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A Day In Palestine
By Mazin Qumsiyeh
December 3, 2009 passes, just another day among 365 days of the year. But no day here is boring. I videotape at length (mostly for another project) but put a tiny bit on youtube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QImBLtYNXW0 ) to give you a visual to accompany this description since I am still experimenting with video productions but hopefully will get better with time. Anyway, here are some of the events and interactions:
- I wake up t the news that 15 Palestinian youths were kidnapped overnight by the Israeli military. In the past few weeks Israel seems to be filling up its jails to replace those they will release as part of a prisoner exchange with Hamas (which is holding one Israeli occupation soldier). I drive my wife to her class at the University and go run some errands.
- A coffee and some Arabic cake (Ka'ak) with falafel are just the right boost to get the day going. We pick-up our friend Ridgeley and the three of us go to see an exhibit on Freedom made by Bethlehem University students. Here were there ideas, frustrated dreams, hopes, and aspirations made with cheap material but incredible thought. A clock that runs between an apple and slowly the apple gets eaten by a roach so that when the hour hits midnight, there is hardly anything left. But then there are symbolic chains and walls that breakdown with will and determination or simply be degeneration among oppressors. There is one exhibit where pieces of paper about math, biology, and language mix with pieces of papers about curfews, walls, wars, and political maneuvering.
- There conference on the Abraham Path initiative (http://www.abrahampath.org ) a great project of cultural tourism where Internationals walk around Palestine, learning and growing along the way. The clever design of the few exhibits around the room followed the same trend which would be seen on the walk from the north to the south. We buy a book about Old Hebron from the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee and a nice ceramic bowl. Ridgeley gets a black and red Kuffiya made in the last Palestinian factory still making them (red and black is unusual since most Palestinians prefer to take one or the other for a symbolic reason).
- We then drive to the Tent of Nations (http://www.tentofnations.org/ ) where a farmer family is trying to hang on to a hill overlooking the Palestinian ancient village of Nahhalin (continuously inhabited by Canaanites in a beautiful valley for over 3000 years). Both Nahhalin and this lonely hill are now surrounded by settlements (Neve Daniel, Rosh Zurim, Betar Elit, Alazer). The family that owns the hill decides to make a stand and while they are prevented from building any structures above ground they manage to rehabilitate caves and other underground structures and plant and live and educate Internationals and locals who visit to learn about civil resistance.
- We drive on to Beit Ummar near Hebron where we meet Mousa AbuMaria, founder of the Palestine Solidarity Projecthttp://palestinesolidarityproject.org/ Mousa has spent years in Israeli jails where like many thousands of other Palestinians he was ill treated. He decided to channel his energy to civil resistance. I wanted to interview him for a book and documentary we are doing on civil resistance.
- We then drive back to Bethlehem for a meeting and interview with Neta Golan. Neta is the impressive and energetic co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement which brought thousands of volunteers/activists to join in the Palestinian civil resistance (http://palsolidarity.org/ ).
- We had a delightful dinner and informal chat (albeit we had to argue with the restaurant owner on why he serves water bottled by an Israeli company and stolen from Palestinian aquifers)
- We attended part of the meeting of the Mennonite Central Committee (http://mcc.org/ ) and their local partners like ARIJ and Rapprochement Center. MCC has been doing great work in Palestine since 1949. The gathering also offers us a chance not only to meet new people but to reconnect with people doing good work like Rev. Naeem Atik of Sabil, Cathy Bergen of AFSC, and Eitan Bronstein of Zochrot.
- Back at home, I write an introduction to a forthcoming book on birds of Palestine (in Arabic, authored by Simon Awad), answer the mountain of emails and finish writing exam questions for my master's students.
All in all, despite the colonial occupation, the bad news of endless wars (e.g. Obama escalating his foolish war in Afghanistan), and fellow Palestinians in small Israeli jails (where 11000 political prisoners are kept) and in big jails (where 3 million Palestinians are kept) despite all of that, I say life is good. Yes there is lots of hope but we all must act to bring a quicker end to this nightmare. Silence is after all complicity.
A lucha continua
Video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QImBLtYNXW0  
Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD
A Bedouin in Cyberspace, a villager at home

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