As this manual is written, huge walls of 30-40 feet high and 10 feet wide were being built around many Palestinian towns and villages. When these are completed, 3.5 million Palestinians will be confined to some 30-40% of the West Bank and Gaza (itself 22% of historic Palestine). The current Israeli government vision of this "Palestine" is rather clear. It will be a demilitarized, its fertile lands taken away for Israeli settler use, and its impoverished people even now have the highest population density of any country in the Middle East. This ofcourse provides no long term security or stability for anyone. It need not be this way. It provides no longterm treatment/cure for the ills of this crucial region of the world. Better and more durable solutions are provided based on human rights and International law. Some of these are articulated in hundreds of other books and articles. My own book on "Sharing the Land of Canaan" (Pluto Press, forthcoming April 2004) envisions one such solution based on adoption of teh Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Such visions go beyond the soothing treatment of symptoms to address the root causes and etiology of the man-made ills we live with. Just as in South Africa, solutions always involve development towards democracy, evolution of state to treat all their citizens equally, abolishing all racist and discriminatory laws, and respect for the inalienable rights of native people. But, the obvious question raised is how do people go from the confines of the current state to have peace with justice?
First, we must realize that things are not as bleak as some would like us to believe. Already the signs of change are everywhere. Over 1500 Israelis refused to serve in the army of occupation and hundreds of thousands demonstrated. Internationals formed human shields to protect Palestinians under the umbrella of teh International Solidarity Movement. Boycotts of Israeli and American companies investing in Israel scored significant successes in the Arab world despite attempts by certain governments to suppress it. This boycott is spreading in Europe and North America. Further, a growing divestment movement in the US has now spread to over 30 University Campuses, and so on.
Amnesty International released a lengthy document on 26 March 2001 titled "Developing a Human Rights Agenda for Peace." In part, it stated:
Recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world (Preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) Exhibit 1. Amnesty International calls unreservedly for the full enjoyment of the human rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for all people. A major flaw of the process that began with the Oslo Agreement of 1993 was that peace was not founded on ensuring respect and protection for human rights. The past months have shown more clearly than ever that if human rights are sacrificed in the search for peace and security there will be no peace and no security.
Amnesty then articulated its 10 point agenda for peace which include equality and the right of return to refugees based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These two documents provide a blueprint for the only durable peace possible in Palestine/Israel. We as individuals, just like we did with the grassroots movement against the war in Vietnam and with Apartheid South Africa can and must make a difference. For those living in the US, our burden to act is higher. Our tax money is used to support Israel to the tune of 15 million per day, several billions per year and it is our government that stands with Israel in the UN by vetoing resolutions against the wishes of 140 other countries throughout the world. This Amnesty program together with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on which it is based, should constitute the road map to peace. Moving along the road requires direct action by people of conscience everywhere. This is the subject of this book. With a majority in the world having strong convictions in favor of human rights and justice, it is only a matter of translating convictions into actions.
This is a book on tools and techniques of activism learned by collective experiences of generations of activists. My discussion and examples focus on international activism for peace with justice in Israel/Palestine. However, the experiences can be useful to other activists for human rights in any other corner of the world. I compile and summarize experiences based on my own involvement in human rights activism over the past two decades. In going through life and especially as a human rights advocate, we absorb the language and methods of action of those who precede us and those who work with us. Some would use the analogy of building blocks accumulating and developing into what some called the human knowledge building. I personally prefer the analogy of an ecosystem where various species of flora and fauna interact spatially and temporally. Everything is connected to everything else. Taking one individual or even a population out of context would be as artificial as trying to evaluate the African rain forest based on a caged antelope. With that in mind, I will attempt to give a description of the evolving ecosystem of activism with special emphasis on the newly evolved tools such as the Internet and the global connectivity that has become unprecedented in human history.
About The Author/Compiler
Mazin B. Qumsiyeh is Associate Professor of Genetics and director of cytogenetic services at Yale University School of Medicine. Born in Beit Sahour (the Biblical Shepherd's field) and educated in Palestine, Jordan, and the US, Dr. Qumsiyeh also traveled and studied cultures in over 15 other countries. He is founder and president of the Holy Land Conservation Foundation and ex-President of the Middle East Genetics Association. He won the Jallow activism award from the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee in 1998. He is co-founder of Triangle Middle East Dialogue and the Carolina Middle East Association and served on the board of ADC-NC chapter. He is a cofounder and currently treasurer of Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition (PRRC, http://al-awda.org). His activities most recently include work on the right of return campaign and coalition building in CT and beyond. The main interest is media activism and he is currently chair of the media committee of PRRC. He published over 100 letters to the editor and 25 op-ed pieces and was interviewed in TV and radio extensively (including Boston Globe, New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, Jerusalem Post, C-Span, etc). He published two books (Bats of Egypt and Mammals of the Holy Land), over 100 scientific papers, and countless non-scientific articles. He also authored chapters and papers ranging from population genetics, political geography, religion, and history. He was an invited speaker on these topics at venues ranging from the Center for Policy Analysis on Palestine (CPAP, Washington DC) to academic institutions (Yale, UCONN, UMASS etc.). In CT, he volunteers with local group of activists including The Middle East Crisis Committee, Connecticut chapter of PRRC, and Connecticut Peace Coalition. See http://qumsiyeh.org for further information.