The Struggle Continues

From the November-December 2014 #839

by Mazin Qumsiyeh

The author snapped this shot of Har Homa, an illegal Israeli settlement in east
Jerusalem, in a 2005 visit.

I return to this country (and it is one country) to find the situation more tense than it was two weeks ago when I left. An Israeli colonial settler runs over Palestinian children killing one 5-year-old and injuring another. A Palestinian native runs over Israeli border police in Jerusalem killing one officer and injuring several. Such incidents are increasing.

Zionism started here as a colonial movement to change a multi-religious flourishing Palestine into JSIL (the Jewish state of Israel in the Levant). The support of western powers was and continues to be critical for JSIL’s establishment and (increasingly more expensive) maintenance.  Colonial movements must destroy the native society and build a new society.

In the case of Palestine (now called Israel), the destruction is breathtaking. Seven million of us are refugees or displaced people (out of a population of 12 million). Land left for us to live on in historic Palestine is about 8% (that includes the ghettos left for us in the Galilee, Naqab, Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the West Bank). Millions of settlers from Europe and other parts of the world now control 92% of the land, more than 90% of the water, all border crossings, and all other natural resources in the country.

The Zionist policy of might makes right has meant that human rights and international law are not applicable here. This adds to the frustration and anger of the native people. The natives were deprived of real leadership (previously the Palestinian Liberation Organization) and instead now  have a “Palestinian Authority” (PA) approved by the US/Israel. The PA men, more concerned for their jobs than the future of Palestine, now act as subcontractors for the occupation. This was the trap that was created in the negotiations in Norway in 1993 (subsequently referred to as the Oslo Accords). Since then, the number of Israeli colonial settlers in the West Bank alone rose from 180,000 to 650,000. More and more, life for the remaining Palestinians has become unbearable (unless they are from the elite of the PA, mostly in Ramallah).

The chauvinistic, schizophrenic system marches along the road of fascism oblivious to the future. Homes are being destroyed and millions of us are denied the right to live in most of our country and even the right to visit and pray in churches and mosques in Jerusalem. The efforts to transform the country to look more “Jewish” accelerate especially around Jerusalem, creating more tensions. Local Palestinians with no place to go are getting desperate. The pressure is building as a pressure cooker builds steam. Acts of individual violence that we see are merely a symptom of this unsustainable system. And the danger is spreading. The Jewish State of Israel in the Levant (JSIL) has to have new states like Sunni (ISIS) and Shia and others so that it becomes “naturalized” instead of being the only apartheid system in Western Asia.

Still, there are choices: 1) might makes right, or 2) human rights including abolishing religion-based states and insisting on secular democracies. The first path leads to a lose-lose situation and the second to a win-win for all. There is no lose-win scenario (as MLK once said, we either live together in equality as fellow human beings or we perish together as fools).

Hanging between the two roads will mean only more extremism, more violence, and more injustice. Choosing democracy, human rights, and justice is not easy, and we pay a price (financial, physical, etc). It is we the people who must push for that (everyone now recognizes that our politicians are mostly hypocritical, self-centered fools).

The day I got back to the US, the “elections” gave us an even more subservient congress bent on further destruction of the economy to serve special interests. Some of us pay heavier prices than others, and some are even killed (many of my own personal friends were killed in non-violent demonstration). Some lose jobs or homes. Some are injured. Some spend years as political prisoners. But this is a struggle that is existential and must be engaged in. How to do it and maintain dignity, humanity, and inner peace is a challenge. You can’t be neutral on a moving train, so apathy is collusion with oppression. When our short time on this earth nears its end, will we regret standing by, or will we be proud that we tried our best to make it better? The choice is obvious. A luta continua (the struggle continues).

Mazin teaches and does research at Bethlehem and Birzeit Universities. His website is
Mazin teaches and does research at Bethlehem and Birzeit Universities. His website is