Samia Khoury’s Reflection on January 19, 2020

Posted on Jan 24, 2020

Samia Khoury

Samia Khoury shares her reflections on a Sunday in East Jerusalem.

As the weather was so bad on Sunday, I did not even contemplate going to church and opted to watch the weekly service from one of the Christian churches on Palestine TV. January 19, being the Armenian Christmas, the service was from St. James’ Armenian Cathedral in the Old City of Jerusalem. So as I was listening to the chanting and not understanding one word, my thoughts took me back to the day my mother passed away in the early hours of January 19, thirty four years ago, when the funeral was on that afternoon.

Like this past Sunday, the weather was wet and stormy, and we had asked Bishop Kafity, the Bishop of the Anglican Church at the time, and who was officiating at the service, if we could have the funeral service at the Catholic Church in Birzeit. The Anglican church is so small that it would hardly have accommodated the family members, whereas the Catholic church is very large and spacious. Of course, the Catholic priest was very cooperative regarding our request which we could not have even considered ten years earlier.

I took a break from the TV after the Armenian service and, after having a bite and a short rest, I turned on the TV again. What a coincidence that the Promise was on. It is a 2016 movie which I am sure many of you had seen. I had heard about it, but never had a chance to watch it.

The events take place towards the end of the Turkish rule and the Armenian Genocide. The brutality was endless and the Turks were ruthless. The suffering was unbelievable and it was a miracle that some actually survived. A few years ago I had read Towards Golgotha, the memoirs of Hagob Arsenian, the grandfather of our friend Nora Arsenian Carmi, and what he went through to make it to Jerusalem eventually. I had nightmares after reading it and could not imagine any human being would survive such brutal conditions. Watching the film and seeing the cooperation and the determination of those Armenians of all ages to survive until they were able to reach a safe haven was amazing.

Of course I could not but relate to 1948 and the various massacres of Palestinians as well as their forced eviction, by the Israeli forces. The sight of the people of Ramleh and Lydda, as they arrived from the coastal area, to the hills of Birzeit and Ramallah after walking for three days during the hot sun of July 1948, is still etched in my memory.

It was not my day for light movies or one of the musicals that I always enjoy watching, so the next movie was Viceroy’s House which was about the days towards the end of the British rule of India.

How easy it was for the British to divide countries that are not theirs. The colonial policy of “divide and rule.” Up to this day the area suffers from the partition of the country and the creation of Pakistan. In almost the similar manner the partition of Palestine and the creation of Israel continue to cause so much suffering and unrest in the region.

Both the Turks and the Israelis have a lot to atone for, and so do the British, the USA and many other colonial countries, but I am not writing history, I am simply reflecting.