We all share one blue sky, how coronavirus might promote cooperation

A plea for cooperation and peace in the aftermath of pandemic.

A boy wearing a face mask walks inside Jaramana Palestinian refugee camp, following the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Damascus, Syria April 1, 2020 (photo credit: REUTERS/OMAR SANADIKI)
A boy wearing a face mask walks inside Jaramana Palestinian refugee camp, following the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Damascus, Syria April 1, 2020
(photo credit: REUTERS/OMAR SANADIKI)
“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” - Alvin Toffler
 
Are we the Palestinians and the Israelis who are fighting a mutual enemy, the illiterate of the COVID-19 era who did not learn the lesson?
It is a war against both nations (Palestinians and Israelis) against us together, and we all must confront it with boldness and courage, and to be a new starting point in hope for building relationships and a future.
 
Suddenly, we woke up by this pandemic to show us that all countries and nations are equal in the vulnerability, weaknesses and fragility of most politicians, those we were counting on to save the world as if the world was subjected to an alien invasion. Alas and instead these countries and politicians fell and failed at the first test and challenge the world faced.
 
Corona forcibly imposed its terrifying presence on all aspects of human life, and it violated equilibrium and modesty that kept the social and international systems. The world is engulfed in a health crisis. It is important and timely to highlight the remarkable evidence of the total mutual interdependence of health and peace. 
 
All of us in our shared world are potential victims and live and ride in one boat. This disease continues to pose a threat to human security, touching all affinity groups and identities. I said it before many times that we as Palestinians and Israelis are like conjoined twins. 
 
Corona poses a universal challenge demanding a leadership to promote interdisciplinary and comprehensive efforts rooted in principles of equality, justice, humanity and partnership.
 
Today’s global health situation and human well-being raises urgent questions about partnership and collaboration. Disease and illness are not and cannot be confined to geographical boundaries and populations. It’s my solid belief that safeguarding the dignity, safety and wellbeing of human beings in any conflict exceeds any other consideration. 
 
Building close ties between people is one of the most effective ways of preventing conflict over the long term. To diffuse confrontation and conflict we must smash barriers by building bridges to understanding, cooperation, solidarity, justice and peace. 
 
This is a turning point in the relationship and a silver-lining opportunity, an opportunity to realize and trigger an incentive to face the shared interconnected threats and challenges, and face them with a new vision and promising approach based on learning the lessons of the past and projecting the shared threats of our shared future. 
IS THIS the time for annexation, land confiscation, death sentences, threats, incitement and pressure? Or is it a time for solidarity and intensification of efforts to save people's lives. Where are we heading and going?
 
We must invest this historical opportunity and focus on working together in partnership to fight this destructive disease and not to leave anyone behind. Let us together make hope out of suffering and disease, and rescue life from death. We need peace, freedom and stability instead of fear, incitement and fear-mongering. We must unite to defeat and contain this viral occupation and revive hope in the hearts of millions of Palestinians and Israelis who yearn to live in peace, freedom, security and equality. 
 
This requires human leaders, risk-takers who serve human goals, not politicians focused on individual political interests in order to remain in power, spreading fear and inciting misery.
 
It is time to humanize not to politicize. Do we need to experience this fatal plague to make us realise that we are equal? We must invest this unique and historical opportunity by realizing the clear and irrefutable truth that we have no way but to live together as equal neighbors; loving and cooperative, not adversarial. 
 
Violence, incitement and hatred only lead to dissonance and divergence, and dire negative effects on people's lives. We should not miss this opportunity because I believe that in everything bad there is a positive side.
 
Everyone should get rid of the arrogance, egotism and violence that have only brought us pain, destruction, hatred and death. These have only widened the gap between us when there are so many commonalities between us.
 
This deadly infectious virus does not know borders, walls, checkpoints, geography, gender, president or citizen, race or color or religion. This is our reset button; our wake-up call to a life based on cooperation and progress together for building health, peace and freedom for all. 
 
Just as we share the human commonalities of birth and life, we share a common future and one destiny. No one can differentiate between the cry of a newborn Palestinian, Israeli, Jewish, Christian or Muslim baby. Each one is a cry of hope for a life in which we are all born equal and free.
 
Health and peace require the three traditional approaches: diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation. This three-pronged public health approach should dispel the myth and illusion that we live and achieve health and peace by force, weapons and military power.
 
We have tried all means, and have all suffered from war. What is the value of the military arsenal against the coronavirus? Corona has demonstrated our weakness and failure. We must rise above selfish interests and differences and confront this mutual enemy. Our goal is the victory of humanity. 
 
The pandemic has shown us the holy and noble role of health professionals who are the messengers and soldiers defending humanity. It is my solid belief that safeguarding the dignity, safety and wellbeing of human beings in any conflict exceeds any other consideration.  
Building close ties between people is one of the most effective ways of preventing conflict over the long term. We can achieve our renaissance through resuming trust and caring, and with a renewed respect for science and scientists.  Health and peace are multifaceted, mutually interconnected, interlinked and inseparable. Health and peace are the human equalizers, stabilizers, socializers and harmonizers. 
 
Health is the perfect olive branch. Let’s build on this.
 
Freedom is essential for any human being. We need to be united, work together, stand together to secure this freedom. No one is free as long as others are not. 
 
The virus will not separate us forever. We all share only one blue sky. What we need now is a pandemic of justice, equality, equity, health, security, peace and freedom. It is time to move from conflict to cooperation and from exclusive to inclusive. Together we stand or divided we fail.
 
The writer is a Palestinian Canadian physician; an internationally recognized humanitarian, human rights and inspirational peace activist; and an associate professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto.


Tags Peace