No, life during the coronavirus isn’t like Gaza

Palestinian workers spray disinfectant as a precaution against coronavirus in the Al-Omari Mosque in Gaza City 15 March 2020

Nada Elia writes in Mondoweiss:

One post has been going viral on social media, that asks:  “Dear World, how’s the lockdown?’ Signed: Gaza.” The suggestion is that people in Italy, Spain, France, or the U.S., now know how Palestinians in Gaza live. The post has even been shared by Palestinians from Gaza itself, as well as by Arabs in various parts of the world.  Writing about the newly-imposed restrictions on travel and large gatherings in Europe, as well as the horrific reality of having to do a triage of patients in overwhelmed hospitals in Italy, Ahmed Abbas asked:  “How can I not think of Gaza?”

Speaking for myself, as someone who does think a lot about Gaza, I can say this much: I live just outside of Seattle, that is, the U.S. epicenter of the COVID-19 epidemic, and I fit in the high risk category, since I have asthma, as well as high blood pressure–the latter being now suspected as an aggravating circumstance, because a disproportionate number of fatalities apparently also had high blood pressure.  I am self-quarantining, and am out of my staples: brown rice, lentils, and chickpeas, essential to my vegan diet. Nevertheless, while I understand the impulse to remind the world that Gaza has been under lockdown for thirteen years, I have found the meme comparing my current circumstances with the 13-year siege on Gaza unnerving, and am compelled to point out some significant differences, which Abbas indeed alludes to.

I still have electricity.  That means I am not reading by candle light, my internet is on 24 hours a day, my fridge is running, as are all my electric appliances, from dishwasher to microwave. It also means my freezer is full, so while I may run out of fresh greens, I do have frozen spinach.  I expect to have electricity throughout this pandemic.

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