Our hearts and minds are with the people in the Eastern USA (including many friends) as they recover from the devastation of hurricane Sandy. I just returned to Palestine after a trip to the USA though not to the affected areas. I gave 15 talks in 8 days (links to videos of two of these talks below) and engaged in a number of informal and formal meetings that could help bring joint collaborative efforts between Palestinian and American academic institutions. Trips like this are stressful physically but with occupation and colonization continuing back home, are also emotionally stressful to be away. But I also met remarkable and dedicated people and will never forget the kindness of the people in Minnesota (hospitality, meetings on short notice, interest). I talked on a range of subjects from bat research (yes!) to water issues to history to human rights.
I came back to find messages and phone calls from colleagues and friends about settler attacks, about new building of colonial Jewish settlements on Palestinian land, about theft of Palestinian olives, about homes demolished, and about new arrests. However, I also find goodness in the harvest season, the anticipation of spring, and new births and new projects. Little pleasures like pictures of a young hedgehog in the yard of a friend tell us life goes on. It is good to be home and great to be among people who work day and night for justice and peace. It is also good to be back doing science, feeding animals, and preparing lectures in genetics and immunology.
On a related note, I was harassed upon entering the US in Minneapolis airport by US Security officials (almost missing my connecting flight to Fargo). I will pursue this legally to find out if it was done at the behest of Israel or was simply profiling of an Arab American citizen. Ten years ago, something similar happened to me and I pursued it and got an acknowledgment that it was forgery-related unjust inquiries (see my summary of that at http://qumsiyeh.org/caseclosed/).
Examples of lectures I gave in Minnesota (total hundreds of people)
-At Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Minneapolis http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4z8zC05Hr0Y
-Joseph Thompson Lectureship hosted by Concordia http://www.cord.edu/Video/academics/lectures/thompson12.php
Remarkable video and photographs from Gaza
Israel is an apartheid state (no poll required): A new Ha'aretz poll indicates a majority of Jewish Israelis favour apartheid - but that's nothing new. http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/10/20121027145235386715.html
Religious leaders ask Congress to condition Israel military aid on human rights compliance
Presbyterian Church(USA)’s Parsons, others see ‘troubling,consistent pattern of disregard’ by Israel government for U.S. policies
We Welcome You to Palestine
Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD