Jun 26, 2016


I wrote several articles over the past 20 years suggesting for the sake of Europe’s future to develop a more independent foreign policy and end US led NATO’s adventurism whether in Libya or the Ukraine. But looking at the British poll to exit Europe, we cannot just say “we told you so”. We cannot feel happy seeing Europe collapse even though we here in Palestine suffered and continue to suffer from European colonization (yes Zionism that created Israel is European colonization).

This vote was focused mainly on fear of immigration (not economy as many expected) and this epidemic of fear of the brown people is afflicting the US and Europe and is stoked by Zionist xenophobes. It was not surprising that all of Rupert Murdoch’s vast media empire peddled for Brexit (British exit). The stock markets collapsed, gold prices surged, and there is a general panic as the rich bankers who control/issue the money do not know what to do. The US Federal Reserve is panicking because interest rates are already so low and can’t be lowered so much further to “simulate the economy.” The economy is bad in Europe and the US because it is a war economy. For example, some three trillions were spend on the Iraq war (for Israel).  These wars to fragment the Arab world even further than what Sykes-Picot created in 1916 (100 years ago) are backfiring and are the real cause of the calamity in Europe (epitomized by what they call a refugee crisis and economic stress). Perhaps the chickens are coming home to roost? In the US a similar pop culture promoted by Hollywood and other media peddled xenophobic islamophobia to serve Israel, peddled endless wars (divide and conquer), and peddled a diversionary silly culture to draw attention away from the major challenges to a livable world (especially climate change). These Zionists challenged the principled BDS campaign hypocritically crying “anti-semitism” while peddling Islamophobia. The witch hunts in 2016 are reminiscent of the 1950s McCarthy communist scare.  We were thus not surprised that this same Zionist controlled media repackaged the Florida shooter as a “Muslim terrorist” but Madeen was clearly a lunatic gay guy who drank heavily and frequented gay bars regularly and was psychotically depressed for rejection. Without understanding this massive media campaign we cannot explain the popularity in oppressive societies of people like Avigdor Lieberman (“Israel”), Donald Trump (USA), and Boris Johnson (England). The fact that they all support Zionism should give us a hint.

What is clear is that people need to worry about the future of the so called “Western Civilization” as it is clearly in decline. When asked about Western Civilization, Mahatma Gandhi was reputed to have said “I think it would be a good idea”! Many people especially the majority of the globe that is not “white” are worried about this civilization. Wring in the Guardian, Lola Okolosie said “ The paradox of this referendum has been that those who have experienced the highest levels of migration turned out to be the least concerned about it. Fear of the unknown often underlines bigotry and xenophobia. We know that.” Her article makes more interesting points and is worth reading

Europe went through the Middle Ages for ten centuries (medieval period), a period not much different from the disarray and religious fervor gripping the Arab world today. Europe paid a heavy price for the transition from these dark ages to the renaissance and then they had the set-backs of colonialism and nationalism (including WW1 and WW2). I am hopeful that Europe will not slip back and its people learned from the past.  Now the focus is on the Arab world to finally rise out of the disarray and weakness into an era of science and technology and knowledge based decision making (our own renaissance) and this is inevitable. But then in 100 years (if climate change has not killed us all), we hope we will not be back into the colonial or nationalist mentality whether here or in Europe. Zionist colonialism like all other colonialism is already struggling to stay alive in a sea of native rejection in the 21st century. There is so much we can learn from history of Europe and we must all consider it our human history. Humanity is evolving and we must work together to make sure it evolves in a good sustainable direction.

Good news according to a friend (Mai): "Two years ago, Presbyterians passed divestment by a razor thin margin of just 7 votes. This year, they moved boldly forward with huge majority votes on further strong measures. Meanwhile, the Unitarians achieved a majority on their first attempt at divestment (remember, the Presbyterians took 10 years!)...In addition, Re/Max issued a statement to the Presbyterians prior to their Re/Max vote (which passed) that they will no longer profit from Israel's illegal settlements properties- see links below”

Jun 22, 2016


On a lengthy trip (due to checkpoints and alternate roads under occupation) to Ramallah, we had a chance to think and discuss issues like human condition and motivations. Three of us from the Palestine Museum of Natural History were on the way to meet with an official of the UN Development Program and with leadership of an active NGO working on agriculture and the environment. Having a very busy life working 16 hours a day seven days a week basically leaves us little time for reflection.  Back in Bethlehem, I decided to take a bit more time last evening to do more reflection and share some thoughts especially on the state of our world and our role in it. I am sure all of us considered these same issues. There is unprecedented connectivity and access to information and we have richness of nature and enough resources to give everyone on this planet a comfortable life. Yet, we have over 1 billion people living in poverty. Hundreds of millions go hungry. There are murders, terrorism, war, and all other human cruelty to other humans (and to animals and to nature). There is a deterioration of quality of politicians and proportional increase in governmental lies. The global environment is at the breaking point (climate change etc.).  The rich are getting richer and the poor getting poorer. In this man made mayhem, it is not too difficult to understand why cynical right wing politicians can rally people based on “safety/security” concerns (the most powerful human emotion of fear). A friend of mine from a developed country noted that “ We'd better figure out ways to spread some equity around if we want to go on living in a society that is at least semifunctional. .” But the devil is in the detail. We should take the time to think of what world we want and how do we get there.

I am sure that all people like me somehow dream of a better world. If I was a child and drew it, I would draw it as a natural world, beaches, streams, beautiful trees,colorful animals running around, children playing and living in harmony with this “natural ecosystem”. Envisioning such a world of harmony, bliss and happiness is not a utopian silly dream. But not achievting it soon should not be an impediment to (re)thinking our own role in this. First we do need to understand human needs and motivations. The US psychologist Abraham Maslow  proposed that there is a hierarchy of needs in his 1943 paper "A Theory of Human Motivation". We can think of this is a pyramid with these needs from bottom to top of pyramid: physiological needs (food, drink, sex etc), safety, love/belonging, esteem/recognition, and finally self-actualization. Today most people especially in underdeveloped and developing countries are actually at that bottom rung in the pyramid. We in Palestine do not have too many answers since most of our people are still at that subsistence level. It is irritating to see the elites (including Palestinian and Israelis) who have their basic needs met refuse to rise to higher levels and get motivated to do something different to make this a better world. At least they should/could follow Howard Zinn’s advise and get off the train (His book “you can’t be neutral on a moving train” ). By not being part of the problem, humans at least open the possibility of being part of the solution. The next step is of course “trouble-making”: stirring the stagnant waters so to speak.  One of the inspiring groups I know that does this is CodePink whose members put themselves in places challenging political elites and  challenging hypocrisy. The third stage of this process is to envision the alternative and build it. Many people do a great job at separating them-selves from the oppressive and apathetic hords and challenging the oppression. But few go to that third level of building and thus self-actualizing. I ended my book “Sharing the Land of Canaan” (published 2004) with this:

Breaking through the conundrums humans have created is not easy.  It will require transcending a part of our selves that may seem familiar and reassuring.  Learning to live together, while initially uncomfortable, can lead to a new way of thinking.  Joseph Campbell wrote in 1968:  "Today, the walls and towers of the culture-world that then were in the building are dissolving ... But of course, on the other hand, for those who can still contrive to live within the fold of a traditional mythology of some kind, protection is still afforded against the dangers of an individual life; and for many the possibility of adhering in this way to established formulas is a birthright they rightly cherish, since it will contribute meaning and nobility to their unadventured lives, ... and to those for whom such protection seems a prospect worthy of all sacrifice, and orthodox mythology will afford both the patterns and the sentiments of a lifetime of good repute. However, by those to whom such living would be not life, but anticipated death, the circumvallating mountains that to others appear to be of stone are recognized as of the mist of dream, and precisely between their God and Devil, heaven and hell, white and black, the man of heart walks through.  Out beyond those walls, in the uncharted forest night, where the terrible wind of God blows directly on the questing undefended soul, tangled ways may lead to madness. They may also lead, however, as one of the greatest poets of the Middle Ages tells, to 'all those things that go to make heaven and earth.' "(Campbell, Joseph.  1968. The Masks of God: Creative Mythology. Viking Penguin Inc., New York, p. 37.)

It is indeed a journey of awakening at the individual level that is not only spiritual, but also require concrete action to bring true peace and justice to fruition. We Canaanites, who invented the alphabet, domesticated animals and developed agriculture, and made this arid land into a land of milk and honey, surely can do this. An Arab poet wrote "Itha Asha3bu yawman Arad al-7ayata fala budda an Yastijeeb al-qadar. Wala budda lillayal an Yanjaili wala budda li-thulm an yankasir." Roughly translated, it means: If the people one day strive for life, then ultimately destiny will respond and the night will give way and the injustice will be broken. The path to peace is not served by the creation of more states or unjust "fixes" to perceived demographic "problems."  It has to do with justice and implementation of human rights and international law. It requires grass root action to accelerate its arrival but it is the only solution possible in the long term.  We can either remain locked in our old mythological and tribal ways or we can envision a better future and work for it.  The choice is obvious.

But much more needs to be thought of and said and acted upon in these areas. It is after all this search for a meaning of live and our role in it that is at the heart of what makes us human. Let us all resolve to take less time on things like facebook and more time to really look and act deeper. I for one hope to spend more time with intelligent thoughtful people thinking more collectively of these things and acting on them.

A Museum and Institute of Sustainability and Biodiversity at Bethlehem University