Palestinian Heritage Foundation 

Newsletter of the Palestinian Heritage Foundation
Volume 8,  No. 1                              June, 2002   

نشرة مؤسسة التراث الفلسطيني

Palestinian Heritage Foundation Celebrates 15th Anniversary

Dress from Nablus

On Sunday, April 28, 2002 the Palestinian Heritage Foundation held its Fifteenth Anniversary Banquet. The most heartwarming feature of the banquet was the presence of many friends and supporters. In all, 300 people attended, several traveling considerable distance to be there. On this special day, the Palestinian Heritage Foundation and the Arab-American community honored Dr. Walid Khalidi. Among those joining in the celebrations were invited guests, His Eminence Metropolitan Philip Saliba, Primate of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese in North America, His grace Bishop Antoun, Dr. John Mahoney, Executive Director of Americans for Middle East Understanding, Joseph Qutub, President of Arab Students Aid International, Simon Shaheen, Mr. Michael Boulos regional Director of Royal Jordanian Airlines and many others.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
The Foundation presented Dr. Khalidi with PHF Award, as a token of appreciation for his unwavering commitment to the Palestinian cause, the Arab-American community and the Arab nation. To a standing ovation of over 300 people, Dr. Khalidi thanked the Foundation and the audience for their recognition.

Dress from the Jenin area

Also recognized and honored that evening was Mr. Joseph Qutub, President of Arab Students Aid International (ASAI) for 25 years of superb job on behalf of Arab student education around the world. Besides the reception, speeches and awards, there was a beautiful live show of traditional Palestinian costumes from the Munayyer Collection representing the different regions of Palestine, including Jerusalem, Ramallah, Bir Zeit Bethlehem, Jaffa, Gaza, Masmyyeh, Asduud, Hebron, Galilee, and finally Nablus and Jenin. The famous Simon Shaheen and the Middle Eastern Ensemble playing Palestinian folk music accompanied the show. Further, there was a beautiful display of artwork by water colorist Jihan Tannous and oil paintings by Irina Karkabi

Foundation Honors Walid Khalidi at Anniversary Banquet

The Palestinian Heritage Foundation celebrated its 15th Anniversary on Sunday, April 28, 2002. On this special day, the Palestinian Heritage Foundation and the Arab-American community honored Professor Walid Khalidi, the keynote speaker of this special event, and Mr. Joseph Qutub, President of Arab Student Aid International of New Jersey.

Prof. Walid Khalidi

Professor Khalidi pointed out that the September 11th 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. The fall-out on the Middle East process is already in evidence.

Dr. Khalidi described Palestinian losses since the Aqsa intifada, accelerated by Prime Minister Sharon, as colossal: nearly 2000 killed and 40,000 wounded, the vast majority of them civilian. The media accusing Palestinians of targeting civilians, but Khalidi said Zionists have done so since before the formation of Israel. And for fifty years, from Qibya in 1953 and Beirut in 1982 until today, the chief exponent of Israeli military targeting civilians has been Ariel Sharon. No Israeli military leader, according to Khalidi, has killed more, nor done more damage to Arab civilian life, yet President Bush calls Sharon a “man of piece.”

Israel and the U.S. increasingly demand that Arafat do more to stop Palestinian violence. But until 2001, all suicide bombers, without exceptions, belonged to groups in opposition to Arafat and Oslo. Fatah’s Al Aqsa Brigades took up the tactic in reaction to Barak’s targeting of PA personnel, headquarters, and facilities, a policy much expanded by Sharon. Khalidi said that when Israel attacks homes and places of work with F 16s, Apache helicopters, and Markeva tanks against people armed only with small arms, and when the very survival of Palestinians civil society is threatened, the temptation to resort to suicide bombing is not easy to resist.

Mr. Joseph Qutub ASAI President

Khalidi does not know Arafat’s role in the arms smuggling incident, but he does 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 Israel’s doubling of the Israeli settler population during the course of the peace process. The outlook, Khalidi said, is grim and could become still worse. The master key is, as it always has been, in the White House. From Plan Dalet in 1948 to the current Operation Defensive Wall, with only the exception of the attack on Egypt in 1956, every Israeli military action has been preceded by a green light from Washington. But, he said, Palestinians are not the only people to fight colonialism at a great cost. Empires don’t last forever, and far greater empires than Israel are gone.                                                                                                                                                                                                        

In Honor of Dr. Khalidi

By Adel Afifi MD.

It is a distinct honor and a pleasure for me to contribute to this gathering in honor of Professor Walid Khalidi. I knew Professor Khalidi and his academic contributions through his articles and books when I was in college. It was in the early eighties, however, that I came to know Walid at the personal level. At that time, both of us, along with a group of Palestinians from the academic and business worlds, got together in Beirut in the home of a distinguished Palestinian philanthropist and mutual friend to deliberate about improving health care services for the Palestinians under occupation, establishment of a medical center of the highest quality.

In that meeting, the business people among us generously pledged financial support, and the academicians similarly provided technical expertise. It was, however, Walid to whom every one present looked to provide direction, advice and wisdom. Walid proposed an organizational structure for the project, clearly defined short, intermediate, and long-term goals and objectives, and charted a strategy to realize the project in spite of expected obstacles imposed by the occupying authorities. What I vividly recall about that meeting also is the vision, realism, and subtle sense of humor of Walid. Amidst high hopes and expectations of the majority of participants that the bulk, if not the total bill for the proposal, would be provided by an Arab head of state as his gift to the Palestinian people.

  Walid stood almost alone in doubt about the realization of such a gift from the head of state. He even went as far as to pledge to sacrifice an important part of his anatomy if the monetary gift did materialize. As far as I know today, Walid’s anatomy is still whole reflecting his realism and wisdom.

In the early eighties, I had the good fortune of working with Walid on a number of committees devoted to the educational and cultural concerns of the Palestinian people. Throughout my association with him on these committees, I maintained the highest regard for his scholarship, critical thinking, role model, fairness, and thoroughness. Walid has the unusual ability to patiently listen to divergent opinions and views, then thoughtfully and convincingly offer suggestions that lead to the development of consensus.

What also impressed me is his integrity and the lack of compromise on what he believes is right. Such is reflected in his resignation from a prestigious faculty position at Oxford University in protest against Britain’s participation in the 1956 invasion of Egypt. Men’s costume from Galilee The contributions of Walid Khalidi to Palestine and the Palestinian cause are too many to enumerate.

Veil from coastal region

He has written extensively on regional and international politics of the Arab World and is considered the leading authority on the Palestinian problem and the Arab Israeli conflict. Walid founded, bottle-fed, and nurtured to maturity the Institute for Palestine Studies, and made out of it, against many odds, the premier Palestinian institution. He single-handedly exposed the myth propagated by the Israelis about the exodus of the 1948 Palestinians. He researched and published the most comprehensive and scholarly treatise about villages and towns decimated by Israel in 1948 Palestine. Masmiyyeh dress with scarf. He was the moving force behind the superbly researched and documented photographic history of the Palestinians before 1948 in the “Before Their Diaspora”. “From Haven to Conquest”, which he ably edited  and introduced, has been described as “the best description and explanation known of the way in which the indigenous inhabitants of the country (Palestine) were gradually and inexorably dispossessed”.

Walid’s phenomenal knowledge about Jerusalem and its history have been instrumental in uncovering the myths propagated by the Israelis and their supporters about the holy city. His scholarly stature and command of historical facts and perspective has been called upon repeatedly to educate US and world diplomats and decision-makers about the Arab-Israeli and Palestinian-Israeli conflict and to provide an Arab and Palestinian perspective. Beit Dajan dress with Shambar shawl. Talking about Walid and his contributions will not be complete without mentioning Rasha Khalidi.

It has been said that “Behind every great man is a woman.” We as Palestinians and Arabs are indebted to Walid and Rasha for what they did individually and collectively for Arab causes in general, and the Palestinian cause in particular. I personally, and many others like me, are privileged to have known them and to have witnessed their untiring and devoted commitment to their and our cause. A nation that prides itself with the likes of Walid Khalidi will never be defeated.

My thanks to Farah and Hanan and the Palestinian Heritage Foundation for honoring Walid and for giving me the opportunity to say a few words on this occasion.


A Community of Many Worlds: Arab Americans in New York

By Inea Bushnaq

For the first time ever, a New York museum is showing an exhibition devoted to the history and achievements of Arab immigrants to the city. From March 2nd to September 1st of 2002, visitors to the Museum of the City of New York, located on Fifth Avenue at 104th Street, will be able to view photographs, slides, portraits, documents and video interviews, together with a diverse collection of objects, illustrating many aspects of Arab life in New York past and present.

It is worth noting that the inspiration for such an exhibition came not from a spontaneous desire on the part of a mainstream American museum but rather as a result of a lengthy planning process by ACCESS, the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services, in Dearborn, Michigan. ACCESS, which in the course of some 30 years has grown from a storefront manned by volunteers to an institution with l50 employees, produced an exhibition in 1998 called, ‘A Community Between Two Worlds: Arab Americans in Greater Detroit’. It then invited representatives from U.S. cities with large Arab populations to see the exhibition, sample some of the accompanying programming, and suggest venues to host a traveling version of the Detroit exhibition combined with an exhibit about their own Arab population.

For example, in 2000 the Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies in Philadelphia showed the Detroit exhibition plus “Ahlan wa-Sahlan! Welcome to Our Home! Philadelphia’s Arab Americans.” Art and crafts from PHF at MCNY. Kathy Benson of the Museum of the City of New York liked what she saw in Detroit and, of course, was interested in creating an exhibition about the Arab community in New York. Then, as material relating to New York accumulated, it became clear that there would not be enough room for a double exhibition. The museum’s focus became ‘A Community of Many Worlds: Arab Americans in New York City.’ The images on display range from a painting, which has hung in City Hall since the 1840s, of a magnificently turbaned ambassador who had come to discuss the spice trade, to photographs from the candle light vigil in Brooklyn after September 11th.

There is a whole wall of New York Arab faces, some recognizable and others unknown. Inset into the grid of portraits, a video screen shows New Yorkers of different backgrounds telling their stories. This film was made by Bob Madey, grandson of the poet Ilya Abu Madi, celebrated member of the Pen League, founded by Kahlil Gibran in the l920s. Among the over one hundred objects there are: twin gold crowns used in Orthodox weddings, a peddler’s pack from the turn of the century, political protest flyers, ornate furniture inlaid with mother of pearl, fashions by Arab American designers, and much more.  

Since there is scant documentation on the Arab American community in New York the Museum of the City of New York invited a team of Arab New Yorkers to help assemble and produce the exhibition. Phil Kayal, professor of sociology at Seton Hall University, has writt Paula Hajar, wrote the entries about Arabs in ‘The Ethnic Encyclopedia of New York City’ Ferry Arab community of Brooklyn and its institutions; Souhad Rafey , an artist, is a curator at the American Academy of Arts and Letters; Hanan and Farah Munayyer , activists on the Arab cultural front, established the Palestine Heritage Foundation; Ralf Coury writes on Middle East History and teaches at Fairfield University; Melissa Coury is an artist and a collector of Arab artifacts; Debbie Almontasser a peace activist, is a frequent spokesperson for Muslim women.

With the present writer, this was the core of a committee of Lebanese, Syrian, Palestinian, Egyptian, and Yemeni New Yorkers who worked with the museum for some three years preparing this project. The exhibition is arranged in several sections: the Identity of Arab New Yorkers – who are we. The History of Arab Immigration to the city – from the Syrians who left the Ottoman empire in the 1870s to the arrivals from many independent Arab countries after the lifting of quotas in 1965.

The Arab Family – here, a collection of photographs shows the ramifications of one of New York’s older Arab clans, an installation displays ‘Objects from Home’, and a panel highlights the role of the courageous and un-‘oppressed’ Arab women who ventured to America alone. Religion – this includes Syrian and Yemeni Jews. Cultural Contributions gives a suggestion of lively literary and musical activities over the course of a century. The Workplace notes the entrepreneurial spirit which brought many early Arab immigrants and what it achieved. The final section, which is about Public Life, covers 9/11 and its aftermath. This exhibition was scheduled to open in early November 2001.

Shortly after 9/11 the director of the Museum, Robert MacDonald, called a meeting at which, rather than cancel the exhibition, he stressed the increased importance of continuing and even expanding by adding a section on the events surrounding September 11th. The opening date was moved to March 2nd 2002, and in a space three times the original area allocated to the project, a crowded reception, livened with Arabic music and Arabic food, launched the 6 months’ exhibition. A program of concerts, lectures, poetry readings, theatrical performances and activities for children related to Arab culture, complements and extends the impact of the exhibition.

Even before the opening of ‘A Community of Many Worlds’ the Museum of the City of New York undertook a number of events promoting Arab American culture. It hosted the gala celebration of the centennial of the Al Hoda newspaper – the longest running paper for the Arab community. With Columbia University, it held a two-day symposium Arab American immigrants to New York, on and Syracuse University Press has published the papers presented there as a book. For one academic year the museum ran a monthly workshop on Arab American culture, history, arts etc. for Public School teachers in District 20, Brooklyn, with students of Arab background.


Dr. Ziad Asali ADC President Congratulates PHF on its 15th Anniversary

It gives me great pleasure to be able to honor the Palestinian Heritage Foundation on the occasion of its 15th Anniversary. The Palestinian Heritage Foundation was born as an act of patriotism and determination to preserve a rich culture, a culture reaching back thousands of years. In an era when the assault on Palestine and the Palestinians is not limited to military means, but includes an assault on heritage, culture and even cuisine, the Palestinian Heritage Foundation stands as a bulwark against this assault.

The Foundation has been in the forefront of promoting awareness and understanding of Arab and specifically Palestinian culture and traditions. It has served as a cultural bridge, acquainting the American public with Arab culture and art, through major exhibitions at nationwide museums, universities and libraries, as well as the United Nations. Just as importantly, the Foundation has served to bring young Arab Americans closer to their heritage and roots. Whether as participants in, or attendees at, the Foundation’s shows young Arab-American men and women have been left with a genuine pride in their heritage. For all of this, we are eternally grateful and proud.


Ms. Karima Zuhdi Tarazi Donates Antique Bethlehem Dress to PHF

On the fifteenth Anniversary of the Foundation Ms. Karima Tarazi of New York donated an antique Bethlehem dress “Malak” to the Munayyer Collection. Ms. Tarazi have inherited this dress from her late mother Widad Tarazi who herself inherited the dress from her mother, Karima’s grandmother. Karima has been wondering for sometime what to do with this special and dear dress passed on from mother to daughter for generations. Keeping it in the closet was not the ideal thing to do where it serves no purpose. One day, Karima decided to ask her father Mr. Zuhdi Tarazi former Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations what to do with this treasure. The answer came sooner than Karima thought: Donate it to the Munayyers, her father said. 

It was Mr. Zuhdi Tarazi and other Palestinian officials at the United Nations who appreciated with pride the Foundation’s displays at this world body on behalf of Palestine at the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People that the United Nations celebrates every year.


Foundation at Place des Art in Montreal

On Sunday, May 5, 2002,  the Palestinian Heritage Foundation participated in an all-Arab costume show that represented 18 Arab countries from North Africa to the Arab east and the Gulf Arab States. The Foundation represented two Arab countries, namely, Palestine and Syria. Syria was represented by eight antique costumes from the different regions of Syria, including Sukhneh, Kalamon and Sarakeb.  Palestine was represented by 11 dresses representing the different regions of Palestine including Bethlehem, Hebron, Ramallah, BeitDajan, Galilee, Masmiyyeh, Asduud, Gaza, Jerusalem, Nablus and Jenin.

The introduction of the Palestinian dresses at the end of the show brought about 400 people to their feet chanting Palestine Palestine. Each one of the Palestinian dresses was received with warmth and claps especially the ones representing Nablus and Jenin due to what both cities have experienced under Israeli army attacks that lead to the destruction of the Jenin refugee camp and the old city of Nablus.

The show was concluded with a Palestinian wedding scene and a dabkeh dance celebrating the wedding ceremony of the bride from Al Khalil. This finale had charged over 400 people in attendance and brought them on their feet to salute Palestine and the Palestinian Heritage.