Our Beacon Forum

Easter in Palestine
By:Prof. Mazin Qumsiyeh, Occupied Palestine
Date: Saturday, 20 April 2019, 6:15 pm

This is the tenth Easter I celebrate after returning to Palestine in 2008.
It is still special. The touch, taste, sights, sounds, and smells of dazzle
all senses and are meaningful, despite the difficult Israeli occupation.
This weekend is Easter according to Western calendar and next week is the
eastern. My family being mixed, I get to witness both traditions. Though
everyone complains that I am spending every day of the holiday at the
museum working (but there are deadlines of proposals and much more work to
do). Even Easter Sunday (tomorrow) my students in biodiversity are coming
to learn techniques of museology and curation of collections.

When we native Christian Palestinians have a few moments to meditate and
reflect in this season, we reflect that some 2.5 billion human beings
believe in a message that originated with a Palestinian baby born in a
manger here and was crucified for being the first revolutionary Palestinian
to push for caring for the sick and the poor.

We reflect on the real message of Jesus, a message of love and coexistence.
The harsh reality on the ground reminds us of our responsibility to shape a
better future.

We are hopeful because we take a long view of history. Some 150,000 years
ago, humans migrated from Africa using Palestine as the passage way to
Western Asia and then the rest of the world. 12,000 years ago, this area
became the center of development for agriculture (the Fertile Crescent).
This was where we humans first domesticated animals like goats and donkeys
and plants like wheat, barley, chickpeas, and lentils. This transformation
allowed our ancestors time to evolve what we now call “civilization”.
Hence, the first writings, the first music, and art, and the first thoughts
of deities. From our Aramaic alphabet came the Latin, Arabic, Syriac, and
Hebrew alphabets. Aramaic was the language of Jesus and much of our current
Palestinian Arabic is still Aramaic words.

If we dwell on the negative, we can be pessimistic. The US denied entry to
an international criminal prosecuter. The US blocks entry to Omar Barghouti
to the US to speak about BDS. Under pressure from the US the International
Cri,m8inal Court decides not to investigate war cimes in Afghanistan
(committed by US military & CIA). Do you think the ICC would permit
investigation of war crimes and crimes against humanity by Israel/Zionists
(who occupy both Palestine and Washington DC)? The UN and other
international agencies are increasingly showing inability to contain
conflicts let alone protect basic human rights. This is reminiscent of the
world structure created after WWI with the league of nations etc. Biased
institutions created by biased structures only lead to conflict not prevent
it. But the next war will end our existence as organized society. Bad signs
of corruption in politics are everywhere: from the US feverish work to get
Netanyahu elected to the arrest of Julian Assange who uncovered war crimes
and crimes against humanity (a job that journalists should be doing instead
of ptromoting Zionism and colonialism). Yet, we can envision a better
future and work for it. For the 12,000 years of civilization, there were
thankfully very few attempts to transform Palestine from a mixed society of
various religions and backgrounds to make it monolithic. Thankfully,
these attempts lasted a tiny percentage of our long history and all failed.
The latest attempt to make Palestine a Jewish state is failing though with
significant bloodshed and copy-cat knockoffs like ISIS.

We aspire to a certain future when refugees are allowed to return and all
people of all religions live in equality and justice. Jerusalem/Bethlehem
will then become a true light unto the world. We are grateful that there
has been tremendous growth of actions by civil society around the world to
push for human rights and justice in this “Holy Land”. This has included
some really significant actions for boycotts, divestments, and sanctions
(BDS) from Israel in the same way we did with Apartheid South Africa.
Palestine will rise from the ashes like a Phoenix. We believe indeed in a

So this Easter we remember what Jesus said: “Blessed are they that mourn
for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit
the earth. Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness for
they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain
mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. Blessed are
the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are they that
have been persecuted for righteousness' sake for theirs is the kingdom of
heaven,” (Luke 6).

Happy Easter to those who believe in this message.
The Palestinians have no illusions about the Trump administration's
much-discussed peace plan, academics of Palestinian origin Dr. Mazin
Qumsiyeh and Kamel Hawwash told Radio Sputnik, casting doubts on reports
that Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu are about to establish a
Palestinian state.

Trump brags he blew off calls from world leaders to give Adelsons the
greatest gift: Jerusalem (& the Golan)

According to data collected by the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza,
270 Palestinians were killed by Israeli live fire, including 52 children,
six women, and one elderly man, while 16,556 were injured, including 3,310
children, and 1,088 women, since the outbreak of “The Great March of
Return” protests along the Gaza border on March 30th 2018 until the March
30th 2019, on Wednesday. http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=783091

A Rock And A Hard Place, a remarkable new two-part documentary special from
Al Jazeera English goes behind the scenes with residents from each of the
three monolithic faiths who share one of the world’s most extraordinary
cities: Jerusalem. Both episodes of A Rock and Hard Place have been
produced and directed by Awad Joumaa and edited by Jameel Hodzic in
cooperation with executive producer Stephen Phelps. They were screened
consecutively across all Al Jazeera English platforms in March and April.
To watch the films:
Episode 1: https://youtu.be/WnhlubuhC5E
Episode 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SqUIM4yVNA

Stay Human and come visit us in Palestine

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