Monday, August 15, 2011

5-6-7-8--Stop the Suffering, Stop the Hate!

Watching news of the "Arab Spring" moving across the region--in Syria, Libya and Yemen--we are tempted to forget that the struggle of Palestinians continues.

Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh, who traveled from Beit Sahour (Bethlehem) to speak in Denver in March, updates us on the struggle of the people of Al-Walaja, a small village near Bethlehem, where Israel is continuing the building of the wall, which will soon completely surround the village.

When the people of Al-Walaja were forced out of their village in 1948, they moved east and built homes on their agricultural lands, which ended up on the Palestinian side of the "Green Line" armistice line in 1949 (administered by Jordan until Israel took the land in the 1967 war).

Today, the people of Al-Walaja are again being forced off their land to make way for Israel's "security" wall being built--NOT on the land Israel already took, but on the remnant of land where the people of Al-Walaja live today. During all these years, the people of Al-Walaja have engaged in non-violent resistance to Israel's confiscation of their lands--never violence.

Watch one of the non-violent demonstrations against the wall in Al-Walaja, where Israeli and international demonstrators join with the people of the village to confront the bulldozers that are uprooting olive trees and destroying the village lands to build the wall. Five Israelis were taken away by the soldiers. Take four minutes to watch Dr. Qumsiyeh's video:

After bullying the demonstrators, the Israeli soldiers entered the village and harrassed residents who had not even participated in the demonstration. Watch a seven-minute video of the harrassment.
This is only one example of the reality of daily life in Palestinian towns and villages all over the West Bank.

If you would like to understand the history of Al-Walaja's struggle, watch a video of Dr. Qumsiyeh's talk at Yale University earlier this year, where he shows how the village lands were taken from them and how, after their 1967 conquest, Israel annexed more village land, and today is building a wall to take more of this valuable real estate adjacent to West Jerusalem:

Keep reading below for more of Dr. Qumsiyeh's news about what you can do.

UPDATE: Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh, Beit Sahour, Palestine

It's been awhile since I've written--I think I'm feeling like our President, Senators and Representatives are not listening. They seem captive to Israel's propaganda machine that drowns out the reality of Palestinian life and human rights. But then today I read Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh's call to action.
Last March Dr. Qumsiyeh visited Denver and spoke about the ongoing confiscation of Palestinian land by Israel's occupation and construction of the wall. In the post below he writes about non-violent actions in the West Bank, urging us to keep working for Palestinian human rights with our own policmakers in the US. Read more about his work: [photo is of his arrest in 2010; he was released shortly after]

From Dr. Qumsiyeh--
Four actions: Please take at least two of them

Action 1: Join us Saturday 10 AM Palestine Ramadan Time in Al-Walaja as villagers continue to see their lands destroyed. Last Wednesday at 8 AM, some 60-80 human rights advocates marched with drums and chants to the sites inside Al-Walaja al-Jadia (the new Al-Walaja) where the Israeli occupation forces are uprooting trees and destroying the beautiful landscape to separate people from their agricultural lands and to allow for further expansion of illegal colonies built on Palestinian lands. Five Israelis were kidnapped. Later after the actual event, the Israeli soldiers came into town to terrorize the locals and one Palestinian was taken from his house and treated badly even though he was not in the demonstration with us.
The Struggle video network featured Al-Walaja and part of my talk in March abou the town

Action 2: Marwa was shot in the head 10 years ago. She is now 20 and a university student. However, her original injury has led to severe dental problems that her family cannot afford. Some friends in Palestine have arranged for a dentist to begin work with some money we've already raised, but the work will not be finished until we raise another $4000. If anyone is interested in helping Marwa you can send a contribution to the Hartford Catholic Worker with Marwa noted on the memo line. See

Action 3: This August break is for Members of Congress to be at home, meeting with constituents to hear about our concerns. . Instead, 81 Representatives--nearly 20% of the House--are hightailing off to Israel on an all-expense-paid junket organized by an affiliate of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Israel's goal there is to lobby the Representatives to continue sending the Israeli military $30 billion of our tax money -- the amount pledged for these 10 years (2009-2018). That means sending money we won't have for jobs and healthcare to buy weapons for Israel to perpetuate its illegal military occupation and apartheid policies toward Palestinians. It's time to "name and shame" these Members of Congress who put more weapons for Israel ahead of their own constituents' economic rights. We need you to take action today
Also similar actions called by Code Pink
See also "Israel Lobby Dominates Congress, Media Covers it Up" by Alison Weir, August 11, 2011

Action 4: Roadmap to Apartheid, a documentary film examining the apartheid analogy is near completion! Narrated by Alice Walker, Roadmap to Apartheid is promising to be the definitive documentary that compares and contrasts South African apartheid with Israeli policies and practices. It will be a very important and useful tool for BDS organizing worldwide. Finishing funds are lacking to take it through the home stretch. Learn about the current fundraising campaign here:

Inspiring Video on a group of activists who rode bicycles from London to visit with us in Palestine

In Tumult, New Hope for Palestinian Cause

How Palestinian Authority's UN "statehood" bid endangers Palestinian rights

Come visit us in Palestine this October for the Olive Harvest season and this Christmas for a week of activities. Watch for more details next email.
Meantime, act, act, act.

Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD