On the 15th anniversary of his absence, Arafat was and still a rare phenomenon specifically,in modern Palestinian history and in Arab region’s scene as well. First encounter with him in a cave where he visited us in ‘Ajlone Mountains in 1968. That time he was only Brother Abu Ammar, even though he was president. He slept in the same cave with us, scores of Fida’yeen, from all walks of life, who had a dream, bigger than their youthful ages. I left American University scholarship behind, to join this early
dream: only to returning back to my home, my village in our ancestor’s land Falasteen…. A decade later in Beirut, when we came to his office at one or two o’clock in the morning to see him; he was there in his office ready to meet us any time in the early hours of the day to solve tens of small demands for the people’s needs. Before last time I met him at Copenhagen Airport hotel, taking photo with my wife and daughter. On her photo he wrote: see you Luma in Palestine. She was there. Last time we saw him in his besieged compound in Ramallah in 2004, with a Norwegian delegation, he talked about Beirut steadfastness. “88 days of besiege and bombardment achieved nothing” under your leadership. “89 days”: he corrected. Mahmoud Darweesh’s poem: “Besiege your Besiegement” was actual then and nowadays. “They succeeded to get me”, he said when he realized the sudden weakening of his body….. From Jordan to Syria, to Lebanon, to Iraq, to Copenhagen to Palestine: the dream is still flourishing and vivid, although saddened by huge losses and sufferings and grey hair that invaded both head and beard, but never approaches the will. Falasteen, the Idea, is more big than its geographical twenty seven thousand square meters; more big than its thirteen and half million people. Arafat’s few square meters of his besieged small room in al-Mokata’a (now part of Arafat’s Museum) is becoming hundreds and thousand square meters occupied by protesters in Alger, Yemen, Iraq and Beirut. His famous Kufiyyeh becomes part of the enriched symbolism of the depressed and marginals World Wide, whether in Sudan, Yemen, Iraq, Algeria, or Chile; all struggling to achieve few words: JUSTICE-FREEDOM-DIGNITY.