The murder of veteran Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh by Israeli forces last week has sparked a wave of protests and demands for accountability. Only a few days before her killing, Palestinian and international journalists and human rights organisations had filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court (ICC) against the systematic targeting of Palestinian journalists by Israel. Even her funeral procession was attacked by Israeli forces in occupied East Jerusalem, where Palestinians who loved and respected Shireen had come to the streets in grief and rage.
Shireen’s life and work represents the courage and dignity of Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation, apartheid and settler colonialism. And in seeking justice for this crime, Palestinians are calling to account decades of Israeli impunity and violence.
Mazin Qumsiyeh is a renowned Palestinian scientist and author, as well as founder and director of the Palestine Museum of Natural History and the Palestine Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability at Bethlehem University where he teaches. Mazin has been a spirited voice of resistance and for decades he has been part of campaigns and organising for Palestinian rights.
Here, Mazin Qumsiyeh reflects on the shared pain over Shireen’s killing, as well as solidarity actions people of conscience around the world can take:
It is so hard for me to write today- too many tears. The US supported Israeli occupation forces’ crimes continue daily but some days are harder than others. Shireen Abu Aqleh, wearing blue helmet and vest with PRESS written over it was assassinated by Israeli occupation forces today. All journalists on the scene explained how Israeli snipers simply targeted journalists. The first three bullets on the scene were a miss then a hit on one male Journalist (in the back) then when Shireen shouted that he was hit, she was killed with a bullet beneath the ear. Shireen was also a US citizen (she is a Bethlehemite Christian who lived in Jerusalem). But that is no protection. Rachel Corrie was run over by an Israeli military bulldozer and killed intentionally in Rafah two decades ago and the killers were rewarded. Both killings happened as the world was distracted by other conflicts (Iraq and now Ukraine). The US government cares nothing about its own citizens because politicians are under the thumb of AIPAC. Thousands of others were killed and the murderers still roam free and are funded by US tax payers. War crimes and crimes against humanity continue daily here. The US government is a partner in crime (just note how the US Ambassador simply hoped for an investigation- why not send the FBI to investigate the murder of countless US citizens). The events and the reaction in Western corporate (“mainstream”) media and Western Governments makes us so mad. If you are not outraged to act, you are not human. In the same day today the apartheid forces murdered 15-year-old Thaer Alyazouri as he was returning from school.
As we pointed out before, Palestine remains the fulcrum and the litmus test and it exposes hypocrisy and collusion. It is actually the achilles heel for Western propaganda. Like with South Africa under apartheid, Western leaders’ empty rhetoric of human rights and democracy is exposed by their direct support for apartheid and murder. May this intentional murder of a journalist finally be the straw that breaks the back of hypocrisy, Zionism and imperialism. Millions of people mourn this brave journalist murdered by a fascist racist regime. Millions will rededicate themselves to challenge Western hypocrisy and US supported Israeli crimes against humanity.
My 90 year old mother born before the Nakba told me about the atrocities done since 1948 and before by the terrorist Zionist militias in their quest to colonize Palestine. From the first terrorist attack (and yes Zionists were first to use terrorism like bombing markets or hijacking airplanes) to the 33 massacres during the 1948-1950 ethnic cleansing of Palestine (Tantura, Deir Yassin etc.). We will not forget nor forgive. Justice is key to peace here and justice begins with ending the nightmare called Zionism and prosecuting its leaders and collaborators and funders in real fair trials. Only then will Jews, Christians, Muslims, and all others flourish in this land of Palestine. Palestine will then return to be a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, and multi-religious society instead of a racist apartheid state of Israel It is inevitable but we can accelerate it with our actions.
We honor Shireen, Rachel and over 110,000 martyrs by acting as they did: telling truth, challenging evil deeds, working for justice (which is a prerequisite for peace).