Feedback on talks
I just want to say SABAH AL KHER and thank you for your impressive presentation and truly amazing skill in handling a difficult audience, particularly Mr. Obnoxious. You always blow me away with your ability to remain focused on fact-based responses to the most misinformed and unfair obnoxious people. I don't know how, as a Palestinian from the West Bank, you are able to do it, but it is a gift and only people like you --and there are not many from any side--will ever be able to bring about change and peaceful relations, although it may not be in your lifetime, I fear. Your command of the history coupled with your clear message of nonviolent resolution and your peaceful (though not at all wimpy) demeanor make you, in my opinion, a person who should be in a leadership role for the Palestinians. The sad part is that most of the people who are in leadership roles have don't have half of your intelligence, strong sense of what true justice is, calm manner, or deep and broad knowledge. this is, I think because things are so far gone--the Israelis have created a rage so deep and destructive in most of the Palestinians back home (and even here) --that they would probably not agree with you. I have heard a lot of hate and vengeful talk from Palestinians--look at how Hamas and Islamic Jihad have grown--and I do not blame them, but it is not the way. Your way is the only way--but there need to be Israelis who are also able to refrain form hate talk and actions--and day by day, this possibility seems to be slipping away as each side becomes more enraged at what the other did the day before. Jessie looked so sad last night at one point when I looked over at her. You were quietly very upset as we left there, and I have not seen you that way, although you must often feel it; you must have been capable of spitting nails at that point after that horrible man and his combative personality. I drove home in a such a state of frustration thinking, "If I feel like this, what must Mazin feel? And what do Palestinians back home feel today after the escalation of violence there day by day." For me, if I were there, I am sure that I would long ago have lost all sense of balance and and just join the Hamas. That is where they push us to. But I know we have to try to resist that push; it is much easier to give in to it. I woke up this morning to the NPR news of the suicide bombing today. Six Israelis dead and many wounded. Now 10 times that number of Palestinians will pay with their lives and limbs. May Allah help all of them--and us--and strengthen us to face another day.
Mazin, Allah yisalmak.
"One thing that I learned from Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh's presentation about Israel & Palestine is that our U.S. tax dollars (billions every year) are being sent to Israel so that, among other things, Israel can turn entire Palestinian towns into prisons. The "fence" that Israel is building is actually more like the Berlin Wall. In some places it encircles entire Palestinian towns, thereby turning them, effectively, into prisons. People are not allowed out without permission from the Israeli government, and things like food, water and medical supplies are not allowed in. The rational behind this action is to make the Palestinians' lives so horrible that they leave Palestine. This is one of the things that our U.S. government is fully supporting, and we are paying for." Report on the Wheels of Justice Bus Tour by Clifton McQueen http://www.tcap.mahost.org/
I am so very grateful for your presentations here in West Burlington. Thank you for taking the risk and the time to speak with us.
Thanks again for the excellent presentation you made at Hofstra's Day of Dialogue.
We got positive feedback on the conference in general, and on the workshops in particular. Thank you for adding your expertise to the workshops. I hope you got some recruits out of it for your specific advocacy work. Best regards,
(prof. Hagopian regarding conference held at MIT)
Dear Dr. Qumsiyeh,
Thank you for your participation in the War on Terrorism panel discussion at Tunxis. You effectively and passionately elucidated a distinctive interpretation of the conflict, foreign policy, and human relations in general. Like you, I was pleased at the variety of perspectives examined during the discussion. I was also impressed by the insightful and interesting questions and comments from the assembled guests, most of whom were Tunxis students.
I second your support for dialogue and discussion, on the terrorism issue and on all matters. People may have to agree to disagree at times, but I strongly believe that they can find common ground on most matters and work together for the benefit of all. If I teach my students nothing else, I teach them to pay attention to what is going on in the world around them, make up their own minds about issues, and to CARE. The worst sin, it seems to me, is to have no interest in or opinion about
Enjoyed meeting and talking with you at Koininia in early December, and want to thank you again for your excellent presentation there and especially for adding me to your email list. Please keep me on it!
Charles (Buddy) Hughes
Dear Dr. Qumsiyeh
On behalf of the Political Science Department at the University of Pennsylvania, I write to express my gratitude for your informative and stimulating presentation on Thursday January 20th. As evidenced by the impressive turnout, the talk generated significant interest and was a tremendous success. Many members of the audience have approached me to compliment the pertinence of eth topic and the eloquence of the speakers. In light of the recent developments in teh region, your comments were both relevant and thought-provoking.
The Political Science Department prides itself on providing a forum not merely for students and faculty , but also for the greater Philadelphia community. Therefore, we all wereparticularly pleased that you drew so many members of the surrounding community to hear your contribution to the pssnel. I would like especially to thank you for your graciousness in staying after the talk to answer qauestions.
On behalf of my Global Cultures class I would like to thank you for taking the
time to speak to us. I wish you were here to field some of the questions the
kids asked me today. They really did enjoy your presentation. We hope to have
you back next year. Perhaps you can watch our class debate the issue and then
speak following the debate. Have a great trip to Palestine.
I finally have a minute to let you know that your presentation was very very, extremely well-received by the students. I asked the
Jewish kids how they felt and they were moved by your continued friendship with Israelis and your reasonable manner. They were all
very angry about the wall and how the Palestinians have been treated.
They got it! We did discuss the violence as a poor solution to the problem and they know that it is on both sides.
I hope you are well and that you can do some good in Palestine/Israel.
Take care and email me about your efforts if possible. Thanks, again,
High school teacher (name withheld) 4/13/05
Hi Mazin and Bill and Ed,
Thank you again for speaking in Marshalltown. I have heard from everyone who attended that it was a very enriching evening and they all learned a great deal about the Israel/Palestinian conflict.
I think you all are doing a very courageous thing but knowledge is the one way to help people understand. I wish you the best. I am going to read Mazim's book to better understand the why about the Israel/Palestinian conflict.
Peace is the only way
I'm happy to hear that you're in Iowa again. Your visit here at Southeastern Community College was a highlight for our fledgling SCC
Students for Peace group. I wish you well!
Example News Report (you can google my name and words like "presentation" or "talk" for more)
Wheels of Justice Roll Through Iowa
By Michael Gillespie
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
July 2005, p. 90, 431 words
Human rights activists Ed Kinane and Mazin Qumsiyeh spoke to large and receptive audiences when the Wheels of Justice Tour bus rolled through Iowa in April.
Kinane, who worked with Voices in the Wilderness in Iraq before, during, and after the U.S. invasion in 2003, spoke to a large and receptive audience at the Ames Public Library on April 22.
“The building would shake during ‘Shock and Awe’ bombing,” said Kinane, who, along with dozens of other activists, sheltered in the Al-Fanar Hotel, directly across from the Palestine Hotel, during the invasion.
“This may have been the first time in history an invading army encountered its own nationals protesting the invasion,” said Kinane.
“I had so much anger that I couldn’t hand them the water. I just stood there,” said Kinane, describing his first encounter with U.S. troops in Baghdad, when he and other Voices in the Wilderness activists approached the invading troops outside the hotel to offer them bottled water. Kinane said that, at the time, he was wearing a black T-shirt with the statement WAR IS NOT THE ANSWER emblazoned in bold white letters across the chest.
Kinane told this reporter that one of the unit commanders later said to him, “Don’t blame these kids. I give the orders. I know we’ve killed civilians, and I can’t sleep because of it.”
A New-York-based activist, Kinane modestly described himself as “the warm-up act” for Palestinian-American university professor and activist Mazin Qumsiyeh.
Qumsiyeh, widely recognized as an authority on Palestine and the Israeli-Palestine conflict, told his audience that the Wheels of Justice Tour’s mission encompasses not only the crisis in illegally-occupied Palestine but similar human rights issues in Iraq and beyond.
“Half of the people in Iraq and half of the people in Palestine are children. And half of the Palestinian refugees are children,” said Qumsiyeh.
“Of the 8.5 million Palestinians in the world, two-thirds of them are refugees and half of these refugees and half of the Palestinian general population are children,” said Qumsiyeh, noting that at least 750 Palestinian children have been killed by Israeli forces in the past four years alone.
Qumsiyeh humanized the Palestinians and their plight by presenting the stories of two Palestinian children wounded by Israeli sniper fire who have been brought to the United States for medical care in Connecticut that is not available in occupied Palestine.
Using maps and photographs, Qumsiyeh offered his listeners a compelling picture and informative narrative of the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestine.
Qumsiyeh recently returned from Palestine where he visited with members of his Palestinian-Arab-Christian family in Beit Sahour (house of the shepherds) and with Palestinian and Israeli human rights leaders. His book, Sharing the Land of Canaan: Human Rights and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (Pluto Press, 2004), is a comprehensive examination of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a call for a shared state.
Vietnam veteran and peace activist Bill Hill drives the Wheels of Justice Tour bus and contributes significantly to the jaunty and defiantly good-natured rolling protest against war and occupation.
The Wheels of Justice Tour http://www.justicewheels.org/ event in Ames was co-sponsored by the Ames High School Progressive Club, Catalyst, and the Ames Public Library.
From Joan Overman, nov 1, 2006
Corning, New York was pleased to have The Wheels of Justice Bus Tour visit in mid-October 2006. The bus spent two days at Corning Community College, talking with classes in Sociology and other areas, as well as holding a public meeting one evening. 35-40 persons attended the evening meeting with good attention and good questions. The speakers on Iraq and Palestine were knowledgeable and interesting, with maps and other visuals to attract attention.
Peaceful Gatherings, the sponsors of the several day event in Corning, was pleased with the turnout and attention to the matters of concern.
I had the honor of meeting you several times. I have attended your lectures in MILW, WI 2 years ago as well as recently in Boston (Simmons college tour). I'm one of many witnesses to your tremendous tolerance and openess for debate even when being targeted by the racist and intolerant.
Dear Dr. Qumsiyeh,
I apologize for the delay in this, but I just wanted to thank you again for coming to Putney and presenting. It was so interesting and inspirational to many of my classmates; you gave all of us very valuable insight. On behalf of the school, thank you so much.
Samia Abbass, 2 Nov 2006
Dear, Dr Qumsiyeh,
I just wanted to email you with praise for your excellent presentations at the Wheel's of Justice stop in Somerville,MA and your equally excellent presentation before the Somerville, MA aldermen as I was in the audience for both and had heard your name in the past from the Al-Awda website. Hope that you can keep me updated with any of your activities that are not included on the foregoing website and I wish that I could get some other peace groups in the Boston area to host a presentation by you but sadly they are mostly afraid and/or unwilling to embrace the plight of the Palestinians for fear of the smearing and outright hostility that they would face by influential zionists. I shall keep working on them however and hope that you admire the courage of the Somerville Divestment Campaign as I totally agree with what you stated that "divestments and boycotts" are one of the most powreful tools to destroying the odious apartheid. Yours truly, Elaine Antonia Stoughton, MA
Dear Farah, November 20,, 2006
Thanks so much for inviting your friend Qumsiyeh to make a presentation to our seminar. I found his presentation quite remarkable. I am eager to get a copy of his book, can you please send me the name and address of his publisher.
All the Best,
William M. Evan
Sociology and Management
Wheels of Justice overlooked By Hannan Braun
I was disappointed to see no mention of Wheels of Justice in the last issue of the Argus. Sponsored by ADAPT (Association for Direct Action for Palestine/Israel Today), Wheels of Justice came to campus on their bio-diesel bus last Thursday to provide insight into the occupation of Iraq and Palestine through education, outreach, nonviolent actions and personal witness. ADAPT's last speaker, Alison Weir, rightfully drew harsh criticism, both in the Argus and around campus. Although she shared valuable experiences and sparked crucial dialogue, she was controversial because she used statistics as self-evident facts, vilified Israeli soldiers and civilians, and had substantial gaps in her historical knowledge (not to mention her overly aggressive attacks on students with opposing viewpoints).
Conversely, Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh and activist Joe Carr of Wheels of Justice presented a grounded theoretical analysis of occupation, ethnocentrism and resistance. Mazin Qumsiyeh, a Palestinian American and former Professor of Genetics at Yale University School of Medicine, spoke on Palestine, while Joe Carr, an anti-oppression activist and performance artist, spoke on Iraq. I do not claim that they presented a holistic, comprehensive, or objective presentation. I do not believe in objectivity, especially within the Israel/Palestine dialogue. However, I was grateful for their focus on human rights and sustainability in conflict resolution.
One of my main objections to Weir was her use of statistics as the means to understand the conflict. As in most conflicts, numbers can be manipulated to prove any point. But in order to further a constructive dialogue towards peace, one must humanize all sides and not use death statistics similar to football scores to determine who "wins" and who is the bigger victim. We cannot discount hurt or oppression. Wheels of Justice took a different approach, presenting the theoretical faults of political Zionism and its imperialist results. By political Zionism, I refer to the notion of Judaism as a nationality, where one ethnic/religious identity is given preferential treatment and greater rights and protection.
A state whose existence results in the domination, expulsion, and humiliation of another group solely based on an ethnic identity is, needless to say, unjust. For example, I, as an American Jew, have the "right" to settle and gain citizenship in Israel because it is my "ancestral homeland." And yet the Palestinians forced from their land in 1948 and 1967 have no such right and are not currently entitled to any reparations, much less an apology.
I do not mean to vilify all Israelis. Many Israelis are aware of these abuses and speak out strongly against these injustices. Many are aware of the complexities, and struggle with balancing personal security and moral values. This past summer, I worked at a Jewish summer camp with a large number of Israeli staff, and they told me about the multi-sided issues associated with security. One, a former solider stationed at a checkpoint, spoke of being completely cognizant of the checkpoint's brutal effects on Palestinians. Checkpoints inconvenience, humiliate, and imprison millions of Palestinians and lead to grave injustices such as preventing pregnant women from reaching proper treatment, too often leading to the death of their child. And yet, confronted with this knowledge, he had stopped an ambulance carrying a pregnant woman trying to get to an Israeli hospital, and after searching the ambulance, found it lined with explosives. After arresting the others in the ambulance, the soldier called an Israeli ambulance that took the woman to an Israeli hospital.
Such stories are necessary to fully understand the complexities of the conflict. However, they are no excuse for occupation. Largely based on ethnic and religious identity, the occupation leaves the Palestinian people powerless over their economic and political destinies. Palestinians are subject to inhumane attacks by the Israeli army, and basic rights such as access to running water and electricity are controlled by Israeli hands. Homes are demolished for "security purposes," often meaning that the permit to build is impossible for a Palestinian to obtain. The wall/barrier/security fence physically isolates Palestinian villages, while settlements rob the Palestinian people of access to water and strategic hilltops. The roads connecting these illegal settlements form a matrix in which Palestinians are left immobile.
While Wheels of Justice did not address all of these issues per se, Qumsiyeh and Carr spoke out of a commitment to human rights and a sustainable future. In this issue saturated with bitterness, emotion, and uncertainty, we need to recognize the complexities of this multifaceted conflict.
Braun is a member of the class of 2009.
Such a great joy to have met you, heard you, wrestled with what you had to say! We have had wonderful responses to what was not an unmitigated joy. But the cat's out of the bag here in Andover. And guess who's coming to town? http://davidproject.org/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1.
I loved this article in CounterPunch: http://www.counterpunch.org/rooij04112005.html. Do you know Paul de Rooij?
I hope we meet again soon. Please let me know if there is anyway I can help you prosper in your work.
With love and warmth,
Dear Editor of the Globe (as sent to email@example.com)
The ethnocentric German hostility towards a new mosque in Berlin is so very similar to the ethnocentric white American hostility towards the new mosque in Boston. And when those white protesters disrupted the "Wheels of Justice" presentation in Andover trying to drown out the eyewitness reports from the Holy Land, it reminded the older people in my family of when the City of Boston was discussing desegregation and the white racist parents used to become irrational and rudely disrupt the meeting. As we approach MLK day, it becomes increasingly clear to me that only a minority of Americans and of Germans are passionately ethnocentric. We can and will be living with our Muslim neighbors for the rest of our lives, so we may as well try to get along. Thank God for the American Constitution which protects freedom of religion in our nation.
Peace with Justice, Everyone!
Thanks, Kevin. Today's hardcopy edition of the GLOBE had the same article on page B1 and continued on B6. BUT--the online article SUBSTITUTED the large, page-one picture of Mazin Qumsieh in front of the projector screen image of six smiling young Palestinians (in the newsstand edition) with a color picture of two students drawing a Star of David--then REPEATED it on page six. (In the newstand article, the Star of David image was only on the continuation page and was in black & white.)
Page nine of the same Monday (1/8/07) GLOBE has a notice of the film, "Anti-Semitism in the 21st Centurey: The Resurgence," to be shown on PBS Channel 2 this evening at 10:00 p.m., together with a review of it by Joanna Weiss. (There must always be BALANCE, you know--a head for an eye and an arm for a tooth.)
Thank you for your good work, and for reporting.
Thanks so much for all of the hard work that you do!
Best regards for wonderful New Year!
The word triumph comes to mind when reading this report and the earlier one from Mazin. It shows how determined supporters have to be in the face of unrelenting Zionist efforts to suppress the truth of Israeli crimes in Palestine and to pretend that those condemning those crimes are motivated by "hate". That Zionists are indifferent to the truth comes as no surprise.
These reports include the many articles in the Andover local paper in which the Zionist control/influence is very clear. But this is only reflective of the widespread control of US media.
The encouraging factor is that the students themselves are willing to learn the truth and to reject the indoctrination.
Your awesome presenation the evening of Jan. 5th at Andover High School, Andover, MA, touched me. Considering the hostile atmosphere, it must have been a strain to remain objective and keep your train of thought. I applaud you for doing so.
in our country where there is discussion, dialogue and dissent throughout our congress and senate on virtually every topic and every issue, there is not a single strong voice daring to be heard when it comes to israel; not a single voice. given that scenario at the very apex of our government any trickle down is only inevitable and unavoidable.
as an american of jewish descent, i am as outraged by my countries conduct as i am by israels. the problem begins with us; with america. it begins when
we sanction the most deplorable behavior and inflict a strong international will that lacks both reason and empathy. ''to whom much is given, much is expected.'' we empower israel financially. we empower israel militarily. until we successfully instill the very moral and ethical compass that we ourselves are sadly lacking there will be no
progress. ours is in the trying and that we will continue to do.we made some headway in november that might well be indicitive of good things to come. there are
new people over the horizon; hopefully people of courage and great principles... let us see in this new day and let us find peace and harmony.... yours, -a
Thank you very much for your emails; this is a fine remembrance of Rachel Corrie and thank you for your work and for coming to Woodstock and giving a wonderfully strong well reasoned gentle talk. I know you changed several peoples outlook and helped confirm many others in their support of justice and full human rights for Palestinians. It was wonderful to meet you and I just want to say that and thank you again and hope to see you again and take care, be well. Elaine
Thank you for your wonderful presentation yesterday at Cape Cod Comm. College. Thank you for your courage in bringing this (unfortunately) taboo-in-the-US story to us. Your composure in the face of challenges from some in the audience was impressive.
I am so sorry about what has happened to those of your city and to the Palestinians generally. I have written and spoken to those who repesent us in Congress, without response. But...we shall overcome someday.
I was at Cape Cod Community College today to hear you speak and wanted to thank you for an excellent presentation. Thank you also for your dedication to issues of human rights and for being calm under difficult circumstances.
This is just a quick thank you for your wonderful presentation on Sunday. You have an extraordinarily effective and thoughtful approach for conveying your ideas on this most controversial topic. Although I am well aware of many of the conditions and issues, I learned a great deal from your presentation, your answers to questions and, of course, our personal time together. You have given me many new avenues to explore in my own personal study on this subject.
Your work with the crowd was amazing -- humane, effective, and all in all Very much appreciated! We are very grateful for your coming here and speaking-- I think this event has made a real impact on this community, more so than the numbers of people there represented, because we opened a conversation and made it safe to discuss Israel, particularly in the High school, where I'd be willing to bet there never before has been a speaker presenting the Palestinian/Human rights
point of view.
As the person responsible for this event and the person in the line of fire by the pro-zionists in the city gov and even in the High School administration, I was proud and pleased to present you and your talk-- I so much appreciate your humane and rational presentation. They may want to claim that you or that I am antisemitic, but you didn't give them any reason to do so.
And there was a lot of information presented-- I think we all, even those of us that were already working for Palestinian justice, learned new things from your slide show. Pictures are very effective, as well as maps.
Hope we can do more, perhaps with the Wheels of Justice. I will ask my group, Brookline PeaceWorks if we can officially be members of the Wheels of Justice network. I would imagine that it will be possible. I am already on a number of your lists, and pass your information on to the lists I'm on already.
My God, you are a hard worker! appreciated your newletter that arrived today-- I felt bad for you having to drive back at that time of night-- next time plan to stay if you would like to--
In my intro, I meant this most sincerely, it certainly applies to your efforts:
Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Amy, Cape Cod
Thank you so much for coming to Ardsley and speaking on the Palestinian situation. Your presentation was clear, interesting, and powerful. Based on the discussion I had with my students today, you definitely opened their eyes to a perspective they never hear about in the news.
Thanks again for making the trip down here. I hope you'll consider coming back again next year.
Thanks again for guest lecturing at my class last night
Next time though...let me take you out for lunch this Saturday after my second class ends.
By the way, you made an excellent presentation and I very much liked your comparative maps of similar kinds of indigenous erosions in the USA, South A
Thank you again for coming all the way out to Worcester for such a small audience. You received rave reviews and our group would like to host you again in the new year.
Claire, Worcester, MA
We decided that we will propose a listening session and a joint viewing of Anna Baltzer's video. Last time (2005) this occurred was when the Wheels of Justice tour was here with Mazin Qumsiyeh as the Palestine speaker. (They called him a clever liar; he is, in reality a profound and compassionate scholar and activist: http://qumsiyeh.org/). At that time, I offered to engage in a dialogue and was accused of anti-Semitism. I asked for specifics and one of the people (a former friend of sorts) refused to even answer my requests that he specify what he or they considered anti-Semitic (he had called the Wheels of Justice platform anti-Semitic). Then they told me they didn't want to talk with me at all. I don't think this particular group will dialogue this time. We shall see.
as you know, i toured with wheels of justice in april and may of 2007. during that time, i met mazin and spoke on stage, on radio and at private gatherings with him daily. i also traveled and lived on the bus or in community housing with him for that time. i have communicated with him by email since then, and would tour with him again, without reservation.
the charges that the wheels of justice tour is anti-semitic are ridiculously unfounded, as you well know. neither the tour, nor mazin are harboring a hate for jews.
in fact, i know mazin's heart to be tormented both for the palestinian people, and for the jewish people, who are all victims of zionist theory and practice. i know him to understand that when a people are oppressed, it is not only those who are oppressed who suffer. those who hold the keys and commit atrocities in the name of a theory that they clutch to their breasts, justifying it with the false names of "security" , "freedom", and "progress" are plagued by a disease of the soul that will destroy them more surely than those who suffer under their rule.
i will defend mazin and the wheels of justice as true seekers of peace, before ANY questioner, including the ultimate one- our Creator.
i do however, think the Creator will have few questions about mazin and the wheels of justice, while there might be more about those whose eyes are so closed as to believe that wheels of justice seek the destruction of the jewish people.
you may feel free to do what you think needs to be done with this letter.
Our new colleague Mazin did an amazing job today at George Mason University Law School. The student organizers who had been harassed were clearly quite stressed from the experience,. Still, they were pleased with the event. The turnout was strong, the presentation was powerful, and the questions were challenging, but respectful.
As you would expect from Mazin’s participation in our Board retreat, Mazin demonstrated vast knowledge of the subject. He offered a passionate presentation about a difficult reality, and did so in a calm and loving manner. He spoke to the horrors of oppression, the distortions of the media, and the importance of social movements. He emphasized the need for citizens of the US to become increasingly active and vocal about Palestinian human rights.
We are truly blessed to have Mazin working with us.
This evening a lady here at Raybrook told me about a friend of hers who went on a tour of Israel (not the West Bank) very recently. They had a Jewish tour guide, and she happened to mention that she had attended Calvin College. The guide became almost livid and said . "We HATE Calvin College!" And repeated it a number of times. He thought Calvin was unfair to Israel re: speakers it sponsored. She didn't give names, and I don't know if the guide did, but it seems obvious that they were angry about Calvin's permitting Mazin to speak
That long distance intense response seems remarkable, and is another indication of the value of Mazin's talk.