The struggle continues in and out of “detention facilities”

Mazin Qumsiyeh

Mazin Qumsiyeh, 13 July, 2011

Below is the press release we issued today and below it is a letter from a Palestinian woman to the solidarity activists.  We have been up with little sleep over the past 4 days.  Each day required dealing with hundreds of issues and overcoming many obstacles.  Today for example with three events (Beit Sahour, Aida then Checkpoint 300, and Al-Walaja) required dealing with a lot of obstacles including a number of friction points with the Israeli army and attempting to get around their blocks.  But the one image that sticks in my mind is the sight of the children at Aida Refugee Camp playing in front of Al-Rowwad center with the international volunteers.  The sight was priceless.


As Israel tried to keep people apart and disconnected, our human bonds grew amazingly stronger and Israel was exposed for what it really is.  Humanity won, Zionism lost.  Tomorrow (Monday), the family of Rachel Corrie (a young solidarity activist who was murdered by Israeli troops will hold a press conference in Jerusalem.  See I hope a lot of people attend it and highlight the issues of Israel harassing, jailing,  attacking and killing solidarity activists.


The words of Vittorio kept flashing through my mind all day: stay human.  The last few days, humanity shone and had to rise-up to the challenge of facing inhumanity, repression, and fascism.  Stay human indeed.



“Welcome to Palestine” Press Release #5

Israeli authorities set stringent conditions for release of “Welcome to Palestine” prisoners. The large majority of international visitors are still incarcerated under brutal conditions, begin a hunger strike in Israeli jail


Bethlehem, July 10, 2011.  Over 120 internationals attempting to visit Palestine were arrested and are still being illegally detained in two Israeli detention centers, in Ramle and in Beer Al-Saba’ (Beersheva). These friends of Palestine, among which there are minors and elderly persons with medical conditions, have been and are being mistreated and subjected to unnecessary brutality.


For example, Dr. Hikmat Al-Sabty, 57, of Rostock, Germany, is being denied needed medication that is in his suitcase; this was reported to his wife by the German Embassy in Tel Aviv, but his wife has not been allowed to speak with him directly.  All of those detained have stated repeatedly that they are non-violent and want only to accept the invitation to visit together with Palestinian friends in the program “Welcome to Palestine.”


The Israeli authorities released two older German men from prison yesterday, but only on condition that they sign an Israeli legal document that was presented to them only in Hebrew and English. One of the two men came to Bethlehem.  He is uncertain of the full contents of the Israeli paper he signed because his English is not good, and he was unable to first consult with his attorney in Israel before signing the paper: the Israeli authorities yesterday made attorney access to prisoners very difficult, and large number of those detained can only be seen by their attorneys today and tomorrow.


The German man now in Palestine believes that he has agreed in writing not to go to Ramallah, Jenin, and certain other Palestinian cities, but that the Israeli authorities have allowed that he to go to “tourist” areas in the West Bank.  Because he is still uncertain of the full content of the Israeli document he signed, he prefers not to give his name at this time.  The Israeli authorities refused, in violation of international law, to give him a copy of the paper he signed.  His attorney is seeking to obtain a copy of the document he signed from the Israeli authorities.


We received a letter from the Belgian group in Bersheeva prison, who state that they began a hunger strike last night.  In the letter, the Belgians demand, on behalf of all the prisoners, to have contact their families and with their attorneys.  They demand an international investigation into the behavior of airline companies and Israeli officials.  They also demand to be able to have contact with each other in the Israeli prison.  For example, because the French and Belgian men and women are separated in the prison, the men do not know whether the women are also aware of the hunger strike.  It is believed that the French men have joined the hunger strike.  According to the Germans who were released, the German men and women there are also participating in the hunger strike, but the men and women are not allowed to speak with each other.


Those few international guests who were able to reach Bethlehem on Friday were invited by their Palestinian hosts to go to either to a demonstration in Qalandia at noon or else to attend a gathering in Bilin at 11 am, from which they then joined Palestinian friends in Nebi Saleh. There Israeli soldiers prevented the bus-loads of passengers and local Palestinians and Israeli supporters from holding a peaceful demonstration.  The Israeli forces shot stun grenades and at least two kinds of tear gas canisters at them. The nearby agricultural fields were set ablaze by these tear-gas canisters.   The Israeli forces illegally detained — kidnapped — four peace activists, including three Israeli citizens and one Brazilian.   Several participants were injured.


Events planned continued.  Today, there was a gathering in Beit Sahour in front of the Greek Orthodox Church, an event at Aida Refugee Camp and an event in Al-Walaja.
Media Contacts:


JERUSALEM: Sergio Yahni,, +972(0)526375032

BETHLEHEM: Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh,, +972(0)598939532

FRANCE:  Nicolas Shahshahani,

GERMANY: Sophia Deeg,, +49(0)88 007761,


UK: Sofiah MacLeod,,+44(0)7931 200 36100,

+44(0)131 620 0052

USA: Karin Pally, or, +1 310-399-1921

International Media Coordination: Elsa Rassbach +49 (0) 30 326 01540 or +49 (0) 170 738 1450 Skype: elsarassbach


Please stay informed through our websites:


Netanyahu Panics When Folks Like Kathy Kelly Come to Visit Palestine by Sea or By Air


A letter from a Palestinian woman to the supporters of Palestine.


I would like to talk to you as the voice of the thousands of Palestinians who appreciate what you are doing. You who have a great commitment to human rights and who actually act upon your beliefs. You risk your life to both witness and tell the truth of what you see. You are a group of people who understand what is happening in the holy land and have decided to dedicate your time, money and energy to the issue. You demonstrate that religion nor race is important when it comes to standing up for the rights human beings. And every step you take justice and humanity wins.


I want you to trust that your actions are making a difference and changing the violence we see here in our land. Your solidarity is helping fuel our non violent fight. Palestinians face many kinds of violence and torture, however, being ignored is the worst punishment of all. Those who refuse to hear and see us are just as bad as those who occupy us. Those who stand in solidarity with us send a strong message of humanity and are helping us to overcome our suffering. In the middle of all this crisis, your help puts a smile on our face. From this smile you will always be welcome in our hearts even if you are unable to enter our land.


Your solidarity reminds the world that we are all one human family and that we Palestinians are still part of it. Please do not give up. Even if your boats do not make it to the shores of Gaza or if your planes refuse to fly, the unseen effects are still huge.


I want to say thank you for all that your work involves. Thank you for booking your tickets, taking time off from work, leaving your loved ones, and for all of the other small things, I am truly grateful.


Please continue to be with us, hand in hand, in our non-violent struggle. We need to reach the end of the path of occupation and your presence on this journey is crucial, we cannot make it alone.


I hope one day to share a coffee with you in my home or in yours, for when this day comes we will have reached our freedom.


Hekmat Bessiso

Gazan living in Ramallah


Mazin Qumsiyeh

A bedouin in cyberspace, a villager at home


Palestine, Yes we come

Mazin Qumsiyeh

Dear friends:


I am back in Palestine and busily working with dozens of volunteers (but we need more) on the July and other actions to challenge the system of apartheid.  As governments (including the Palestinian authority) abrogate their duties and obligations to defend human rights, citizens around the world are acting.  Below you can see an example of a young American (who happens to be Jewish) as he spoke out and was attacked by apartheid state mercenaries. But millions are acting.  In our small corner of the world, some 20 of us met today to organize for our July actions (see in Tel-Rumeida where Apartheid soldiers are spending US taxpayer money guarding thieves (= colonial settlers) who took over homes in Palestinian areas and regularly harass, insult, and injure natives and even burn olive trees.  The scene is surreal: as if a few hundred Ku Klux Clan or Neo-Nazi members were allowed to move into a black city, take over homes, and do what they wish with the local blacks, while being protected by thousands of white soldiers who obediently cater to every whim of the racist bigots. Here is a sampling of settler behavior and you can find out more here:


Video for the July Mission: Palestine, Yes we come

“With the BDS boycott against Israeli politics and the Flotilla which is preparing to oppose the siege of Gaza, hundreds of people going on the 8th July 2011 mission visiting Palestinian civil rights associations, illustrates the importance of international solidarity with Palestine and our duty to get involved. This clip shows the present situation of the Palestinians with accounts from Lubna Marsawa, a Palestinian woman living in Jerusalem, who was on the Mavi Marmara of previous Flotilla, Ronnie Barkan (Anarchists Against the Wall) from Tel Aviv, Tariq Ramadan and other international activists.”


Inspiring action: Portland BDS Coalition Flash Mobs New Seasons: May 29, 2011


At the hate fest called Jerusalem day,  brainwashed Zionists shout that they hate Arabs and want to burn our villages down ( and when a counter-protest included a young (19 yo) American man (happens to be Jewish), Lucas was attacked and “arrested” by 6 Israeli Apartheid mercenaries.  Watch here apartheid in action:


Action especially for those in Italy: No to the Israeli occupation and propaganda fest in Milan


Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh teaches and does research at Bethlehem and Birzeit Universities in occupied Palestine. He serves as chairman of the board of the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People and coordinator of the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements in Beit Sahour He is author of “Sharing the Land of Canaan: Human rights and the Israeli/Palestinian Struggle” and the forthcoming book Popular Resistance in Palestine: A history of Hope and Empowerment.

A Bedouin in Cyberspace, a villager at home

Articles by Dr. Qumsiyeh on

I am a Palestinian…with Nothing more to say

Yasser Arafat memorial (Majed Bamya)

Majed Bamya, 3 March 2011

As many Palestinians around the globe, I have spent the last few weeks following the uprisings in the Arab world on TV, overwhelmed with hope, enthusiasm, belief…and frustration. I grew up with the deep belief that our struggle for freedom was not only about territory. We were fighting to ensure a number of fundamental human values will prevail. We were fighting for justice, genuine democracy, dignity. In our quest, we aimed at freeing Palestine from the occupation but also allow it to rebuild the ties with its essence: pluralism, humanity, tolerance. We were fighting against zionism as an ideology that leads to exclusiveness, and exclusion, that spreads negation and destruction, discriminations and apartheid. And we thought that by fighting for pluralism in Palestine, and by accepting pluralism within the national movement, we were spreading the seeds of democracy in all of our region. We were democrats without a State, and we had a message to deliver. But years going by, and our house, the PLO, being neglected and weakened by divisions and competition, our pluralism was no longer a strength, as we were unable to dialogue respectfully and to speak with one voice. We doubted each others’ intentions and agendas, we criticized each others’ martyrs, and heroes. We forgot our common flag and fought each for our own colour. And from democracy we went to internal division. After the Nakba and the Naksa and Palestinian resurrection. After years of struggle, after Jordan, Lebanon, and two Intifadas. After imposing the Palestinian cause around the globe. After having lost so many of our historical leaders and so many of our resistants. We betrayed ourselves. We stopped believing. We lost faith in our own capacity to create miracles.

As I am watching these revolutions so close to us, and yet so far from us, I can not but ask myself, how come we became bystanders of a history we were at the forefront of. The Palestinian people fought for so long and made such sacrifices that it is normal to have fatigue or despair. It happened in the past and we always overcame. We disappeared from geography and we were on the verge of being erased from history. And defying all odds, we built a national movement that has changed all the past equations. But this time is different. People still fight every day for their dignity, their hopes and dreams, they continue demonstrating against the wall; in Jerusalem their fight for their homes is a fight for the Palestinian presence, and Palestinians remain in Palestine despite the siege in Gaza, and settlement activity and settlers’ harassment in the West Bank. And Palestinians in Israel continue fighting discriminations. And refugees continue to nourish their Palestinian identity even when the political bodies seem to have forgotten them. But where is our collective hope?

“Are you Gazan or West Banker, Jerusalemite or Israeli Palestinian, are you a refugee or not, are you…?” I am a Palestinian from Jaffa, my parents were Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, a country they left following the Israeli invasion in 1982. After 1948, some of my family went to Gaza, others to West Bank, other in exile. I was born in exile and grew up in Ramallah and studied in Jerusalem. I have been living for the last years in Europe. This is a typical Palestinian story. It shows that our identity is linked to a cause not to geography.

I am a Palestinian. Simple words that need to be embodied. We still have it in us. The hope, the willingness to fight once again despite decades of sacrifices, the capacity to overcome our divisions and to reshape our unity. But for all of this to be possible, we need to do what others have done in Tunisia and Egypt and elsewhere around the globe. Confront our fears, choose our fights, and empower the people. We need to do it now, as the wheels of history are turning and instead of being on the vehicle, we are under it!

There are ideas, and experiences and examples all over the globe of Palestinian resistance. There is so much to learn from other peoples who have risen up to defend their rights. Political leaders should stop thinking that populations can not understand, or are by definition unreasonable. A population that is invested in decision-making understands compromises, and efficiency, and result-oriented approach. A population that is not invested in decision-making turns to ideologies, and simplifications. Look how reasonable where the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. Despite past and future difficulties, and uncertain transition periods, the peoples of these countries continue doing their utmost to preserve the fragile balance of a revolution that seeks hope and not chaos. And while making the impossible possible, they were ready to achieve compromises on the instruments, not on the goals.

The major question now is how to change the balance of power on the ground, how to better confront this occupation and the injustice imposed on us 6 decades ago? The first element of any equation is to restore our unity, not based on void speeches or slogans, but on a deep understanding of our common belonging, respect for Palestinian pluralism, upholding human rights, and working towards genuine democracy where power can not be seized or hijacked and all political bodies remain accountable to the people on a regular basis. Palestinians want to be fully involved in the decision-making process. As they offer huge sacrifices in their quest for freedom, they can not tolerate for this freedom to be diminished by people that are supposed to represent them and their struggle. Unity is too serious a matter to be left for political parties to discuss it behind closed doors, and with undeclared agendas, or focus on power sharing. Only peoples can be entrusted with unity and democracy, they should pursue and shield them, as they are essential conditions for the success of any struggle for justice, and any debate on these questions, and all decisions, should be made with the full involvement of the people.

In Palestine and abroad, it is time for the people to take action and nobody should stop it. A power that fears its own people does not deserve to last and this is something that all political entities and all states should understand. We are ready once again to rise against the Israeli occupation, under its different forms: siege, settlements, exile, checkpoints, house demolitions, discriminations. We are ready to fight once more to protect our cause, to be faithful to the past, and to pave the way for another future. We are ready…and we await a signal to go beyond a fragmented destiny, land and resistance, and to launch a common fight for freedom! But looking closer, I think I saw a signal.

I look at my TV and I see crowds of people in the streets chanting and demonstrating peacefully. They have little slogans, many jokes and an unbreakable will. They carry one flag and one cause despite their differences. They defied their fear and overcame their divisions to ensure freedom will prevail. In a few weeks they have done what nobody else was able to do in decades. They did not wait for reforms, or political parties, trade unions or NGOs to set their game straight. The people went to the streets and knew everybody would have to follow.

I have nothing more to say…and there is so much left for us to do!

Yasser Arafat memorial (Majed Bamya)

Yasser Arafat memorial (Majed Bamya)

Watch and be angry and inspired

Mazin Qumsiyeh

Today (Wednesday) was another honorable and painful chapter in the struggle of the village of Al-Walaja.  Apartheid soldiers assaulted children and adults protesting peacefully, injured many, and arrested six Palestinians.  The destruction of the beautiful ancient village land was stopped for over 1.5 hours.  I was especially touched by the courage of Omar and his two children, one of them was hit by a soldier with his gun on top of his head.  Please see this video and be both angered and inspired by the courage of the Walajans.  The villagers need our support in many ways especially to demand Israel release those they abducted.  Come join us PLEASE and act.

Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD

A Bedouin in Cyberspace, a villager at home

Professor, Bethlehem and Birzeit Universities

Chairman of the Board, Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People,