Shammas' musings about Palestinian time had some apparently unintended ironies, in addition to his irony of Novembers.
Indeed, three cheers for the Algerian conference! In one fell swoop, it has traversed the distance of 690 years. In 1948, when, as Shammas recounts, the Jewish settlement in what was then the British Mandate of Palestine declared the creation of an independent state of Israel, the Arabs acted on the basis of restoring what had been torn asunder with the end of the Caliphate in the year 1258.
Under the banner of Pan-Arabism, they acted in consort to deny the Jews their state, but they acted in vain. Israel served as the focus for the ambitions to restore the Caliphate by these states, but obdurate Israel served these ambitions poorly. Now if only Syria can be disabused of its "Cali-fatal" yearnings, it will become the last Arab state to recognize the PLO's document.
Insofar as the Caliphate ended 730 years ago, the Algerian conference has fallen short by merely 40 years of acting according to the facts of 1988. Here is an irony of "eights," for this conference has given de facto recognition to 1948. So while the conference has not quite come up to the present, it managed to cover 690 years in 40 years. Just think how soon it will be when the facts of the present are finally addressed.
While the optimists and pessimists argue about whether the conference results constitute a glass half empty or a glass half full, may I optimistically note that at least there seems to be some water in the glass?