Palestinian Heritage Foundation
Newsletter of the Palestinian Heritage Foundation
PHF Honors Clovis Maksoud on 16th Anniversary
Palestinian Heritage Foundation, September 13, 2003, Teaneck, NJ
The Palestinian Heritage Foundation held its 16th anniversary banquet in Teaneck, New Jersey, on September 13th. Some of the Foundation’s achievements of the past year include Palestinian costume shows, lectures, and exhibits in Montreal, Princeton, colleges in New Jersey, New York, and Maryland, and Canberra, Australia. It also contributed parts of its collection to the six-month exhibition on Arab Americans at the Museum of the City of New York. The Foundation has recently launched a website: www.palestineheritage.org.
Two special exhibits honored Arab American women who recently died. The Palestinian actress, Bushra Karaman, was a major force in establishing Palestinian theater and cinema. In her memory, and in order to make Palestinian cinema more available to those in the diaspora, the Palestine Heritage Foundation supports and has contributed to the creation of a Palestinian film archive at Columbia University.
Dr. Hala Maksoud, a university professor and former president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC),
was also the co-founder of the Committee for the Preservation of Palestine Heritage in Washington, D.C. The exhibit in her memory featured traditional Arab dresses from her personal collection. The Foundation contributed portions of the proceeds from the banquet to the Hala Salaam Maksoud Foundation for Arab American Leadership.
The founders of the Palestine Heritage Foundation, Farah and Hanan Munayyer, presented Maksoud with a plaque honoring his achievements. Among others paying tribute, Mary Rose Oakar, formerly a congresswoman and currently president of ADC, Dr. and Mrs. Ziad Asali, president of American Task Force on Palestine, Farid Abboud ambassador of Lebanon to the United States, and Metropolitan Philip Saliba Primate of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America. Dr. Simon Shaheen performed an improvisation on the oud in honor of Maksoud.
In thanking the Munayyers, Dr. Maksoud said the award was particularly meaningful because, whatever the deficit of power, the Palestinian cause is an important element of moral influence on the global scene among the international constituency of conscience. The 16th Anniversary Banquet was attended by more than 350 people who came from all over to pay tribute to Dr. Maksoud.
PHF Donates $4000 to the Maksouds Chair
The Palestinian Heritage Foundation donated $4000 towards the Hala and Clovis Maksoud’s Chair to be established in their honor at Georgetown University. PHF is honored and privileged to add its name to the list of contributors to this worthy endeavor. On behalf of PHF’s Advisory Board and friends of the foundation we say thank you Maksouds for all you have done on behalf of the Arab people in general and the Palestinians in particular.
In his thank you letter to the Foundation, Dr. Michael Hudson, Director of the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, wrote: It is with gratitude and deep appreciation that I write to thank you for the generous contribution from the Palestinian Heritage Foundation in the amount of $4,000.00 towards the Clovis and Hala Salaam Maksoud Chair in Arab Studies at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS) at Georgetown University.
Your gift represents a significant step towards our goal of $2 million to complete the campaign to endow a permanent faculty position in honor of Hala and Clovis Maksoud. It is a fitting tribute to two outstanding individuals who have dedicated their lives to strengthening relations between the Arab world and the United States, as well as improving the image of Arabs in this country.
On behalf of the faculty, staff and students of CCAS, I thank you for your support.
Foundation Acquire ‘Weqayet Al Darahem’
PHF had acquired an antique Weqayet Al Darahem headdress from a New York antique shop that specializes in articles from the Far East. The headpiece dates back to the early 20th century and comes from the Hebron region.
What a Small World
Hala Asfour Hunt presently living in France, has donated five Palestinian dresses originally owned by her late mother Victoria Sarrouf Asfour of Jaffa, Palestine. While searching the Web for Palestinian Cultural institutions, Hala came across PHF site that was first to pop up on the screen. Upon contacting the Foundation and after several exchanges of emails, it turned out that Hala’s mom Victoria, who was born in Jaffa, Palestine in 1915 was a classmate of Farah’s mom, Hanriette Abboud Munayyer who was also born the same year and in the same city.
Also, one of Hala’s aunts who was very close to the Abboud family, was included in an historic photograph taken immediately after the wedding of Mrs. Munayyer in 1940 at St. George church. This photograph included close to fifty relatives and friends.
During the Palestinian Naqba of 1948, the Asfours were driven out of Jaffa to Lebanon, and eventually emigrated to the United States in the early seventies. Mrs. Victoria Asfour bought these dresses during one of her trips back to Palestine while residing in California. The Foundation would like to thank Hala Asfour Hunt for her generosity and moral support of PHF activities.
PHF Donates to Nursery School at Sabra and Shatila Refugee Camps
By Farah Munayyer
On Tuesday, October 14, 2003 Hanan and I left on a trip to visit Bilad Al Sham, the fatherland of the
Munayyer family and the Abbouds, on my mother’s side. At around noon, Wednesday, we landed at Beirut International Airport amidst a strange feeling of coming home. Being our first trip ever to the land of the forefathers, it was very moving to see Beirut just moments before landing. The airport was very clean and the visa transactions went by very smooth and orderly. Within one hour we arrived at the furnished apartment we planned on renting while in Lebanon. The scenery was beautiful. The apartment overlooked the Mediterranean on one side and the American University of Beirut on the other.
The next day, Thursday, we visited AL BADIA embroidery workshop downtown Beirut and toured both Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. Walking in the narrow alleys and seeing poverty at its worst, we stopped to pay tribute to the hundreds of Palestinians massacred by the fanatic and racist Phalange, who were buried in one mass grave within the camp. Eventually, we stopped at a nursery school serving as the home to many young Palestinian girls, and run by Association Najdeh. The building was run down, the girls and the teacher sat on the floor, but the moral was very high.
The little girls took turn to tell us what village in Palestine each came from; Ana min Akka……Ana min Saffourieh…..Ana min Al Majdal. Listening to these kids telling the story after more than fifty years in the diaspora brought tears to our eyes, and I was ready to give up my shirt to improve their life.
In the evening, we attended a special memorial service for the late Dr. Hala Salaam Maksoud at the Assembly Hall at the American University of Beirut. One of the speakers was our own Naila Asali, a life time friend of Hala. Immediately after the memorial we were invited to a reception at the residence of the AUB President, who happened to be from Princeton, New Jersey.
On Friday, we left for Ein El Hilweh refugee camp next to Sidon to meet the ladies who have been writing Palestine’s history with a needle and thread. Young women, mothers and wives gathered in one room to meet the visitors from America who had been helping in marketing their embroidery work. Visitors that they heard off for over twenty years but never met. The scene was very emotional and I promised to spend the rest of my life helping them to make ends meet. We left that meeting with images of these young mothers imprinted in our souls. From Ein El Hilweh we proceeded south to Tyre, Naqura, Fatmeh’s Gate, Al Khayam Museum (former prison) and the rest of the south.
The remaining days were spent touring Lebanon and meeting friends and relatives whom we never met before. Our trips included the famous Beit El Din, Ba’albeck, Zahleh, Anjar, Byblos, Junieh, Harisa, Shtura and Jabal Libnan. Down town Beirut known as Solidare was rebuilt from scratch and Beirut proved to be the most beautiful city in the Middle East.
After Lebanon we traveled to Syria where we visited ancient Tadmor (Palmyra), Ma’loola and Saydanaya outside Damascus. In Damascus we visited Souk El hamidiyya, Kasr Al Azm, the Umayyad Mosque, the National Museum and Bab Touma. Tadmor is a must for every Arab proud of ones heritage. Four days later we left for Amman, Jordan to be with family and friends.
The last four days of our vacation were spent walking the streets of the French capital, Paris, including the famous Louvre Museum, L’institute des Homes Arabe, and at the historic old capital, Versailles.
Samia Saab Donates a Rare Tantour Headdress to the Munayyers
Mrs. Samia Saab, a collector and scholar have donated a rare Lebanese antique Tantour headdress to the Munayyer Collection. Mrs. Saab, received us at her home in Beirut and was gracious to show us her collection of Lebanese and Syrian costumes. Her home was beautifully decorated with antique headdresses from around the globe along with many other rare antique embroidered items.
Upon knowing that we are searching for a Tantour headdress to complement their collection of Lebanese costumes, she showed us three unique and old Tantours of her collection. Moreover, before we left her home she surprised us with her generosity and offered us one of the three to be added to the Munayyer collection.
Thanks to Mrs. Saab for her generosity and commitment to this art.
PHF to Participates in Arizona Exhibit
The Palestinian Heritage Foundation was recently asked to participate in an exhibit relative to the history of the Arab-American community in Arizona. Crossing Boundaries: The Arab-American Experience in Central Arizona is scheduled to open at the Mesa Southwest Museum in October, 2004 and last until March 6, 2005
In a letter received from the Mesa Southwest Museum, City of Mesa, both, Franak Hilloowala, Guest Curator and Keith Foster, Curator of History requested the Foundation to help in borrowing selections of the Munayyer Collection to be displayed during the exhibition.
The exhibit will be divided into three sub-themes; an introductory element, a historical element and a cultural traditions element. Within the second and third sub-themes there will be seven separate sections or exhibit areas.
The introductory element will include a definition of the exhibit’s main title,” Crossing Boundaries,” relating to the process of immigration to the United States in general. This exhibit will mark the first in a series of exhibits that will focus on a group-by-group experience in immigration to the U.S. and their ultimate impact on the economic, political and cultural development of central Arizona. The introductory element will also include a brief explanation of the intent of the exhibit and the identification and definition of the focus group-Arab-Americans.
The next element of the exhibit will explore the history of Arabic-speaking immigrants to the U.S. and their communities in Arizona. This area will include three sections – a general history of Arab-American immigration to the United States, early Arab immigrants in the Valley (pre WWII) and later Arab immigrants in the Valley (post WWII). The history of both earlier immigrants who were predominantly Christians from Lebanon and Syria and the later immigrants predominantly Muslim who came from other areas of the Middle East arriving in the greater-Phoenix area will be defined through work/profession, culture/tradition and community involvement/contribution.
The third and final element of the exhibit will focus on various cultural traditions that are still prevalent to one extent or another among Arab-Americans and recent Arab immigrants in central Arizona. Included in this area will be educational information as well as artifacts that will underscore costumes and dress, language, family/generosity/hospitality and music. Text and objects will compliment and build on previous components as well as presenting a positive and accurate image of Arab culture.
Petra: Lost City of Stone
The American Museum of Natural History here will open a spectacular exhibition on Jordan’s greatest historical attraction on October 18, 2003.
“Petra: Lost City of Stone,” under patronage of Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan, will showcase archaeological artifacts, sculptures and reliefs, ceramic ware, metalwork, ancient inscriptions, and sections from some of the most famous monuments of the city long hidden and forgotten in the desert of southern Jordan. It was rediscovered by a Swiss explorer in the early 19th Century.
Texts interspersed with the displays will relate how Nabataean tribesmen founded the “rose-red” city 2,500 years ago, developed it into the leading trading center of Arabia, and carved ornate temples, colonnades, theaters, civic buildings and dwellings from the steep sandstone cliffs that enclose Jordan’s number one visitor attraction.
The exhibition will continue through July 6, 2004 and is the first major cultural exhibition jointly mounted by the USA and Jordan. It will open in Cincinnati in September 2004 and then move to several other cities in the USA and Canada.
“Petra: Lost City of Stone” was organized by the American Museum of Natural History and the Cincinnati Art Museum with the assistance of the Jordan Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and the American Center for Oriental Research in Amman, Jordan.
PHF Joins Treasures of Palestine at Powerhouse Museum in Australia
17 October 2003 – 27 January 2004
Treasures of Palestine showcases a wide selection of traditional material ranging from costumes, embroidery, jewelry and ceramics to mother-of-pearl inlay work, posters, photography and olive wood sculptures. Through these objects, visitors to the exhibition can appreciate the richness and depth of Palestine’s cultural heritage.
These artistic and documentary materials cover significant historical periods: to 1948, and through to the present. They represent the integrity of a living tradition and of cultural and spiritual continuity within Palestine and throughout the Palestinian diaspora. The beautiful mother-of-pearl collection of contemporary work demonstrates both the Christian and Islamic religious traditions of the Palestinian people.
Objects such as the mother-of-pearl nativity scene and a model of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, made in Bethlehem, are evocative of age-old traditions. Other Christian objects include olive wood rosary beads and carvings of Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary and the Last Supper.
A banknote and a selection of coins are of particular importance and are symbolic in their representation as social history documents. For example, the banknote was produced in Britain in 1939, features an image of the Dome of the Rock and is printed in Arabic, Hebrew and English. Embroidery, seen in Palestine as being important in keeping cultural traditions alive, is also featured in the exhibition.
The collection illustrates how patterns and colors have changed since 1948 to include iconic images such as olives, wheat and even the word Palestine. Treasures of Palestine invites visitors to engage with the Palestinian people themselves and their strong sense of identity as reflected in their material culture. Moreover, the exhibition encourages us to see beyond the present conflict to the people of Palestine.
Community Cultural Days Linked to the exhibition will be two Community Days on 29 and 30 November. Experience the diversity of Palestinian history, culture and tradition with performances of classical Arabic music, poetry readings, a talk on and demonstrations of tatreez embroidery and screenings of Palestinian films.
The material in Treasures of Palestine is from the collection of Mr Ali Kazak, Head, General Palestinian Delegation to Australia with the support of Al-Maktoum Foundation, National Australia Bank and Arab Bank.
The Foundation’s video Palestinian Costumes and Embroidery: A Precious Legacy is being showcased during the exhibition hours.