Palestinian Heritage Foundation 

Newsletter of the Palestinian Heritage Foundation
   Volume 4, No. 2                  December 1998    

نشرة مؤسسة التراث الفلسطيني

PHF Awarded Cultural and Heritage Award

The Palestinian Heritage Foundation was awarded the Cultural and Heritage Award for 1998 by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) at the Award Banquet during the 15th Annual National Convention held on June 13, 1998 in Crystal City, Virginia.

In her letter to the Foundation, ADC President Dr. Hala Maksoud wrote: I am writing to invite you to accept the Cultural and Heritage Award for your tireless and outstanding efforts in promoting Arab cultural heritage. We will be honored to welcome you and recognize your continuous efforts. Looking forward to welcoming you amongst us at the upcoming Fifteenth National Convention, (Shaping the Future.)”

Presenting the award to Hanan was ADC National Board Member Dr. Safa Rifka. After introducing Hanan, Dr. Rifka described the nature and magnitude of PHF activities by enumerating the various educational programs and exhibitions undertaken by the Foundation to promote a positive image and a better understanding of the Arabs through art and cultural programs. Dr. Rifka also praised the work accomplished by Hanan and Farah on behalf of all Arabs in the United States and around the world.

Before an audience of over seven hundred participants, Foundation President, Hanan Munayyer thanked ADC for their thoughtfulness and recognition of PHF’s work over the past eleven years.

In her remarks, Hanan emphasized the need for Arab-American organizations to coordinate their efforts and pool their resources in order to achieve more success. She offered as an example the cooperation between PHF and ADC in planning and presenting a beautiful cultural display of Arab art and crafts at the Washington National Cathedral during March and April of this year.

Hanan thanked those friends who stood by the Foundation morally and financially, including ARAMCO WORLD magazine which has helped publicize the Foundation’s activities throughout the world.

Finally, Hanan shared PHF’s dream of establishing an ARAB HERITAGE CENTER comprised of a CENTER OF ARAB CULTURE and a MUSEUM OF ARAB HERITAGE.


Foundation To Honor Edward Said At Land Day Banquet

The Palestinian Heritage Foundation will celebrate its 12th Anniversary on Saturday April 3, 1999. This event will coincide with Palestine Land Day, which is celebrated on March 30, of each year, in memory of seven Palestinians from Sakhnin, Upper Galilee, who gave their life in defense of their land.

On this special day, the Palestinian Heritage Foundation and and the Arab-American community will honor Professor Edward Said.

In an article in the New York Times, writer Janny Scott described professor Edward Said as follows: “[a] man of many dimensions. He is one of the most important literary critic alive, a professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia, the author of 15 books, a music critic, a scholar of opera, a pianist… and arguably the most eloquent spokesman for the Palestinian cause in the West…. Prof. Said has done as much as anyone to raise the profile of the Palestinian cause in American intellectual life.

He is a relentless critic of Israeli policy on the Palestinians [and] of United States foreign policy in the Middle East… Mr. Said is a brilliant, charismatic, passionate… [and] a personal model, managing to combine a rigorous intellectual life and impassioned political engagement”

The Land Day Gala, will be a special event which will celebrate Arab culture, Art, history, and music. The evening will take place at the Marriott at Glenpointe Hotel in Teaneck, New Jersey.

Please join us and Professor Said’s friends in honoring and thanking a distinguished man who made us proud to be Palestinians.


Foundation Acquires Additional Syrian Textiles

Ms. May Richards of Middleburg, Virginia, spent many years in the Middle East before she retired from the Foreign Service few years ago. During her tour in the region she collected hundreds of textiles and items of embroidery from Palestine, Syria, Turkey, Lebanon and other countries. Her love for this art is well-expressed throughout her home which Farah visited in April 1998. Embroidered pillows adorne the whole house, Middle Eastern curtains cover the windows and doors, and brass and mother-of-pearl items occupy nearly every corner of her home.

Rare collection of authentic Bethlehem “Shatwehs” head pieces.

Ms. Richards has dedicated at least two rooms of her house to store all her embroidery and handicrafts. This unique section of the house is also where she converts some of the fabric and embroidered items into beautiful pillows that decorate her home.

The Foundation acquired from Ms. Richards six embroidered dresses, two open coats, one embroidered pantaloon with a complementing vest, all from Syria, and a Bedouin Burqo’ (face-cover) from Palestine.

Recently, Ms. Richards displayed many embroidered items at the ADC National Convention in Washington as part of a Middle Eastern “souk” (market), where she sold items to the public. Ms. Richards’ activities and her beautifully decorated home were featured in The Washington Times Magazine late last March.


$7000 Embroidery Sales For Palestinian Camps In Lebanon

For the past eleven years, the Palestinian Heritage Foundation has been promoting and selling items of embroidery produced by Palestinian women living in refugee camps in Lebanon in order to help Palestinians in the camps make ends meet.

PHF is proud to announce that its sales during the past twelve months has totaled $7000. This amount reflects the Foundation’s hard work on behalf of our people in the camps, so that they can enjoy improved medical services, adequate clothing, and better schooling and nutrition.

If each Palestinian family in the United States bought one embroidered pillow a year, the donation would substantially improve the lives of our brothers and sisters in the camps.

The Foundation would like to encourage all of its supporters to purchase embroidered items and give them as gifts as often as possible.

Mrs. FitzHugh Donates Palestinian Costume To PHF

Mrs. Elizabeth West FitzHugh of Mitchellville, Maryland. donated a Palestinian costume, headpiece, belt, and scarf from Ramallah to the Foundation. Mrs. FitzHugh learned about PHF from the March/April issue of ARAMCO WORLD and later from the Palestinian Heritage Arts and Crafts Exhibition at the Washington National Cathedral.

In her letter to the Foundation Mrs. FitzHugh wrote: The costume I sent you was purchased for me in Ramallah in May or June of 1941 when I was fifteen. My impression has always been that it was new at that time.

My father was a professor of chemistry at the American University of Beirut and I was born and grew up in Lebanon. My family was evacuated from Beirut in May 1941 and spent a month in Ramallah. I lived and worked in the Middle East off and on after I graduated from Vassar with major in chemistry in 1947.

Although I have not visited the Middle East since 1958 I have obvious reasons for a deep interest in the area. I am pleased to have my costume go to a worthy cause like the Palestinian Heritage Foundation where it will be preserved and help to provide documentation of the history of the Palestinian people.

The Foundation thanks Mrs. Elizabeth FitzHugh for her generosity and commitment to this art.


Extensive Coverage of PHF in AL AHRAM International

In a one page article published on Tuesday, June 2, 1998 AL AHRAM International of Egypt singled out the Palestinian Heritage Foundation for its cultural activities as the most effective Arab-American organization in the United States promoting Arab culture, art and traditions,

The Cairo based Arabic publication with worldwide distribution, approached PHF upon learning of the unique and historical exhibition at the Washington National Cathedral during March and April 1998.

The paper interviewed Hanan, focusing mainly on her research during the past eleven years relative to the origin and history of Middle East art and crafts, throughout the Canaanite, Greco-Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Crusader, and Ottoman eras and its impact on Europe and Western Civilization. The paper also praised the Foundation’s cultural activities across the United States and Canada and its impact on American public opinion.

On June 9, 1998 AL AHRAM reported on the upcoming ADC National Convention and the expected recognition of the Palestinian Heritage Foundation as the recipient of the 1998 Cultural and Heritage Award given by ADC, the largest grassroots American-Arab Organization in the United States. PHF will provide copies of the article upon request.

Special Thank You from The International Friendship Festival

This is to thank you for your participation in the International Friendship Festival held in Long Beach on April 18th and 19th, 1998. Your support and enthusiasm with regards to this project is very much appreciated. You and the Palestinian Heritage Foundation hold a very special place in our hearts. The Munayyer Collection of Syrian and Palestinian dresses was exquisite.

As you know, the International Friendship Festival seeks to educate our children about the wealth of cultural diversity in existence and to provide positive role models to youngsters of all races. Countless principals and teachers told us that there were children present at the Long Beach event who had never experienced cultures outside their own and who were amazed at the number of countries and traditions represented at the event. We are thankful to have had big-hearted supports such as yourself in our midst.

             Costume show by the Palestinian Heritage Foundation at the Friendship Festival, Los Angeles, California.

I look forward to working with you in further events and the International Friendship Festivals as they travel the United States and the World. We are currently negotiating with the Olympic Planning Committee to incorporate The International Friendship Festival into the 2002 host city’s preparatory and celebratory event schedules as the “Spirit of the Olympiad” and are also working on bringing the event to Hawai.

Once again, thank you for the wonderful job you did and for joining us in promoting cultural harmony to our communities and, especially, our children.


PHF Participate In Brooklyn Children Museum Program

By Edith Doron The Brooklyn Children’s Museum, the first museum designed expressly for children, has recently featured a very special program on the adaptations of plant life and the nomadic cultures of one of the most demanding environment on earth: the desert.

The exhibition entitled Chilling in the Desert, used a variety of hands-on activities to challenge children to think about what it takes to survive in the climate of the Saharan and Naqab deserts. Children enjoyed learning about the ways of Bedouin and Tuareg peoples as well as discovering what makes desert plants so amazing. Visitors explored many artifacts from B.C.M’s rich collection including a Tuareg camel saddle and goatskin shoes. What made this program truly complete, however, was the authentic Palestinian double dress on loan from the Munayyer Collection of the Palestinian Heritage Foundation. 

Dress from Al Obaidiya village at Brooklyn Children Museum.

Children were in awe at the sheer size and beauty of the dress and hastily proceeded to mimic its style with the open fabric that was available to them. In the inspiring presence of the authentic double dress, children and their parents shared in the fun of dressing up in layered cloth of various textures and colors. Once fully robed, they gathered in the shade of the Bedouin-style tent right on the gallery floor and explored a goatskin water bag while sipping hot tea. As the Museum’s centennial approaches, we toast the Munayyer family for helping us continue to fulfill our mission: helping children develop an understanding of and respect for themselves, their neighbors, and the larger world around them.

Edith Doron is the Cultural Program Developer at the B.C.M . 


PHF Participate In Paterson High School Graduation

On July 31, 1998 the proud parents of 168 Arab-American children from different academic levels participated in a graduation ceremony held at the Charles Riley public school in Paterson, New Jersey. The students were enrolled in The Cultural Enrichment and Arabic Language Summer Program, sponsored by the local Arab-American Civic Organization in Passaic County. The curriculum included Arabic language, Arab history and civilization, and religion.

The success of the summer program, the first of its kind in the area, encouraged the administration to initiate a Fall session to benefit those who missed the previous session.

The highlight of the graduation festivities was a Dabkeh dance performed by the students, dressed in traditional Palestinian costumes, Hattas and Kuftans on loan from the Farah and Hanan Munayyer Collection and the Palestinian Heritage Foundation. Present at this special occasion were the Superintendent of Paterson’s Schools, principals and educational and political leaders of the city.

The Palestinian Heritage Foundation congratulates the organizers of this unique educational program which enriches our children’s lives with Arab history, culture and civilization dating back to 1500 B.C..

The Foundation feels privileged to have helped make this event memorable. Ensuring the success of programs such as this will continue to be PHF’s mission.


Palestine: Fifty Years of Dispossession Celebrated At Indiana University.

This past September the community of Bloomington, Indiana and the faculties of English, History, and Political Science and the American and cultural Studies Programs at Indiana University commemorated fifty years of Palestinian dispossession. The week long program featured photo exhibits, films, poetry, and traditional costumes.

Palestinian crafts and embroidered items at Indiana University

The photo exhibit reflected the Palestinian experience during 50 years of occupation and included 50 photos and 25 panels and charts depicting the Palestinian experience during that period. The film and video presentations included the U.S. premiere on Palestine made by Edward Said, professor of comparative English literature at Columbia University, and Tom Hayes’ two films “Native Sons: Palestinians in exile” and “ People and the Land.”

Elsa Harik of Bloomington, Indiana presented a lecture on Palestinian Cultural Identity, utilizing embroidered artifacts and needlework. Her talk demonstrated an outstanding aspect of a long established, complex, and vibrant culture that is unique to the Palestinians: Colorful costumes and embroidery.

The same week, a five-day festival featuring all sorts of first-rate folk and ethnic musical artists, Arab arts and crafts, and an International Bazaar representing the local Arab-American Society, was open to the public. Fourth and fifth graders in the school system were brought in by the convention center to watch performances and take part in various activities. The Palestinian Heritage Foundation is proud to have contributed to the success of this cultural event. Ms. Harik contacted PHF for assistance and the Foundation sent out a package of crafts and embroidered items to add to the display. Visitors particularly admired the poster of ten Palestinian women dressed in costumes representing the different regions of Palestine.


Foundation Adds “Beit Anya” Dress and Al Khalil “Eraqiyeh” Headpiece To Collection

The Foundation has recently added two additional antique Palestinian garments to its collection: a “Ghabani” dress from the village of Beit Ania, or “Al Azariyeh”, outside Jerusalem. This 1920-1930 dress, was purchased from Mrs. Joan Smith of Cranbury, New Jersey.

Ms. Smith, a former Peace Corp officer and a subscriber of ARAMCO WORLD, contacted the Foundation after reading the articles in the March/April issue. Ms. Smith was stationed in Turkey in the early 1960s as part of the Peace Corp. In 1966, she visited Jerusalem and purchased the dress at the “souk”.

The other item is an Al Khalil “Erakiyeh” headpiece. It was acquired from Mr. Dale Van Atta of Virginia, a staff writer for Reader’s Digest who happened to learn about PHF from the exhibition at the Washington National Cathedral last March. Mr. Van Atta bought the headpiece when he spent sometime in Amman, Jordan in 1988.

Bethlehem 2000 At The United Nations A display of Palestinian arts and crafts was exhibited at the United Nations in commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people. This ocassion was held at the United Nations lobby and included a variety of olive-wood and mother-of-pearl crafts from Bethlehem.

The exhibit’s opening ceremony on Monday, November 30, 1998, was attended by UN personnel, Mr. Farouk Kaddoumi, Head of the Political Department of the PLO, and Palestinians from the Metropolitan Area.