The first martyr of 2011 and where we go from here 

By Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD


Palestinians carry the body of Jawaher Abu Rahmah during her funeral in the West Bank village of Bilin, near Ramallah January 1, 2011 

We were devastated to hear the news of the first martyr in 2011 being none other than Jawaher, the sister of the martyr Bassem Abu Rahma from Bil’in. Jawaher fainted in yesterday’s demonstration but died apparently of this toxic tear gas (a much stronger version with unknown chemicals than used in the West). Here is a video of the demonstration where Jawaher was injured (she was martyred in hospital the next day):

Here is a video of the murder of her brother Bassem over a year ago:

Here is a scene from Jawaher’s funeral yesterday:

To keep up to date on developments in Bil’in, visit this page.

You can also send condolence email to Dr. Rateb Abu Rahma:

Many writers came up with many ideas about 2010 and even occasionally predictions about 2011. Perhaps the most common theme among rational commentators is that this was the year were truth began to come out in such a large dose that it was hard to sustain mythology and the most common hope for 2011 is to see peace and justice prevail (no more ethnic cleansing, no more killing etc). When we mention truth we are not talking here merely about wikileaks (what is released here still remains the tip of the iceberg). We are talking about a number of studies, reports, slips, and scandals that came out that shook those in power.

Gideon Levy said in Haaretz that we may reflect on it as a year of truth for Israel, a year where the fog of mythologies cleared away and the world saw reality for what it is, that Israel is a society that does not desire peace but that is a racist society interested in more land grabs from native Palestinians. He concludes that “There is nothing like sunshine for disinfecting, so this was a relatively good year.” Others brought out the Goldstone report about Israeli massacres in Gaza. Others mentioned the smuggling of a long tape
(out of thousands of cameras, computers, photos, and documents) and the testimony of survivors that showed the true nature of the criminal Israeli attack on humanitarian ships in International waters (not the manufactured tapes of the Israeli military). Palestinians talked about the scandals in the Palestinian authority and now the beginning of eth fall of corruption like with the Husseini and Dahlan affairs (both of them trying to protect themselves by threatening to expose other corruption).

In 2010, a number of events on the personal level were meaningful:


  • The death of both my brothers-in-laws leaving both of my sisters widows at a young age (both younger than me).

  • The death of other friends and inspiring personalities from Howard Zinn

  • We finally got my book completed and published; this took much work during the year. “Popular Resistance in Palestine: A History of Hope and Empowerment” is already selling well and will be out in the US this week.

  • We started offering services in our new clinical laboratory.


  • I provided consulting for laboratory in the US in clinical cytogenetics.

  • Taught courses at Birzeit and Bethlehem Universities.


  • We did field trips and research on aspects of biodiversity and chromosomes of animals in Palestine.


  • Supervized research by masters students some of it yielded significant and meaningful results that are of use in Palestine.


  • Our son visited us from the US during olive harvest and we had a great harvest, twice the output of last year.

Events at the personal level as can be seen above are not disconnected/separate from the bigger picture of happenings around us:


  • The Israelis constructed a watch tower at Ush Ghrab and we protested but those in power structures in the town wanted no protests


  • There were over 100 meaningful actions of Boycotts, Divestments, and Sanctions around the world.


  • Palestinian school students invent a seeing walking stick for the blind.


  • Hundreds of internationals attempt to get into Gaza with a freedom flotilla of ships. Israeli criminal gangs (pirates) attack them in International waters and murder 9 and kidnap all others. They finally released them after mistreatment and after stealing all their cameras, videos, and photos (trying to suppress the story). One video smuggled out showed Israeli commandoes executing human rights activists.


  • The Haifa conference and the Houston conference and the Stuttgart and other conferences around the world emphasized a one state scenario with the right of return.


  • Israel attacks the Goldstone report and refuses an international independent investigation of its breeches of International law.


  • The charade of a peace process was reignited for a while but then quickly extinguished by continued Israeli colonial settlement activities.

-Israel’s government and public continue to support open racism in both laws proposed and passed in the Knesset and those rulings in certain municipalities and in edicts issued by prominent Rabbis. From laws to demand loyalty from non-Jews to a “Jewish state” to demanding no dating or marriage between Jews and non-Jews, to denial of right to rent in cities like Safad (used to be Arab city and now Judaicized).

I send an email once a week summarizing events here in Palestine especially on popular resistance and our own thoughts and experiences and these are archived here.

So we look with pride and sadness at the year that passed and look forward to a better year to come. Like life in general, 2010 had lots of tragedies and setbacks but also lots of successes and meaningful moments. I especially appreciate that we met hundreds of new people during the year; some have become very good friends. He last week for example, we traveled around with nearly a hundred internationals to places like Al-Walaja and Bil’in that so much suffering. We were energized by the actions even though some of us were injured, some of us arrested. So we look for 2011 as hopefully a year of peace and justice. This can only happen if enough people get around ACTIONS (not mere talks), actions like popular resistance, actions like media work, and actions like boycotts, divestments, and sanctions.

Here are 50 actions you can do for Palestine in 2011.

Update added by Dr. Qumsiyeh….

The teargas grenades that killed Jawaher Abu Rahmah were most likely made in the USA. So 11 people were arrested by Israeli police as they protested in front of the residence of the US Ambassador to Israel. Demonstrations and vigils were held in many cities and towns around the world.  We had a small but meaningful gathering here in Bethlehem last night.  The second Palestinian killed by Israeli soldiers was a 21 year old Mohammad Djarma shot at a checkpoint with soldiers claiming he did not obey orders. There is a lot that we can all do to end this mindless colonial structure and finally bring peace and justice to this troubled Holy Land.



  1. January 2, 2011 at 23:58

    […] Read the rest here: PALESTINE’S FIRST MARTYR OF THE DECADE […]

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