Optimism & new year resolutions from Bethlehem

By Mazin Qumsiyeh

This is the last weekly message of 2018, a year with good and bad points but we here in the birthplace of Jesus remain optimistic about the future.

I will not bore you by recapping the big geopolitical good points like the beginning of the demise of the US/Zionist “Saudi” puppet regime or the withdrawal of the ISIS main enabler and funder in Syria (the USA government and its tails) or the growing realization that those who serve US and Israeli colonial interests will be eventually abandoned. Neither will I saddle you with the details of the negative things that happened geopolitically such as the political gains of right-wing anti-human and anti-environment politicians in places like Latin America and Europe or the unilateral moves by Mahmoud Abbas (whose term has expired nine years ago) to become a dictator in the West Bank thus facilitating the boldness of colonial Jewish settlers demolishing homes and murdering civilians now almost daily. So what can we say about 2018?

We can relay to you from my village (Beit Sahor, The Shepherds’ Field) a march “for peace on earth and justice for the people” that had over 2000 participants more than half of them children. It was awe inspiring. We can relay to you he fact that 3 million tourists came to Bethlehem (about 3000 came by our Palestine Museum of Natural History, www.palestinenature.org ) to glorify a prince of peace even as colonial settlers were spitting on Christians, taking over church properties, and ethnically cleansing Christians and Muslims from Jerusalem (which I am denied entry to like most fellow Palesttinians). We can tell you Santas get arrested here! We can tell you that hundreds gathered on the 9th anniversary of the Kairos document renewed a call increasingly being heard around the world for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) on Apartheid “Israel”. See http://kairospalestine.ps/index.php/kairos-palestine-blog/267-kairos-palestine-9th-anniversary-conference-statement

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I can tell you that my second country (the USA) is run by war-mongering “democrats” and “republicans” but both occupied by Zionism like we are here in Palestine. But even there (the biggest purveyorof violence in the world according to Martin Luther King Jr) there are also good signs. A Palestinian-American woman elected to Congress, people organizing, and young Jews increasingly moving away from the cult of Zionism (see https://mondoweiss.net/2018/11/nationalism-crabapple-intellectual/ ).

We can tell you that we got abundant rain so far and plants are growing everywhere (including in our own botanical garden) and that our research productivity has increased (26 publications in 2018!). We can tell you that our team has grown to 18 employees at the museum (creating jobs while serving the environment, people, and sustainability) plus many volunteers. We can tell you that a Christmas spirit of giving is all around us. Even nature is giving up its secrets (today alone we collected over 15 species of mushrooms as we enjoyed nature!).

We can also say that a people movement for justice, for human rights, and for the environment is growing around the world. We may not have political power yet but there are some good signs this is coming. We should not wait for it though: we need to work for it and we need in the meantime to also reduce or carbon foot print, grow more vegetables, give more opportunities to children to grow loving and nurturing other living beings. As the Buddhists say: we have “joyful participation in the sorrows of this world”. You can help grow this movement for sustainable future! Organize and give of your time and money! To help those of us here in Palestine, please visit www.palestinenature.org

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“You give but little when you give of your possessions; it is when you give of yourself that you truly give. For what are your possessions but things you keep and guard for fear you may need them tomorrow? And what is fear of need but need itself.” Khalil GibranThe Prophet 1923

My 2019 Resolutions

1-Stay positive and create positive focus amidst the difficulties and never give-up and thus have “joyful participation in the sorrows of this word”.

2-Do things methodically (also scientifically) and work smart encouraging others to do the same (efficiency) in a transition period to ensureinstitutionalizing museum operations by June (aim for administrative aspects decreasing by half in the second half of year). (& be careful not to be taken advantage of).

3- Research and Writing: Minimum one research manuscript (MS) per month (my responsibility) and another where I am coauthor/helper (thus 24 MS). Also publish two books. (aim to increase time allocated to those tasks by 40%)

4- Fundraising: Increase substancially (40%) next four months and aim for a minimum one project proposal submitted AND one solicitation from wealth individuals or companies every month.

5-Take care of family and friends and work more with educating youth (increase time allocation to those by 40%)

7- Finish infrastructure and public opening of our botanical garden (also community garden, medicinal and herbal plants, children garden and agricultural experimental station).

8- Fundraising for the green building for the museum and institute (costing about $1.5 million of which we have received kind donation of $400,000)

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9- Have Joyful Participation in the Sorrows of this world and give more of yourself

Stay Human and come visit us in Palestine