CORRUPTION vs DIGNITY 13Feb12 February 13, 2012

by Mazin Qumsiyeh  -  Popular Resistance  -  12 February 2012

A friend asked how activists keep going when so many people engage in corruption, stealing, lying, cheating, and harming others.  Here in Palestine, there are plenty of people who do these things and they are both Israelis and Palestinians.  Occasionally we also have the visiting Western politicians but that only adds marginally to these negative acidic waves that are destroying lives and livelihoods in their wake.  We could write books about all these negative things.  We could tell stories of humanitarian aid that ends in pockets of corrupt individuals (in both governmental and non-governmental settings).  I was sad once to even find out that money we raised for medical relief was used for promoting an individual political ambition. I was sad to find that one of the highest ranking Palestinian officials worked hard to destroy the will of resistance and then claimed that the absence of resistance is a validation of endless negotiations (begging and pleading for crumbs).  There are few books written about these things.  One for example is “Globalized Palestine: The National Sell-Out of a Homeland” By Khalil Nakhleh which is now out in English.* I read the Arabic version of this when it came out and I think it is a must read for everyone who want to understand how the Oslo accords and what followed sold out Palestine for money, corporations and made some Palestinians very wealthy with villas, fancy cars etc. The book also touches on how this system corrupted many Palestinians.  This subject needs deeper exploration and many more books but a few brief comments here are warranted. 
Let me start by saying that I use Palestine and Palestinians as examples for this not because we have more corruption than say Israelis or Egyptians but for two reasons:
1) I am more knowledgeable about this particular subject and writing about what we know best makes it more personal and gives us better insights as to weaknesses and strengths of humans.
2) We are under an existential threat: a colonial power that is interested in eliminating our presence from the land.  Most of our land is taken already (we are reduced to use of 8.3% of our homeland and these are disjointed cantons).  Most of our people are refugees or displaced people (7 million of 11 million).  Most of our economy (agriculture, natural resources, and tourism) was usurped by the colonizers.  The pressures on us are thus tremendous.  Strengths are critical and weaknesses are amplified and used by our colonizers to their advantage.  Without addressing weaknesses (not necessarily removing all of them but reducing them), it is hard to envision the final push to end the injustice and bring a durable peace.
Every hour here I am reminded of what the prophets of old days realized with contemplation and deep thought: that each human being is a battle field. From individuals who cheat, those who take foreign aid money to serve their own selfish interest, those who lie, those who misuse authority, countless employed and not doing much for an income that they cling to etc.
There is war is within each human mind: between evil and good, between love and hate, between tribalism and humanity, between corruption and dignity. Those who slid down the wrong path can be salvaged but it takes much harder work on their part than those who stayed true to their better-selves. The Buddha realized this is not an unnatural conflict but that it is part of who we are.  Only by deep meditation and reflection, he realized that it is possible to maintain a balance in favor of the goodness.  Only by this very deep reflection (in many religions this is called prayer), are we able to let go of the carnal desires and go higher in levels of understanding, empathy, and compassion for fellow human beings. Addiction to greed and selfishness (in the case of some also tribalism) must be challenged with firm kindness and without malice or hate. 
This is not to say we do not need revolution; we actually desperately need it.  But we must start with a revolution in our minds to get rid of all the nonsense that was put there by parents, teachers, clergy, and society.  This revolution should be about dignity and restoring self-respect.  Without liberating our minds from all those self-imposed chains in the form of internalized colonization, we will never be able to gain liberty.  It will be harder here in the Middle East than it was in Europe in the Middle Ages.  This is because religious doctrines (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) are more entrenched and because there are much Western interference (Started with Sykes-Picot and Balfour/Cambon).  Natural evolution to unlock creativity and human potential here is hard but not impossible. We are confident that eventually we will succeed because the trend in humanity is intermarriage, cultural mixing, separation of religion from state, and global connectedness. Our individual job is to accelerate this trend by openly promoting dignity and self-respect as the best antidotes to greed and corruption.   
Jewish Roots of Islam’s Extremism by Dr. Ashraf Ezzat
(Here I must say that the myths of the Bible about exodus and promised lands etc are repeated in Christian and Muslim Books and many take them as literal/historical not as metaphorical mythologies as they really are.)
Israel panel okays bill calling for tax exemption to ‘Zionist’ donations
(tax exempt for land theft, colonization, repression, ethnic cleansing)
Report: Under Attack: Golani Brigade’s war on the Palestinian population of Al-Khalil (Hebron)
US Admits: Terror groups attacking Iran are linked to Israel
The Italian Movement For Boycott, Divestment And Sanctions (BDS) Against Israel Gains Strength http://www.countercurrents.org/westbrook020212.htm

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