“Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas put forth a historic U.N. membership bid for an independent state of Palestine on Friday. The formal application drew applause in the assembly when the Palestinian leader raised the document at the podium during his speech at the 66th annual session of the General Assembly.”
For a moment this news made me happy but then I remembered Alexandr Solzhenitsyn:
“When you’re cold, don’t expect sympathy from someone who’s warm.”
I also remembered my time as a student in the American University of Beirut, in the dorms. My roommate returned one weekend from her brother’s wedding and showed me a picture of the house where her brother got married and was going to live with his bride. It was an old stone house. She said it was more than two hundred years old. A house that her great grandfather had built, and where her father grew up, and then her brother and herself and now his children. I remember the feeling I had at the time of pain, of hurt. It was not envy but more a feeling of something lost for me, something I would never have the pleasure to know and experience. As Louis de Bernieres wrote, in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin:
“The ultimate truth is that history ought to consist only of the anecdotes of the little people who are caught up in it.”
Unfortunately I have forgotten most of what I learned in school about the historical facts of World War II. I can never forget however, what my grandparents went through when they were forced to leave their homes in parts of Turkey in 1939 and settle in Lebanon as refugees. The days, months, and years of hardship they encountered. The stories they told about their life, about the people, about the weather, and about the challenges they faced in a foreign country where they did not speak the language, with nothing but the clothes on their backs. That, for me, is history.
“We aspire for and seek a greater and more effective role for the United Nations in working to achieve a just and comprehensive peace in our region that ensures the inalienable, legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people,” said the Palestinian leader. “My people desire to exercise their right to enjoy a normal life like the rest of humanity.”
As I continued to watch the news I heard a woman tell a reporter who asked what she thought about the matter, “It will not happen tomorrow, nor even after a year, but it will happen one day.” Despite the hype around her I could feel the sadness in her voice. The kind of sadness I could relate to, knowing that neither I nor my children will ever know the house, the place my father and grandparents called home.
Anton Chekhov wrote:
“We are accustomed to live in hopes of good weather, a good harvest, a nice love-affair, hopes of becoming rich or getting the office of chief of police, but I’ve never noticed anyone hoping to get wiser. We say to ourselves: it’ll be better under a new tsar, and in two hundred years it’ll still be better, and nobody tries to make this good time come tomorrow.”