Review of 'Popular Resistance in Palestine: A History of Hope and Empowerment' by Mazin B. Qumsiyeh (PlutoPress). R.R.P. AUS$41-95.
Mazin Qumsiyeh is a Palestinian Christian academic, an evolutionary biologist and geneticist, who abandoned a comfortable career in the U.S. to return to the Occupied Palestinian Territories as a non-violent activist with his fellow-Palestinians. He is a professor at Bethlehem and Birzeit Universities.
By popular resistance, Qumsiyeh means non-violent resistance, which he believes is more likely to succeed than violent resistance to the occupying power, which for the Palestinians is Israel. Popular resistance depends largely on the willingness of people to suffer in the cause of justice. Willing acceptance of suffering confuses the opponents.
Qumsiyeh predicts that this century will witness an intense struggle between local democracy combined with a humanistic globalisation, versus globalised military-industrial hegemony combined with ethnocentric nationalist tendencies. Consistent with the subtitle of his book, he optimistically believes the former will win.
Qumsiyeh cannot envisage a peace between Israel and the Palestinians that would work without human rights, which explains the failure of the agreements signed between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation in Oslo, Geneva, and beyond, which disregarded basic human rights enshrined in the Fourth Geneva Conventions. His book recounts Palestinian popular resistance to political Zionism under Ottoman and then British rule, and now under occupation by Zionist Israel. The way forward is along the path of common sense and justice. As Qumsiyeh was tear-gassed and arrested along with Palestinian villagers, he could only admire the common folk who sacrificed so much for freedom and peace. He quotes Desmond Tutu: 'The knowledge that the work preceded us and will go on after us is a fountain of deep gladness that no circumstances can alter'.
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