Obama & the legitimacy of theft

Mazin Qumsiyeh, 23-3-2013

MazinI am a Palestinian from the Bethlehem area who also happens to hold a US passport. The latter does not allow me to enter Jerusalem and the US government will not protect this or other rights I have (including family reunification).
Meanwhile, any Jewish American can come and get automatic citizenship and live on stolen Palestinian land in our city.
It is hard to describe the level of frustration that I had watching the theater of media frenzy about Obama’s visit. Obama gave a new lifeline to war and conflict by avoiding human rights and international law.

First recognize the legitimacy of the theft

It is the missing ingredient that for the past 65 years precluded peaceful resolution. It is the twisted logic that says the insecurity of the thief must be the only thing to be dealt with, by ensuring the victims first recognize the legitimacy of the theft and the legitimacy of the need for the thief to first have full security and immunity from accountability for the theft, before the victim is put in the room with the armed thief so that they can work out something… vague…., without reference to International law.
That formula has been shown to be a disaster and has kept Apartheid and colonization going. Israel has no incentive to allow a Palestinian sovereign state [..] as long as it continues to get a guaranteed veto of the US at the UN protecting it from International law.
[Obama] failed to follow his own logic and press Israel to change and instead repeated the same failed logic that “bilateral” negotiations between a strong occupier/colonizer and a weak leadership of colonized/occupied people is the way to go.

Below are some of the things that happened during Obama’s short visit.
You be the judge of their value or relevance to bringing peace.

* Palestinian and American security coordinate to clean streets of any thing that might allude to Palestinain rights (refugee signs, maps of historic Palestine etc).
* Selected choreographed visits by Obama to Hertzl’s and Rabin’s tombs (the former who called for ethnic cleansing, the latter who executed it) but not to Yasser Arafat’s tomb.
* Obama calls on Palestinian officials to resume bilateral negotiations that led to nowhere in the past 20 years, to accept Israel as a “Jewish state”, and not to seek implementation of International law via International bodies.
* Obama, like his predecessors, identified Hizballah, Syria, and Iran as a dark axis of evil while Israel as a perfect model of democracy and beauty.
* Obama fails to mention that [Israel] is actually built on top of Palestine and by destroying 530 villages and towns and by looting property and patrimony of millions of Palestinians.
* Obama defines what we Palestinians want (supposedly a vague “viable state”) even though for most of us, we want return to our homes and lands and freedom from racism and apartheid.


What Obama and his large entourage
fail to mention during this supposed “historic visit”:

Human rights, international law, Palestinian rights and security, justice, land confiscation, apartheid laws, illegality of settlements, US opposition to Palestine joining the UN, applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention.


Palestine Christians challenge notions of chosennes
Mazin Qumsiyeh, 10-3-2013

I was born in Beit Sahour. This is the Shepherd’s field, where the shepherds were called to go up to Bethlehem to see the new born prince of peace.
In Luke we read: “And the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord…”




God is not a real estate agent

I speak today to tell you that we Palestinian Christians challenge notions of chosennes whether in South Africa or Palestine. God is not a real estate agent parceling out lands or privileges; we are told that God so loved the world (the whole world) that he sent his only son. …..
Jesus acted by challenging systems of oppression. Two thousand years ago he turned the tables of the profiteers at the temple, he challenged oppressors, and he became a Palestinian martyr. He lived in a country known then as Palestine and he spoke Aramaic, which my Canaanitic ancestors spoke (Arabic is a derivative of Aramaic). …

We Palestinian Christians following in the footsteps of Jesus say this is a moment of truth.
The truth is that the Birth place of Jesus, Bethlehem has 180,000 native Christians and Muslims squeezed into only 13% of the land of the district of Bethlehem. 87% of the land of Bethlehem is now off-limits to our development and open for expansion of 23 colonial settlements built on our land….
The truth is that Zionists have worked hard to methodically transform our country from a multiethnic, multireligious, multicultural society to a Jewish state.


Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh teaches and does research at Bethlehem and Birzeit Universities in occupied Palestine. He serves as chairman of the board of the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People and coordinator of the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements in Beit Sahour. He is author of “Sharing the Land of Canaan: Human rights and the Israeli/Palestinian Struggle” and “Popular Resistance in Palestine: A history of Hope and Empowerment”.


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