Palestinian Heritage Foundation
15th Anniversary Banquet
By Jane Adas
Washington Report on Middle East
Affairs, June/July 2002
Fifteen years ago, Hanan and Farah Munayyer
inaugurated the Palestine
Heritage Foundation with a collection of traditional Palestinian costumes and embroidery. The Foundation has grown to the extent that
the Munayyer hope to open the first museum in North America dedicated to the
preservation of traditional Arab culture. Today, with Israel's ongoing
systematic destruction of Palestinian society, their efforts seem more important
Metropolitan Saliba and Professor Walid Khalidi
Some 300 guests celebrated the Foundation's anniversary April
28 at a
banquet in Teaneck, New Jersey. Wedding costumes from the 19th and early 20th century were
modeled, accompanied by the music of Simon Shaheen and his Ensemble. Because each area in Palestinian had its distinct pattern
and style, variety
of clothing is
remarkable. The audience particularly cheered for the "bride" from Jenin.
It was most fitting that Prof. Walid Khalidi,
author of Before Their Diaspora, From Haven to Conquest, and ; All That
gave the keynote address. He pointed out that the Sept. 11 assault, which
was condemned globally and without reservations, was the first time in 187 years
that the continental United States has come under attack, shattering America's
sense of invulnerability. The trauma for Arab-Americans in their home of choice,
has been compounded by what is happening in their homes of origin, where the fall-out
from Sept. 11 already in is evidence.
Dress from Al Khalil, Hebron
Khalidi described Palestinian losses during the Al Aqsa
intifada, accelerated by Prime Minister Sharon, as colossal: nearly 2000 ; killed and 40,000 wounded, the vast majority of them civilian. The media accuses
Palestinians of targeting civilians, but
Khalidi; said, Zionists have done so
before the formation of Israel. And, he added, for 50 years, from -Qibya in 1953
and Beirut in 1982 until today- the chief exponent of Israeli
civilians has been Ariel Sharon.
According to Khalidi, no Israeli military leader has
killed more, nor done more, damage to Arab civilian life-yet President Bush
calls Sharon a "man of peace."
Dress from Asduud, Gaza region.
Israel and the U.S. incessantly demand
that Arafat do more to stop Palestinian violence. Until 2001, however,all suicide
bombers, without exception, belonged to groups in opposition to Arafat and Oslo.
Fatah's Al- Aqsa Brigade took up the tactic in reaction to Barak's targeting of
PA personnel, headquarters, and facilities, a policy much
When Israel attacks homes and places
of work with F16s, Apaches helicopters, and Merkava tanks Khalidi said, against peoplearmed
only with small weapons, and when the very survival of Palestinian civil society is
threatened, the temptation to resort to suicide bombing is not easy to resist.
Dress from Galilee and Southern Syria
Although, Khalidi said, he did not know Arafat's role in the arms smuggling incident,
know that it is Arafat's duty to arm his forces when the Israeli army threatens
the Palestinian heartland. To do so is no more a violation of the spirit of Oslo
than is Israel's doubling of the Israeli settler population during the course of
the peace process.
The outlook, according to Khalidi, is grim and could
become still worse. The master key is to be found, as has always been in the White House. From Plan Dalet in 1948 to the current Operation Defensive Wall-
with only the exception of the 1956 attack onEgypt- every Israeli
military action has been preceded by a green light from Washington. But, Khalidi
concluded, Palestinians are not the only people to fight colonialism at a
great cost. Empires don't last forever,
he reminded the audience, and empires far
greater than Israel are gone.