Cyberspace Bedouin’s Hope for End of Repression

By Iqbal Jassat – Pretoria

Mazin Qumsiyeh calls himself a ‘Bedouin in Cyberspace’ while a villager at home in Occupied Palestine. And it is from having his feet firmly planted on earth that this human rights activist regularly alerts the world via cyberspace about the relentless assault on him and his neighbourhood.

In his most recent posting, Qumsiyeh reminds his audience about how the Israeli assault extends to their land, truth, decency, nature, dignity and daringly suggests on God too.

“Israeli authorities are working overtime to transform the Holy City of Jerusalem from a multi-ethnic and multi-religious city to a distorted vision of what Zionists think Judaism is about [supremacy, ethnic purity, tribalism etc]” is his complaint.

It’s a reminder of the ugly reality of apartheid as more home and business demolitions are carried out in Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley. Taking land from Christians and Muslims, destroying over two million trees and countless homes and businesses are not just war crimes but crimes against humanity.  

South Africa can relate to these heinous practices for our history is characterized by a valiant freedom struggle spanning many generations that finally culminated in a constitutional democracy and marking the official end of apartheid.

It was a long hard battle and supported by a highly effective grassroots campaign in Europe and elsewhere known as the anti-apartheid movement sparking comprehensive boycotts.

Qumsiyeh, notwithstanding his moving accounts of Zionist brutality, remains hopeful. A recent signal of encouragement stems from Tunisia and the momentum generated from that revolution which unseated a close ally of America and Israel.

“I think the empire’s hold on the Arab world has begun to unravel and we see in Tunisia the first spark of a revolution that will reshape the Arab world for the better and spell the end of repression.

“In 1948, the insertion of Israel in the Middle of the Arab world was designed to dominate the area, keep the people disjointed, disunited and ruled by [Western-appointed] dictators.

“In 1953, the US and Britain engineered the coup that removed the democratically elected government of Mousaddeq and placed the brutal Shah in power in Iran.”

Amidst the doom and gloom of that period a momentous change occurred in 1979 when the Islamic Revolution of Iran, led by Imam Khomeini toppled the west and Israel’s most strategic ally, the Shah.

“Since then Israel and its benefactor has attempted in vain to crush any Arab resistance by might. From their invasion and occupation of Lebanon to invasion and occupation of Iraq, these evil forces attempted to keep the lid on Arab democracy and keep their hegemony. Arab dictators were useful tools in implementing these destructive policies. But many of us have long argued that these shenanigans will and must come to an end”, is the optimistic view of the Cyberspace Bedouin.

Is the global campaign in support of Palestinian rights merely a reflection of anti-semitism directed against Jews and Israel or is it informed by a realization that to obtain justice for the oppressed and displaced people of that land is to battle neo-liberal and neo-colonial systems in the region?

Shortly after the fall of the Shah, Imam Khomeini had warned that many more “Shahs” remain entrenched in their “peacock thrones” and that until this ring of pro-Israeli regimes was severed Israel will intensify its rape and plunder of Palestine.

Tunisia heralds the dawn of a new era and gives a breathtaking account of how legitimate demands for democracy, transparency, free press, plurality and justice can succeed against seemingly huge odds.

As Qumsiyeh says, all that is required is the “will to free our minds” and begin to discuss and organize for the day after Zionism.

– Iqbal Jassat is chairperson of the Media Review Network (MRN), an advocacy group based in Pretoria, South Africa. He contributed this article to Visit:

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