"Just as I create an environment where these plants grow, I am working to create an environment conducive to human growth, prosperity and success." This is what Dr. Mazen Qamseya, a scholar, writer, and human rights defender, proudly says, sitting in the garden of the first and only Palestinian museum of natural history whose vision is in a sustainable society in which there is harmony between people and nature.

In a report published on the Middle East Internet site, the writer Megan Giovanetti said that Qumsiya, currently a professor at Bethlehem University and Birzeit and had previously studied at the Universities of Tennessee and Duke Yale in the United States where he lived for 24 years, believes that the study of natural diversity in Palestine Are closely related to the environmental effects of the Israeli occupation.

The museum's vision is to establish a sustainable society of harmony between humans and nature (Middle East)

Harmony between humans and nature
Five years ago, Dr. Qamseya and his wife founded the Palestine Museum of Natural History from their own savings. The couple also established a research center, the Palestinian Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability. At present, the Institute and the Museum have become major producers of scientific research on biodiversity in Palestine.

The vision of the museum is based on the establishment of a sustainable society of harmony between humans and nature, achieved through research, education and conservation of nature. The museum is more than just a research institute or gallery filled with interesting stones and stuffed animals. "The environment in the museum is not found anywhere else in Palestine," says biologist Mohammed Abu Sarhan, 23.

"This will change the way you think and deal with your environment, not only with the natural environment, but also with the community and political environment," said Abu Sarhan. Qumsi, author of "Popular Resistance in Palestine: A History of Hope and Empowerment" and many books on wildlife in the occupied territories, often leave a good impression on his visitors.

The museum presents a new knowledge of the struggle for environmental justice (Middle East)

The struggle for environmental justice
Local schoolchildren attend the museum to educate about the global climate change problem and to acquire knowledge that will enable them to make changes in their community. International travelers also know more about the political situation in Palestine, leaving the country with new knowledge about the struggle for environmental justice.

"People come here and leave in their full enthusiasm and vitality, and in fact this is what we are looking for, allowing for positive, infectious energy," explains Qumsiyeh.

The Museum of Natural History in Palestine is a vision of sustainable community development (Middle East)

Educating individuals and preserving the environment
The main objective of the Museum and the Institute is to conduct research, educate individuals and preserve the natural environment. But the consequences of the Israeli military occupation can not be ignored. "The museum is located in the middle of the occupation in Bethlehem, so it can not be just a project about protecting the environment because the environment is being attacked by the Israelis," Majed Daghlas said.

"The inclusion of invasive species, specifically in pine trees" is an example presented by Abu Sarhan to explain the impact of the colonial project on the environment, where Europeans came and "planted pine trees on the affected Palestinian lands, which had disastrous effects."

"Another major example is Har Homa, it was a forest 20 years ago, and as you can see now it has become a densely populated area," Abu Sarhan said, pointing out the window to the largest settlement in the West Bank.

Dr. Mazen Qamasieh: "The museum's motto is to respect yourself, respect others and respect the environment" (Middle East)

Reconnecting the ground
The settlement infrastructure has largely changed the natural landscape of Palestine, with industrial settlements emptying their toxic waste, and both indigenous Palestinians and the environment suffer from colonial activities.

"The colonists want to take over the land and want to create a new reality free of the indigenous people," Qumsiyeh said. The systematic seizure of land and the permit system, coupled with the "isolation" of Palestinians in small urban enclaves known as Area A, are just a few of the mechanisms used by Israel to physically separate the Palestinians from the land. But these policies not only separate the Palestinians from their land, but also their culture and history.

"We need to show the world that we lived a normal life before the occupation, we are not just a group of individuals under occupation," he said, .

Mohammed Abu Sarhan: "The Environment in the Museum of Natural History Does Not Exist in Any Other Place in Palestine" (Foreign Press)

Being means resistance
"Our mission here is to achieve intellectual freedom, that is, freedom from intellectual colonialism, and the museum's slogan is respectful: respect for yourself, respect for others and respect for the environment, I will be unable to show respect for nature or other people if I do not respect myself, .

The atmosphere created by Qusais inside the museum serves as a means of self-empowerment for Palestinians and citizens from all over the world. "Regardless of the harsh conditions, you can do a lot when your mind is free," he insists.

The museum is working on a community park project, cutting 25 small plots outside the museum's garden for about 25 families in refugee camps in Bethlehem. The community park aims to guide the Palestinian generation back to its roots and push it towards collective action while maintaining harmony between people and nature and promoting a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.

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