May 18-UNESCO International Museum Day


Mazin Qumsiyeh – TRANSCEND Media Service


UNESCO designated May 18 as International Museum day because museums play a significant role in advancing learning, developing culture, preserving our heritage and beauty of nature and civilization and much more.

For those of us volunteering or working at the museums, that is what we are doing every day. Just for examples from the past few days.

Wednesday [13 May 2015] we finished the first draft of the research paper on butterflies (54 species). We will finish other papers as we are expecting also scientific researchers to join us this summer or early fall (one from Jordan, one from Germany).

Thursday, we honored those who served at Bethlehem University for years and we released some new animals into the garden and worked in the garden.

On Friday, we brought in new furniture, did some work in the botanical garden, and put up a nice plaque commemorating the Nakba.

On Saturday, we had >30 participants in a workshop at the museum to advance our physical and psychological well-being by using excercises, garden work, medicinal and herbal plants and much more.

On Sunday we hosted 44 visitors from Nazareth on a tour of Battir (UNESCO world heritage site), Al-Walaja, and then interactions and very nice lunch at the museum (traditional Zarb and waraq dawali with kusa and salads).

This is all thanks to efforts of volunteers and donors. We would welcome your visits and participation. We are especially interested in University students (and all students of knowledge) who have time this summer as we go to a second level. All skill levels and types (or no skills) are welcome since motivation is what counts.  To help us, see and also join our facebook page at: Palestine Museum of Natural History.

Outside the museum, a lot of positive new developments are also happening. Our friend Samia Khoury commented on the canonization as saints of two Palestinian women by the Catholic Church: “Ever since I heard the news of the  canonization of two Palestinian women saints I could not help but wonder about this  new image of Palestinian women who have never failed to meet the challenges of their times.

With a country drowned with martyrs due to the grave injustice inflicted upon us as Palestinians,  and in the absence of any resolve to redress that injustice, and the failure of all mediation, maybe our only remaining hope, is the intercession  of those saints, whether we believe in saints or not.

After all this is the Holy Land where so many miracles have taken place,  starting with the birth of Jesus Christ to his resurrection, and throughout his ministry.  How meaningful that this event should be taking place under the Papacy of Pope Francis who continues to amaze us with his remarkable changes at the Vatican.

Further, the Vatican will now recognize the State of Palestine. Things are changing and Zionists need to realize that they can change nicely to move towards justice and equality or they will be forced to do so. There is no other choice. The USA which is the largest enabler of this rogue “Jewish state” needs to change its foreign policy very quickly, and it has a great opportunity in the extended hand of Iran to really fight extremism here in Western Asia (whether it is under the banner of Islam, Christianity, or Judaism).

Reshaping our area can only be in those two directions: Human Rights or endless conflicts. I suggest the best place to start is with Palestinian refugees being allowed to return to their homes and lands. This will change dynamics here so that people start to believe that fairness and justice are possible.


Prof. Mazin Qumsiyeh is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment, author of Sharing the Land of Canaan and Popular Resistance in Palestine. He is a professor at Bethlehem University and director of the Palestine Museum of Natural History in Bethlehem.


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 18 May 2015.

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