Our Beacon Forum

Palestine Museum of Natural History
By:A bedouin in cyberspace, a villager at home
Date: Monday, 5 November 2018, 11:37 pm

I am in the United Arab Emirates, giving talks, attending conferences,
networking and raising support for the great work of the Palestine Museum
of Natural History and Palestine Institute for Biodiversity and
Sustainability at Bethlehem University (http://palestinenature.org). The
country is very interesting and like all 46 other countries I visited so
far is unique, interesting, and has many things to see and do. On Saturday
I visited Sharjah were I was graciously hosted as a guest of Sheikha Hoor
Al Qasimi daughter of the ruler of that emirate that is famed for its
museums and culture. Her highness oversees the brilliant work of the
Sharjah Art Foundation and we talked about museums like their excellent art
museum which was coincidentally hosting an exhibit for Ismail Shamout and
Tamam Alkahil (husband and wife Palestinian artists I had met and
befriended their son in the USA). Her two brilliant colleagues at SAF Nawar
and Najeeba were very kind. Coincidentally Dr. Adila Laidi-Hanieh was also
there and we shared a ride back to Abu Dhabi. Dr. Adila is the new director
of the Palestinian Museum and along the way we discussed possible

On Sunday I visited and gave talk at the Environmental Agency Abu Dhabi. My
hosts were all smart and highly educated people who showed great interest
in what we are doing in Palestine and kindly took time to show me some of
what is going on in environmental issues in the UAE.

Monday we started a conference on “Managing the Health of the Gulf
Ecosystem” on the premises of the United Arab Emirates University (UAEU),
Al Ain City, UAE http://conferences.aehms.org/gulf3/ It was opened by Dr.
Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment of UAE a soft
spoken intelligent young man. I am giving a talk in this conference Tuesday
12:30 PM in hall 1003 titled “Protection of the Gulf and other endangered
ecosystems via establishing environmental research and education
facilities: experience from Palestine and proposal for the Gulf”. I also
speak Tuesday at 7:30 to Al Ain Natural History group on Current practices
of biodiversity and sustainability in Palestine.

I plan to attend the UN Biodiversity Conference 2018 in Sharm El-Sheikh,
Egypt later this month. These events help us exchange expertise, network,
and also explain the challenges and opportunities for environmental
conservation in Palestinian areas under colonial occupation.

Women are empowered and in better positions in the UAE than many other Arab
countries. Life here is rather comfortable for most people and there is
lots of wealth. But the environment suffers (and we learned at this
conference that 85% of coral reefs in the gulf have died in the past two
years). The standard of living looks even more extravagant to me coming
from Palestine and coming from a background of understanding limits on so
called “development”. I see how my Bethlehem University students are
suffering when I see university students here being dropped off in fancy
cars. I note the ghettos in Palestine and the lack of freedom of movement
or entertainment. I find it heart-wrenching knowing how smart our people
are unable to find jobs and how all of us are deprived by meticulous
colonial plans. Palestine was a rich country (in tourism, biodiversity,
agriculture etc) and it was basically stolen by Zionists from Europe by
force of arms (colonialism). They could enjoy a high standard of living if
released from their yolk of bondage but my thoughts venture into the
future: is what we want a consumerist society with unsust ainable
environments after 30-50 years?. My 2004 book on “Sharing the Land of
Canaan “ explains how we can move to a post-colonial era but I did not then
think of climate change or of sustainability 100 years later . Now we do
think of these matters more seriously

Our friend Susan Abulhawa who made it her life’s mission to take care of
Children was denied entry to her country (Palestine) last week. Almost with
im simultaneously, we saw the fascist sons of the new “president” of Brazil
wearing T-shirts for the Israeli army and the Mossad! We go from one story
to another and we say ”we shall overcome --- someday.” But we do need
longer term and better planning which in our small niche of Bethlehem
University we started doing in 2014. For those of you who did not have a
chance to watch the short video explaining why we are so excited about the
long-term potential despite the challenges, please take a few minutes to
watch about the museum and institute for biodiversity and sustainability:

We hope you join us to work for a better future, volunteer, and support
this and/or other worthwhile projects.

Stay Human

Mazin Qumsiyeh
A bedouin in cyberspace, a villager at home
Professor, Founder, and (volunteer) Director
Palestine Museum of Natural History
Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability
Bethlehem University
Occupied Palestine
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