“Palestine is not a local issue, it is a global issue with global ramifications”
ProMosaik e.V. interviews Mazin Qumsiyeh

By Milena
Rampoldi, ProMosaik e.V. – A very important interview with the Palestinian writer
and scientist Mazin Qumsiyeh, born in Beit Sahour in 1957, director of the
Palestine Museum of Natural History. You can find a lot of interesting material
on his website for further reading:
He is famous for his brave words. There is only a one-state-solution, he says
in his books about the liberation of Palestine from Zionist occupation because
ressources and people cannot be split. So we have to start living together in
peace and justice. He focusses on the importance of resistance against
injustice, militarism, colonialism, apartheid. There is no peace without
justice. And Israel as Zionist State must be dismantled. 
Palestine is not a local problem. It is a problem of us all together. So the
solution can only be a cooperative one. But resistance is the key. And BDS the
second key. We can all help Palestine. Mazin gives us a list of 67 ways to be
an activist for Palestine, even by doing a street theater. So be active! Free
Rampoldi: ProMosaik e.V. is an intercultural and interreligious portal for
peace and human rights. We are firmly convinced that Zionism means occupation
and oppression. How would you define Zionism?
Mazin Qumsiyeh:
Zionists define Zionism which was coined as a term in the mid to late 19th
century and then focused on creating a Jewish state (run by Jews fr all Jews of
the world).  Settning goals were refned in teh Zionist congress in
Jerusalem 1966 and it included revival of hebrew  language and
“culture” and strengthening Israel as a Jewish state and world wide
Jewish migration and identification with the state. For more see this chapter I
wrote in my book sharing the land of Canaan. A quotation could be this one:
believes that a rebirth of national life, such as is occurring in German life
through adhesion to Christian and national values, must also take place in the
Jewish national group
Zionists and Nazis believed that Jews couldn’t be Germans.  They both
believed that Jews could not function normally in other societies as equal
citizens.  Zionists in fact were clearly putting a primary goal of
colonial Jewish presence in a majority in Palestine ahead of any other issues
even when this goal contradicted the welfare of Jews.  This is why
they collaborated with the Nazis and thwarted some efforts to rescue

MR: Which are
the main subjects of your books about Palestine?
MQ: About my
book Sharing the Land of Canaan I can give you this brief description:
There is no
more compelling and dramatic unfolding story with more profound international
ramifications than the conflict in the Middle East. Over five million
Palestinian refugees were created and almost an equal number of new immigrants
and settlers came under the banner of Zionism.  The unrest and
injustices created have ramifications for all humanity as seen in recent
events.  This book brings a critical documentation of these events
and the core issues of the conflict with the view that human rights are key to
any plans for a lasting peace.  There is a growing interest in a
vision and a roadmap for peace based on Human Rights among Israelis,
Palestinians, and human rights activists around the world.  A shared
future is increasingly recognized as far more realistic than separation and
continued injustice. This book examines facts on the ground and articulates
future directions based on the logic of equality and human rights rather than
apartheid.  The advocated solutions are not only moral, ethical, and
humane but can actually achieve a lasting and just peace. People who now live
in this land of Canaan and those dispossessed from it will find the roadmap
presented here compelling. This book examines evolution of the conflict in
Israel/Palestine and articulates future directions based on the logic of
equality and human rights rather than apartheid.  The advocated
moral, ethical, and humane solutions can achieve a lasting and just peace. People
who now live in this land of Canaan and those dispossessed from it will find
the text compelling. Another issue addressed in the book is such things as
sustainable development and impossibility of separating resources for two
countries in the same area.  Recent plans confirm this as shown in
this report on Water in
For my second
book entitled Popular Resistance I would like to make reference to the
following description:

The book summarizes and analyzes the rich 130+ year history of civil resistance
in Palestine discussing the challenges and opportunities faced in different
historical periods with emphasis on trends, directions and lessons learnt. The
aim is to put before the reader the most concise, yet most comprehensive and
accurate treatment, of a subject that has captured the imagination and
interests of the global community.  Looking at the successes,
failures, missed opportunities and challenges in this period allows people to
chart a better direction for the future.  

There is a litany of writings about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that cover
issues like wars, economic deprivation, terrorism (state and individual), human
rights, religious beliefs, land, and governance.  There are hardly any
books and writings about civil resistance (see section below on competitive
titles).  Further, we can learn from any setback of collective
grass-root efforts to chart a more informed path to a future of peace with
justice. I reviewed over 800 sources (more than half of them in Arabic) and
included over 300 as key citations from newspapers, interviews, press releases,
articles, and books in different languages.  This allowed me to bring
together something not attempted before: a compilation of issues of civil
resistance in Palestine over 130 years with a well-informed analysis on the
history, status and prospects of civil resistance in Palestine going forward.

Over two-thirds of the 10 million native Palestinians in the world are refugees
or displaced people.  This outcome, like all other similar situations
in history such as in South Africa, could not have come about without
resistance to the violence of colonialism.  But most of this
resistance has been in the form of civil/nonviolent resistance that is little
discussed elsewhere.  This book will answer an acute need in the
literature on this neglected area.  Because there has been key
transformative events that bookmark chapters of our history, we use the
intervening periods as indeed chapters to discuss what acts of civil resistance
transpired and what lessons are drwan from them.
These period: the resistance to Zionism during the Ottoman rule (from the first
colonies in 1878 til 1917); the British era from 1917 (Balfour Declaration) to
1935; the 1936-1939 uprising; the period between the start of WWII and the
Nakba of destruction of hundreds of Palestinian towns and villages between
1947-1949; the period of fragmentation of the Palestinian population in exile
and divided among the rule of Israel, Jordan and Egypt (to 1967); the
unification under one ethnocentric Jewish state after 1967 to 1987; the
uprising of 1987-1991; the Oslo years 1992-2000; and the Al-Aqsa Intifada
starting in 2000.

Various UN resolutions and customary International law affirmed the legitimacy
of armed resistance. For example, UNGA A/RES/33/24 of 29 November 1978
“Reaffirms the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples for independence,
territorial integrity, national unity and liberation from colonial and foreign
domination and foreign occupation by all available means, particularly armed
struggle”.  The principle of self-determination itself provides
that where forcible action has been taken to suppress the right, force may be
used in order to counter this and achieve self-determination. Considering
decades of ethnic cleansing, violence, destruction, it is actually surprising
how few Palestinians engaged in violent resistance as a whole (whether
internationally sanctioned or not). In fact, from the first Zionist colony in
1878 until the 1920s, we show in this book that nearly 50 years had elapsed of
popular nonviolent resistance.  

This work is timely and will be highly readable for the following reasons:

A) the depth of data mining done to achieve a concise and highly readable yet
comprehensive study based on original sources (over half from Arabic sources)
on a subject that has received little attention,

B) the uniqueness of the approach in looking at success of civil resistance as
an empowering history with lessons for the future,  

C) the growth of interest in civil resistance in Palestine concomitant with
failure of traditional political structures to address societal needs, and

D) the International community’s growing active involvement in this

The book makes the following arguments/generalization from analysing the
history of civil resistance:

a) Colonial situations (especially those that strip people of their lands and
homes) by nature involve the use of violence against the native
population.  Such colonial situations generate resistance that is
recognized as legitimate by International law.  That native
resistance is a Bell shaped curve: a small portion is collaborative (asking
nicely and accepting whatever is given), most of it nonviolent, some of it
violent and even a smaller portion extremely violent.  As any
statistician would tell you eliminating a portion of the curve would cause it
to renormalize in short order (whether what you eliminate is those who engage
in violence or nonviolence).

b) The violence of the occupiers/colonizers always kills many times more
natives than colonial settler populations.  For example the ratio of
civilians killed was 10:1 (Palestinian: Israeli) and over >100:1 (European
settlers: Native Americans).

c) Palestinians resist by simply living in their homes, going to school, eating
and living.  That is because this colonial occupation wants all
Palestinians to give up and leave the country (to give Israel maximum geography
with minimum native demography).  When the Palestinian Shepherds in
Atwani village continued to go to their fields despite repeated attacks by
settlers and even the attempted poisoning of their sheep, that is non-violent
resistance.  When Palestinians walk to school while being spat on,
kicked and beaten by settlers and soldiers, that is non-violent
resistance.  When Palestinians spend hours at check points to get to
hospital, their farm land, their work, their schools, or to visit their
friends, that is non-violent resistance.  Palestinians have resisted
by countless other ways as detailed in this book.

d) The vast majority of the civil resistance detailed in this book originate
bottom up from the grassroots.  Political parties and leadership are
usually taken off-guard by the start of new uprisings and the inventions of new
resistance methods.  Occasionally movements may evolve into political
initiatives as The Palestine National Initiative and the One Democratic State
Group but most of the time they simply influence existing
political formulations to perform differently.

e) Locals ask what will we do: engage in personal struggle by violent or
nonviolent resistance or a mix? But it It is rather useless for armchair
theorists to lecture people thousands of miles away about tactics and
strategies.  It is better for people in Europe and North America to
work to effect change in their own governments and media (entities that are
directly involved in perpetuating the injustices) to bring a just resolutuion
to this conflict.

f) Individuals can change and adopt a nonviolent lifestyle even after spending
years with violence.  That is the power of human intellect and
strength of spirituality.  The Seville Statement on Violence was
adopted by UNESCO at the 25th session of the UN general assembly on 16 November
1986.  Drafted by eminent scientists, it lays out facts and debunks
mythologies including myths that the human species which invented war cannot
eliminate war. This document
lays out the foundations for a world without war and injustice.  The
few hundred examples of Palestinian civil resistance (among many more) inspire
and mobilize us to seek a world without war and injustice.

g) The evolution of human societies is moving in a direction that made military
confrontation less acceptable.  As the UN was established, more and
more people have come to recognize that force cannot be used to bring
domination and control.  But the cost of war has also become rather
unacceptable in the era of 2 ton bombs, nuclear, biological and chemical
weapons.  Further, having military superiority has become less likely
to produce the results desired by political leaders.  Take the
quagmire of the US in Iraq and Afghanistan as examples or the failure of the Israeli
massive attack on Lebanon in Summer 2006 and on Gaza in December 2008-January
2009.9 In older days, combat can be done far away from civilian populations and
ruling elites who get insulated from the conflicts.  Today, citizens
cannot be safe when their country goes to war even when they are not
MR: Which are
the best strategies for you to build up peace in Palestine?
MQ: Justice,
human rights, and international law must be vigrously advocated and fought for.
Resistance is the key. Outside support can accelerate the process especially by
using boycotts, divestment, and sanctions. 
MR: What are
the main aspects of Israeli Apartheid?
MQ: Apartheid
meeans Institutionalized Discrimination. As I wrote in my book:
Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians who remained within its borders
following the ethnic cleansing of 1947-1949 (detailed in Chapter 4) is
particularly telling. Palestinians were placed under Martial law from
1948-1966 while Jewish immigrants consolidated their control, built settlements
on confiscated Palestinian lands, built an infrastructure and a working country
from the infrastructure of Palestine.  In 1966, the Martial law was
lifted and Palestinians were supposed to be “equal
citizens.”  The reality was far from equal, as the discussion of
Israeli laws above illustrate.  While Palestinians were now a
minority with voting rights, they were also excluded from all aspects of the
society that defined itself as a Jewish culture and state.  Details
of these issues can be found on web pages of Israeli Palestinians and the human
rights organizations in Israel that are trying to preserve some semblance of
human rights.
MR: What can we
do as writers, teachers, and journalists to help Palestine from inside and from
MQ: Find out
the truth and tell it. But see here
67 Ways to act
for peace with justice (what YOU can do)
1) Educate yourself via reliable books (or at least videotapes) on the subjects
you are interested on and expand your interest into other areas.  See
Suggested books and
Recommened Books
and Links
2) Educate yourself and track current information and key historical data via
websites (and disseminate it). For example look into,, Encyclopedia of the Palestine Problem,
Palestine Remembered, and similar websites.
3) Educate yourself by visiting areas of conflict and friction and where you
can make a difference and writing about it.  There are many
organizations doing tours that inspire in many parts of the world including
4) Practice using clear and unambiguous vocabulary including language to
protest apartheid and colonization.  See for example Developinganti-partheid framework for the struggle (PDF File)
5) Challenge media bias by first educating yourself and others about its
existence and the extent of the bias.  See for example
6) Write to the mainstream media.  You can do letters to the editor
(usually 200 words) and/or opinion pieces (700-900 words).
7) Start your own group or join an existing organization that works for
justice. Simply search/google your city with the word activism plus Palestine
or any other subject that interests you to identify candidates.
8) Join the International Solidarity Movement, the Ecumenical Accompaniment
Program (EAPPI), Christian Peace Maker Team, PeaceCorps, or other groups doing
work in the areas of need
9) Develop close working relationship with progressive parties and groups in
your country.
10) Network and enhance groups working on sanctions and suspension of aid
(especially military) to oppressive regimes such as Israel, Saudi Arabia, and
11) Lobby. This is done individually or by supporting/joining one or more od
the many groups doing it, e.g. Council for the National Interest, Citizens For
Fair Legislation, American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Center for
Policy Analysis on Palestine, and American Association for Palestinian Equal
Rights (
12) Hold a teach-in, seminar, or public dialogue. This is straightforward: you
need to decide venue, speakers, and do publicity. This can be facilitated
through such groups as Palestine Media Watch which have speakers bureaus.
13) Send direct aid and support for people on the ground through transparent
and trustworthy groups.
14) Use youtube and googlevideo to disseminate information
15) Challenge Israel and other oppressive regimes in local and International
courts. If you are a lawyer, donate your time and start some networking and
initiate cases (e.g. US congress is violating US laws by sending money to
Israel, US Citizens can bring cases against foreign governments that harmed
them). Groups with great interest and activism on behalf of Palestinians
includes Lawyers Without Border, National Lawyers Guild, Al-Haq, Yesh Din, and
Adalah – Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel.
16) Help local groups that are shy to take on controversial subjects (insist
that courage and honesty demand taking strong positins).
17) If you work in a group, suggest formation of local or national coalitions
to increase the power by association.
18) Join the campaigns for economic boycotts. For example see successful
examples here and
19) Join or initiate a campaign for cultural and academic boycott; see
20) Host an art exhibit or other art performance (music, dabka etc) that
highlight the rich Palestinian culture.
21) Engage in civil disobedience actions to draw attention and change policies.

22) Develop campaigns to support the right to enter: see
Israel Takes Aim At Palestinian Families By Ida Audeh
23) Facilitate a visit by the Wheels of Justice bus tour to your area (in the
US) or create a bus like that (e.g. in Europe). See
24) Donate to aid needy families and worthy projects
25) Develop  campaigns to ban Political Junkets to
Here is an example “In a challenge to one of the most powerful lobbying
tactics used by the Jewish community, a county in Maryland decided last week
that local legislators could no longer go on sponsored trips to Israel.
26) Support the campaigns to end the siege on Gaza. See,
27) Work in your country against discrimination. For example
Arabs Against Discrimination:
American Arabs Anti-Discrimination Committee
28) Support
Human Rights: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch: B’Tselem:The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the
Occupied Territories
29) Support the Right to Education
30) Promote education especially in younger generation
31) Work against home demolitions and other destructive actions. e.g. Israeli
Committee Against House Demolitions:
32) Support empowering Youth from Palestine e.g. see and
33) Write to and work with alternative mass media (like DemocracyNow, Public
Access TV).
34) Create your own content and post it to the web
35) Utilize social networking sites to reach a mass audience (e.g. facebook)
36) Go into chat rooms, email discussions etc and spread the word.
37) Buy Palestinian Products, for example from,,
38) Pray for Peace and Justice or if you are not religious, take time out to
think and meditate on what can be done to achieve Peace with Justice
39) Make a podcast or public service announcement and spread it
40) Drop a banner from a traffic bridge or any other publicly visible location
41) Put out an information table in a university student center, public
gathering, festivals, or other places where people congregate.
42) Host a fundraising party or dinner at your home.
43) Show a documentary in a public setting and then have a discussion about it.
44) Organize a public debate between those who support Zionism and those who
support equality and justice
45) Learn Arabic or if you are an Arab learn another language (including
Hebrew) so that you can communicate better
46) Make a street theater
47) Engage in Civil disobedience acts (this may entail getting arrested).
48) Reach out to Christian religious leaders and ask them to act based on the
Kairos Palestine document
49) Challenge the Zionist attempts to doctor Wikipedia (ie. imposing a Zionist
distorted version on this free web encyclopedia). Become a wikepedia
50) Start a genuine interfaith dialogue based on acting for justice rather than
chatting to hide injustice.
51) Find a way not to pay taxes to governments that violate human rights and
use your taxes for war and oppression.
52) Host a dinner with Arabic food and show people the rich cultural traditions
like embroidered dresses that go back to Canaanitic times.
Write to us to remind us of other ways to act.
53) Run for public office.
54) Put-up a billboard in your community that highlight a certain aspect of the
55) Develop partnerships/twinning between universities, schools, colleges,
churches etc with similar Palestinian entities.
56) Introduce a divestment resolution from Israel at your city or town council.
57) Pass-out flyers or stickers at a public event.
58) Host a speaker from your community who was in Palestine to tell personal
stories and experiences
59) Ask your Church or University or other appropriate group to invite a
Palestinain speaker.
60) What ever your field of work, you can find a way to network people in it
with Palestinins in that work: librarians, professors, pediatricians,
naturalists, journalists, farmers, small shop owners, workers etc.
61) Wear an armband on particular days to start conversations about
Palestine.  For example a black arm band on Nakba day (15 May) or a
green armband on Land Day (30 March).  It allows you to tell a story
to those who ask.
62) Hold a sign that says boycott apartheid in front of every visiting Israeli
official in your country including artists or university faculty or others that
represent Israeli institutions.
63) Do a flash mob at facilities that support Israel (like Starbucks).
64) Organize programs to support Palestinian political prisoners (more than
750,000 Palestinains were imprisoned since 1967).
65) Support sustainability projects in Palestine like the Palestine Museum of
Natural History and its Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability (see
66) Help lift the spirits of a Palestinian child
67) Help pay tuition for Palestinian students in Palestinian universities
MR: How
important is it to work all together as activists to make people understand
what is going on in Palestine?
MQ: Palestine
is not a local issue, it is a global issue with global ramifications. The
conflict was created in Europe and it has predictable trajectories which I
discussed in my books. It is important indeed to work together to bring peace
which can only be based on justice.
MR: How
important is the cooperation with Anti-Zionist Jews today?

MQ: In South
Africa under apartheid it was important that there were privilaged whites who
joined the struggle. Even if numbers were and are small, it is very important.
For one thing it showed the struggle is not a tribal conflict as the racist
apartheid supporters claimed and advocated but a struggle between those who
support apartheid/racism and those who oppose it.