Wednesday, September 30

Galilee and more

The Pope's visit to the USA seems to have played its desired effect of causing common people to rethink their blind support for "national policy". In particular it was nice to see news that the pope shunned dinner with key congressional politicians to eat with the homeless people. Zionist occupied congress and media in the USA are not happy about this Pope's messages that emanate from the message of Jesus: love and charity to the oppressed and marginalized. Locally, 18 year old Hadeel Hashlamon was shot to death allegedly for rejecting an order by an occupation soldier. Witnesses say she posed no threat to soldiers and Amnesty International called here killing by 7 bullets from a distance of less than two meters extrajudicial executions. But such killings have become commonplace. Israel also will impose new penalties on participation in demonstrations against its brutal repression. And if a child throws a stone he can be shot or if caught sentenced to many years in jail for this demonstrative act. More fascist and anti-democratic laws continue to be added by the government of apartheid Israel almost weekly. But as you will see in the report below about my trip to the Galilee, I am energized and more optimistic than ever.

From Sunday to Wednesday, we were busy at the Palestine Museum of Natural History doing research, writing, education, managing, gardening and more. I hesitated for many reasons to go on this two day trip to the north of Palestine organized by the Bethlehem Rotary Club. It was not just the personal risk for me but the fact that three people died in the three days leading up to this trip. Al-Aqsa mosque was being attacked regularly. Nearly a thousand pilgrims had lost their lives in Mecca thanks to the Royal Family’s incompetence and neglect.  All these negative vibes plus the anxiety at seeing more of what is now “Israel” ruling over these historic parts of Palestine. In the end my curiosity won (and the fact that we will go to the occupied Syrian Golan which I never visited). I am glad I took time to do it. We started in Bethlehem at 6:30 in the morning crossing the checkpoint and had breakfast around 9 AM at a stop along the way. We ate Jerusalem Kaak and Falafel and eggs that we had brought with us.

I marveled at the buses and other tourists stopping there: Russian Jews, ignorant young Americans coming to visit “Israel” without a clue about the natives, old hateful Jewish Zionists eyeing “Arabs” with racism almost dripping out of their angry eyes. But I smiled to everyone and enjoyed the remaining beautiful natural areas not yet destroyed in the mad dash to “Europeanize” Palestine. I contemplated the emptied houses we saw along the way: remnants of some of the 530 villages depopulated 1948-1950 to create space for colonial settlers and change a multi-religious Palestine to make it into the “Jewish state of Israel”. The trip showed me the utter stupidity of this scheme of transformation. Most of all, the determination of non-Jewish and some Jewish citizens of the state to oppose its apartheid. As I talked to some of the many Palestinians who happen to hold Israeli citizenship, I got very encouraged.

We arrive in Haifa early afternoon and have lunch in the area just below the Bahai temple and gardens. The area was known as the German colony which has since been looted by the Zionists. Haifa sits in the valley between the Carmel mountains and the Mediterranean sea and along the banks of the river Al-Mutalaa’ ((المطًلع which was renamed by the Zionist colonizers the Kishon river and basically destroyed.  The Carmel mountains showed evidence of Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon human dwellings and life continued in the foots of these hills uninterrupted through our Aramaic speaking ancestors the Canaanites for thousands of years. Yet the population that that the area could support remained small. Haifa was the first planned Palestinian city built (started 1758-1761) by Daher Al-Omar (Zedani) who is credited by many as the first Palestinian ruler who managed to develop an independent modern government inclusive of all religions that covered much of what is now northern Palestine (see Haifa grew rapidly in the 18th and 19th century and first half of the 20th century (with a brief control in 1799 by Napoleon Bonaparte and for a few years by Ibrahim Pasha from Egypt ending in 1840). Its population also grew due to Zionist colonization activities so that by 1947 the Jewish population actually slightly outnumbered the Muslim and Christian population. The latter Palestinian population of some 65,000 was largely ethnically cleansed in April 1948. Most of the citizens of Haifa were removed in 1948 and the 3000 remaining were squeezed into Halsa and Wadi Nisnas against their will (now they number some 35,000 due to natural increase). On Land day (30 March) we had an activity in these areas including the paintings by Palestinian Children who originate from the area indicating their love of Palestine.  Today the highest Israeli court in the north is built on top of ruined buildings but also overlooks abandoned Arab homes and businesses. It must be some sight from the windows of that glittery building looking down on to what is left of Arab Haifa. The historic train station built in 1905 to take pilgrims to Macca through Jordan is slated for demolition. Next to Al-Istiqlal mosque, there is a monument with a faded inscription: "Faisal (emir Faisal who dreamt of Arab Unity) said that no freedom is given but it is to be taken by struggle.." More on Haifa here

From Haifa we traveled to Nazareth, and visited the two churches (Greek Orthodox and Catholic) each thought to be the site of the Bishara (place were Mary received the angel telling her she is to have a child). This is the city of my grandmother and I felt at home in its streets despite the attempts to transform it to a “Jewish city”.  But again the young native people we met were inspiring and most welcoming of fellow Palestinians. The next day we traveled to the Golan Heights where we were warmly welcomed by Syrian Druze who all reject the Israeli occupation and annexation of their territory. Statues and monuments to Syrian heroes and martyrs of 1925 rebellion (against French occupation) and other Arab national struggle are prominent. Ofcourse the civil war in Syria is reflected n divided opinions about Bashar Assad. But we saw no divided opinions here on Israel: all reject the Israeli occupation. We gorged ourselves and carried much apples, pears, plums. Figs, and other fruits from this rolific Syrian territory (the real reason why it was occupied in 1967). From the Golan we drove down to Lake Tiberias. The town of Tiberias was ethnically cleansed of its Palestinian population in 1948. The mosque and a few old buildings remained. But on the day we visited, thousands of Palestinians (from places like Nazareth, Haifa, and the Triangle) also visited. As it was also the eve of the Sabbath and the Jewish holiday, we saw very few settlers. The 100 people who took the boat with us were all Palestinians and only the Captain (friendly chap) was Jewish Israeli. We thus danced to Palestinian music. We had a nice dinner of fish and arrived back to the ghetto/concentration camp of Bethlehem at 11 PM. We are renewed in our energy and renewed belief in the inevitability of coexistence and full equality in a liberated Palestine after the defeat of the apartheid regime.

Here is a report of another trip to the Galilee in 2010 and a video

Event: I will be speaking at a panel at the meeing of theHoly Land Ecumenical Foundation in Washington DC Oct 17

Event: The South West Bank Nonviolent Popular Resistance Committees in partnership with the Baraka Presbyterian Church in Palestine present their compliments and wish to extend an invitation to you to attend the Conference on “Beit El Baraka Defense Conference” to be held in Beit Ommar Town, North Hebron in Palestine, October 3. 2015 at 10:30 am- 13:30 PM. The Conference will bring together all sectors of the Palestinian society,Israeli and International NGOs and activists, officials, Political parties leaders.  The Conference will cover the following topics: the importance of Beit El Baraka, The Israeli occupation military procedures and colonial plans in the area, legal Aid, The Palestinian Political efforts in regard to Beit El Baraka, Outreach and Media, Nonviolent popular Resistance Plans in the area, and how to protect and save Palestinian land surrounding Beit El Baraka from Israeli colonial plans. Contact Details of the organizers:
Younes Arar: 00970 599965272, Rev Danny Awad: +972598901662, Yousef Abu Maria: +972 598139591, Hasan Bregieh:+972 599347072 ,

The Arab Spring, five years on, is here to Stay and Win

The Strange Case of American Tax-Exempt Money for Settlements: Untaxed American funds fuel settlement growth in East Jerusalem and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

UN erases 1000 year old Palestinian heritage!

and you are always welcome to visit us in occupied Palestine where hope and peace and justice are intertwined.

Mazin Qumsiyeh
Professor and Director
Palestine Museum of Natural History
Bethlehem University

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