Thursday, July 10

Good and bad news : The struggle continues

Good and bad news: A Luta Continua (The struggle continues)
Notes from occupied Bethlehem by Mazin Qumsiyeh

Thousands of candles are being lit to challenge the darkness every day.  Examples are many. Over 90,000 Palestinians took the standardized high school test in the Occupied State of Palestine and results are due next week. We had a first meeting of volunteers on site at the Palestine Institute of Biodiversity Research and Museum of Natural History (housed at Bethlehem University). Despite the horrors of the current Israeli assault on Palestinian civilians both in the WB and Gaza (see below), fasting in Ramadan (Ramadan Kareem to all), and short notice, 25 volunteers attended and many others said they will help. Progress is rapid on the ground but this is a massive project and we could use all the help we can get. The mission agreed to in the meeting is to research, educate about, and conserve our natural world, culture and heritage and use knowledge to promote responsible human interactions with our environment. Let us know if you are not getting the museum newsletter via googlegroups and we can add you to the list of volunteers and those interested to help.

Life does go on even under occupation: we celebrate weddings, births, mourn the dead, treat the injured, build new facilities, deal with corrupt politicians, hold vigils for the martyrs, demonstrate regularly, and much more.  Gaza people humble us by their persistence, resilience, and resistance. The video of a mother saying goodbye to her dead son and just speaking to him in dignity and compassion gives us pause to reflect on apathy and collusion by many of the supposed "leaders" (including unfortunately some Palestinians). The meaning of dignity escapes us when we see children burned alive both in Jerusalem and Gaza while some talking heads (unfortunately even some Arab "journalists" and politicians) try to make excuses. Others like Haneen Zoabi stands for truth and justice (see below). Demonstrations were held around the world to demand Israel stop its insane assault on civilians especially in this special month of Ramadan. While many Western media outlets (influenced by the Zionist lobby) are trying desperately to parrot Israeli propaganda and hide reality, the situation on the ground and Israel's criminality are being exposed (thanks to personal communications between hundreds of millions of people aided by alternative media including social media).

The BDS movement is growing and is making a difference (notice for example the rapid decline in Soda Stream stock price) and the Zionist fizzle after the threats to the Presbyterian church. More people are taking actions - lighting a candle instead of cursing the darkness. See also the good statement below from the National Coalition of Christian Organizations in Palestine on the situation. It gives us hope in humanity.
 Israel's Criminal Assault on the occupied State of Palestine: Gaza Under Fire

During the latest Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip, Israel has killed 86 Palestinians and injured more than 550. Just as during the Israeli bombardments of Gaza in 2006, 2008/9 and 2012, the vast majority of the victims are civilians, including children, elderly and women. This list includes the killing of several Palestinian families (Haj, Halaby and Kaware in Khan Younis, Hamad in Beit Hanoun). This Israeli criminal assault aims at targeting Palestinian national unity, weakening Palestinian institutions and enforce disconnection between the Gaza
Read the full report at
[[I actually think the main reasons for attacking Gaza every 2-3 years is because Israeli firms wants to sell more weapons and Gaza provides the laboratory to test and demonstrate new weapons for potential buyers.  There is plenty of evidence for that and also for the psychological need to "show who is boss" and keep Israelis afraid so that they let the elites continue to profit from wars. ]]
The amazing Haneen Zoabi, a Palestinian representative in the Israeli Knesset being "grilled" by racist and crude reporter on Israeli TV. This is an example for dignity and standing for principles. I wish Mahmoud Abbas would learn something from this courageous and decent lady
Thanks to Assaf Oron, Ronnie Barkan & Ofer Neiman for translation & other technical assistance (via Richard Silverstein of Tikun Olam)
Statement from the National Coalition of Christian Organizations in Palestine on the situation: Support Gaza’s Right to Life

“Justice and security are two sides of the same coin. Israel’s security can never be an excuse for denying justice to the Palestinian people.”

In the spirit of the living God who sanctifies all life and in keeping with our faith and its teachings we appeal to all people across the world to work with their fellow citizens and governments to end Israel’s Operation Protective Edge and the brutal military siege that has been going on for the past seven years which includes a naval and economic blockade. Gaza has no port or airport thus no way to import or export its products.

This not a war. This is only vengeance and collective punishment. A responsible authority works to stop useless vengeance and violence. Instead, it fosters general atmosphere of incitement, in order to please a Palestinian hating population, and not knowing what to do, the irresponsible Israeli Authority, just kills Palestinians and demolishes their houses, in order to please their people. We acknowledge the voice and action of the few Israelis who expressed themselves against this policy of their government.

This is not an escalation or a war. Gaza has no military or ability to protect itself other than to fire some homemade rockets. The 1.7 million people, mostly children (2/3 of the population) are also mostly refugees (1.1 million) from areas of 1948 and 1967.  Furthermore under the 4th Geneva Convention Palestinians, as a militarily occupied people, have the right to defend themselves.

Our justice loving God demands us to speak out on behalf of the security for all people. In the name of the Advocate Spirit, we ask you to speak out now to call a halt to this long term offensive operation which aims to wipe out a lonely, besieged and unarmed people. Whether you think the new unity government is viable or not, or if  Hamas is a terrorist organization or not, or whether you think they might have been behind the death of the three Israeli teens murdered near Hebron, (which is not proven so far)  it is against international law to collectively punish or target an already besieged 1.7 millon population. It is inhumane. It is a war crime.

As of July 10th, the date of this Appeal Israeli military struck 430 targets across the Gaza Strip. 77 people have been reported dead and more than 500 wounded.. The majority of the dead are civilians. 18 are children including a baby one month old.

We pray for the memory of those killed. Each of them has a name and a family who is suffering great loss. We also pray for all those wounded or injured in body, mind, or spirit. We pray for solace and comfort also for the families whose homes, businesses, agricultural fields, or fishing boats that have also been destroyed. We pray for the people of Gaza and ask that God be with them.

Support Palestinian’s right to life by joining with Christians throughout the world in their call for a just peace in this land that all call holy. We have been down this road one too many times and know what will happen if we fail to act. Please join us through letters and petitions to your government officials to raise awareness about this offensive military operation and Gaza’s ongoing siege. Ask them to pressure Israel to stop its brutal assault or face sanctions from the international community.

Support Palestinian’s right to life, say with a loud voice: stop killing and demolishing houses.  Join with Christians throughout the world in their call for a just peace in this land that all call holy.

Quote from article by Jeremy Corbynn,, “Who Mourns for Palestine"


· Arab Catholic Scouts Group
· Arab Orthodox Society – Jerusalem
· Caritas- Jerusalem
· Department of Service to Palestinian Refugees- Middle East Council of Churches
· Greek Catholic Sayedat AlBishara Association
· International Christian Committee
· Laity Committee in the Holy Land
· National Christian Association
· Pontifical Mission Palestine
· SABEEL – Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center
· Seeds of Better life
· Union of Arab Orthodox Club - Jerusalem
· Young Men’s Christian Association –YMCA
· Young Women’s Christian Association –YWCA

NECC office

Bethlehem (NCOB)
Network of Christian Organizations in Bethlehem
· The East Jerusalem YMCA /Beit Sahour Branch
· The Arab Educational Institute,
· Holy Land Trust, Bethlehem
· Wi’am Center, Bethlehem
· Saint Afram Assyrian Society,
· Holy Land Christians Ecumenical Foundation, Bethlehem
· Al-Ihsan Arab Orthodox Society, Beit Jala
· Arab Orthodox Club, Beit Sahour
· Arab Orthodox Club, Beit Jala
· Arab Orthodox Club, Bethlehem
· The Arab Orthodox Charitable Society, Beit Sahour
· Bethlehem Bible College
· Siraj Center for Holy Land Studies
· Alternative Tourism Group, ATG, Beit Sahour
· Senior Citizen Charitable Society
· Environmental educational Center, Beit Jala
· Saint Vincent Charitable Society, Beit Jala
· Shepherds' Children Society, Beit Sahour
Mazin Qumsiyeh
Professor and Director of the Palestine Institute for Biodiversity Research and Museum of Natural History

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