Newsletter by Mazin Qumsiyeh

by Mazen Qumsiyeh, 5 november 2015. The Ubud Writers and Readers Festival in Bali, Indonesia
was a wonderful opportunity to meet so many great people. Just a few examples:
Ati Nurbaiti (Indonesian journalist wo covered the violence in Aceh), Avi
Sirlin (Canadian who wrote about Alfred Russel Wallace), Christina Lamb
(British bestselling author and leading foreign correspondent), Dorothy Tse
(Hong Kong fiction writer), Eka Kuniawan (young brilliant Indonesian author of
eight books), Hyeonseo Lee (escaping miraculously from North Korea and author
of her memoir “The Girl with Seven Names”), Janet DeNeefe (Founder of the
festival and author),Joseph Woods (Irish Poet and writer), Mohsen Hamid (award
winning Pakistani writer), Mpho Tutu (ordained minister, author, leader, and
daughter of Desmond Tutu), William Finnigan (USA author and Journalist), among
many others.  
I was the only Palestinian
(perhaps only Arab) in the festival. In my intervention on Thursday, I talked
about colonial legacy in Western Asia (seeds sown 100 years ago by British and
French and materializing today in places like Syria and Palestine). The next
day with a panel called “Passport to…” we talked about refugees and limitations
on movement etc. On Saturday, the focus was on Palestine for one hour with
questions to me from British writer and journalist living in Singapore  Michael Vatikiotis). The only problem in the
festival was censoring sessions dealing with the massacres committed by the US
backed dictator Suharto (Zionist Henry Kissinger’s man) with hundreds of
thousands killed between 1965 and 1968 and the massacres in Indonesian occupied
East Timor (supported by Australia) from 1975 to 1999 (later East Timor gained
independence). This makes me think of why many states do not want to face their
history honestly: Israel refuses to acknowledge its ethnic cleansing and
massacres of native Palestinians, US having a federally funded holocaust
memorial museum but no similar museum for the genocide of natives and of
African slaves, Holland and Britain and other European nations not recognizing
their legacies etc.  But anyway, the
Indonesian people we met (Hindu, Muslim, other) were all very nice and
extremely hospitable and Bali is simply beautiful tropical paradise. I am back
in Palestine tired but having learned so much from fellow writers and readers
and we immediately engaged by hosting a meeting for some key activists in
popular resistance (still ongoing workshops through Saturday). But there are
also students to teach, museum work to do, olives to pick (once the rains
stop), manuscripts to write, visitors to host, colleagues to visit, proposals
to finish…etc.

On various occasions in life, I am reminded of the Letter
from Birmingham Jail 16 April 1963 by Martin Luther King Jr [This is also where
he quibbed:
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere]: “I
must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers.
First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely
disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable
conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom
is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white
moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers
a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is
the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the
goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who
paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom;
who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to
wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from
people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from
people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright
Action: Around the world at 6 PM Palestine time Saturday
7 November, people in Palestine and abroad will sing and play the Palestinian
National anthem to remind the world that a people still yearns for return,
freedom, and self-determination  after 7
decades of colonialism.
“Palestine is not a local issue, it is a global
issue with global ramifications” ProMosaik e.V. interviews Mazin Qumsiyeh
Five interesting videos that were heavily circulated on
social mesdia that Israel does not want the world to see. For those who do not
read Arabic, the first video is of soldiers lynching a shop worker and then arresting
him, soldier chases and “captures” a child, Israelis dressed as Palestinians
join a demonstration then attack and point blank shoot youth, 4. Kidnapping a
child brutally from a shop and hitting owner, 5. Settlers in Hebron attack
Palestinian homes
Israeli soldiers tell Palestinians: ‘We will gas you
until you die’
[Apartheid occupation soldiers and settlers also
continued shooting unarmed Palestinians for sport and in many cases caught on
video or photos placing knives next to the Palestinian bodies to justify the
Mahmoud Abbas says he does not want “right of return for
6 million Palestinian refugees but only a solution for them”. He says he is not
going to cancel the surrender agreement of Oslo and he says other things to
reassure racists. The most interesting in this Jerusalem Post article is the
racist comments below it which should (but never will) shock Palestinians who
try to please colonial racist Zionists with the simple terrifying truth: you
can never give up enough of your basic human rights to please racists – only if
we Palestinians completely disappear will Zionists be satisfied with us
Israel’s attack on USA: Jerusalem Post confirms Israel
knew USS Liberty was American
Hundreds of Anthropologists boycott Israel and encourage
A condemnation of the assassination of Sa’d Al Atrash,
and an urgent call for international protection: We, the Palestinian General
Union of Persons with Disabilities GUPWD) and Bethlehem Arab Society for
Rehabilitation (BASR), strongly condemn the assassination of Sa’d Al Atrash,
who was shot by the Israeli military forces and left to bleed to death in
Hebron on Monday the 26th of October 2015, according to local news reports.
Sa’d – a beneficiary of BASR’s Economic Empowerment Program – was a 19 year-old
man with Epilepsy / psychosocial disability. He has been a member of the Hebron
branch of GUPWD who is keen on defending the rights of his fellow Palestinians
with disabilities. He was actively involved in several advocacy initiatives of
the Hebron branch of GUPWD to promote the right of persons with disabilities to
work, to access information and public transportation. In this struggle, Sa’d
was completely committed, but his efforts to advocate a better quality of life
for marginalized persons with disabilities were mercilessly cut short by a
bullet fired by an Israeli soldier for the false claim of attempting to stab
him. According to eyewitnesses, Sa’d was called by the Israeli soldiers while
passing by; and as he stopped, he was surrounded by 4 soldiers who shot him
dead with several bullets. Sa’d had great ambition to achieve. During the
career counseling phase, BASR economic empowerment team were immediately taken
by the passion and enthusiasm shown by Sa’d towards his own personal and
professional development and by his desire to take ownership of his future.
As a result, Sa’d was registered at a vocational training
center in Hebron, where he began to study for a diploma in electrical
maintenance. He was so delighted to start this new chapter in his life, and
began the program in September with complete commitment. A week before his
martyrdom, Sa’d discussed his future plans at length with BASR team. Sa’d was
not the first Palestinian with a disability to have been targeted by Israel.
The ongoing occupation of Palestine has resulted in numerous deaths among
Palestinians with disabilities, but also in countless injuries, arrests and
Since the beginning of October, 1003 Palestinians have
been arrested, 50% of whom are children, as reported by the Palestinian
Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs. Moreover, the Palestinian MoH
70 ruthlessly shot dead including 14 children, and more
than 7200 injured.
The assassination of Sa’d, therefore, represents not just
a grave personal tragedy for his family and friends, but starkly demonstrates
the constant threat posed by Israel’s occupation forces and Palestinian General
Union of People with Disability Bethlehem Arab Society for Rehabilitation
settlers to Palestinian civilians, particularly those with disabilities. This
threat comes from Israel’s regular and unlawful use of lethal force against
Palestinian youth – which takes place against a backdrop of a range of
Israeli-perpetrated human rights violations inflicted upon Palestinians in general
– as well as the restrictions imposed by the Israeli occupation on the ability
of Palestinian medical authorities to provide emergency services to those who
need them. Accordingly, we wish not merely to express our deep concern at
Sa’d’s assassination, but to highlight that this assassination constitutes a
flagrant violation of an individual’s right to life as enshrined under the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Israel is a signatory. Israel,
as highlighted in recent reports from a wide range of human rights
organizations, is demonstrably unable or unwilling to uphold its protective
duties as an occupying power towards the Palestinian populace, as demanded
under international law. We therefore call for an urgent response from all
relevant actors, including the provision of international protection to the
Palestinian people, particularly those with disabilities. We sincerely hope
that this wave of violence would be put to an end soon and that peace would
prevail in the Holy Land.
Come visit us in Palestine
In the meantime, Stay Human