Of course, the economic recession resulting from this crisis will be long felt. However, for an occupied territory that has been subjected to decades of oppression and segregation, perhaps the most worrying long-term consequences are the notions of self-care, isolation, and assuming that there is danger within the “other”.
What would you say are symbols of your current situation or the current situation in your country?
Palestine has always been manifested within symbols, whether physical objects like the key, or metaphorical like the image of a resilient superhero, or even the metaphysics of religion, prophets, and miracles.
But perhaps the most surprising addition to the list as a result of COVID-19, is the perception of the home being the safest place a person can be. Ironically, home, or Al-beit as we refer to it in Arabic, has been a central concept in which the Palestinian issue has been gravitating, and which continues to be denied since 1948.
Perhaps the ultimate challenge for myself and the rest of the people in my country is on how to deal with the symbolism of home-safety, how to accept that staying home is the source of safety when this elusive home is still beyond reach, and many people including refugees continue to struggle to build this home and all what it embodies of safety.
How will the pandemic change the world? What do you see as long-term consequences of the crisis?
Of course, the economic recession resulting from this crisis will be long felt. However, for an occupied territory that has been subjected to decades of oppression and segregation, perhaps the most worrying long-term consequences are the notions of self-care, isolation, and assuming that there is danger within the “other”. Perhaps these newly-defined concepts are necessary to bring about the end of the COVID-19 outbreak, however, they are the exact opposite of what people-in-conflict need to overcome their animosity and segregation. Although they already resonate with the Palestinians who have been trying to reach out to the world, to promote trust and a global vision of freedom and liberation, the global efforts of cooperation and getting together are also in danger.
What gives you hope?
Jerusalem. My city has endured so much, has seen many wars and blood baths -- warriors, invaders and liberators alike have all died on its stairs. Yet, the city survived. Like a Phoenix, it not only survived, but rather flourished, grew, and led world civilizations. By looking at the past history of such a city, we are left assured that the world at large, led by human nature, will always overcome miseries and hardship, and will pursue the basic instincts of compassion, love and happiness.
What is your personal strategy for dealing with this situation?
Keeping healthy, physically and mentally, has been my top priority in dealing with this situation. Staying in touch with the community, and attending to their essential needs in terms of health services and supplies are also obligatory. Furthermore, as a bookseller and cultural planner, utilizing art and culture, and certainly books, has proven successful in making good use of time, engaging the brain and the heart in equal beats, as well as staying connected with community issues, both social and political.