In A Certain Place, A Long, Long Time Ago



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In the early 1980’s the late Lavell Cole, my esteemed colleague in the history department, told me the following: “Halaby, stop writing about politics. The average American doesn’t know much about foreign policy and doesn’t give a damn about the U.N. and Resolutions 242 and 338. When you write about Palestine and Palestinians, you must put a face to them and tell it like it is.” How right Lavell was. Therese and Asad, thank you for inviting me to be a part of the 2014 Olympia Arab Festival, Shuruq II (Dawn/Sunrise), a much-needed celebration that puts a bright face on Arab culture in conjunction with the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice.

In spite of the ongoing political turmoil and tragic bloodletting that affects every Arab in every region of the world, we do have rich cultural traditions that bind us, and it is thus fitting that we celebrate these traditions in Olympia, Washington, concurrent with Olympia’s Fall Arts Walk. To Rachel Corrie, a long-time hero of mine, even though I’ve never met you, Rachel, I feel as though I have known you all my life. Plucked too soon from our midst, your brief life and the legacy you left are an affirmation and testimony to everything that is perennially decent, perennially uplifting, perennially inspiring, and perennially upright, moral, and good. What an honor and humbling experience it is to stand in the shadow of a giant such as you to pay homage both, to you, and to the culture for which you so heroically gave your life.

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