Finding Goodness


Prof. Mazin Qumsiyeh | Popular Resistance – TRANSCEND Media Service

10 Jun 2017 – It has been a very challenging week. Not in terms of life or our (volunteer) work. I and my wife continue to work seven days a week and accomplish a lot as full time volunteers at the Palestine Museum of Natural History and Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability. Even subkitting more research manuscripts than I expected (one or two a week in this period) and more grant applications (2-3 per month). Our garden is blooming and we harvest regularly things like strawberries, tomatoes, basil, mint and more. Visitors to the museum are regular and whether young or old, they go away motivated and energized to do something. So things are going well.

No, what made it a challenging week are two things expectation and analysis. In analyzing the world situation (thinking globally while still acting locally) we observe how difficult a landscape humanity faces. Rich Arab leaders that are puppets of the western world continued wasting billions that rightfully belong to the people. Hundreds of billions of Arabian Hijaz money wasted by the rulers as a bribe to Trump and to attack other fellow Muslims (in Iran, Qatar, Palestine, Yemen). But lest you think I take sides against the Saud family, let me be clear. Edward Said once put it, we do not have to choose between fanatic dictators and fundamentalist religious fanatics. So I am neither with the Saudi or with the Qatari royal families or their agendas. There are now three axes in the Middle East:

  • Axis 1- Saudi Arabia, Emirates, Egypt, Israel, USA
  • Axis 2- Qatar, Turkey
  • Axis 3- Syria, Iran, Russia, and possibly China (for now keeping a distance)

Axis 1 now decided to go after axis 2. Axis 2 is considering moving for protection to axis 3. The US is solidly behind axis 1 but keeping leverage via axis 2 (US bases both in Turkey and Qatar). The US is trying hard to undermine axis 3. Israeli leaders brag about how their strategy of aggressive war, strong military and strong lobbies ensured this geopolitical structure working to their advantage. Lieberman and Netanyahu openly flaunt the friendly relations with “Sunni states” against Iran and Hamas and Hizballah. To echo this, axis 1 “leaders” (unelected dictators) list any resistance group fighting Israeli colonialism as terror group. In Palestine, the Fatah leadership follows axis 1, Hamas axis 2, and the PFLP axis 3. The Palestinian street is looking for alternatives and seeing little on the horizon. I do not want to overanalyze this situation. The question that always stays is “what is our individual roles”? The struggle is to stay optimistic, look for the positives and build on them towards a future of peace, justice, and sustainability.

We do not have to line-up with governments, we do have to

  1. speak truth to power,
  2. build something positive despite incredible odds,
  3. try to find and encourage the goodness in ALL humans.

Briefly, we must indeed challenge corruption and greed that leads to war and conflict. My own trepidation is I see both large scale greed and corruptions (Trump, the kings of Saudi Arabia and the Emirates and General Sisi of Egypt) but I also see small scale beginning of greed and corruption in people here in Palestine even under occupation. How do we make sure that people we know do not continue down that path (addictive destructive)?

Building something positive on the ground like a small permaculture farm can therapeutic and can cause a small ripple effect. But how can we enlarge his to have many such positive ripples that stir the sludge that is lurking underneath, give oxygen, allow life to grow and purify the water? Perhaps this is where the third element comes in: try to find and encourage the goodness in ALL humans. This is the most challenging task. It is easy to see points of light everywhere. Millions of people actually, the last evidence of this is how millions voted their hopes not their fears in England despite a concerted campaign by the elites to vilify leader of the Labor party as an “antisemite”. Hundreds of activists share their positive action every week with me (I have a large email list of tens of thousands of activists). What is more difficult is to see how we can light more candles and ensure that once an activist candle is lit, that t is protected, enhanced, and enlarged. That is a more challenging task.

I would love to hear from readers new ideas of how we can do this better and more efficiently. It is existential (as I wrote in another message): we either quickly learn to do this and live together in peace and harmony or “we perish together as fools.”


Mazin Qumsiyeh, associate professor of genetics and director of cytogenetic services at Yale University School of Medicine, is founder and president of the Holy Land Conservation Foundation and ex-president of the Middle East Genetics Association. He won the Raymond Jallow Activism Award from the national Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee in 1998. He is co-founder and national treasurer of Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, and has written extensively about the Middle East. 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, a professor at Bethlehem University and director of the Palestine Museum of Natural History in Bethlehem.

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4 Responses to “Finding Goodness”

  1. Phil says:

    Prof, There are a lot of people in the West who are aware of the horrific situation in the middle east.
    Your efforts are not in vain. There are some hearing you and can only imagine what you have faced in this challenge. Your positive attitude is amazing. Our thoughts are with you and yours. All I can do is share.

  2. rosemerry says:

    Thank you for this reminder. Chris hedges always supports this point-search for goodness in others, also for the evil in yourself (which Americans are loath to do).

    Oliver Stone’s interviews with Pres. Putin show how Putin is willing to talk to others, find common ground, avoid judgment of others considered adversaries”. He looks ahead and tries to solve problems, not exacerbate them.

    PS I much appreciate Mazin’s inspiring book “Popular Resistance in Palestine” and refer to it often.

  3. Jane says:

    “Oliver Stone’s interviews with Pres. Putin show how Putin is willing to talk to others, find common ground, avoid judgment of others considered adversaries”. He looks ahead and tries to solve problems, not exacerbate them.”

    Such as his very brave and peace-seeking invasion and annexation of Crimea and the oh so kind terror he unleash on political opponents inside Russia???

    Why is it that Transcend is more and more turning into Russia Today 2.0?

  4. to jane says:

    Because Putin runs the world. Including your paranoia.