Life well lived – Mazin Qumsiyeh

In our lives we meet dedicated committed people who live their lives to the
fullest helping others and changing lives in positive ways. We should
remember them. They provide the hope that the world will not be conquered
by those pushing the negatives (war, ignorance etc). The ripple effect such
great minds create is immeasurable.  It is hard work and dedication that
makes their liver=s most meaningful and exceptional (they are the effective
0.1% of people). I wanted to highlight seven such people of varied
backgrounds who shaped my own life and who I miss very much. I look forward
to receiving your thoughts and maybe notes on inspirational people you knew.

Prof. John C. Greene was a professor of the history of science who taught
me just one course in my first year as a master students at the University
of Connecticut. He pushed me hard and I had to work many nights to do the
readings he expected of us. I learned the value of intensive reading and a
love of books, a love of history of ideas.
and here is just one article that shows the depth of his thinking

Prof. Sid Wilroy, MD was my mentor at the University of Tennessee when I
did my medical genetics fellowship 1987-1989.  I learned much about not
separating science from people as I observed his compassionate interaction
with patients and his scientific curiosity to follow every lead to make the
right diagnosis and offer compassionate care. We published more than 10
research papers together

Prof. Robert James Baker was my PhD advisor at Texas Tech University and we
published over 20 research papers together on chromosome evolution in
mammals. He was a brilliant researcher who taught me that if you work hard
nothing will stand in your way of achieving your dreams.

Prof. Norton Mezvinsky was the doyen of Middle East Studies in the History
Department at Central Connecticut State University where he invited me as a
speaker several times. He established a reputation for the program through
his indefatigable personal commitment to helping students, faculty, staff
and the larger community understand the many dimensions of the conflicts in
the our region. He wrote much about how Zionism distorts reality to serve
goals that are distant from his understanding of Judaism.  He wrote many
books and articles of which “Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel” is important
reading (with Israel Shahak)

Prof. Edward Said; An exceptional scholar who published many books and
articles that reshaped the views of millions of people. I met him first in
1980 or 1981 at the convention of the Arab American Anti-Discrimination
Committee in Washington DC and stayed in touch with him (and addicted to
his writings) ever since.  His brilliant analysis of world events and
especially those that dealt with Palestine are sorely missed.

Hedy Epstein: A holocaust survivor, was a most principled, dedicated and
hardworking individuals. I hesitated to ask her to join our wheels of
justice bus tour in 2002 because of her age (then in her 80s) but she did
not hesitate in accepting and she was just marvelous. She spoke out with
authority and knowledge about the ethnic cleansing and the massacres
committed in Palestine by Zionists. She also joined the boats trying to
break the siege on Gaza. She was strip searched and poked by Israeli
security forces at Lod (renamed “Ben Gurion”) Airport. Please browse her
website here to know more about this remarkable woman:
An obituary on Mondoweiss

Issa Atallah: my grandfather who was orphaned (lost parents and siblings)
in WWI at the age of 7 or 8 but built himself up from abject poverty to
become a successful teacher, education specialist, author, and poet. He
also managed with his dedicated life partner Emilia Matar (from Nazareth)
to raise 8 successful children. One of those children is my mother (now 90
years old) and another is my uncle Sana who changed my life forever when he
took me to see the beauty of nature in Palestine as a child and thus
inspired the institution I then built with other volunteers (

As I reflect on lives well lived, I am always challenged to do more
especially in the area of student mentorship.

“The purpose of life is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate,
to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well” – Ralph
Waldo Emerson
“Nature gave man two ends, one to sit on and one to think with. Ever since
then man’s success or failure has been dependent on the one he used most”
George R. Kirkpatrick
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change
the world.  Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Anthropologist
Margaret Mead
“You will find, as you look back upon your life, that the moments that
stand out are the moments when you have done things for others.” Henry

Stay Human and keep Palestine alive

Mazin Qumsiyeh
A bedouin in cyberspace, a villager at home
Professor, Founder, and (volunteer) Director
Palestine Museum of Natural History
Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability
Bethlehem University
Occupied Palestine
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