Palestinian Heritage Foundation
Newsletter of the Palestinian Heritage Foundation
National Cathedral Hosts Palestinian Heritage Exhibition
A Palestinian arts and crafts exhibit was inaugurated on March 2, 1998 by the Palestinian Heritage Foundation in the Garrett Lounge, Pilgrim Observation Gallery, at the Washington National Cathedral. Cosponsored by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), and the American Committee on Jerusalem, the display remained open to the public through April 26, 1998.
On display were traditional Palestinian costumes representing Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Al Khalil (Hebron), contemporary embroidery by Palestinian workshops in Lebanon, ceramic artwork by the famous Balian Palestine Pottery in Jerusalem, Hebron glass painted with Arabic calligraphy and art pieces with kufic Quranic verses by renown Palestinian artist Jamal Badran, olive wood statues of Jesus Christ carrying a cross, the last supper and the Virgin Mary, and mother-of-pearl plaque, made in Bethlehem, brass plaques engraved with Arabic calligraphy of The Lord’s prayer and Quranic verses, and many other items including authentic silver jewelry.
On Sunday, March 8, 1998, the Cathedral held a reception to commemorate the opening of this unique exhibit. The event, which lasted for two hours was attended by about 100 guests from the Washington area, New Jersey and New York, including Dr. Khaled Abdalla, Arab League ambassador to the United States, the Egyptian ambassador, representative of the Lebanese Embassy, former United States ambassadors to the Arab World and friends of PHF, ADC and the Cathedral.
In his opening remarks, Reverend Allen Geyler, representing the Bishop welcomed the guests and praised PHF activities in promoting Arab culture and traditions in the United States. PHF expresses its appreciation and gratitude to the National Cathedral Staff for their kindness and generosity in hosting this exclusive Palestinian Arts and Crafts exhibit during March and April 1998. Also, PHF would like to thank the Arab-American community in the Washington, DC, area for lending their support to the exhibit.
Approximately 25 ladies volunteered to guide the visitors and answer questions during the duration of the exhibit. One hundred thousand people visited the Cathedral and saw the display.
PHF celebrates 11 years of achievements
By Maha Munayyer
April coincides with the anniversary of PHF inception in 1987. We knew back then that we would face many challenges in our attempt to educate people about Palestinian culture, but our pride in Arab history and civilization overtook our fear. We knew that eventually, we would succeed.
Success did not come easily, however. Many critics initially believed that our organization would fail as infant Arab organizations often do. Yet among the disappointments came a few voices of support which motivated us to continue. In particular, we thank John Mahoney, Executive Director of AMEU, Joseph Qutub, President of ASAI, and Dr. Nadim Kassem for their unwavering faith.
As the years passed, more people began to recognize the need for and appreciate the value of PHF’s efforts. Today, on our eleventh birthday, we are proud of the high quality of education that we have provided to our Arab and American audiences. Recounting our successes would fill many pages (which, in itself, is a success), but here is a brief reminder of what we have achieved in the past year.
Since the Foundation’s stunning Tenth Anniversary Banquet in March 1997, the “Friends of the Foundation” has attracted over one hundred supporters. PHF has been featured in ARAMCO WORLD, a highly respected cultural publication, AL HAKIM, the America-Arab Medical Association’s quarterly, AL HAYAT, the daily London newspaper, AL SUNNARA, a weekly Nazareth newspaper, the Cairo daily AL AHRAM, and the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. Moreover, it has been featured in television and radio broadcasts on ANA television of Washington, DC, ART Television and Dubai Television of the United Arab Emirates. Finally, pieces from the Munayyer Collection have been exhibited at the Hermitage Museum in HO HO KUS, New Jersey, the West Point Military Academy in New York, the International Friendship Festival in Long Beach, California, Mahrajan Al Fan at the Brooklyn Museum, the Denville Museum of New Jersey, and at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, DC.
Our next and most monumental goal is to establish an ARAB HERITAGE CENTER, comprised of a CENTER FOR ARAB CULTURE and a MUSEUM OF ARAB HERITAGE. Both need intensive work and planning. We thank you for your moral and financial support for our past activities and hope that you will help us make this new dream come to fruition.
Palestinian Embroidery and Crafts at Princeton School
On Sunday, November 16 of last year, Leslie Ayyoub Moran attended Hanan’s lecture to the Princeton Middle East Society.
Born in the United States to Syrian parents, and married to an Irish-American, Leslie felt proud of her Arab background when she saw the embroidered dresses that were modeled by young American-Arab girls of her daughter’s age. Leslie was also fascinated by the contemporary embroidery cross-stitched on the pillow cases she acquired that evening to decorate her home.
Interested in expanding the public’s awareness of the history, culture and crafts of what she calls the ‘homeland’, Leslie called the Foundation for help! Within hours PHF sent her a box containing materials specially designed for schools. Here what Leslie had to say a few weeks later:
Thank you so very much for lending me these wonderful things. They were an excellent presentation and teaching tools. I was so inspired by the children’s abilities to learn and be enriched by all the information I taught them. My daughter was truly proud of her heritage and as you can imagine, that meant an awful lot to me. So, I thank you again very dearly.
The Foundation is proud of what Leslie has done to expand public awareness in our culture and arts. She has instilled a positive image of Arabs in the minds of the young. PHF encourages all to do the same. Congratulations and thank you Leslie.
Palestinian Quilt to tour US
To commemorate the dispossession of Palestine “Project Quilt” was launched last February by the great efforts of several Arab-American organizations, including ADC and the Palestinian Heritage Foundation. The quilt is made-up of 418 panels embroidered on green, black and red fabric squares representing the Palestinian villages systematically destroyed by Israel in 1948.
To complete this project, the New Jersey Chapter of the ADC, and the Palestinian Heritage Foundation were assigned 32 panels representing villages in the Lydda region. The embroidery was done by AL Najdeh workshop in Beirut, Lebanon. Each of these 418 panels is embroidered with the village’s name, population and date of destruction, along with various motifs cross-stitched with splendid colors.
ADC members and friends of PHF have been very generous in sponsoring the cost of these panels in time to sew them together in preparation for a historic tour. The tour commenced in New York on May 15, 1998, and will move to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, Jacksonville, and finally, Washington DC.
The arrival of the quilt in Washington will coincide with ADC National Convention in June 1998. The quilt, made in the form of a flag, will be placed on the stairs of the Capitol and then will be marched to the White House. This procession will commemorate the tragedy that befell the Palestinian people and their systematic expulsion from their homeland in 1948.
PHF featured in “ALHAKIM” and the daily “AL HAYAT”
Last Fall, “ Al Hakim”, a quarterly periodical published by the National Arab-American Medical Association in the United States, published a front-page lengthy report covering the Palestinian Heritage Foundation cultural and educational activities during the past ten years.
The article, authored by Dr. George Younan, Chairman of “Al Hakim” and past president of the NAAMA, was extensive, well researched and accompanied by photographs of antique Palestinian traditional costumes. “Al Hakim” reaches hundreds of AAMA members across the United States and institutions around the world.
On Friday, February 13, 1998 the London-based Lebanese daily “Al Hayat”, which has a worldwide circulation, published a half-page article covering PHF activities in the US and around the world. Responses to this article have come from as far as Cairo, Beirut, London, Paris and Tennessee.
Dubai TV Beams Cathedral Exhibit Via Satellite
The Palestinian Arts and Crafts Exhibit at the National Cathedral received wide coverage by Dubai Television which broadcasts worldwide out of Washington DC. via the Satellite Channel.
“Echoes from America” a weekly program produced in Dubai, aired twenty-minute segment of the Cathedral exhibit, the opening reception and close-ups of the items on display, along with a detailed chronology of PHF activities during the past several years.
Ms. Rima Laham, Dubai TV’s Washington correspondent covered the exhibit and the reception, and conducted interviews with Farah, Dr. Khalid Abdalla, League of Arab States Ambassador to the United States, Ambassador Andrew Killgore, Editor of the Washington Report, Professor Hala Maksoud, President of ADC, Dr. Nadim Kassem, PHF Advisory Board member and Jane Miller of the Cathedral Staff. Ms. Laham explained to her audience the significance of the exhibit, the only Arab event in Washington to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of the dispossession of Palestine, and gave detailed information on the rare and unique items on display.
Reactions to this widely seen report reached the Foundation from around the world, including Amman, Jordan the United Arab Emirates, Syria, Palestine and Nazareth in Galilee.
Foundation Acquires Additional Palestinian Textiles
Mrs. Candy Baker of Falls Church, VA who enjoyed the articles and photographs in ARAMCO WORLD, contacted the Munayyers a few weeks ago regarding several antique Palestinian embroidered textiles that she inherited from her grandmother.
Mrs. Baker’s grandmother bought these items in Palestine in 1896 while on a two-year honeymoon around the world. Two of the items, a dress and a scarf from Ramallah are embroidered with lavender and green silk thread on hand-woven fabric, a rare color combination for this area. The other item, an open coat embroidered with gold metallic thread on velvet fabric, from Albania, which was an Ottoman protectorate when the coat was made.
The Munayyers wishes to thank Mrs. Baker for her interest in their activities, her kindness and for her readiness to part with items very dear to her heart. We do assure Mrs. Baker that these special textiles are in good hands and will serve a great cause.
Palestinian Costumes at LA International Friendship Festival
On Saturday April 18, the Palestinian Heritage Foundation participated in the International Friendship Festival at the Queen Mary Event Park in Long Beach, California. Palestinian costumes representing the Bethlehem, Ramallah, Jerusalem, Hebron, Jaffa, Lydda, Isdud, Gaza and Galilee regions were modeled by American-Arab young women to the beat of Arabic folk music. Costumes representing Jordan, Marocco, Syria and Lebanon were also presented. The event was covered by “AL KUDS AL ARABI” of London and the Egyptian “AL AHRAM”. ART television beamed a special program worldwide.
THE SPACE BETWEEN OUR FOOTSTEPS
Poems and Paintings from the Middle East: selected by
Naomi Shihab Nye
Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division
1230 Avenue of the Americas. New York, NY 10020
Naomi Shihab Nye did it again!!!!! In THE SPACE BETWEEN OUR FOOTSTEPS, Naomi Shihab Nye, Guggenheim Fellowship recipient and commentator for National Public Radio, brings together the work of 130 poets and artists who offer a medley of voices and visions to create a glorious tapestry of a place rich with history and culture- the Middle East.
In a starred review, Booklist says: “As in her stirring global anthology, This Same Sky, Palestinian American writer Nye brings us a wealth of new voices…….The design….is open and beautiful…..Adults as much as teens will appreciate the poetry of place and the longing for home.
With the continuous turmoil in the Middle east, Nye feels that it is important to present a fuller picture of this multifaceted culture. She believes that “human beings everywhere hunger for deeper-than-headline news about one another. Poetry and art are some of the best ways this heartfelt ‘news’ may be exchanged.” THE SPACE BETWEEN OUR FOOTSTEPS offers works which are lyrical, mysterious, tragic, and humorous; it opens the door to the Middle East and beckons readers to explore our common ground.
Over 500 “calls for entries” were mailed, faxed, and e-mailed to poets, artists, cultural institutions, and galleries in 19 countries in the Middle East to obtain the multifaceted selections included in THE SPACE BETWEEN OUR FOOTSTEPS. It combines stunning full-color artwork with moving poetry from such luminaries as Adonis, Yehuda Amichai, and Chaibia Tallal (as well as those whose work has never been published before) to evoke a compelling and dramatic picture of one of the most misunderstood and misrepresented areas of the world.
Award-winning poet, writer, and anthologist Naomi Shihab Nye is highly respected in the literary world for her diverse collection of work. She has traveled extensively throughout the Middle East. Her Palestinian father, Aziz Shihab, worked as a translator and advisor on this project. She has also been a visiting poet and teacher in both elementary and high schools for over twenty years.
Throughout her work, Nye’s love and respect for the Middle East shines through. Naomi Shihab Nye lives with her family in San Antonio, Texas.
Fourth Mahrajan Al Fan Celebrates Arab Art Music And Culture
By Inea Bushnaq
With the fourth Mahrajan, on the weekend of May 9/10 1998, Simon Shaheen once again provided a musical program that combined the nostalgically familiar with the new and unusual for sold out audiences from the greater metropolitan area.
On Saturday night, Zaghloul al Damour who is also known as the King of Zajal debated the merits of passion versus reason, head versus heart, with his sparring partner Fayez El Moghrabi. Singing their arguments in turn, each tried to demolish the other’s points in spontaneous folk poetry full of puns and wordplay.
In the second half of the concert, which lasted almost two hours, Simon Shaheen and the full Near Eastern Music Ensemble played without interruption accompanying Sabah Fakhri in song after song after song! With his extraordinary voice Sabah Fakhri stirred his listeners’ emotions lifting some of them out of their seats to dance in the aisles.
During this concert Mahrajan Al Fan awarded certificates to poet Naomi Shihab Nye and ethnomusicologist Jihad Racy in recognition of their contributions to Arab American culture. Simon Shaheen himself received recognition from New York City Council, in honor of the Mahrajan, for enriching New York’s cultural scene.
Remembering the tornado which hit the last Mahrajan, this year all events at the Brooklyn Museum on Sunday were held indoors. Unusual for May, a drenching rain poured all day…interpreted as a sign of “Kheir” and “barakeh” by M.C. Nadia Hijab. Indeed the atmosphere was one of a family holiday throughout. The aroma of Moroccan and Lebanese cuisine and a score of large round tables invited socializing in the museum’s rotunda, which buzzed with family gatherings and reunions of friends.
As usual, the display of Arab embroidered costumes from the Munayyer Collection was the most eye-catching of the arts and crafts- a riot of colors. Jamila El-Alaoui’s delicate Henna designs and Hanan Munayyer’s tile decorating attracted a never ending line of enthusiasts. Interlink’s display of not easily found literature on the Middle East and Arab culture was worth the trip to Brooklyn. Naomi Shihab Nye was on hand to sign her own books. In addition there was embroidery lessons, calligraphy and children’s activities.
Sunday’s musical program featured Hamza El Din powerful magic with his soft singing and complex use of a simple Tar. His melding of Nubian rhythms with Arabic music, a new fusion, has made him known worldwide: his listeners feel they are in the presence of something rare. The Near Eastern Music Ensemble accompanied our local talent singers, Fahim Dandan and Ghada Ghanem, whose fans increase from year to year.
Finally, Audrey Shabbas who organized the children’s program gave a superb workshop for middle and high school teachers on Sunday morning. Her curriculum for teaching Arab Culture and Islam is outstanding and probably more effective than many efforts to correct the current negative Arab image in the United States.
Mrs. Carr Donates Palestinian Costumes To PHF
Mrs. Margaret Carr of Los Angeles, California donated three old Palestinian costumes and a scarf to the Foundation. In her letter to the PHF, care-of Aramco World, Mrs. Carr wrote: I read with great interest and appreciation the article in the March/April issue of ARAMCO WORLD entitled “These Stitches Speak.” My husband and I worked in Jordan in the early sixties and while there, I acquired three Palestinian-embroidered dresses, two in natural cotton and one in black velvet.
I had the dresses for almost 30 years and I believe they were quite old when I acquired them. I now would like to see them in the care of a museum or textile association so their beauty could be appreciated and, more importantly, conserved.
I had intended to contact a number of museums, galleries, auction houses, and the like which are particularly attuned to Middle East collections to gauge their interest, if any, in the purchase of these dresses until I read “These Stitches Speak.” Then I thought you might be interested in these dresses so I am contacting you first.
The dresses come from the villages of Deir Tarif, Budros, and Gimzu in the Lydda region. Arriving two days before Mahrajan Al Fan, one of the dresses was included in the display all day Sunday.
The Foundation would like to thank Mr. and Mrs. Carr for their generosity and commitment.