Edward Said Honored at PHF 12th Anniversary
On April 3, 1999, the Foundation held its Twelfth Anniversary Banquet. The
most heartwarming feature of the banquet was the presence of many friends
and supporters. In all, 450 people attended, several traveling
considerable distance to be there.
On this special day, the Palestinian Heritage Foundation and the
Arab-American community honored Dr. Edward Said. Among those joining in
the celebrations were invited guests, His Eminence Metropolitan Philip
Saliba, Primate of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese in North
America, Drs. Clovis and Hala Maksoud, Dr. and Mrs. Rashid Khalidi, Arab
League Ambassador Khaled Abdalla, former First Lady of Lebanon and
of Parliament, Mrs. Na'ela Mua'wad, Consul General of Lebanon, Mr. Hisham
Hamdan, Mr. Richard Curtiss, Chief Editor of the Washington Report on
Middle East Affairs, Dr. Norman Finklestein Professor of International
Relations at New York University, Simon Shaheen and Ensemble and many
This event coincided with Palestine Land Day, which is celebrated on
March 30 of each year by the Palestinian people in memory of seven
Palestinians from the village of Sakhnin, Upper Galilee, who gave their
lives in defense of their land.
Four of Dr. Said's friends were invited to participate in honoring him:
Dr. Norman Finklestein of New York University, Dr. Rashid Khalidi, of the
University of Chicago, Mr. Richard Curtiss, of the Washington Report on
Middle East Affairs and Ambassador Clovis Maksoud of the American
Farah and Hanan Munayyer presented Dr. Said with the PHF Award, as a
token of appreciation for his unwavering commitment to the Palestinian
cause, the Arab-American community and the Arab nation. Along with the
award came a special gift, a watercolor painting of Dr. Said's home in the
"Talbieh" neighborhood of Jerusalem, by renowned artist Jihan
Tannous. To a standing ovation of over 450 people, Dr.
Said thanked the Foundation, his friends and the audience for their
Said, Jihan and painting of Said's home.
Besides the reception and the speeches, there was a display of
embroidered dresses from the different villages around Jerusalem in honor
of the son of Jerusalem Edward Said, making Jerusalem the underlying theme
of the evening. Further artistic displays were the antique embroidered
scarves hanging over the main podium, and remarkable series of works by
artists Jihan Tannous, Renata Ghannam and Orani Khoury.
The mood of the evening was that of a family
connected. After all, PHF began as an idea which grew to
involve those who
care about a common heritage as members of a large family.
Dr. Said autographing
Metropolitan Saliba Speaks at Foundation Banquet
Metropolitan Philip Saliba, Primate of the Antiochian Orthodox
Christian Archdiocese of North America was keynote speaker at the
Palestinian Heritage Foundation's Twelfth
Anniversary Banquet. His
Eminence, an ardent Arab nationalist, is a symbol of humanity and optimism
to Arabs of many faiths. The following are excerpts from his speech:" I am indeed delighted to be with you on the eve of the Orthodox
commemoration of Christ's triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.
Dr. Said and Metropolitan Philip at PHF
In view of the bloody history of the Holy Land, especially in this
century, we are called to meditate on the peaceful way Jesus conquered the
Holy City on that first Palm Sunday. No swords, no guns, no tanks, no
smart bombs and no bullets were used in His conquest. As a matter of fact,
not one drop of blood was shed.
Metropolitan Saliba addressing PHF Banquet
Compare if you will, this conquest with that of General Allenby who
conquered the Holy City in December 1917 at the end of the First World
War. I would like to express my most sincere compliments to Hanan and
Farah Munayyer, founders of the Palestinian Heritage Foundation, for
planning this auspicious occasion, firstly, to honor our distinguished
friend Professor Edward Said; secondly, to celebrate the Foundation's
twelfth anniversary; and thirdly, to recognize Palestine Land Day.
This cultural and educational foundation deserves our support and
admiration. Farah and Hanan Munayyer have labored to keep us connected to
our past in a strong and vibrant way. People who do not have a past have
no present and will have no future. This is certainly true as long as we
do not allow ourselves to become crushed by the weight of the past or
buried in the grave of history.
We should reflect on the past in order to
deal creatively with the problems of the present and challenges of the
No one can deny that the Arab image in this country has been tarnished
and demonized by both biased propaganda and the lack of an organized and
effective Arab response. The contributions Arabs have made to world
civilization are largely unrecognized except by a few honest university
professors. Our people have excelled in almost every facet of culture.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the main reason we are here is to pay tribute to
a brilliant man, Professor Edward Said…… Professor Said has been a
prolific champion and tireless defender of Arab culture in the face of
certain Orientalists who did not really understand this culture. In this
respect, we are indebted to Professor Said for setting the record
straight. I am sure, however, that the central issue, which occupies and
continues to consume his life, is the tragedy which befell the people of
his beloved Palestine. No one has better articulated or worked harder to
bring this twentieth century tragedy to the attention of the American
Recently, I was struck by an article written by Edward Said and
published in the New York Times Magazine, entitled The One State Solution:
Why the Only Answer to Middle East Peace is Palestinians and Israelis
Living as Equal Citizens Under One Flag. "There can be no
reconciliation," argued Professor Said, " unless both people,
two communities of suffering, resolve that their existence is a secular
fact and that it has to be dealt with as such."
His Eminence enumerated several reasons why Professor Said may arrive
at this conclusion: in particular, the failure of the agreements signed by
Israel and the Palestinians, including the last Wye-River Plantation
agreement, due to Israeli intransigence.
Metropolitan Saliba concluded by asking: " Could such a dark
future for the Palestinians have provoked Professor Said to advocate the
"One State" solution? Unfortunately, the facts on the ground,
including the political climates in Israel and the Arab world do not
support this proposed solution."
Metropolitan Saliba has advocated a vision of a land shared by both
Palestinians and Israelis since 1967:
Given subsequent developments on the regional and international levels,
the chances of a just peace in the Middle East were nill. Thus, I was a
voice in the wilderness. I hope and pray that the One State solution of
Professor Said will not meet the same fate……Very soon, the
Palestinians will have lost everything, rendering any negotiation with the
Israelis nearly pointless.
Ladies and Gentlemen, based on this realistic and dark picture which
Professor Said has painted in his article in AL AHRAM Weekly, 29 July
1998, neither the Holy Land State which I proposed for Arabs and Jews, nor
the One State solution is relevant. I predict and I hope I am wrong, that
sooner or later, what is left of the Palestinians within historic
Palestine, will be living in fragmented, disconnected reservations,
similar to the fate that befell Native American Indians. Does history
repeat itself? I am afraid that sometimes it does.
Despite this rather bleak scenario, I remain optimistic for one reason:
history is not static; it is alive and dynamic. The last fifty years, in
perspective, are but a brief moment in the vast span of Arab history.
Furthermore, I believe that the Palestinians and the Arabs in general will
emerge in the new millennium, picking up all the modern tools of science
and technology to rebuild and rewrite the future for their posterity.
Thus, beyond the long and dark night, there is a new dawn, a new day and a
HRH Prince Turki Donates $10,000 To PHF
His Royal Highness Prince Turki Bin Abdul Aziz, a philanthropist, Arab
nationalist and ardent supporter of education for Arab students and
cultural projects around the world, has donated $10,000 to support the
activities of the Palestinian Heritage Foundation. This generous donation
came on the eve of the Foundation's Twelfth Anniversary, in appreciation
of PHF's continued achievements in promoting Arab art and culture.
On behalf of HRH Prince Turki Bin Abdul Aziz, Mr. Joseph Qutub, the
President of Arab Student Aid International, presented the Palestinian
Heritage Foundation with the $10,000 check on April 23, 1999. His Royal
Highness made a similar contribution of $6000 on the Tenth Anniversary of
PHF. The Foundation would like to thank HRH Prince Turki for his
generosity and support of the Foundation's educational and cultural
Recently, HRH donated $650,000 to build the Faculty of Science and
Engineering at AL KUDS University in Jerusalem.
Reviving a Valuable Tradition
By telling stories, parents and teachers can help
nurture compassion and develop wisdom
By Samia Costandi
As a researcher in the area of philosophy of education and ethics, I am
haunted by the question of how and what we can teach our youth about
Contemporary society has tasted the hatred and resentment that wars
have propagated. It has seen galling examples of powerful countries
dictating to the weak through the incessant bombardment of the innocent
and the defenseless.
We have reaped the fruits of our folly as far as the environment is
concerned: the deterioration of the ozone layer, the eradication of lush,
green forests to create hamburger breeding grounds and the pollution of
air, water and land with dangerous chemicals.
We continue to witness the difficult struggle of developing countries
to become self-sufficient. We also see the complacency of the so-called
developed countries as they swim in affluence and speak about sustainable
development without linking ecological issues with moral ones.
We watch the dismantling of religious institutions without having
figured out how to fill that void. The hearts and mind of our youth have
been captured by technology. Electronic dictates of how and what to think
have supplanted the rich oral and written traditions that served to
nurture our imaginations for centuries.
We have rendered the individual feeble in an overwhelming world
governed by powerful institutions, lobbies and cartels. Our youth struggle
in the throes of fatalism, apathy, disillusionment and resentment. We are
not giving them skills with which to go beyond the level of mere survival
in this highly competitive and materialistic society.
All of this is terrifying and dangerous. We are witnessing the demise
of spirituality in an age where we need it most.
What can one say, then, about teaching young people values? Can values
even be taught?
Let me suggest that telling a story is one of the major vehicles we can
use in our homes and schools to nurture values. Narrative is one of the
most powerful tools at the disposal of parents and teachers today. Few
people need to be taught how to tell a story. It is a human talent and
capacity developed across the ages.
When we examine the mythologies of our respective cultures, we find a
remarkable wealth and richness. The symbols and metaphors of mythology
have captured everything of importance in human history, which are
continually open to interpretation and reinterpretation. Stories about
heroes and heroines who carried their respective societies to new
thresholds of awareness abound. Stories about compassion, sacrifice, will,
honesty, respect, the power of love, integrity, dignity, honor and valor
fill pages of mythic Tales. We carry those tales in our hearts and minds;
many Myths have been transmitted to us orally across the ages in our
diverse communities and societies. Some were told and retold to us as
children during family gatherings around the fireplace.
My grandmother never ceased to tell stories until the day she died. She
imprinted on our young minds many values by calling upon myths, parables
and epigrams, all containing much wisdom. We must revive that tradition
with enthusiasm. Children learn much more from telling a story than they
learn by any other method. The research shows that clearly.
A story allows the child to play different roles in her mind through
the power of imagination. A tale inhabits an expanse that few mediums can
provide; it creates a world in which the child can implicate herself
without the threat of suffering the consequences of real experience. When
such vicarious experiences take place, an understanding by the mind and
heart occur at one and the same time, without the didactic efforts we
misplace when we dictate and lecture, reprimand, punish or chide.
In listening to a story, the student's imagination is prodded,
different possibilities are initiated, a questioning ensues, a playful
evaluation of different possibilities takes place on the emotional and
intellectual levels, as a result of which the learner's understanding is
My sons have indicated to me over the years how important that
tradition has been to them, and the thrill, rapture and richness they
experienced through the stories they were told and read. They continue to
browse through my library looking for treasures. Most of all, I have told
them our story, the story of their parents and grandparents, where we came
from, how we survived, what our dreams, ambitions and goals were and are.
I believe that in the future, values may have to be taught in all
disciplines through the use of narratives. Every teacher of every school
subject is able to introduce some of these elements in their teaching. Our
ministries of education perhaps cannot see this yet, as indicated by the
budgets allotted to values in education-what is called moral education in
Quebec. However, that may be the direction pedagogy will have to take if
it is going to be effective. It is ultimately much more useful to teach
even math and science through a story that incorporates the interplay of
human dimensions than through a collection of abstract formulas listed on
Stories nurture compassion because they allow the listener to put
themselves in the shoes of the other. Stories develop wisdom; they teach
us about making decisions, about being courageous, about taking the road
less traveled. Stories educate us into believing in ourselves and living
in community and communion.
If I can put myself in the shoes of the other, it is likely that I will
not be savagely egotistical, racist or sectarian. If I am compassionate,
it is likely that I will not turn a blind eye to the homeless and poor in
my city. If I am empathic, it is likely that the humiliation of another
human being will give me any satisfaction. If I am nurtured to be tender
and sensitive, the relations between the bird on the tree, the tree
itself, the Earth, the seasons and the whole cycle of life gain new
We have at our disposal a very powerful medium that, if used wisely,
can be instrumental in helping us cross many cultural, social, political,
emotional and intellectual barriers at the dawn of the 21st century. Not
all myths are constructive though. Hierarchical and patriarchal myths that
feed on themes of conquest and domination can be destructive. It is time
that we abandon those myths that feed on conceptual mind traps that have
led us to grave consequences.
Perhaps we can create new myths that are all-inclusive, myths that
promote symbols and metaphors of partnership and sharing in this shrinking
global village, myths based on co-operation rather than competition.
If anything, tell your children your own personal stories, for each
human being is a hero or heroine in their own right as they journey across
the complex path of our human condition.
Samia Costandi is a Ph.D. candidate in the department of culture and
values of McGill University's faculty of education.
Photographic Exploration Of Palestine At Dahesh
"Revealing the Holy Land: The Photographic Exploration of
Palestine," will run June 8 to August 28 at the Dahesh Museum in New
York City. Exquisite nineteenth century photographs document the modern
rediscovery of ancient Palestine ( a territory now comprising Palestine,
Israel, Lebanon, Jordan and parts of Syria ) by the nations of the west
during the first golden age of photography. Ninety-two vintage prints and
two albums document a critical moment in the history of photography, the
early history of scientific Biblical scholarship, and Britain's cultural
and political involvement in the region.
The images include tightly composed details of the architectural
assemblies that record layers of occupation of an ancient city, panoramas
of the Sinai desert that defy any understanding of scale, and iconic views
of Jerusalem sought out by visitors today. The centerpiece of the exhibit
is a group of 35 photographs taken by Sergeant James McDonald of the
British Royal Engineers for their 1864 and 1868 surveys of Jerusalem and
the Sinai. They are exhibited as a group for the first time since they
The museum is located at 601 Fifth Avenue at 48th Street and is open
11am-6 pm, Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is free.
PHF Twelfth Anniversary Banquet Receives
The Palestinian Heritage Foundation's Twelfth Anniversary Banquet was
covered by several publications in the United States, Europe and the
In addition to the coverage in AL AHRAM International the Banquet was
covered by the London based daily AL HAYAT, the California-based weekly
BEIRUT TIMES, AL SUNNARA of Nazareth and the Washington Report on Middle
The three publications focused on PHF's achievements during the past
twelve years and its ability to attract a high caliber of Arab-American,
and American supporters.
In a lengthy article published in the May issue of the Washington
Report on Middle East Affairs, Editor Richard Curtiss, praised the
achievements of the Palestinian Heritage Foundation and paid tribute to
the cofounders of PHF.
Shaheen Dedicates Latest Composition to Honor
At the Twelfth Anniversary Banquet Simon Shaheen, PHF Advisory Board
member, dedicated his latest outstanding composition to his close friend
Dr. Edward Said.
Piano Diplomacy A famed Israeli musician makes
an overture for peace.
Daniel Barenboim has appeared on most of the world's great concert
stages. His recordings have been heard by millions. But until he performed
in a recital hall at Birzeit University earlier this year, the
internationally renowned Israeli pianist and music director of the Chicago
Symphony Orchestra had never played on the West Bank.
The trip to Birzeit from Tel Aviv, where Barenboim grew up, takes about
an hour, but it represents a lifetime's journey. In 1967, just after the
Six-Day War, the 24-year-old pianist performed a series of concerts to
support the Israeli war effort. Since then, he has grown increasingly
critical of what he sees as his country's harsh treatment of Palestinians
and its failure to make peace with them after many years of military
occupation. Last year, when asked to help commemorate Israel's 50th
anniversary, he declined. "It was not an act of defiance," says
Barenboim. "I did not have the feeling I could celebrate with an open
The idea for the concert at Birzeit, a Palestinian school repeatedly
shut down by the Israeli, was Barenboim's. But the story behind it began
six years ago when he met Edward Said in a hotel in London. A talented
pianist, Said has much in common with Barenboim, and fast, the two men
became friends. "What appeals to me about Edward is the ability to
connect art, literature, music and politics," says Barenboim. "
I try to be like this."
Early last year, Said arranged for Barenboim to have dinner at the home
of Birzeit president Hanna Nasir, who had been exiled by the Israelis for
20 years, and his wife, Tania. Like most Israelis, Barenboim had never
spent an evening in a Palestinian home on the West Bank. "Are you
sure it's safe?" he asked Said as their taxi made its way from
Jerusalem into the West Bank. Barenboim was particularly drawn to Tania
Nasir, a lover of art, poetry and music with a large, embracing
personality. The pianist responded by inviting her to Jerusalem for a
recital. And he dedicated an encore to her, telling his audience that he
had spent an evening at the home of a leading West Bank citizen and had
been treated not just as a friend but as a member of the family.
Soon after, Barenboim told Said he wanted to perform on the West
Bank---something no Israeli musician had done since the territory was
occupied from Jordan. With Said's help and with the cooperation of the
Nasir's the recital was scheduled for January 29. The 500 people who
jammed Kamal Nasir Hall (named after a cousin of Hanna Nasir's who was
assassinated by the Israelis in Lebanon in 1973) burst into applause when
Barenboim walked onstage. Whatever bitterness might have been lingering in
the hall was banished when he played the dramatic opening chords of
Beethoven's "Pathetique" Sonata. By the end of the evening,
after a rousing four-hand encore with Salim Abboud, a young Palestinian
pianist, the audience was on its feet, applauding wildly. Even the three
apprehensive Israelis who had brought a Steinway from Jerusalem for
Barenboim to play were impressed. "This is the way to make
peace," one of them said. "With music and with love."