Year of Firsts: Here it is

It’s hard to believe that this year is almost over. It feels like it just started. I feel like my New Year’s resolution has been so… shortlived? I’m not sure if that’s the word I’m looking for, but I do know that time flies way too fast. So here is what I’ve been up to lately

September 21st


I haven’t had Mentos in ages. Apparently, these Mentos are limited edition. I don’t think I’ve ever had candy with uplifting messages printed on them.



I really wanted to like these. They were hard and so so so dry. I could hardly finish the first bite I took. Oh well.



I love Butterfinger but this crispy wafer version can’t compare to the original.



This is the first time I’ve tried Ulker tea biscuits. I’ve tried their other products and have been satisfied but these were weak. The second I dipped it into the tea, it broke off. My tea ended up being more biscuit than tea.



This was the only soft and not stale bread the local supermarket was selling. I’m satisfied.



I tried to write a treatment. I’m still not too sure how I feel about the experience.



Tried a new recipe in the breadmaker. It was pretty doughy in the middle. Still tasty though.



I’ve heard good things about this butter. I actually liked it which says a lot because I’m not typically a butter fan.



Got an omelette at Wawa. I’m not sure what I was expecting. It tasted alright, but I’d hardly call it an omelette.



I actually wanted a smoothie but the sugar content was insane. So I got the drink with the least sugar. I love watermelon.

October 1st


I really tried to like this but I just can’t accept sweet coffee into my life. I’m all about the bitter.



Speaking of sweet drinks… This is the first time I’ve had commercially prepared tarmhindi and I swear it tastes just like my grandmother would make it. It took me back to my childhood.



I finally found something that keeps my glasses clean. Thank God.



I gave Mister Roger a chance in black and white. I’m all about that soothing programming.



No matter how you make them, ginger snaps are amazing.



I’ve never seen this bread sold in stores. It really does taste like the kind they give you in the restaurant. Yay!


Well, that’s that for now. Until next time…

Peace and Pistachios,



Year of Firsts: Waiting Room

As I’ve mentioned before on this site, I, unfortunately, have been diagnosed with a tumour. I am thankful and lucky that my tumour is benign, however, it is aggressive.


This tiny bump showed up one day on the roof of my mouth. I thought maybe it was a cyst or something, ya know like when you bite your tongue and sometimes get a little blister on the end of your tongue. I didn’t think much of it until a couple of weeks later when this tiny bump was no longer tiny.


It had turned into this volcanic shamed mass that took up the entire hard palate. I went to the dentist and she literally tried to convince me that it was caused by a “hot cheese on pizza burn.” Uhhh, no. I’m pretty sure I know what I’m talking about and can confirm that I did not burn the roof of my mouth on hot pizza.


I finally convinced her to give me a referral and was sent to an endodontist. The endodontist didn’t know what it was. He then referred me to an oral surgeon.


I went to the oral surgeon back in September and October. He did two biopsies and said that the biopsy reports came back with “nothing” and that he sent my biopsy to the “best lab.” His assistant followed all that up with, “everything looks A-OK. You don’t have to come back.”


The wording of it all is suspect, but I trusted him. I wasn’t sure what else I was supposed to do.


Anyways, the lump that I was feeling in my mouth didn’t go away. So I went to my primary care physician. He took a look at it and thought it looks like a torus, but he referred me to another oral surgeon for good measure.


This second oral surgeon took a look at it. He told me to get a copy of my pathology reports from the first oral surgeon and gave me a referral for a CT scan.


I went to the first oral surgeon and asked for my pathology reports and was shocked. My pathology reports clearly state that my diagnosis is a Myofibroma– a tumour. This guy was looking at the pathology reports in front of me and telling me there was nothing when there was very clearly something. I’m furious.


Long part of this story short, the second oral surgeon freaked me out by telling me the size of my tumour and the procedure needed to take it out. I went into panic mode. I got dizzy. I cried. I was a mess.


After the initial shock of it all, I decided I need a second opinion. I spent days sending out emails and calling doctors all over the country trying to figure out what I needed to do.


I took a stab in the dark and called the local cancer treatment centre in my state. The office staff had doctors look at my pathology reports and other paperwork to see if there was even someone who could take my case on.


Yesterday was my appointment. Yesterday’s First was my first time in a cancer centre as a patient and it was overwhelming.


The initial reaction was that the waiting room was so tiny and it was packed with patients and their loved ones there in support. I had never been in a waiting room in which a sense of camaraderie was felt amongst the patients.  I mean, no one was going to break out in song and dance High School Musical Style, but there was a shared understanding that no one was here because they’re having a particularly good time. Since we’re all here, let’s at least respect each other and exchange smiles, magazines, pens etc.


It was a very long waiting time. I waited 2.5 hours to see my doctor, and it was getting intense watching patients go in and out while I waited and waited. I knew they hadn’t forgotten about me because they took me in to get my vitals and look over my paperwork. I assumed that the doctor has a lot of patients. Unfortunately, cancer and tumours are a sadly popular occurrence.


That being said, the waiting room was getting loud and it was making my head hurt big time. There was a man who came in well after me. At this point, I had been waiting two hours. This dude walks up the receptionist angry and annoyed and asks why he hasn’t been in to see the doctor yet and that he should have been taken in a half hour ago.


I’m sitting there thinking, “Dude I’ve been waiting longer, chill your bones.” But of course, I never said anything. The receptionist said that the doctor had to perform an emergency surgery and there was nothing any of us could do except wait. The guy mumbled something in an angry voice to which she responded, “If it were you, you’d want the doctor to rearrange his schedule to operate on you.”



This got the guy to quiet down. He sat in the corner and sulked. I don’t want to judge him though. Like I said, no one was in the office that didn’t absolutely need to be. He could have been in serious pain or could have a tumour in his brain that’s influencing his behaviour. He could have been having a really bad day or week. Who knows?


Despite the camaraderie, I did get this feeling that we were all walking on eggshells in a way. Maybe we all knew that we have health problems going on and we just weren’t trying to bring any more trouble into our own or anyone else’s life.


Yesterday may have been my first time in a cancer treatment centre, but I certainly do hope it’s my last.


Until tomorrow…

Peace and Pistachios,



Human Rights Newsletter

Gratitude blog available here where you can leave comments

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming

gardeners who make our souls blossom.” Marcel Proust

I am so grateful for all that is happening in resistance to the incredible

odds and repression practiced by the elites in power. While some may get

activism or compassion “fatigue” , there are literally millions of people

deciding to leave their apathy behind and put their hands with other people

to work.  Our tiny little small part of the world (Palestine now an

apartheid sate called a “Jewish state”) has become a major center of global

activism. This centrality can be due to many factors:

1.Religious centrality to three main religions, one of which was hijacked

for political purposes locally in the past (Christianity –> Crusaderism),

the other hijacked in the past 150 years and is still strongly hijacked

(Judaism –>Zionism) and the other more recently and in nearby areas

beginning to be hijacked (Islam –> Isis and Wahhabism).

2. Nowhere else on earth is Western government hypocrisy more evident than

in Palestine. While the western leaders speak of democracy and human

rights, they support an apartheid racist “Jewish state” that engaged and

engages in racism, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing

(so far 7 million of us Palestinians are refugees or displaced people).

Thus, this is the Achilles heel of Western propaganda.

3. The 12 million Palestinians in the world, most refugees and others

squeezed into bantustans have been remarkably peaceful and tolerant and had

a long history of popular resistance for the past 130 years that provided a

stellar example to the world (see my 2012 book “Popular Resistance in

Palestine: A history of hope and empowerment”).

4. Israeli citizens and the global community are increasingly joining hands

with us to demand justice as the only road to peace.

5. More and more people realize that peace in the “Middle East” (Western

Asia) and around the world is dependent on peace for Palestine. Zionism

with its (sometimes dominant, sometimes subservient) twin US imperialism

are and have been most destructive forces in causing global conflict.

But what really gives us optimism daily are the people we interact with.

Students at the universities who see the importance of knowledge (power)

and come to school with enthusiasm even in the face of suppression of their

movement. Farmers that work hard in their fields even as land and water are

being taken from them by the occupiers. Unarmed young demonstrators showing

bravery in challenging the heavily armed Israeli forces (who occasionally

murder them). Thousands of political prisoners and “administrative

detainees” who resist the prisoners (one on hunger strike is close to

death). Activists who sometimes sacrifice comforts to be with us.

Organizers of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activities around the

world who refuse to be silenced by illegal measures their governments try

to impose on them to suppress free speech. Volunteers at our activities

from refugee camp youth centers like Al-Rowwad to our Institute of

Biodiversity and Sustainability ( ).

Sometimes small actions make us retain our sanity and gives joy and meaning

to our lives. Just this past week:

– A small village of Izbet al-Tabib managed to gather 300 demonstrators

protesting the illegal confiscation of land and resources to serve settlers.

-We saved a cattle egret (bird with long legs and beak from the heron

group) which had been shot and with a macerated wing. We did an operation

that saved its life (unfortunately the wing had to be amputated).

-We released a fox that was drowning in a water treatment pool in the

Bethlehem garbage dump site.

– My tourism class did an exercise to help in a local tourism promotion


-We noted several species of butterflies in our botanic garden already and

the flowers of rare orchids and even the Star of Bethlehem

-We had our first class in biodiversity for the new master program in

environmental biology at Birzeit University.

-We received dozens of visitors to our facilities and added to our very

large network of friends (now tens of thousands)

-We submitted two small grant proposals (we hope to start to do major

fundraising soon for our museum, botanical garden, and institute of

biodiversity and sustainability)

-Our aquaponic system is doing great and we expect our first harvest next

week (lettuce)

– We said goodbye to some volunteers and we welcomed others who helped us

build this institution.

We expect to receive more volunteers next week including a professor from

Jordan and an aquaponics researcher from Switzerland and at least 10

students from Bethlehem University doing their community service. We are so

grateful for all the above and we welcome volunteers and supporters with

all backgrounds and skills. We are guided by love and respect (to

ourselves, to others, then to nature). We are strengthened amid all the

suffering (here in Gaza, in Syria, in Yemen etc) by human connections and

by caring for each other.

Israeli soldiers beat detained Palestinian teenaged boys

Palestinian Teacher Among World’s Top 10

Reconstruction Of Gaza: Zero Buildings, Massive Profit

Should Jews Have To Pay Reparations for Slavery? Richard Kreitner

“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have

roses.” Alphonse Karr

Stay human

Mazin Qumsiyeh

Professor and (Volunteer) Director

Palestine Museum of Natural History

Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability

Bethlehem University

Occupied Palestine

Baby elephants poisoned with cyanide


Rangers who poison elephants should be fired and jailed


[if mso]> <v:rect xmlns:v=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:vml” xmlns:w=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:word” href=”; style=”height:57px;v-text-anchor:middle;width:285px;” stroke=”f” fill=”t”> <v:fill type=”tile” color=”#e64706″ /> <w:anchorlock/> <center style=”color:#ffffff;font-family:Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;font-size:17px;font-weight:normal;”>Sign Anne’s Petition</center> </v:rect> <![endif] Sign Anne’s Petition


meet the petition author

Anne Terhune

El Cajon, CA, US



22 dead elephants, including babies, were discovered in Zimbabwe’s Hwang National Park on October 26th. They had been poisoned with cyanide and mutilated by poachers trying to get their tusks.

This most recent horror was the latest in a string of poisonings in Zimbabwe this past October. All but three of the 62 slaughtered elephants were living in the Hwange National Park, the same park where Cecil the Lion was killed. Perhaps even more disturbing, though, is that two park rangers have been arrested on suspicion of putting the cyanide in the park’s watering holes.

When Anne found out that such brutality might have been carried out by the very people hired to protect the elephants, she created a Care2 petition demanding that the Zimbabwe government fire and jail any rangers found guilty of the poisonings. Will you sign her petition?

These most recent killings are another sad reminder that elephants need our help. 100,000 elephants were killed in Africa between 2011 and 2013. There are fewer than 500,000 left on the entire African continent. They need to be protected by park employees, not brutally slaughtered by them.

It is believed that the Hwange park rangers may have killed the elephants because they are underpaid and received their September pay late. The poisonings could have been an attempt to augment their income by poaching or to protest their poor treatment. While the rangers’ situation may be difficult, it is still no excuse for condemning innocent animals to a painful death.

Putting cyanide into watering holes kills animals indiscriminately. It is horrible enough that mature elephants were slaughtered for their tusks, but these people also ended up killing baby elephants and other types of animals.

If the park rangers had anything to do with the poisonings, they must be punished. So sign Anne’s petition now. The more international outcry there is over the slaughtered elephants, the more likely it is that the perpetrators will be held accountable.

Thank you,


Lacey K.

The Care2 Petitions Team


[announce_onepalestine] Human Rights Groups Call for Justice for Amer Jubran

***Please forward–Action call below***

Two more global human rights organizations have added their voices to the international campaign for justice on behalf of Amer Jubran.

On November 3, 2015 Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch released a joint statement focusing on the issue of Jordanian authorities torturing Amer and his co-defendants to obtain a false conviction:

“Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are calling on the Jordanian government to ensure a prompt, impartial and independent investigation into allegations that [Amer Jubran] made the ‘confession’ that contributed to his conviction under torture and other ill-treatment.” ( )

The statement also reiterates long-standing concerns about the lack of independence of Jordan’s State Security Court and its use as an instrument of repression against dissidents.

The Alkarama Foundation issued a public statement in October condemning the gross violations of human rights in Amer’s arrest, detention and trial, and promising to raise the allegations of torture before the UN Committee Against Torture in its upcoming review of Jordan, set to begin on November 9. ( )

Amer’s case is still on appeal before Jordan’s Court of Cassation. Please take a moment to e-mail the Prime Minister urging him to ensure justice on Amer’s behalf, and calling attention to the growing list of international organizations who share our concerns about the human rights violations in his case.

Please e-mail Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour:

Please cc’ the following:

Minister of Justice, Bassam Talhouni: .

Minister of Interior, Salamah Hammad:

(You can also send us a copy:


Sample letter:

Dear Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour,

I am writing to you about the case of Amer Jubran, a Jordanian citizen sentenced to ten years in prison by the State Security Court on July 29, 2015. His case is now before Jordan’s Court of Cassation.

Global human rights organizations have expressed grave concerns about the violations of fundamental human rights in Mr. Jubran’s arrest, detention and trial.

As you may be aware, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch released a joint statement on November 3, calling upon your government to conduct an immediate investigation into allegations of torture in Mr. Jubran’s case, and condemning the lack of judicial independence and rights to fair trial in cases brought before the State Security Court.

On October 5, 2015, the Alkarama Foundation issued a public statement condemning Jubran’s “unfair trial during which confessions extracted under torture were admitted as evidence.”

Please act to ensure that Mr. Jubran’s appeal receives full and independent review. The unjust sentence must be reversed and the officers responsible for torturing Mr. Jubran and his co-defendants must be brought to justice.