Questions and Curfews

TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 23 Mar 2020

Mazin Qumsiyeh | Popular Resistance – TRANSCEND Media Service

19 Mar 2020 – As of last night our town of Beit Sahour is under complete curfew. Even shopping for food is prohibited. The emergency committee stated that we can call shops for home delivery. However, I am not sure how that would work out since most people need money which they do not have and if they do have it in the bank would need to go to ATMs which are prohibited and banks are closed in the Bethlehem district so they cannot re-stock the ATM machines. This is a global catastrophe. I also would like to check on needy people and help them but I have to figure how we can do that under complete curfew. Staff are all at home and we try to do work though psychologically it is challenging. But we must keep our spirits up.

The Palestinian authority does some positive things but like all other political leaders really are not immune from political considerations and as they have freedom of movement and lots of resources, they may not quite understand people’s needs. Also coordinations with our apartheid oppressors increased dramatically. Israel is taking this opportunity to implement the last touches of its plan of complete hegemony, ethnic cleansing and apartheid. Their occupation army even came into Bethlehem (dressed in full protective corona gear) and arrested three people from their homes. Truly sickening that all the PA does is issue statements. I thus have questions:

Why is it that the Palestinian authority does not have the dignity to use this crisis to finally give up on Oslo and stop serving the occupation by relieving it of its responsibility for the occupied people’s health and education instead of using debt and charity money for security?

Why do they use loudspeakers and give speeches about curfews or “social distancing” but not explaining to common people how to cope, how to survive with no income, how to have “Social connections” (helping each other while maintaining “physical distancing”)??

Why is it that our financial priorities still skewed in favor of military and elites and a tiny fraction for health, agriculture, education, and research? The PA for example spend 40+% of its budget on security and so little on the areas that could have helped us weather this crisis.

If governments have emergency powers, why not use them to tax the wealthy say 5% of their wealth and use it instead of racking up debt? If they do this just to the billionnaire class, they would have hundreds of billions!!

Why is it that ministries including local government and health (and not just in Palestine) did not send out one call for expertise in the areas most needed (like community health education, epedemiology, nutrition etc)?

Why is it that Cuba and China help the world while the supposed richest country on earth (USA) actually punished these countrie (sanctions on Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, Yemen, Syria etc, financial blocks on China and Russia, and Trump calling it repeatedly the “Chinese virus”)

Why is it that a pandemic is not declared for 25,000 who die daily from starvation, over 10,000 who die daily from preventable diseases like malaria, or the hundreds who die daily from blockaded (e.g. Gaza, Venezuela, Iran)

Why is it that people let their governments amass powers to use for political benefit that infringe on people’s rights in a crisis and they know that when the crisis is over governments do not return these rights to people (e.g. Patriot act never repealed since 2001!)?

Why is it that western countries will add to their government (read people’s) debt to help rich people and companies survive but not the people (over 400 billion in UK, >1 trillion in US)? Common people (Tax payers) become poorer and rich people continue to get richer.

Why do people trust governments that have been repeatedly shown to lie? Why do we allow deep states to continue to give us choices like Clinton vs Trump and Biden vs Trump and Abbas vs Haniya and Netanyahu vs Gantz)? Will this crisis ever make such people change their ways?

I know only that each of us needs top dig deeper in our hearts for answers and more importantly for actions. 19 years ago, I wrote an article after the crisis of 11 Sept 2001 explaining the two choices before us (collectively): We keep the old ways (greed, rampant capitalism and die together) or care for each other and for our planet. Our health and the health of the planet are at stake. This is yet another stark reminder. Let us hope we make the right choices, pressure politicians, and choose life. We cannot act like lemmings going towards the cliff.

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Mazin Qumsiyeh, associate professor of genetics and director of cytogenetic services at Yale University School of Medicine, is founder and president of the Holy Land Conservation Foundation and ex-president of the Middle East Genetics Association. He won the Raymond Jallow Activism Award from the national Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee in 1998. He is co-founder and national treasurer of Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, and has written extensively about the Middle East. Qumsiyeh is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment, author of Sharing the Land of Canaan and Popular Resistance in Palestine, a professor at Bethlehem University and director of the Palestine Museum of Natural History in Bethlehem. http://palestinenature.org

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One Response to “Questions and Curfews”

  1. Lorraine Joan Elletson says:

    Thank you for your very compassionate article Mazim. I cry for Gaza and all Palestinians under occupation.. It will be the poor and the oppressed who will die in this crisis. We must put pressure to stop all wars and divert military budgets to healthcare and support for the suffering.Now is the time to come together. Thank you once again. Lorraine in Spain