"We don’t live in tents and ride camels."

Questions and Answers with Salam Qumsiyeh

Do you have any pets? If so, what are their names?

 I wish! I love pets, but my mom doesn’t agree on having a pet in the house, because here pets can get dirty, not like in the States. When I was living in the States, I had a beautiful female Maine Coon, called Chai.

What kind of house do you live in? How many rooms are in it? What is it made out of?

 Houses in my country are made out of stone. I live in a beautiful two-story building made out of a unique stone design. In the first story lives my family and in the second one lives my grandmother. Our house contains of three rooms, one bathroom, a kitchen, and a living room.

What does your neighborhood look like?

 A small road. Houses close to each other, not much different from a small neighborhood in the State of CT (where I used to live).

 What is one thing you would like outsiders to know about Palestine?

 We don’t live in tents and ride camels. We are not backwards. We live like you, except that we live under the Israeli occupation. We don’t have our basic rights due to this occupation, such as the control of our own water sources and our roads. We have no right of movement, even within what is called the Palestinian territories. There ARE Christians in Palestine and the rest of the Arab world, in fact, Christ was born in Palestine. We don’t seek the pettiness of the Western world, we love life and want to live, and want the whole world to know the truth about our situation.

 Can you tell us what a typical daily routine is for you?

 I wake up around 7:30am, get ready and go to work at the Municipality of Bethlehem. I work and enjoy my time with my colleges until 2:00pm. I go home, cook with my mother and siblings and have lunch (late lunch). I then video call my bf in the States. In the evening, I either go out with my friends to a bar or such, or stay home until my exercise time at 7:00pm. I go to sleep early these days.

You have spent time in the States. How is your life different in the US (Bridgeport & Bristol, CT) than in Palestine (Bethlehem)?

 The main difference is that in the States I could just get in my car and drive for hours to any direction I wanted. Yet here, the furthest I can drive is for one or two hours, and through this ride I must go through multiple Israeli checkpoints (again within the Palestinian territories/ checkpoints between Palestinian cities in the West Bank). Nature is different as well. In CT it is more of a forest. In Palestine, we have limited space due to the confiscation of lands, and residents’ growth each year who need to expand. The land now is drier because people try to build houses and buildings to cope with their growth.

 Do you work? What is your job?

 I’m a journalist, editor, multimedia producer, and writer. I currently work at the Bethlehem Municipality in the Public Relations office. I have worked in different jobs previously and did many internships. I also write social and political articles for multiple blogs. You can see more of my work through my website listed above.

 Please formulate a question for readers to carry out into the world (for example: “If you could share one thing with me what would it be?” Or “How free are you to create your life?”)

- When you hear the word “a Palestinian”, what comes to your mind first?

- How would you feel if you live in an open-air prison?

-How will you feel if your childhood memories are of war?