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Monday, June 29

Mazin Qumsiyeh From Zurich
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Humanitarian ships trying to peacefully break the illegal and immoral siege on Gaza were intercepted by the Israeli navy. But good people will keep trying to do good things against all odds. See this video for example about a Gaza initiative with colors

So far my trip to Europe is going great.  And from what I hear from the volunteers and workers at the museum back in Bethlehem, there are also great news.  The whirlwind tour of Europe began in Munich and goes through Leipzig, Berlin, Frankfurt, Heidelberg, Zurich, Dornbrin, Bratislava, Vienna. Nine cites in in 12 days meant lots of trains and other modes of transportation. Main two purposes are: signing my book on Sharing the Land of Canaan (out in German now) and seeking collaborations and partnerships for our nascent museum of Natural History. this gives one time to read and reflect. I certainly gathered many books and other literature along the way. I also reflected how two German people I never met actually influenced my life. One is Mr. Schneller who founded an orphanage school in Jerusalem that saved my grandfather (who lost all his immediate family members in World War I). The other is Rev. Schmitz who collected many animals in Palestine and also founded a girls’ school in Jerusalem. I was a teacher at that school in 1978-1979. That collection was taken over by Israeli institutions. 

As in previous visit, we got encouraged by the site of remnants of the Berlin wall. If that wall can fall, then certainly our apartheid wall will fall. We engaged in amazing conversations with varied people covering areas ranging from nature conservation, research on biodiversity, early childhood education, German-Israel relations, apartheid, Nazi-Zionist collaboration, and much more.

Everywhere I go people are so welcoming and so interested in helping Palestine and Helping PMNH-BU. Although so far I have been running around without enough sleep, I feel more energy than ever before. Examples of collaboration include sending some of our young people to learn things like taxidermy, museum exhibition design, and modeling nature and artifacts for exhibition. We also need to send some for acquiring higher degrees and to return trained in various disciplines (paleontology, arachnology, entomology, ethnology etc.).   I am always impressed by how much people do with very limited resources. Many live simpler lives so that they are not distracted and they can focus on good work. Others have resources and realize that giving is very enjoyable activity. The national group of German Palestinian Association (Deutsch-Palaestinensischen Gesellschaft ) is well organized in many German cities and has a beautiful and highly informative magazine.I could go on and on.

More and more, we realize our priority/challenge is how best to invest in the young people (especially those who volunteer). This even as we keep the energy of us older folks. In Europe I met many people of all ages engaged in BDS and other actions for peace. Kudos to the,. But we also have so many good young people with great potential. I am sure they/we together can make miracles. As the great Mahatma Gandhi once said “A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.” This got me to thinking more about the mission of the museum which includes reshaping ourselves (developing respect for ourselves first) which brings me to another point Gandhi made: “Our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world, as in being able to remake ourselves” and similarly “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”  But the key question remains in what direction should we push ourselves and how do we proceed to change ourselves.

Mazin Qumsiyeh
Professor and Director
Palestine Museum of Natural History (PMNH)
Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability (PIBS)
Bethlehem University
Sustainability, Youth Education and Empowerment
Tel 970-22773553

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