Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Mazin Qumsiyeh Professor and Director Palestine Museum of Natural History Finds Encouraging Words on Speaking Tour In Germany

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 https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=CX34C2B1nt8

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

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
dpg-netz.de ) 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

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

Israel intercepts & escorts Gaza flotilla flagship, RT columnist aboard

News | 30.06.2015 | 01:10
Contact has been lost with the Swedish boat Marianne, which had been leading the Gaza-bound Freedom Flotilla, after other boats turned back. The IDF announced that they intercepted and searched the vessel which had tried to "breach the maritime blockade."
RT's Nadezhda Kevorkova who is on board the Marianne, the flotilla’s flagship, said by phone that a military helicopter had been flying above the flotilla as well as an unknown military plane “flying very low above the water” near the activists’ vessels. 
The Freedom Flotilla Coalition lost contact with the flagship of the flotilla at 10:57pm GMT, the organization said. The vessel was some 100 nautical miles from its destination when it happened.
The Israeli navy has engaged the vessel, boarded and searched it, the Israeli Defense Forces' spokesman Peter Lerner confirmed. He said the Marianne is now being escorted to Ashdod Port after ignoring "repeated appeals to change course."
Earlier, the Coalition confirmed that three vessels which are part of the flotilla turned back to their ports of origin, as was part of the original plan.
“The three sailing boats accompanying and supporting the “Marianne” (“Rachel”, “Vittorio” and “Juliano II”) are changing their course and will be heading back to their ports of origin,” it announced.
The Israeli government ordered the navy to “redirect” the vessel only after “exhausting all diplomatic channels,” according to the IDF. After the Marianne crew refused to change the course, the naval forces“visited and searched the vessel” and “reported that use of force was unnecessary, and that the process was uneventful.”
“The vessel is currently being escorted to Ashdod Port and is expected to arrive within 12-24 hours,” the statement adds.
Israel is maintaining its naval blockade of Gaza according to international law, as confirmed by the US Secretary General, said Israeli Foreign Affairs deputy spokesman, Oren Rozenblat, answering RT’s question about why Israel is deploying the military against civilian ships.
Activists aboard the intercepted ship are “fine and on their way to Israel,” said Rozenblat, stressing that maybe he will greet them personally tonight. The activists will be expelled from Israel as soon as possible, he added.
“There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza whatsoever,” claimed the official, commenting on the Israeli prime minister’s office sarcastically proposing the flotilla head for Syria instead.
However, the European activists against Gaza siege don’t agree with the Israeli official. Rami Abdo, one of the campaigners, says ‘the situation on the ground is dire.’
Rozenblat also asserted there is no siege in Gaza. “We’ve hundreds of truckloads of goods coming to Gaza every day,” he said, adding that Israel could “send even more” goods, but that depends on the Gazans’ spending power. “There is no limitation from our side.”
However, the organizers of the flotilla have reasons to believe that the engagement was not as uneventful and non-violent as the navy claims, and that some people on board “might be hurt.”
“We could not contact the boat or anyone on the boat in the last couple of hours before capture,” a representative of the Freedom Flotilla III media team told RT by phone. “We have no reason yet to believe that the capture was [as] uneventful as the IDF claimed, because the last time they said [that] in 2012, people were tasered and beaten with clubs.”
The coalition expected Tel-Aviv to make every effort to stop the third Freedom Flotilla, but still hoped that “at some point a more reasonable voice will prevail in the Israeli government.”
Meanwhile, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has praised the navy personnel “for their determined and efficient” actions that allowed for the maintenance of the the blockade.
“This flotilla is nothing but a demonstration of hypocrisy and lies that is only assisting the Hamas terrorist organization and ignores all of the horrors in our region,” Netanyahu said. “We are not prepared to accept the entry of war materiel [in] to the terrorist organizations in Gaza as has been done by sea in the past.”
“Israel is the only democracy that defends itself in accordance with international law,” Netanyahu was cited as saying in an issued statement.
“Preventing entry by sea was done in accordance with international law and even received backing from a committee of the UN Secretary General,” the Israeli PM claimed.
The four vessels which departed from various ports in Greece on Saturday attempted to break the eight-year long Palestinian blockade, a news release on the campaign’s official webpage said. This time, some 70 people were on board, including former Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki and Spanish MEP Ana Maria Miranda Paza.
Israeli officials said on Sunday they would not allow the boats to reach the shores of Gaza.
"The Foreign Ministry and all other relevant bodies, mostly the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) and the Prime Minister’s Office, are fully prepared for the arrival of the flotilla. We are ready for every possible scenario,"the ministry's spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon said on Sunday, as quoted by The Times of Israel.
"It won’t reach Gaza," he announced. "The State of Israel won’t let that happen," the official said, adding that the organizers of the flotilla have themselves declared their aim to be the breakage of Israel's naval blockade of Gaza, which Jerusalem says "is legal according to international law."
In 2011, a report by a UN investigative committee implied that Israel has the right to stop Gaza-bound vessels, The Times of Israel reported. On Wednesday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he believed "a flotilla will not help to address the dire situation in Gaza," but urged Israel to "lift all closures, with due consideration of Israel's legitimate security concerns."
While Israel says the blockade is intended to prevent Hamas from getting weapons and other materials that could potentially be used to attack it, the flotilla allegedly only had humanitarian aid set to be delivered to the people of Gaza.
There are other "acceptable and accessible"ways for Palestinians-addressed help in Gaza, Nahshon said, adding that "if they [the flotilla] want to make a statement to break the blockade, we won't allow that."
A number of politicians and activists in Israel do not support such uncompromising position, arguing that the flotilla is peaceful and poses no danger to the country's security. Sending in troops could further seal Israel's image as an "aggressor," The Times of Israel said, citing a former Knesset member and prominent far-left activist Uri Avnery.
In 2010, a similar attempt to break the blockade with the "Freedom Flotilla" ended in bloodshed. Israeli troops then boarded a Gaza-bound vessel in international waters. Nine pro-Palestinian activists made a stand against the military with rods and knives, with the clashes having resulted in the deaths of the flotilla team members.
Tags: HAMAS Gaza Strip Israel
Source: http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2015/06/30/israel-intercepts-and-escorts-gaza-flotilla-flagship-rt-columnist-aboard.html

Greece Open to Becoming BRICS Member – Defense Ministry

News | 30.06.2015 | 12:54
Sputnik – In May, Russia invited Greece to become an NDB member, with discussions on Athens' membership in the bank expected to take place at the July 9-10 BRICS summit in the Russian city of Ufa.
“Greece has also been invited to become a BRICS member within the Development Bank of the BRICS. We are still open to that,” Isychos, who is also the co-chair of the Russian-Greek Intergovernmental Committee, said.
According to him, Greece has always been in favor of good European-Russian relations and of European-Eurasian relations. Athens is currently in talks over joining the BRICS bank with the group’s members.
“So we do have a multilateral foreign policy, both in the strict sense of foreign policy, but also in a broader sense of economic external policy,” Isychos added.
Five major developing economies — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — signed an agreement to establish the NDB at a July 2014 summit in Fortaleza, Brazil. BRICS member states agreed to establish a $100-billion liquidity reserve to ensure the bank's financial stability.
The NDB is expected to become an alternative to Western-dominated financial institutions and will focus primarily on funding infrastructure projects.