Samia Khoury: The Corona Lockdown

Posted on May 5, 2020

Property cannot bring back life, but life can bring back material belongings.  –1948 refugee evicted from her home

Photograph: By Unknown author - Oren, Elhanan (1976): On the Road to the City: Operation Danny, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6852263

By Unknown author – Oren, Elhanan (1976): On the Road to the City: Operation Danny, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6852263

by Samia Khoury

As the discussion continues on easing the Lockdown that has paralyzed the whole world, I could not but reflect on a quotation by one of the Palestinian refugees the day she arrived in Birzeit in 1948. The Palestinians from Ramleh and Lydda were evicted by the Israeli army in the hot month of July 1948 and forced to walk for two days before they found refuge in Birzeit and Ramallah.

Many books were written about this part of the Palestinian catastrophe, and I alluded to it in my book – Reflections from Palestine: A Journey of Hope. Prof Reja-e Busailah describes that walk meticulously and so vividly in his book In the Land of My Birth when at the age of 19 he joined the people of Lydda in this exodus march.

As we continued to listen to the various personal stories of a number of those exhausted refugees, one lady was ever so grateful that she arrived alive, realizing the loss of life that took place on that journey and among those who stayed behind. Referring to what she had left behind, she said: “Property cannot bring back life, but life can bring back material belongings.”

Yes, indeed, many of the Palestinians who survived that Nakba, in fact, get credit for the development of many of the Arab countries as well as a number of institutions in different parts of the world.

When the Corona Pandemic invaded the world, one of the earliest governments that took action on a lockdown was that of Palestine. It was a wise decision because, a country under occupation with limited resources and access to facilities, could not afford the luxury of procrastination. Ironically, the most developed countries like the US were late to react, and the statistics on the loss of life says a lot.

However, after a two-month lockdown, it is not surprising that business people are starting to worry and the pressure to go back to normal life has already started. We have watched people [on televesion] on the beaches and out in stores, but the apprehension is still there. Will money be more dear than life, or could there be a compromise? I could not help but think of that old lady from Ramleh “Property cannot bring back life, but life can bring back material belongings.”