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Curfews and (existential) questions – Mazin Qumsiyeh

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 and you in in New York will is already heavily
affected so please get ready and take care of yourself. 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 teh occupied people’s health and
education instead of using debt and charity money?


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 politicians will not be held accountable for not heeding our
warnings as scientists (and the many published work) that such pandemics
were inevitable?


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.


Stay Human and Stay safe


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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