Author argues rights abused

The solution to the long-festering Israeli and Palestinian conflict in the Middle East is not to

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The solution to the long-festering Israeli and Palestinian conflict in the Middle East is not to create two separate states, but to address human rights abuses against the Palestinians, according to a Palestinian-American author.

Mazin Qumsiyeh, author of the book “Sharing the Land of Canaan,” said the American politicians and media have turned a blind eye to the suffering of the Palestinian people. He cited examples of media coverage in the San Francisco Chronicle and The New York Times from 2000 to 2001, which, he said, under-reported the actual Palestinian death toll.

In another example, Qumsiyeh said The Hartford Courant had done a story about a young Palestinian girl who had surgery in a Connecticut hospital to receive a prosthetic eye after sufferring a bullet wound. The media account of this girl’s surgery said she had been “caught in the crossfire,” where Qumsiyeh claimed the actual truth was she was shot at point-blank range by an Israeli solider.

He also criticized the more recent news coverage about the 140 Palestinians killed in fighting in the Gaza Strip in the last month.

“There was hardly a blip on the news until eight Israelis were killed in Jerusalem,” he said.

Qumsiyeh spoke before about 20 people as part of a Palestinian Rights Committee event held at the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Albany building.

Qumsiyeh just returned from participating in a speaking tour called “The Wheels of Justice,” where he talked with people about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He has taught medicine at Duke and Yale universities and is a member of several organizations, including Peace Action, which calls itself the largest grassroots network in the nation, and the Association for One Democratic State in Israel/Palestine.

Qumsiyeh said the time has passed for a “two-state solution.” He added that the battles in Israel are not about religion, but, rather, control of an agriculturally vital area known as the “Fertile Crescent.”

After its initial creation, Qumsiyeh said Israel has expanded its territory. In 1967, it took over the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The Israeli government constructed roads to get from one settlement to another. However, only Israelis could use these roads and not Palestinians.

Palestinians are subject to stationary and roving checkpoints manned by Israeli soldiers, according to Qumsiyeh. The Israeli government has constructed a 35-foot-tall wall along these settlement boundaries to restrict Palestinians’ movement, which hurts their economy. These walls are called “the Wall of Segregation,” in Hebrew.

“How are they going to live there in an open-air prison?” he asked.

Meanwhile, Israelis continue to build settlements on what was originally Palestinian-controlled land., he said

Qumsiyeh likened the Palestinians’ plight to that of the American Indian, who gradually lost pieces of their land.

Despite all these injustices, Qumsiyeh said the American government continues to support Israel.

Palestinians have continued to participate in nonviolent resistance he said. “It’s our responsibility as Palestinians to stand up and speak out,” he said.

The event commemorated the fifth anniversary of the death of Rachel Corrie, who died while trying to stop the demolition of Palestinian settlements.

“We feel it’s very important right now for people to understand what it’s like to be a Palestinian and how hard it is,” said Palestinian Rights Committee member Grace White.

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