|PHF Exhibits at Jerusalem Fund in Washington
of Tradition." a Palestinian arts and crafts exhibit was inaugurated
on Saturday April 1, 2000 by the Palestinian Heritage Foundation at the
Jerusalem Fund in Washington D.C. The display will remain open to the
public through September 2000.
On display are traditional Palestinian
costumes representing Ramallah, Deir Yassin from the
Jerusalem region, Beit Dajan from the Jaffa region, Asduud and Masmiyyeh
villages from the coastal region, authentic headpieces (Shatweh, Saffeh
and Smadeh), from Bethlehem, Beit Dajan and Ramallah, several felt and
velvet jackets (Taqseereh) from
Bethlehem and Jerusalem, Hebron glass painted with Arabic calligraphy, an
olive wood statue of the Last Supper
made in Bethlehem, and many other items including authentic silver
Deir Yassin village dress on display at the
Also on display, are five 1940's original
watercolor paintings from Palestine recently acquired for the Munayyer
On Sunday, April 2, 2000, the Jerusalem Fund
held a reception to commemorate the opening of this unique exhibit. The
event, which lasted for three hours, was attended by about 80 guests from the Washington area and friends of PHF
and the Jerusalem Fund.
Immediately after the reception, Ms. Heidi
Shoup, Executive Director of the
Jerusalem Fund introduced Professor Hisham Sharabi, the Fund's Chairman
and Founder. In his opening remarks, Professor Sharabi welcomed the guests
and praised PHF's activities in promoting Arab culture and traditions in
the United States.
Following Professor Sharabi's introduction,
Ms. Shoup enumerated the many activities of the Palestinian Heritage
Foundation in the cultural and educational fields, and praised PHF's
efforts in promoting Arab and Palestinian traditions in the Arab American
and American communities in the United States. Ms. Shoup then introduced
the Jerusalem Fund's guest speaker for the afternoon, Mrs. Hanan Munayyer.
Using colored slides, Mrs. Munayyer discussed
her extended research regarding embroidery in Palestine since 2000 BC.
Foundation Thirteenth Anniversary Celebrations
April 2000 coincides with the
anniversary of the inception of the Palestinian Heritage Foundation in
1987. On our thirteenth birthday, we are proud of the high quality of
education that we have provided to our Arab and American
Since the Foundation's Twelfth
Anniversary Banquet in April 1999, the Foundation has attracted
more and more supporters. The presence of His Eminence Metropolitan Saliba,
Primate of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
as the keynote speaker, and Guest of Honor Professor Edward Said,
distinguished Palestinian scholar and Professor of English at Columbia
University, and more than 450 distinguished guests was itself a great
Ramallah black dress at Jerusalem Fund display.
During the past year, PHF has
been featured in the London based AL HAYAT, the California-based BEIRUT
TIMES, ALSUNNARA of Nazareth and the WASHINGTON REPORT on MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS,
and AL AHRAM International of Cairo.
During the fall of 1999, the
Foundation set-up the "East Meets West: Common Threads in
Culture" exhibit at the Historical Society of Rockland County which
was covered by local papers of Rockland County, New York. Portions of the
Foundation's collection are currently at the Jerusalem Fund in Washington
D.C. This exhibit will continue through September 2000. Both exhibits
featured an opening lecture by Hanan Karaman Munayyer about the ancient
traditions of Middle Eastern costumes.
The Palestinian Heritage
Foundation is planning new exhibitions at two other Museums, which are
scheduled to open in the coming year.
A Santa Fe Story
By Beth Noland
In a small suburban home in Santa Fe, New
Mexico, in late April 2000, a group of women met for their bi-monthly
literary gathering. The program presented by their hostess Beth Noland was
to be on Palestinian costumes and design.
The Noland house had been festooned with
various pieces of embroidery collected by Mrs. Noland over the past
years, from trips taken to Palestine during that time. Her collection was
modest: a stunning contemporary dress jacket and scarf, a house dress from Ramallah region, and several small bags and wall hangings.
One hour before the presentation was to be
given; a box arrived by Federal Express from
Hanan and Farah Munayyer of the Palestinian Heritage Foundation in West
Caldwell, New Jersey. As a result of their generosity, at the last moment
Mrs. Noland was able to add several stunning pieces to her program, on
loan from the Munayyers, neither of whom she had ever met.
Palestinian art and crafts at the Jerusalem Fund
In preparing for the program, Mrs. Noland had
consulted several books on the subject of Palestinian costumes. She knew
that for the purposes of her audience, she did not have to have an
expert's knowledge on the subject. Nevertheless, she wanted her
presentation to contain as many visual effects as possible. Several nights
prior to her program, she decided to check the World Wide Web. The name of
the Munayyers' Foundation flashed on the screen, and within moments, Mrs.
Noland was e-mailed an address to request a copy of their video on
Palestinian costumes. Not long after sending the e-mail, her phone rang
and Farah Munayyer was offering assistance in any way possible.
Long interested in the history, people and
traditions of Palestine, Beth Noland has constantly sought ways in which
to share the rich heritage of a people she has grown to respect and
admire. "I guess it all began over 40 years ago when in college I was
waitressing one summer with a girl whose father was an Arab Christian
originally from Katamon, a suburb of Jerusalem." The family lived in
a suburb of Boston, where Beth is from, and she and they have remained
friends for many years. "In fact, I and one of the daughters traveled
Jerusalem in 1993 for two weeks of exploring
and meeting her relatives. In all her travels, Valerie had never been to
Jerusalem and met her father's remaining relatives. It was a marvelous
experience for both of us. I went along as the "official family
photographer," and met some of the most interesting, stimulating and
talented people in the world."
Beth and her guests found themselves brimming
with enthusiasm over the rich colors and designs she was describing,
feeling a growing curiosity about the exquisite creativity expressed in
the work displayed in her living room by people from ancient and rich
heritage. "I am even more committed now, after seeing how interested
everyone was, to learning as much as I can about the Palestinians through
their art, especially their embroidery. And more than that, to sharing it
as broadly as possible. I am grateful beyond any words for the Munayyers
and what they and their Foundation are doing to encourage people like me
in learning about this most fascinating subject."
Arab Americans in New York: A Community of
Symposium on Arab Americans
By Inea Bushnaq
The word "Symposium" may not spell
everyone's idea of a fun weekend, but the two days devoted to this
symposium were an unprecedented and very exciting happening.
On February 5th and 6th, an audience of
several hundred filled the auditorium of the Museum of the City of New
York with an almost immeasurable charge of intensity as they listened to
18 presentations piecing together the past history
and present condition
of the Arabs who have come to live in New York in the last 120 years. The
program was structured for variety: academic papers were interspersed with
personal reminiscences, community history, film clips, slide shows and
readings from Arab American
writings. Much of the material was new. For most listeners, this was
their lives and the lives of their parents and grandparents, so the
question and answer periods were animated.
dress, scarf and "Miklab" coat
Joint sponsors of this Symposium were the
Middle East Institute at Columbia University, which is engaged in a
three-year demographic study of Muslims in New York City funded by the
Ford Foundation, and the Museum of the City of New York, which is
preparing for an exhibition about New York's Arab community scheduled for
February 2001 and which will last almost six months.
Speakers on the Saturday program focused on
the first wave of 'Syria" immigrants who came to seek their fortune
and many of whom eventually remained when immigration laws in 1924 closed
the gate, except for a very small quota to Arab countries. Alixa Naff,
author of Becoming American: the Early Arab Immigrant Experience:
1880-1950, whose Naff Collection of Arab American artifacts is in the
Smithsonian Museum, told of the struggles and successes of the early
door-to-door peddlers. Mary Ann Haick DiNapoli described how the community
took root and developed in Brooklyn between 1900 and 1977. Dr. Michael
Suleiman from Kansas State University had his audience in fits of laughter
as he read from the letters and
writings of early immigrants commenting on
what they found in the New World. And Dr. Jonathan Friedlander of UCLA's
slides located sparse traces of first Arab community in lower Manhattan
and their last resting-places in a Brooklyn cemetery where beautiful
carved headstones bear Arab names.
Turning to the arts, poet Gregory Orfalea,
co-editor of Grape Leaves: an Anthology of Arab American Poetry ,
discussed the lively literary world around Khalil Gibran's Pen League in
1920s New York. Stanley Rashid, whose family has shipped Arabic music to
every corner of the U.S. since the 1930s, recalled the festive mahrajans
in the 1950s which used to attract thousands to hear the sounds of the old
country, while Eddie Kochak's Ameraba music expressed the taste of
To conclude, Professor Philip Kayal of Seton
Hall and Dr. Peter Awn, who teaches Islam at Columbia, shared painful and
amusing anecdotes about growing up Melkite and Maronite in Irish Catholic
The second day of the Symposium addressed the
new wave of Arab immigrants who came after quotas were lifted in 1965 from
a more politicized post-colonial Arab world.
Dr. Yvonne Haddad analyzed some of the
complexities of political alignments in the Middle East, and how they and
U.S. policy have affected Arab American activists here. Then the results
of Columbia's demographic study were projected in the form of very
detailed maps showing the concentrations of Arabic-speaking households,
homes of foreign-born Arab Americans, Arab-owned businesses and places of
worship, in all five boroughs. Dr. Paula Hajjar followed with a study of
the interaction between new Arab immigrant parents and their children's
educators in two Brooklyn public schools. Her observations demonstrated
the need for a better understanding within the school system of the
differing expectations and values of the two cultures to help the children
receive most benefit from public education.
In the arts, Dr. Jerrilyn Dodde of CUNY showed
slides of some of the 72 mosques she has documented in New York, Inea
Bushnaq gave a survey of current Arab American cultural activities in New
York and Jack Shaheen, author of The TV Arab, projected a collage of film
clips from Hollywood movies in most of which Arabs were cast as villains.
Further afield, Dr. Evelyn Shakir, author of
Bint Arab: Arab and Arab American Women in the U.S., quoted from
interviews with Lebanese women, who returned to Beirut after the recent
war, about their memories of New York. And Dr. Walter Zenner of SUNY
Albany discussed the Syrian Jewish community in Brooklyn.
Simon Shaheen Appointed to The John F.
Kennedy Center Advisory Committee
Composer and musician Simon Shaheen has been
appointed to the Kennedy Center Advisory Committee. In a letter addressed
to Shaheen from the Office of Presidential Personnel, Mr. Charles H. Cole
wrote: "President Clinton has approved your appointment to the
President's Committee on the Arts at the John F. Kennedy Center for the
Performing Art. Congratulations, and thank you for your willingness to
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing
Arts is the national center for the performing
arts and a living presidential memorial. The Center's mission is to
embody, stimulate and transmit the values of freedom, creativity,
expression, and joy inherent in the performing arts---the opportunity to
dream, to risk, to learn, to excel with a clear artistic vision. It
presents and creates programming of the highest standards that reflects
the diverse cultural life of the United States and that recognizes and
Noritz our international heritage.
Simon Shaheen at PHF Twelfth Anniversary Banquet
The President's Advisory Committee on the Arts
(PACA) was established in 1958, and has played a valuable role in
sustaining the Kennedy Center. The Chairmen and Members of the PACA are
civic and cultural leaders who are selected by the President of the United
States to serve as representatives in their own communities for the
Acting as a national network for the Center,
the PACA helps to strengthen the Center's influence and spread its
artistic vision across the country. Their role also includes providing
general or designated program support through personal contributions,
solicitations, and sponsorship of development events by the Committee and
Simon Shaheen, Palestinian Heritage Foundation
Advisory Board Member, ALF MABROUK.
Mr. and Mrs. Munn Donates
By Farah Munayyer
For many years, I have been trying to locate
some of my friends at the American Consulate General in Jerusalem where I
worked for nine years while studying at the Pharmacy School in Jerusalem.
Some were easy to locate, others were not.
For example, for the past fifteen years I have
been trying to locate Mr. and Mrs. Robert Munn. Mr. Munn was former
American Consul in Arab Jerusalem and remained with the State Department
until shortly before his retirement. I met the Munns in Jerusalem in
1964-65 and have not seen them since 1972 when they were still living in
This past April, after the opening of the PHF
exhibit at the Jerusalem Fund, Hanan and I were having dinner with Mr. and
Mrs. Richard Curtiss and a very dear friend of ours, Mrs. Carol
Sutherland, former staff member of the American Consulate in Jerusalem.
Keeping with my tradition of looking up friends, knowing that Mrs.
Sutherland is still employed by the State Department, and that the Munns,
as retired State Department employees, must be on the Department payroll,
I figured that she could help me locate them. It didn't take long. Carol
directed me to the address at the State Department for retired officers,
and soon we were in touch with our good friends.
Hanan and I were thrilled to find the Munns,
and they were happy to hear from us. Mark and Lynn, their teenage children
have done so well: Mark is a professor of History in Pennsylvania, and
Lynn is a State Department Officer in Canada.
We told the Munns about our family and work in
the United States since we met them last in 1972. They had heard about our
research jobs and the Palestinian Heritage Foundation's role in promoting
Arab culture in the U.S. They had also seen a copy of the videotape that
we produced, regarding the history of the art of embroidery.
Recently we received a note from the Munns
thanking us for the tape and the literature about PHF's activities. In
their letter the Munns wrote: " We packed up the dress today, and
will mail it tomorrow. We are glad it will be of some use to the
Foundation." Mrs. Munn added: I have been sewing and doing some
needlework most of my life, and have always admired and respected the
time, effort and talent that goes into items such as the Palestinian
When my husband, a diplomatic officer, was
assigned to Jerusalem in January 1964, it provided a wonderful opportunity
to get better acquainted with the many beautiful things produced in
Palestine. During my many trips into the Souk, over a period of time, I
now and again found a dress or some piece of the embroidery, which had
been removed from other dresses.
Mrs. Sutherland Donates a chin chen
Mrs. Carol Sutherland of Bethesda, Maryland
has donated an antique Bethlehem "Chin-Chen" necklace known as
"Saba Irwah", or seven lives, to the Foundation. Mrs.
Sutherland, a friend of the Foundation and a very dear friend of the
Munayyer family, has previously donated a rare antique Bethlehem "Thob
Malak" dress and its complementary "Shatweh" headpiece to
the Palestinian Heritage Foundation. In her letter to PHF, Mrs. Sutherland
wrote: "Many, many thanks for a warm and wonderful evening, bringing
back so many wonderful memories of Jerusalem and of the many friends and
acquaintances who passed through there. I appreciate Hanan having put my
necklace in the exhibition. I was sure you already had one, but thought
that you could use a second one to barter. What you are both doing is so
I plan to take as many colleagues as possible
to see the exhibition at the Jerusalem Fund and to tell them a little bit
Samia Halaby's Art Brings Palestine to
By: Inea Bushnaq
Leading Palestinian American artist Samia
Halaby is currently exhibiting her latest work in Chelsea's Skoto Gallery
(529 W. 20th St., 5th floor. Just west of 10th Avenue, Manhattan). The
exhibit's curator is Osama Abusitta.
Samia Halaby was born in Jerusalem and lived
in Yafa until her family was forced to leave Palestine in 1948. Educated
in the U.S., she has taught art at several universities including 10 years
at Yale. Her work is in the collections of museums such as the Art
Institute of Chicago, the Detroit Institute of art, the Guggenheim Museum
in New York, the British Museum, London, the Musee du Monde Arabe in
Paris, to mention just a few.
Arts magazine's John Goodman has characterized
Halaby's 'visual language' as 'urban contemporary' and yet she is
inextricably tied to her Palestinian roots. She has exhibited in Ramallah,
Amman, Beirut and Damascus as well as New York, Chicago, Washington and
Hawaii. She has been offered workshops as a visiting artist at Bir Zeit
and Amman's Darat-al-funun. Samia has also been instrumental in raising
funds for art supplies for classes in Palestinian refugee camps, by
arranging sales of children's art. Visitors to the current show 'Places
and Spaces & Olives of Palestine' will see both abstract and
representational works and a clear link between the two. A stay of several
months in Palestine last year inspired a series of drawings, watercolors,
and pastels of olive trees: in groups, standing alone, thousand-year-old
and recently-uprooted-by-Israelis. This portrait gallery of Palestinian
trees is a 'must see' for any Palestinian, art-lover or not. In the same
exhibition are large abstract canvases with stunning arrangements of
color, each conveying a distinct atmospheric environment from pale
'Milk/Pearly' which has the shimmering freshness of early dawn to cool
dense saturated greens and blues of 'The Green Forest.' One of the
abstract paintings is called 'Olive Shading'. "When I look at this
painting I see that I have intuitively captured something of the texture
of light and shade that I always love in the terraced mountains of
Palestine. That texture is composed as much by the scattered stones and
turned up earth as it is by the cast shadows of olive, fig, almond and
other fruit trees," comments Halaby. What the painting also contains
for this viewer is a sense of movement, a breeze rustling the leaves.
Samia Halaby has also used digital media since
1985. On Saturday May 6th she gave a performance of kinetic computer
painting: improvisation (taqaseem) with live musicians. "Although
Halaby's technology is up to the minute…arts writers have connected her
imagery to ancient geometric patterns." Kalamazoo Institute of Arts.
Samia Halaby's next exhibition will open at
the Sakakini Gallery in Ramallah, Palestine on June 10, 2000.
Palestinian Costumes and Embroidery: A
By Beth Noland
I have watched the video presentation
"Palestinian Costumes and Embroidery: A Precious Legacy" several
times and each time I was more impressed. The tape presents a balanced
approach to the folk art of Palestinian costume, transitioning from stitch
details to the overall costume designs themselves in such a way as to keep
my interest and make me disappointed when the tape is finished, although
for the purpose of this presentation, its length is just right.
The narration is well done and the script is
engaging. The choreography is just right: not too much action but just
enough to show off each piece without leaving the viewer bored. The brief
references to places on the map of Palestine are quite necessary and
provide good visual points of reference for the next segments of costume
I really cannot think of any criticism, except
that Tape #2 is needed for the next chapter in a rich saga of folk art
that intrigues so many of us viewers.
PHF Donates $1000 to The Museum of the City
of New York
The Palestinian Heritage Foundation pledged
$1000 to the upcoming exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York. In
a letter from the Museum Director to the Foundation, Mr. Robert R.
Macdonald wrote: "On behalf of the Trustees of the Museum of the City
of New York, I would like to thank the Palestinian Heritage Foundation for
the generous pledge of $1000. The first $500 of your gift has been
received in support of the initiative A Community of Many Worlds: Arab
Americans in New York City. Your leadership in funding this important
project will aid the Museum in fulfilling its role as a major educational
resource for New York City.
The Exhibition scheduled to open at the Museum
of the City of New York in Fall 2001, will be a major highlight of our
busy Fall season guaranteeing exposure to the many school groups that
visit our Museum on a regular basis. The initiative will be an important
contribution to the understanding of New York City and its diverse
Thank you again for your support of the
Museum. I hope that you will have the opportunity to visit the Museum to
view the exhibition and programming."
Lecture at the Islamic Heritage Society in
On Tuesday May 16, Hanan was guest speaker at
the monthly meeting of the Islamic Heritage Society at the United Nation
Plaza in New York. Attended by over 120 people, Hanan's lecture was
followed by a delicious Middle Eastern lunch, specially catered for the
Prior to the lecture, young Arab-American
women modeled two costumes representing the Palestinian towns of Bethlehem
In a letter to the Foundation, Mrs. Nevine
Hassouna, President of the Islamic Heritage Society wrote: "On behalf
of the Islamic Heritage Society, I would like to thank you and Mr.
Munayyer for taking the time from your busy schedules and participating in
our May program.
As you could yourselves judge from the large
number of members and non-members who attended, there was a vast interest
in your presentation.
I thank you both for sharing your wonderful
collection of antique Palestinian Costumes and embroidery and for the
outstanding job you are doing to preserve the traditions of the
Palestinian culture and art. I wish you lots of success in all your