by Samia Khoury of Jerusalem
I have been reflecting on the many anniversaries during the month of November, aside from the fact that I turned 80 last November on the day my book “Reflections from Palestine – A Journey of Hope” was launched, and that the birthday of my granddaughter’s best friend Juman, falls on the 2nd of November. I am sure neither Juman nor her mother had much choice in determining that day to coincide with the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration in 1917 which the Palestinians consider to be the root cause of their dispossession.
But then November 9 was the twenty fifth anniversary of the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Whoever thought that wall will ever collapse? That is why this is a very meaningful day for us, the Palestinians, as it gives us hope that the infamous Separation Wall which separates the Palestinian territories from each other in the name of security, will eventually collapse some day. However the 19th anniversary of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin on November 4 continues to remind us that the whole peace process was a farce, and led us nowhere, while at the same time it shielded Israeli impunity as it continued to create new realities on the ground.
November 11 is Armistice Day, or Veteran’s day as it is called in the USA, which marked the end of World War I in 1918. Again it makes us wonder at the brutality of wars. As if the loss of many lives in both World War I and World War II was not enough, the colonial powers continued to wage so many wars in other peoples’ countries and under a variety of pretexts. Will November 11 ever make those powers realize that wars are not about solving problems but about greed, sale of armament, hegemony and devastation. Devastation not only of the land and its natural resources, but devastation of humanity and the mushrooming of new radical movements. It is very hard under the circumstances, where we watch regions torn apart, to envisage any hope for an armistice day for our region or peace around the whole world.
Ironically November 11 is also the tenth anniversary of the death of Yasser Arafat. I remember I was in Hawaii at the time and we stayed up late with my cousin Diana and her husband Jerry to watch the end of an era for the Palestinians. Of course Israel has claimed him to be “no peace partner” despite all the concessions he made for the sake of peace. In fact November 15 is the 26h anniversary of the Declaration of the Independence of the State of Palestine within the 1967 borders, and it is an official holiday in Occupied Palestine. I still do not know what we are celebrating, after making such a compromise and still not being independent on that 22% of our historic Palestine. But I know the teachers and students are happy to have a long week end off. I still remember when November 14 was an official holiday during the Jordan times, as it was the birthday of King Hussein. Salwa, the school principal at Rawdat El-Zuhur had the same birthday, so her birthday was always an official holiday.