The Tree of Life team is proud to present to you the second edition of a series called “Messages from Palestine” – short letters from our partners on the ground, curated by Nadine Shomali. It is a difficult time for everyone around the world right now, but we remain linked in solidarity, closer than ever, even when we are apart. We hope you will find comfort in hearing from our friends in Palestine, in writing, and in the video below.
To our friends all over the world,
At the moment, Palestine is going through some difficult times because of the coronavirus.
So, we hope we will be able to overcome this crisis and open our hotels, religious sites and homes for you again in the near future.
Keep us in your thoughts and we are looking forward to welcoming you again in Palestine.
Our friends and partners,
First of all, we hope you and your families are safe and healthy.
In Palestine, there are now 193 confirmed cases, all in the West Bank and most of them in Bethlehem. Thankfully 18 have recovered already. Since the first day, everything is shut down. Schools, universities, businesses, and organizations closed all over Palestine. In Bethlehem area, we are ordered to self-quarantine in our homes and only go out for essential things.
We are cut off from other cities. It is difficult but for most Palestinians we have lived under curfews imposed by the Israeli occupation so we can manage but our heart and feelings are with you.
This international crisis is affecting all aspects of life. This virus doesn’t discriminate based on race, religion, or nationality.
But in Palestine, we are fighting two viruses: the Israeli occupation and the coronavirus. I think the coronavirus will be easier to defeat because the whole world is looking for a vaccine and how to solve this crisis. But the occupation has been ongoing for 72 years and only gets worse.
People are trying to protect their children and work together to stop the spread of the coronavirus. This crisis situation should stop the occupation from arresting people and invading our communities. But instead the Israeli soldiers dressed in protective gear and invaded Dheisheh refugee camp a few nights ago. They fired live bullets, trashed houses, and arrested 3 young people.
In a time when the world should be united facing this crisis, the Israeli occupation continues its brutal attacks on Palestinians. But this is not a surprise for us because we have experienced their racism and inhumanity for 72 years.
Shoruq’s doors are closed though we are working from home. But sadly there are no activities for the children. We are trying to make activities for them to do from home.
Hopefully we will get past this crisis soon and it will be a lesson for the world to make changes. All these powerful countries with their powerful armies and arms factories are still not able to keep their people safe and healthy.
Love from Shoruq family in Palestine,
We are 13 million Palestinians, descendants of Canaanitic people in the Fertile Crescent where humans first developed Agriculture. Our species originated in Africa and migrated to the rest of the world using Palestine. Thus most of humanity can trace its ancestry to our common progenitors who lived in this land. As a cradle of civilization (Jericho is the oldest continuously inhabited town on earth) and a crossroads of continents, it is no wonder our country is a “Holy Land” to the three major monotheistic (and connected) religions: Christianity, Judaism and Islam). Our country draws millions of tourists every year (on religious, cultural, solidarity, and ecological tourism).
Yes, nearly 2/3rd of our people are refugees or displaced people and we do not have freedom yet. But our people are resilient. Millions of us are still here (half are children) and we have academics, arts, food, music, scenery, world heritage sites like the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem and the Al-Aqsa and Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. Nowhere else on earth can you move across four distinct climatic zones in less than 40 miles (from the Jerusalem mountain to the lowest point on earth at the Dead Sea). Beautiful landscape, hospitable people, ancient religious sites, and most modern amenities await you here. As we say: Ahlan wa sahlan (you are most welcome).
Palestine Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability / Bethlehem University