that we were not just spectators).

I wrote before about “mental occupation” which is an illness that is much more dangerous than physical occupation/colonization.  But the more I consider the subject the more I realize that to liberate people’s minds we mush shed all chains that justify using culture, religion, and societal norms to justify our lack of action.  We must have an internal revolution that liberates our minds.  We must create a new human being.  I am not talking here about replacing a cultural and religious slavery with a materialistic capitalist slavery.  I am talking about real freedom that starts with acting on our common morality. What is this common morality?  If you try to distill the earliest ideas of all religions into their basic and common principles you find that the bottom line is “do no harm” or equivalently the golden rule which is to treat others as you would like to be treated.  Do no harm means no stealing, no killing. no rape, no  lying etc.  I know atheists and agnostics who lived all their lives with this common morality so it is not even related to religion.

We “can’t be neutral on a moving train” (Howard Zinn) and we must take actions based on this common morality or we join the hypocritical silent masses that allow evil to do what it does.  Each of us knows these truths at some deeper level and each of us must choose how to have “joyful PARTICIPATION in the sorrows of this world”.

Mazin Qumsiyeh  

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