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Feb-21-2010 16:32printcomments

Israeli Troops Attack a Sunday Mass and Moral Responsibility

‏You can't be neutral on a moving train. You are either on the side of justice or you are contributing to the injustice. Silence is complicity.
Unarmed peaceful Palestinian protester points to a grenade the Israeli soldiers are getting ready to use against their group, for having a demonstration. Israel violently attacks anyone here who attempts to assert freedom of speech.

(USH GHRAIB, Palestine) - Some 100 people gathered at Ush Ghrab in Beit Sahour to pray for peace and protest the planned military presence there.

As we were gathering in peaceful contemplation and prayer, Israeli army jeeps quickly rolled in between us and one officer barked orders in Hebrew.

We explained to them in Arabic and English that we do not understand Hebrew (later we realized they also knew Arabic and English) but they immediately started throwing concussion grenades and tear gas at the elderly, women, children, the priest doing the prayer, other town people and internationals (Christians and Muslims).

A translator who reviewed our video footage later in the day said that their orders meant we have one minute to disperse!

The priest's words, delivered as the army was attacking, was to plead to God to teach us to live in dignity based on morality and speak out for what is right (then we gave the Lord's prayer together).

But considering the unusual circumstances, we persisted and succeeded in holding our ground.

One image captured on video that sticks out in my mind is Issa, which is Arabic for Jesus, holding his child in his arms while kicking the teargas canister.

His other child had started crying with the noise of a concussion grenade. The tape done by professional photographer Ghassan shows the rest of it:

Israeli troops fired tear gas and concussion grenades on Sunday midday at a Mass held by residents of
Beit Sahour city, southern West Bank.

My thought to the 40,000 people receiving this: If after watching this, you are not outraged, then you have no humanity. If you are outraged and is able to do something about it, but don't, then you have abrogated your moral responsibility.

Doing something about it means joining us next week if you are in the Bethlehem district or, if you are not, pressuring your government and the 101 other ways you know about that can make a difference.

The popular committee will continue and asks all of you to join us at 11:00 a.m. at Ush Ghrab next week where will have better organization and ensuring that young children and elderly who join us will be away from any potential area of conflict (we just did not expect the speed and viciousness of the Israeli attack this time).

Despite the arrayed forces against us (including both Israeli and unfortunately some supine Palestinians), we believe in the power of popular resistance to move conscience and achieve results. The examples from our town of Beit Sahour during the first uprising of the late 1980s and places like Bilin in the past few years should be ample proof.

The fact that Bilin retrieved over 1500 dunums of its land thanks to its popular resistance in ALL its forms. They are still going on strong five years later and they grew from a handful to thousands.

The attack on peaceful demonstrations fit a pattern of pathology (psychosis) indicative of the bankruptcy of the apartheid state. Israeli forces shot at a private vehicle in Husan near Bethlehem yesterday injuring three civilians including one critically. Their insults to foreign countries, demeaning the Turkish ambassador, use of foreign passports in sending hit squads are all telling: mafia like actions. Acting irrationally and lashing out helps show the rest of the world the true nature of this sick regime.

I am so proud of the people who came and joined together with us and for those of you who did not join us, you missed something rather amazing. The best of humanity is on the march with love. Those of us who were here are energized and wish you would come and join us in "joyful participation in the sorrows of this world".

You can't be neutral on a moving train. You are either on the side of justice or you are contributing to the injustice.

Silence is complicity.


Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD - Popular Committee to Defend Ush Ghrab (PCDUG) "A Bedouin in Cyberspace, a villager at home. Mazin has been an Associate Professor of Genetics; Director, Cytogenetics Laboratory at Yale University School of Medicine since 1999. He previously held a similar position at Duke University. Professor Qumsiyeh has authored over 110 scientific papers in areas of mammalogy, biology, and medicine including mammalian biology and evolution, clinical genetics, and cancer research. He has published over 100 letters to the editor and 30 op-ed pieces in International, national, regional and local papers on issues ranging from politics to environmental issues. His appearances in national media included the Washington Post, New York Times, Boston Globe, CNBC, C-Span, and ABC, among others. He is the founder and president of the Holy Land Conservation Foundation and ex-President of the Middle East Genetics Association, and Prof. Qumsiyeh won the Jallow activism award from the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee in 1998. Those are just a small list, visit Mazin Qumsiyeh's amazing and informative Website to learn more:


Comments Leave a comment on this story.

All comments and messages are approved by people and self promotional links or unacceptable comments are denied.

Dwane Brown April 26, 2010 4:35 am (Pacific time)

Guess you won't show fellow citizens tearing up a Catholic church or tearing up the Tomb of Joseph, huh?

Tom February 22, 2010 6:37 am (Pacific time)

Yeah I know you  you're all very innocent and the IDF only wants to kill everybody.  you go to these places interfering with army work, dangering yourself and the soldiers for cheap propaganda. go home and get a job instead of helping terrorists.

Editor:  The IDF has plenty of young people who aren't interested in enforcing the violent occupation of Palestine.  They need to rise up together and stop the madness.  Surely you don't understand their quest for freedom.

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.