Located in the eastern Mediterranean, west of the Jordan river, Palestine is the historic homeland of approximately 14 million Palestinians. Half of them currently live in exile, and the other half live in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, and Israel. However, regardless of where they live, Palestinians share a deep attachment to the land of Palestine and a rich cultural heritage that is infused with a variety of ethnic, religious, and linguistic influences that over the millennia helped shape the unique Palestinian identity of today.

There are a wide variety of views regarding the status of the State of Palestine, both among the states of the international community and among legal scholars. The existence of a state of Palestine is a reality in the opinions of the states that have established bilateral diplomatic relations.

The State of Palestine is recognized by 138 UN members and since 2012 has a status of a non-member observer state in the United Nations. Palestine is a member of the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the G77, the International Olympic Committee, and other international bodies.

Representation of the State of Palestine is performed by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). In states that recognize the State of Palestine it maintains embassies. The Palestine Liberation Organization is represented in various international organizations as member, associate or observer.

Palestinians face many restrictions on their movement depending on where they live. Those living in the West Bank endure occupation checkpoints as they try to move from one area to another, and cannot visit nearby Jerusalem without a permit from the occupation authorities. Those living in the Gaza Strip are currently under siege and cannot leave without a permit that is difficult to obtain, making the strip into an open-air prison. Palestinians living in East Jerusalem carry unique identity cards that allow them easier access to Israel and the West Bank, but risk losing that card if they fail to regularly demonstrate their residency in the city. Palestinians living in Israel carry Israeli passports that allow them to travel more easily, but should they marry someone from Gaza or the West Bank, they cannot bring in their spouse to live with them. Palestinian refugees living in neighboring states cannot visit their homeland. Some (but not all) of those living abroad and carrying various citizenships may visit their homeland but are not allowed live there permanently.

The land of Palestine has a transitory climate that ranges between the Mediterranean and the desert types. Summers are hot but made comfortable in most parts by westerly winds from the Mediterranean, and the rainy season lasts from October to April, with maximum rainfall between December and February
There are four climatic regions: The coastal plain is warm and moist in summer, mild in winter, and is tempered by westerly winds from the Mediterranean, with a relatively small daily and annual temperature range and plentiful rainfall.
(The hills are cooler and dryer in summer, cold in winter, with plentiful rainfall..
(The Jordan valley is hot and dry, without tempering west winds in summer, has moderate temperature and humidity in the winter, has a large daily and annual range of temperature. and has scarce rainfall.
The Naqabdesert in the south is hot and dry in the summer and cold and dry in the winter with a large daily and annual range of temperature, and very little rainfall.

The Palestinian population in 2021 is estimated to be close to fourteen million living not only in Palestine but throughout the world. It is hard to find a country that does not have some Palestinians living there. About half of the Palestinian people live in historic Palestine: almost two million live in the pre-1967 area that became the state of Israel, three million live in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and almost two million live in the Gaza Strip, most of whom are refugees from pre-1948 Palestine. Jordan has more than two million registered Palestinian refugees and perhaps, as many as three million others not registered as refugees. Syria's Palestinian population is a little more than half a million, and Lebanon has an equal number. In both Syria and Lebanon, Palestinians are considered refugees. In other parts of the world, diaspora Palestinians are growing in numbers. Chile has half a million Palestinians. Australia, Canada, Britain, Sweden, Germany, and France all have large Palestinian communities. It is estimated that a quarter of a million diaspora Palestinians live in the United States.

Early Palestinians had various beliefs, today, the overwhelming majority are Sunni Muslims. Few are Shi'ite Muslims, and a good number in the Galilee region are Druze. The most prominent Palestinian minority, however, is Christian. Most follow the Eastern Orthodox Church, and many are either Roman Catholic or Greek Catholic (Melkite).

The official government of Palestine was established by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1994 pursuant to the second Oslo Accords with Israel. The PLO was permitted to establish an independent government with civil and security powers over some urban Palestinian territories and civil powers over rural Palestinian territories

The Palestinian telecommunication industry is quite advanced, efficient and reliable. There are a few telecommunication companies operating in Palestine and provide state-of-the-art technology and advanced services throughout the Palestinian communities.

Public card-operated phones can be found throughout most of the larger cities, towns and tourist destinations across Palestine and the calling cards themselves are easy to purchase locally in most supermarkets and convenience stores.

Internet Services: Internet connectivity and internet cafes are found in all major Palestinian towns and cities. Some hotels also offer wireless fast speed internet connectivity for visitors.

While pre-Christian-era Palestinians spoke Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus, today's Palestinians speak their dialects of the Arabic language.

The Palestinian power supply is single phase 220 volts at 50 Hertz. Most power sockets have three pin holes, but many of them will work with double-pin European plugs. Visitors who want to use shavers, traveling irons and other small appliances may need both transformers and adaptor plugs.

Currencies used in Palestine include the Jordanian Dinar and the US Dollar and the New Israeli Shekel (NIS). Visitors are advised to take dollars and euros, but any other major European currency can also be freely changed at banks and money changers. Major credit cards, Visa, MasterCard, Diners Club and American express are all accepted in banks, hotels and restaurants as well as with many ATMs. Travelers cheques are also accepted and visitors will have no trouble getting them cashed.

The history of this land is fraught with turmoil and complexity. The Greeks and Romans conquered Palestine until the Muslim era began in 638 CE. The Crusaders briefly conquered Palestine in 1099 CE until it cam back to Muslims rule in 1187 CE, and eventually the Ottomans in 1517 CE and later the British Mandate which lasted between 1918 and 1948 when Palestine was partitioned and a portion of it became the State of Israel.

The West Bank and Gaza hypothetical spheres of influence under either British or French control. The Sykes-Picot agreement, drafted behind closed doors unbeknownst to other world leaders, would give the northern part of the Middle East, consisting of Christian enclaves in Syria and Lebanon to France, while Great Britain would have authority over southern territory including Palestine and Iraq.

The Palestinian economy is almost entirely dependent on aid from foreign governments due to several factors inhibiting economic growth.

Sectoral Structure of Palestine Economy include:

  - Handicrafts
  - Furniture
  - Garment & Textile
  - Stone and Marble
  - Pharmaceuticals
  - Leather and Shoes
  - Processed Food
  - Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Sector
  - Agribusiness / Cash crops

Incentives and Protection for Investors

There is a consensus on the importance of the Palestinian private sector. It is believed to have the primary role in facilitating economic growth, employment, fighting poverty and reducing the trade deficit. .To achieve this, the PNA has established several institutions and entrusted international development agencies with the task of assisting the private sector and enabling it to play its intended role. Incentives have focused on encouraging small and medium enterprises, which comprise more than 95% of the Palestinian private sector.

There are many businesses, institutions and companies operating in the financial sector in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. These include the monetary authority and general banks that have risen in number to a total of 20. These include non-banking financial institutions including the Palestinian Capital Market Authority for securities, private companies and financial centers as well as insurance companies.

Palestine has micro finance institutions providing lending for small businesses as well as a solid Securities and Exchange Authority.

Healthcare in Palestine is also administered through the PNA. The Ministry of Health provides an insurance plan for the Palestinian Territories, but in Gaza, this oversight has ceased since Hamas came into power. Foreign aid, taxes, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) all contribute financial support and supplies to the Palestinian healthcare system. The majority of services for Palestinian refugees is provided by UNRWA, which provides direct healthcare services for refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria, while allocating money for healthcare to refugees within Palestine. Movement restrictions, limitations on the flow of goods and supplies, and damage to Palestine’s healthcare infrastructure from years of fighting have all created serious barriers to improving the country’s quality of life. Because of these difficulties, many Palestinians seek treatment in Israeli hospitals across the border, paid for either by the PNA or at the patient’s expense.


Legal Status

Restrictions on Movement


Society & Demographics






Currency & Money



Financial Sector









Before the Common Era

In the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan river, settled town life first appeared approximately 7,000 BCE, not long after farming first began to be practiced. By the third millennium, a significant trade route connected small towns and villages there with Mesopotamia to the East and Egypt to the West. In the late second millennium BCE, a confederacy of five coastal cities became known as the land of the Philistines, the origin of the name Palestine.

By the beginning of the first millennium BCE, the land was inhabited by various groups, among them the Philistines, others collectively referred to as Canaanites, and yet others collectively referred to as Israelites. The latter, associated with the Biblical narrative, later formed kingdoms that lasted for several hundred years before falling first to the Assyrian and later to the Babylonian empires. Long after their collapse, the Israelite kingdoms and their religious edifices remained the focus of historical and devotional reference for Jews. In the sixth century BCE, Palestine came under the control of the Persian Empire, was later conquered by Alexander the Great, and subsequently was controlled by the Roman Empire.

The Common Era Through the Nineteenth Century

In the first century CE, Palestine was home to Jesus of Nazareth . When the Roman Empire adopted Christianity in the fourth century, Palestine– as the birthplace of Christianity – gained a significant status for the Empire. Churches were built, urban life was expanded, irrigation projects augmented farmland, and the population increased.
In the seventh century, Palestine became an important site for the historic encounter between the Byzantine empire (which was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its Eastern provinces) and Islam, and the flourishing of the great Islamic civilization.

Over a protracted period, the people of Palestine made Arabic their predominant language, and a majority adopted Islam as their religion, while significant minorities continued to practice Christianity and Judaism. Holy to Muslims, Christian, and Jews, Palestine was a place of great upheaval during the crusades, when in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, European forces sought to control it in the name of Christendom. With some exceptions during this turbulent period, Palestine was for almost two thousand years a distinct province controlled by a succession of empires, the most recent of which was the Ottoman empire.

The Twentieth and Twenty-first centuries

The early parts of the twentieth century brought another great upheaval, as the British Empire gained control over Palestine and issued the Balfour declaration in 1917. This promised the Zionist movement that had arisen in Europe in previous decades and had led to a flurry of European Jewish migration to Palestine, Britain's help in establishing a Jewish homeland in Palestine at a time when until approximately a decade previously, well over 90% of the indigenous population had been Muslim or Christian, and where even with early twentieth-century European Jewish migration, well over 80% of the population was still Muslim or Christian.

The incompatibility of Britain's support for the goals of the Zionist movement and its obligation to safeguard the rights of the indigenous Palestinian population came to a head in the years 1936-1939. During this time, the Palestinian people revolted, and their revolt was violently suppressed by Britain and British-trained Zionist paramilitary groups.

The year 1948 is the most significant one in Palestine's recent past. It is the year of the Nakba or catastrophe in which Palestinian society was dismembered. 750,000 Palestinians were either forcefully expelled from their homes or fled to become refugees, and more than 500 Palestinian villages were depopulated or destroyed. Right after the Nakba and the establishment of Israel, every Palestinian was either living in exile or compelled to live under Egyptian, Israeli, or Jordanian rule in historic Palestine.

In the 1967 war, Israel occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza strip, bringing all parts of historic Palestine under Israeli control, a situation that persists until today.

Historic Palestinian Land

The total land area of historic Palestine is estimated at 10,162 square miles. In addition, there is a fast-diminishing inland water area of 272 square miles comprising Lake Huleh, Lake Tiberias, and one-half of the Dead Sea.
Geographically, historic Palestine has seven regions:

1.The maritime plain, extending from the Egyptian frontier and terminating at Mount Carmel, south of Haifa
2.The coastal plain of Acka (Acre) extending from Carmel north to the promontory at Ras en Naqura
3.A broad plain running south-east from Haifa to the Jordan River.
4.The central range comprising the hills of the West Bank
5.The hills of Galilee comprising the whole of the north of Palestine except the narrow plain of Acre and the Jordan Valley.
6.The Jordan Valley extending from the Syrian frontier to the Dead Sea
7.The district of Beir El Saba'a (Beersheba), which is an immense triangle with its apex at the gulf of Aqaba.

The Olive Tree
The Olive tree carries more than an economic significance in the lives of Palestinians. It is not just like any another tree, it is symbolic of Palestinians’ attachment to their land. Because it is draught-resistant and grows under poor soil conditions, it represents Palestinian resistance and resilience. The fact that the olive tree lives and bears fruit for thousands of years is parallel to Palestinian history and continuity on the land. Palestinians are proud of their olive trees; they take care of them with care and appreciation. Palestine has some of the world’s oldest olive trees, dating back to 4,000 years. Some families have trees that have been passed down to them for generations and the olive harvest season in October bears a socio-cultural meaning where families come together to harvest olive trees bearing in mind that their forefathers and mothers had tended to the same trees several years ago.
Contemporary Art
Modern Palestinian art finds its roots in folk art and traditional Islamic and Christian paintings. After the 1948 Palestinian exodus, nationalistic themes have predominated as Palestinian artists use diverse media to express and explore their connection to identity and land. Symbols Iconic symbols are keys and doors. Likewise, the cactus tree plays a prominent role. "Liberation Art," or the art that resulted from the revolutionary period of Palestinian resistance that began in the late 1960s and continued until today "is symbolist, using images of things known to popular Palestinian culture – things that anyone experiencing Palestinian life could identify. The horse came to mean revolution. The flute came to mean the tune of the ongoing resistance. The wedding came to mean the entire Palestinian cause. The key came to mean the right of return. The sun came to mean freedom. Artists used the colors of the flag, patterns from embroidery, chains, etc. The Cactus has been a motif in Palestinian art since 1948 to show resilience. Palestinian contemporary art in the visual arts and film has been influential on artists the world over. Many artists have won international awards such as the Golden Liion prize won by Emily Jacir at the Venice Biennale in 2013, among other artists. Palestinian art may best be described as aspiring to universal and human principles of justice without letting go of the details of Palestinian history and its context; a history that is being broadly defined and articulated in real time and on the ground. The art of Palestinians in San Diego, California mirrors Palestinian artists throughout the world. It is diverse, expansive and not limited to the issues that surround the question of Palestine. Palestine is the birthplace of Christianity. It is where Bagpipes were first created near the Jordan Valley, and the intertwining of culture and history created the most beautifully unique embroidered mosaics the world has witnessed. The art of Palestinians is also highly influential theoretically and in practice, not just among Arab artists, but also in Europe, Africa, Asia and the United States. Palestinian artists have redefined perceptions of how art is interpreted, and how collective identity is measured on the world stage. Artists such as Mona Hatoum, Emily Jacir and filmmaker Elia Sulliman are deeply influenced by the groundbreaking research and writings of Palestinian American, Edward Said, among others who examined the history of colonialism and the Palestinian diaspora. These artists are among the most influential and successful artists in the world. They comprise a slice of the avant-garde shaping international opinion about how art and life intersect with justice.
Palestinian handicrafts offer a wide variety of handicrafts, many of which have been produced by Arabs in Palestine for hundreds of years, continue to be produced today. Palestinian handicrafts include embroidery work, pottery-making, soap-making, glass-making, weaving, and olive-wood and Mother of Pearl carvings, among others. Some Palestinian cities in the West Bank, particularly Bethlehem, Hebron and Nablus have gained renown for specializing in the production of a particular handicraft, with the sale and export of such items forming a key part of each cities' economy.
The term “Palestinian theater” does not refer to plays written by Palestinians and non-Palestinians about the issue of Palestine. Instead, it refers to theater as an expression of acting and directing by troupes with a Palestinian identity. The evolution of Palestinian theater can be divided into three stages, each marked by a distinct beginning. The first stage begins with the birth of Palestinian theater in the late nineteenth century and lasts until 1948; the second begins with the rebirth of the Palestinian theater after 1967; and the third begins with Palestinian theater’s second rebirth in 1993.
The Palestinian Museum
The Palestinian Museum is a flagship project of the Welfare Association, a non-profit organization for developing humanitarian projects in Palestine. Representing the history and aspirations of the Palestinian people, the museum aims to discuss the past, present, and future of Palestine The Palestinian Museum is developed as a ‘trans-national’ institution providing a coordinating reference point for all Palestinians. The physical centre is an 8,000 m² museum located on a prominent hilltop site within the campus of Birzeit University near Ramallah in the West Bank. The museum is the center for coordinating access to research on Palestine and Palestinian history, developing its own exhibitions and hosting visiting exhibitions. The museum in Birzeit is complemented by branches within the West Bank and Gaza. Longer term plans to establish International Centers will provide locations for the co-ordination of international exhibitions and direct contact with Palestinian communities worldwide.
Documentaries and films are frequently used to convey the Palestinian experience. The difficulty of everyday life in Palestine is a dominant theme in Palestinian film. These films, either produced in Palestine or abroad, seek to highlight the problems faced by ordinary Palestinians as they live and work in the region. As there are few cinemas in Palestine to view these films, Palestinian movies are often viewed in greater numbers regionally and internationally, particularly at film festivals. The Palestinian Film Festival in Australia is one such festival which is devoted to screening only films created in or about Palestine. Some of the best regarded films at this festival included Last Days in Jerusalem, Tears of Gaza, and Love During Wartime, a romantic tale of a Palestinian and an Israeli trying to stay together despite the difficult situation in Jerusalem.

ELIA SULLIMAN - New York and Nazereth Elia Sulliman, an award winning filmmaker from Nazareth, was nominated for an academy award for his film, Divine Intervention. From Wikipedia: Elia Suleiman (Arabic:ايليا سلمان ,born July 28, 1960 in Nazareth, Israel), is a Palestinian film director and actor of Rûm Greek Orthodox origin.[1] He is best known for the 2002 film Divine Intervention (Arabic: يد إلهية‎), a modern tragic comedy on living under occupation in Palestine which won the Jury Prize at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival. Elia Suleiman's cinematic style is often compared to that of Jacques Tati and Buster Keaton, for its poetic interplay between "burlesque and sobriety".iety".
Clothing and Traditional Wear
Foreign travelers to Palestine in the late 19th and early 20th centuries often commented on the rich variety of traditional clothing among the Palestinian people, and particularly among the Fallaheen or village women. Until the 1940s, a woman's economic status, whether married or single, and the town or area they were from could be deciphered by most Palestinian women by the type of cloth, colors, cut, and embroidery motifs, or lack thereof, used for the robe-like dress or "Thoub" in Arabic. The 1948 Palestinian exodus led to a disruption in traditional modes of dress and customs, as many women who had been displaced could no longer afford the time or money to invest in complex embroidered garments. Traditional Palestinian women’s clothes consist of long dresses with intricate embroidery and designs. Traditional men’s clothes include a standard Thobe, and the keffiyeh. However, women also will wear the keffiyeh, at times, but mostly as a symbol of Palestinian resistance, for which the keffiyeh has become emblematic.
Palestinian embroidery is a rich artistic tradition that has been passed down by mothers to their daughters through generations. Designs vary from village to village. The main techniques used in Palestine are, cross-stitch and couching stitch (Tahriri). Women intricately embellish dresses, jackets, cushions, tablecloths and pillows made from natural hand dyed and woven materials. However, dresses have always been the most common embroidered items. Dresses for everyday use are embroidered with silk while dresses for special occasions are use golden or silver threads. Traditional wedding dresses include layers of embroidered material, embellished with coral beads and golden or silver coins. The materials used indicate the financial and social standing of the family as well as their place of origin. Because the work is time-consuming, embroidered pieces of worn out articles are often cut out and used to embellish smaller items. Cross-Stitch Embroidery Cross-stitch, 'fallahi (farmers’)’ embroidery is the most renowned of Palestinian embroidery tecuniques. The embroidery took on its name because cross-stitch was the craft of village women, widely practiced from the south through the central region of Historic Palestine. Palestinian cross-stitch is known for its richenss of colors and texture, as well as a vast number of traditional motifs that vary from a region to another. Couching Technique Tahriri was used to make the front panels of wedding dresses and also the side panels of the skirts and the cuffs of the long traditional dresses. The technique may have been inspired by ornate church ornaments, liturgical clothing or the braid and couching ornamentation on the uniforms of Ottoman and British officers. From evening bags to belts, check out our range of crafts in the beautiful Tahriri stitch. Connecting & Trimming Palestinian embroidery included a wide array of techniques like manajel (connecting stitch), tashreem (patchwork), and jadleh (hemming stitch). While less known than the popular cross-stitch, these stitches called for more complex skills and were essential in the making of traditional Palestinian costumes. More details on these unique techniques can be found in Sunbula’s publication on embroidery Palestinian colorful stitchery & embroidery designs of thousands years ago were adopted through generations and are still in demand for many Palestinian women dresses(Thoab) Nowadays designers are modernizing the dress styles to fit the need of new fashion though still keeping the traditional colorful stitchery & embroidery Maha Sakka in Bethlehem is a very famous Palestinian fashion designer & her modern designs are in demand especially to international tourists or Palestinian women who like a modern flair to an old design
Thunderous feet, joyous hearts, and bright eyes; all which can describe the scene when the famed Palestinian dabka dance is being performed. The Dabke is a Palestian folk dance arising from the Levant (a historical area of the Eastern Mediterranean equivalent to the greater Syrian region). This dance, combining both line and circle dancing, is now widely performed at community gatherings and joyous celebrations such as weddings. The more popularly recognized origin is derived from traditional house-building in the Levant where houses were structured with stone and made with a roof consisting of wood, straw and dirt (mud). In order to have a stable roof, the dirt had to be compacted. To achieve this aim, it is said that family and neighbors would come together and perform what is now recognized as the dabke in order to make the roof work fun » (This is where the most common music and dance style Dal’ouna originated from; it used to mean: “Come to help us”). ‘The rhythmic patterns were a joyful way to keep things in sync and effective. Dabke is resignified as secular, rural, and youthful in ways that internalize other subjectivities, such as religious and tribal, and indicate how the modern nation is formed through the production of alterity. There are six main types of dabke dance: al shamaliyya, al sha’rawaiyya, al karadiyya, al farah, al ghazal, and al sahja.
Palestinian music naturally reflects the unique Palestinian experience. As might be expected, much of this music seeks to address the struggle with Israel, the longing for permanent peace, and love for the land of Palestine. One example of such a song is Baladi, Baladi (My Country, My Country), which has become the unofficial Palestinian national anthem: Traditional Palestinian songs have no set lyrics but rather a set rhythm to them, allowing for improvised folk poetry lyrics. A form of this style of folk singing is Ataaba; it consists of 4 verses, following a specific form and meter. The distinguishing feature of ataaba is that the first three verses end with the same word meaning three different things, and the fourth verse serves as a conclusion. The Ataaba continues to be performed at weddings and festivals in Arab localities in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza strip. Other traditional Palestinian song styles include zajal, Bein Al-dawai, Al-Rozana, Zarif – Al-Toul, Al-Maijana, Sahja/Saamir and Zaghareed. Contemporary musicians include Nay Barghouti among others.
Musical Instruments
The Oud (عود), from which the English word "lute" comes, is shaped like half a pear with a short non-fretted neck. It has six courses of two strings and played with a plectrum, usually a trimmed eagle's feather. This instrument creates a deep and mellow sound. The mijwiz (مجوز) which means “double” in Arabic is very popular in Levantine music. It is a type of reed clarinet that is played by breathing smoothly through a circular aperture at the end and by moving the fingers over the holes down the front of the tube in order to create the different notes. The minjjayrah is similar to the mijwiz, an open ended reed flute played in the same style. The tablah (طبلة) is a small hand-drum also known as the durbakke. Most tablahs are beautifully decorated, some with wood, tile or bone inlay, etched metal, or paintings in designs typical of the Near East. One of the most commonly played of the percussion instruments; the tablah is a membranophone of goat or fish skin stretched over a vase-shaped drum with a wide neck. Usually made of earthenware or metal, it is placed either under the left arm or between the legs and struck in the middle for the strong beats and on the edge for the sharp in-between beats. Though today fishskin heads are rarely used due to the climate. When used it becomes loose, you would have to heat the head to get the correct sound back. The membrane or head of the drum is now made out of plastic. The most common head is from Alexandria, Egypt. The daff (دف), also known as the Riq (رق), is similar to the tambourine. It consists of a round frame, covered on one side with goat or fish skin. Pairs of metal discs are set into the frame to produce the jingle when struck by the hand. The sounds of this percussion instrument set the rhythm of much Arab music, particularly in the performances of classical pieces.[14] The arghul, (يرغول) also known as the yarghoul, is commonly used in solos, often accompanied by singers, that begin dabke performances. Unlike the mijwiz, it only has finger holes in one of its pipes/reeds. (see Al-Shamaliyya, under Types). The Shubabeh, (شبابة) is a woodwind instrument traditionally made from reed cane. It differs from the Mijwiz and Arghul in that it does not have a reed, instead the musician blows against the side of the instrument at an angle to produce the tone. The Shubabeh is traditionally played by herders in the wilderness.
Folk tales
Traditional storytelling among Palestinians is prefaced with an invitation to the listeners to give blessings to God and the Prophet Mohammed or the Virgin Mary as the case may be, and includes the traditional opening: "There was, in the oldness of time ..." Formulaic elements of the stories share much in common with the wider Arab world, though the rhyming scheme is distinct.
Traditional Palestinian architecture covers a vast historical time frame and a number of different styles and influences over the ages. The urban architecture of Palestine prior to 1850 was relatively sophisticated. While it belonged to greater geographical and cultural context of the Levant and the Arab world, it constituted a distinct tradition, "significantly different from the traditions of Syria, Lebanon or Egypt." Nonetheless, the Palestinian townhouse shared in the same basic conceptions regarding the arrangement of living space and apartment types commonly seen throughout the Eastern Mediterranean. The rich diversity and underlying unity of the architectural culture of this wider region stretching from the Balkans to North Africa was a function of the exchange fostered by the caravans of the trade routes, and the extension of Ottoman rule over most of this area, beginning in the early 16th century through until the end of World War I. Contemporary architects should be included, but needs to be researched. What I have seen in Lebanon outside of the Nahr Al Barad camp shows a nod to environmental green architecture where the sun is captured for winter and the air is cooled for summer.
Games inherited from the Ottoman era were the starting point of Palestinian sports during the British Mandate. These games included horse racing, running, wrestling and swimming. However, football gained popularity over time. The true beginning of the phenomenon of establishing social-athletic clubs in Palestine can be traced to the early twentieth century, specifically the 1920s. Since that time, sports – especially football – had become a social tradition; a pivotal part of Palestinian culture. Many of these clubs were established as social-cultural clubs. Only a few clubs were established solely as athletic, while the majority emerged as social and later adopted athletic activities.

It was in the summer of 2002 that a group of committed volunteers formed what is today known as The House of Palestine in Balboa Park, San Diego, California. We submitted an application to the House of Pacific Relations which included the names of our newly-formed Board of Directors and our newly-written by-laws. During that probationary year, we participated in various events at the Park in order to showcase our culture and demonstrate our commitment and solidarity as an organization that was here to stay. It was in September of 2003 that the House of Palestine was officially recognized and accepted into the international “cottages” under the umbrella of the House of Pacific Relations. While the House of Palestine now stands in our hearts and not yet in a concrete structure, volunteers display our heritage at the Hall of Nations on designated Sundays from noon to 4:00 p.m. Guests can view displayed arts and crafts, read informational literature, view videotapes about Palestinian heritage, sample foods, and ask questions.



Hummus is a Palestinian and Middle Eastern dip, spread, or savory dish made from cooked, mashed chickpeas blended with tahini, lemon juice, and garlic. The standard garnish in the Levant includes olive oil, a few whole chickpeas, parsley, and paprika. In Palestinian cuisine, it is usually eaten as a dip, with pita bread. In the West, it is now produced industrially, and is often served as a snack or appetizer with crackers. Hummus is native to Palestine.


Falafel is a deep-fried ball or patty-shaped fritter made from ground chickpeas, fava beans, or both. Falafel is a traditional Palestinian and Middle Eastern food, commonly served in a pita, which acts as a pocket, or wrapped in a flatbread known as taboon; "falafel" also frequently refers to a wrapped sandwich that is prepared in this way. The falafel balls are topped with salads, pickled vegetables, hot sauce, and drizzled with tahini-based sauces. Falafel balls may also be eaten alone as a snack or served as part of a meze tray (assortment of appetizers). Falafel is popular with vegetarians world-wide.


Fatteh meaning crushed or crumbs, also romanized as fette, fetté, fatta or fattah is native to Palestinian cuisine and consists of pieces of fresh, toasted, grilled, or stale flatbread covered with other ingredients that vary according to region. Fatteh is served as plain rice cooked in meat or chicken broth and then flavored with mild spices, particularly cinnamon. The rice is then laid over a thin markook bread which is in turn smothered in clarified butter and topped with various meats.


Is a Palestinian dish made with ground meat mixed with parsley & chopped onion baked with potato & topped with tahini or tomato sauce 

Kubbeh or Kibbeh

Kubbeh or Kibbeh is a family of dishes based on spiced ground meat, onions, and grain, popular in Middle Eastern cuisine. Kubbeh is considered to be a national dish of Palestine, Lebanon and Syria and is also popular in other parts of the Middle East. It is made with bulgur (cracked wheat) and minced lamb meat and it is made in a variety of ways including kibbeh prepared with sumac (kubbeh sumāqiyyeh), yogurt (Kubbeh labaniyyeh), quince (kubbeh safarjaliyyeh), lemon juice (kubbeh ḥāmḍah), pomegranate sauce, cherry sauce, and other varieties, such as the "disk" kubbeh arāṣ).


The original pastoralist Bedouin mansaf underwent significant changes in the 20th century. The dish is said to originally have been made with simply meat (camel or lamb), meat broth or ghee (clarified butter) and bread. Following the popularization of rice in Palestine and Jordan in the 1920s, rice gradually was introduced into the dish, at first mixed with bulgur, and later on its own, until the dish reached its modern incarnation of being based on white rice. Similarly, the jameed sauce or drained yogurt is a recent development, as the Bedouins did not historically feature jameed in their cooked dishes until their modern sedentarization.

Maqluba or Maqlooba

Maqluba or Maqlooba is a traditional dish of Palestine and the Levant. It consists of meat, rice, and fried vegetables placed in a pot which is flipped upside down when served, hence the name maqluba, which translates literally as "upside-down." The dish goes back centuries ago.


Musakhan is a Palestinian Arab cuisine dish, composed of roasted chicken baked with onions, sumac, allspice, saffron, and fried pine nuts served over taboon bread. It is also known as muhammar. It is often considered the national dish of Palestine. It originated in the Tulkarm and Jenin area. The dish is simple to make and the ingredients needed are easily obtainable, which may account for the dish's popularity. Many of the ingredients used—olive oil, sumac and pine nuts—are frequently found in Palestinian cuisine. Musakhan is a dish that one typically eats with one's hands. It is usually presented with the chicken on top of the bread, and could be served with soup. The term "musakhan" literally means "something that is heated.

Shish Taouk

Shish Taouk is a traditional marinated chicken shish kebab of Ottoman cuisine that later became part of Palestine and the Levant. The dish consists of cubes of chicken that are marinated, then skewered and grilled. Common marinades are based upon yogurt and lemon juice or tomato puree, though there are other variations. It is usually served with toum (a garlic paste sauce), hummus and tabbouleh.

Quzi or Ouzi

Quzi also spelled as qoozi or ghoozi, is a rice-based dish popular Palestine and other Arab states. It is served with very slowly cooked lamb, roasted nuts, raisins and served over rice. It is considered one of Palestine’s national dishes.

Koussa Mahshi

Koussa Mahshi is stuffed squash, courgette, marrow, mahshi, or zucchini that is common to Palestine and the Levant. And it is a kind of dolma. It consists of various kinds of squash or zucchini stuffed with rice and sometimes meat and cooked on the stovetop or in the oven. The meat version is served hot, as a main course. The meatless version is considered an "olive-oil dish" and is often eaten at room temperature or warm.


Maftoul, a Palestinian variety of the Moroccan couscous that is made with bulgur. Maftoul can be considered to be a special type of couscous but made from different ingredients and a different shape. It is significantly larger than North African couscous, but has a different preparation. Maftoul is similarly steamed and often served on special occasions in a chicken broth with garbanzo beans and tender pieces of chicken taken off the bone. Maftoul is an Arabic word derived from the root "fa-ta-la", which means to roll or to twist, which is exactly describing the method used to make maftoul by hand-rolling bulgur with wheat flour.


Malfouf is stuffed Cabbage leaves rolls made with rice and minced meat. It is slowly cooked to perfection creating an explosion of flavor delivered directly to your mouth. Adapting this dish as a vegetarian or vegan one is as simple as can be. It is often topped with lemon juice.


Mulukhiyah, molokheyya, molokhia or mulukhiyyah is the leaves of Corchorus olitorius, commonly known in English as jute mallow. It is used as a vegetable. It is popular in Palestine and the Middle East. Mulukhiyah is rather bitter, and when boiled, the resulting liquid is a thick, highly mucilaginous broth; it is often described as "slimy", rather like cooked okra. Traditionally mulukhiyah is cooked with chicken or at least chicken stock for flavor and is served with white rice, accompanied with lemon or lime.


Mujaddara is the Arabic word for "pockmarked"; the lentils among the rice resemble pockmarks. Mujaddara contains rice, brown lentils and is a vegetarian Palestinian dish that could be topped with Yogurt or Arabic salad made of cucumber, tomato cubes, olive oil and lemon.


Shawarma is a Levantine sandwich or dish consisting of chicken or meat cut into thin slices, stacked in a cone-like shape, and roasted on a slowly-turning vertical rotisserie or spit. Originally made with lamb, mutton and chicken, today's shawarma may also be turkey, beef, or veal. Thin slices are shaved off the cooked surface as it continuously rotates. Shawarma is one of the world's most popular street foods in Palestine.

Waraq Enab

Waraq Enab or Dolma is a family of stuffed dishes made of rolled grape leaves that can be served warm or cold. Some types of Dolma are made with whole vegetables( grape leaves, cabbage, squash, potato, carrots,& tomato) are all stuffed with minced meat & rice & cooked in a pot usually adding tomato sauce to many. Today, Dolma (Mahashi) dishes can be found in the cuisines Palestine and the Levant.

Arabic Salad

Arabic salad, is any of a variety of salad dishes combining many different fruits and spices, and often served as part of a mezze or appetizer. It is made of cucumber, green peppers, tomatoes, garlic and onions with olives and topped with olive oil and lemon juice.

Baba Ghanoush and Mutabbal

Baba Ghanoush also spelled baba ganoush or baba ghanouj, is a Palestinian consisting of mashed cooked eggplant, olive oil, lemon juice, various seasonings, and sometimes tahini. It may be served with onions, tomatoes, or other vegetables. The eggplant is traditionally baked or broiled over an open flame before peeling, so that the pulp is soft and has a smoky taste. It is a typical mezze ('starter') of the regional cuisine, often served as a side to a main meal and as a dip for pita bread. Traditionally, Mutabbal is sometimes said to be a spicier version of baba ghanoush. It consists of broiled & mashed eggplant and tahini mixed with salt, pepper, garlic, lemon, yogurt and olive oil .


Fattoush. also fattush, fatush, fattoosh, and fattouche) is a Levantine salad made from toasted or fried pieces of khubz (Arabic flat bread) combined with mixed greens and other vegetables, such as radishes and tomatoes. It is topped with olive oil and lemon juice.

Ful Mudammas or Medames

Ful Mudames, other spellings include ful mudammas and foule mudammes), or simply fūl, is a stew of cooked fava beans served with vegetable oil, cumin, and optionally with chopped parsley, garlic, onion, lemon juice, chili pepper and other vegetable, herb and spice ingredients. Ful medames are traditionally made in and served out of a large metal jug.

Qalayet Bandora

Qalayet Bandora or "pan of tomatoes") is a simple Palestinian dish of tomatoes, onions, hot peppers (usually serranos or jalapenos), olive oil, and salt. It is popular across Palestine and the Levant, on account of its easy preparation and healthy ingredients. To make the dish, the olive oil is heated in a large frying pan. The onions and peppers are diced and the tomatoes are cubed and optionally peeled. The onions are then added and cooked until translucent, at which point the rest of the ingredients are added and the mixture is sautéed until it is thick but not dry. Qalayet Bandora is usually eaten with warm pita bread, which is used to scoop it up, though Qalayet Bandora can also be served over rice and eaten with utensils. When served in a restaurant or at a formal event, it is often garnished with toasted pine nuts


Tabbouleh also known as tabouleh, tabbouli, tabouli, or taboulah) is a Levantine vegetarian salad made mostly of finely chopped parsley, with tomatoes, mint, onion, bulgur (soaked, not cooked), and seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and sweet pepper. Some variations add lettuce, or use semolina instead of bulgur. Tabbouleh is native to Palestine and Lebanon.


Akkawi cheese also Akawi, Akawieh and Ackawi) is a white brine cheese originating from the city of Acre, Palestine and is made of goat milk.


Halloumi or haloumi is a semi-hard, unripened cheese made from a mixture of goat's and sheep's milk, and sometimes also cow's milk. It has a high melting point and so can easily be fried or grilled. This property makes it a popular meat substitute.


Kashk is a range of dairy products used in Palestine and the Levant. Kashk is made from drained yogurt (in particular, drained qatiq) or drained sour milk by shaping it and letting it dry. It can be made in a variety of forms, like rolled into balls, sliced into strips, and formed into chunks. There are three main kinds of food products with this name: foods based on curdled milk products like yogurt or cheese; foods based on barley broth, bread, or flour; and foods based on cereals combined with curdled milk.


Labaneh or strained yogurt is yogurt that has been strained to remove most of its whey, resulting in a thicker consistency than regular unstrained yogurt, while still preserving the distinctive sour taste of yogurt. Like many types of yogurt, Labaneh is often made from milk that has been enriched by boiling off some of its water content, or by adding extra butterfat and powdered milk. Labneh (cured yogurt)& Za’tar(thyme with sesame & sumac)are main two breakfast dishes.


Nabulsi (or naboulsi) is one of a number of Palestinian white brined cheeses. Its name refers to its place of origin, Nablus, and it is well known throughout the West Bank and surrounding regions. Nabulsi, along with Akkawi cheese, is one of the principal cheeses consumed in Palestine. It is produced primarily from sheep milk; alternatively, goat's milk may be used. Nabulsi cheese is white and rectangular in shape. It is semi-hard with no gas holes.

Jerusalem Ka’ak

Jerusalem bagel, called Ka'ak Al Quds, are soft and airy oval-shaped bagels with a slight sweetness, thanks to the honeyed sesame topping. Jerusalem Ka’ak has a very distinctive taste not foudn anywhere. It is usually dipped with Labaneh or oilve oil and Za’tar. It is unique to the Palestinian city of Jerusalem.

Pita Bread

Pita is a flatbread found in Palestine and many Mediterranean. Pita bread is produced as a round flatbread, 18 cm (7 in) to 30 cm (12 in) in diameter. It is thin and puffs up as it bakes. Since it does not contain any added fat, it dries out rapidly and is best consumed while still warm; later, it may become chewy. The "pocket" pita originated in the Middle East. It is also known as Arab(ic) bread, Palestinian or Lebanese bread.

Taboon Bread

Taboon bread is Levantine flatbread baked in a taboon or tannur 'tandoor' clay oven, similar to the various tandoor breads found in many parts of Asia. It is used as a base or wrap in many cuisines, and eaten with different accompaniments. Taboon bread is an important part of Palestinian cuisine, traditionally baked on a bed of small hot stones in the taboon oven. It is the base of musakhan, often considered the national dish of Palestine.

Manakish or Mana’ish

Manakish or Mana’ish is a popular Palestine and Levantine food consisting of dough topped with thyme, cheese, or ground meat. Similar to a pizza, it can be sliced or folded, and it can be served either for breakfast or lunch. The word manaqish is the plural of the Arabic word manqūshah (from the root verb naqasha 'to sculpt, carve out' or engrave), meaning that after the dough has been rolled flat, it is pressed by the fingertips to create little dips for the topping to lie in. Traditionally, women would bake dough in a communal oven in the morning, to provide their family with their daily bread needs, and would prepare smaller portions of dough with different toppings for breakfast at this time.


Sambusek may be a semicircular pocket or triangular shape of dough filled with mashed chickpeas, fried onions, and spices. Another variety is filled with meat, fried onions, parsley, spices, and pine nuts, which is sometimes mixed with mashed chickpeas and breakfast version with feta or cheese and za'atar.


Sfiha is a dish consisting of flatbread cooked with a minced meat topping, often lamb flavored with onion, tomato, pine nuts, and spices. It is traditionally found in Palestine and the Levant. It is closely related to manakish and lahm bi 'ajin. Every family has their own preference on what to add in addition to the meat. In Palestine, the main ingredients are: meat, onions, tomatoes, pine nuts, salt, pepper, and flavorings such as cinnamon, sumac, or pomegranate molasses.


knafe’ a very famous dessert basically from Nablus made with shredded filo pastry, or alternatively fine semolina dough, soaked in sweet, sugar-based syrup, and typically layered with Nabulsi or sweet cheese, or with other ingredients such as clotted cream or nuts, depending on the region. It is popular in Palestine and the Levant. One of the most well-known preparations of kanafeh is knafeh nabulsiyeh, which originated in the Palestinian city of Nablus, and is the most representative and iconic Palestinian dessert. Knafeh nabilsiyeh uses a white-brine cheese called Nabulsi. It is prepared in a large round shallow dish, the pastry is colored with orange food coloring, and sometimes topped with crushed pistachio nuts

Baklava or Balaweh

Baklava or Baklaweh is a layered pastry dessert made of filo pastry, filled with chopped nuts, and sweetened with syrup or honey. It was one of the most popular sweet pastries of Ottoman cuisine and subsequently Palestine.


Ma'amoul also spelled m'aamoul, m'amul, m'aamul) is a filled butter cookie made with semolina flour. The filling can be made with dried fruits like figs or dates or nuts such as pistachios or walnuts and occasionally almonds. Ma’mool is a semolina,farina or flour cookie dough filled with dates pistachio or walnut served in ceremonies religious or otherwise Ma’mool is usually made during the Easter holiday, and a few days before Eid (then stored to be served with Arabic coffee and chocolate to guests who come during the holiday). It is popular in Palestine and the Arab world. Ma’amoul may be in the shape of balls, domed or flattened cookies. They can either be decorated by hand or be made in special wooden moulds called tabe and sometime sprinkled with powdered sugar.


Ghribeh, ghraïba, or ghriyyaba and numerous other spellings and pronunciations) is a shortbread-type biscuit, usually made with ground almonds. Versions are found in most countries of the former Ottoman Empire including Palestine, with various different forms and recipes.


Qatayef or Katayef (Cheese, Cream, Pistachio or Walnut stuffed pancakes)is an Arab dessert commonly served during the month of Ramadan, a sort of sweet dumpling filled with cream or nuts. It can be described as a folded pancake.

Basbousa or Namoura

Basbousa (also namoura, revani, hareseh and other names) is a traditional Middle Eastern and Palestinian sweet cake. It is made from a semolina batter and cooked in a pan, then sweetened with orange flower water, rose water or simple syrup, and typically cut into diamond shapes.

Rashida Tlaib (1976- ) is a Palestinian-American politician and lawyer, serving as the U.S. Representative for Michigan’s 13th congressional district as of 2019. Prior to being elected to Congress, she represented Michigan’s 6th and 12th districts of the Michigan House of Representatives. She is the first Palestinian-American woman elected to Congress and one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress (alongside Representative Ilhan Omar).

Tlaib is a member of the Democratic Party and also a member of the Democratic Socialists of America.

Born in Detroit, Tlaib is the eldest of fourteen children born to working-class Palestinian parents. Her mother was born near Ramallah and her father in East Jerusalem. Tlaib is the first person in her family to graduate from high school and also college. In 1998, she graduated from Wayne State University with a Bachelor of Arts in political science and in 2004, she earned a Juris Doctor from Western Michigan University Cooley Law School. Tlaib’s political career began in 2004 when interning for State Representative Steve Tobocman. She was elected to his vacated seat in 2008, and won reelection in 2010 and 2012. She was the second Muslim woman to serve in American state legislature. She then worked as an attorney and advocate for the Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice in Detroit. At the non-profit, Tlaib worked on campaigns aimed at fighting Arab and Muslim discrimination, as well as progressive economic and environmental issues.

In 2018, Tlaib announced her intent to run for Congress. After winning the general election, she was sworn in on January 3, 2019. The thobe she wore during the ceremony inspired the viral #TweetYourThobe campaign, motivating Palestinian women worldwide to share photographs of traditional Palestinian dress on social media.

Jelena Noura “Gigi” Hadid (1995- ) and Isabella Khair “Bella” Hadid (1996- ) are American fashion models, both signed to IMG models. The sisters were raised in Los Angeles. Their father, Mohamed Hadid, is a Palestinian real estate developer from Nazareth and their mother, Yolanda Hadid, is a Dutch model from Papendrecht. Through their father’s ancestry, they claim descent from Daher Al Omer, Prince of Nazareth and Sheikh of the Galilee.

Gigi began modeling with Baby Guess of Guess clothing at two years old, later focusing on school but returning to modeling in 2011. She signed with IMG Models in 2013, and in 2014 made her first New York Fashion Week appearance. She has walked for designers such as Versace, Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Chanel, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Max Mara, Fendi, Elie Saab, Miu Miu, and Giambattista Valli, among others. She has walked in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show multiple times, served as a global brand ambassador for Tommy Hilfiger, and also hosted the American Music Awards and iHeart Radio Much Music Festival. In 2016, Donatella Versace awarded her the International Model of the Year award at the British Fashion Awards. She has been the face of multiple Vogue covers, and drew international attention for her Vogue Arabia cover.

Bella Hadid began modeling at the age of 16, starting with a Flynn Skye commercial project. She signed with IMG Models in 2014 and made her new York Fashion Week debut in the same year. She has walked for designers such as Chanel, Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs, Oscar de la Renta, Givenchy, Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors, Philipp Plein, Balmain, and Diane von Fürstenberg, among others. She has appeared on multiple Vogue covers, walked in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, and served as an ambassador for Dior Beauty and Bulgari.

Justin Amash (1980- ) was born in Grand Rapids to a Palestinian Christian father and a Syrian Christian mother. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in economics with High Honors from the University of Michigan, and his Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School in 2005.

In 2008, he was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives. In 2010, he ran for the U.S. House of Representatives. In October of that year, Amash was featured in Time magazine’s “40 under 40 – Rising Stars of U.S. Politics” list, and at age 30 was the youngest federal officeholder on Time’s list in America. Amash won the general election, and was reelected to Congress in 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2018. He is known for his attendance, having missed only one of thousands of roll call votes, and his ardent defense of American civil liberties.

Mahmoud Darwish (1941-2008) was a poet regarded as the Palestinian national poet. Born in Al-Birwa, Mandatory Palestine, his grandfather taught him to read. During the Nakba, his family fled to Jezzin and then Damour in Lebanon. Because they missed the Israeli census, he and his family were deemed “present-absentees.” A year later, his family secretly returned to Deir Al-Asad in Israel. He eventually moved to Haifa.

In the 1960s, he joined the Community Party of Israel, and in 1970 moved to Russia to study at the University of Moscow for one year. Afterwards, he moved to Cairo and lived back and forth between Beirut and Paris until returning to Israel in 1996. He settled in Ramallah.

His first collection of poems, Leaves of Olives, was published in 1964 at twenty-two years old. In 1965, he performed his most famous poem, “Identity Card,” for the first time, and it spread throughout the Arab world within days. He went on to publish approximately thirty collection of poetry and prose, translated into more than twenty-two languages.

He served as an editor for a PLO monthly journal and the director of its research center. He was appointed to the PLO executive committee in 1987, and resigned out of opposition to the Oslo Agreement in 1993. In 1997, he began serving as the editor-in-chief and founder of Al-Karmel.

Honors and awards include the Ibn Sina Prize, the Lenin Peace Prize, the 1969 Lotus prize from the Union of Afro-Asian Writers, France’s Knight of Arts and Belles Lettres medal in 1997, the Lannan Foundation’s Prize for Cultural Freedom in 2001, the Moroccan Wissam of intellectual merit handed to him by King Mohammad VI of Morocco, and the USSR’s Stalin Peace Prize.

Darwish died following heart surgery in Houston, Texas in 2008. The Mahmoud Darwish Foundation was established the same year.

Born in Anbata to the town’s mayor, Sami Khalil received her primary education in Nablus, Tulkarm, and Ramallah. She enrolled in Beirut Arab University to study Arabic literature in her 40s, but dropped her studies because occupation policies following 1967 precluded traveling to take her final exams.

She re-emerged as a prominent humanitarian figure after the Naksa, when she again encouraged women to engage in emergency charity response. She was the founder of the Arab Women’s Union in 1952, co-founder and President of the Family Revival Society, secretary of the Executive Committee of the General Union, and member of the Palestine National Council. Much of her fame came from her work with the Family Revival Society, which sought to provide vocational training programs for women . The original budget of $140 has grown to an annual budget of $6 million.

Khalil became a member of the command council of the Palestinian National Front in 1973, and in 1979 was elected the only female member of the National Guidance Committee. Further, she was an honorary member of the Union of Arab Lawyers as well as the Arab Women’s Union. Throughout her lifetime she was arrested multiple times, imprisoned twice, and placed under house arrest. Khalil represented Palestinian women in twenty congresses worldwide. She received the Jerusalem Medal for Culture, Arts and Literature in 1991. In 1996, she challenged Yasser Arafat in the first Palestinian presidential elections and gained over 11% of the vote. The four objectives of her work were: educating children, enabling mothers to work, enshrining volunteer work principles, and preserving heritage.

Abd al-Hamid Shuman (1988-1974) was the founder of the Arab Bank and lauded for charity work which supported various communities throughout the Middle East. He was born in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina. Though he attended the local primary school, he began working at nearby stone quarries and did not continue his studies. Shuman emigrated to the United States in 1911, working as a salesman and then opening a self-titled clothing factory in New York City.

Throughout his time in the US, Shuman published Arabic newspaper Al-Dabbur and spearheaded various fundraising efforts to serve local Arab communities as well as monetarily support national movements abroad in Syria and Palestine. He returned to Palestine in 1929 and founded the Arab Bank in 1930.

Shuman served as a member and treasurer of the Higher Muslim Council’s Central Committee to Aid Palestinian Victims. At a national committees conference in 1936, he was one of five delegates who represented the National Committee of Jerusalem. Further, he was an elected member of the Supply and Boycott Committee which aided those suffering from the Great Palestinian Rebellion. He was arrested multiple times by British authorities.

Following the Nakba, Shuman managed to save the thousands of deposits held within his bank as well as open various branches in foreign countries. In 1978, the Abd al-Hamid Shuman Foundation was established according to his desire for a cultural foundation to be established after his death. The foundation is located in Amman, and features prominent sections such as the Abd al-Hamid Shuman Cultural Association, the General Library and Data Systems, the Children’s Library, and the Arts Center.

Shuman himself is buried beside the al-Aqsa Mosque. The Arab Bank now serves as the world’s most important Palestinian financial institution, and finances cultural programs and scholarships in several Arab countries.

Dr. Farouk Shami (1942- ) is a Palestinian-American businessman and the founder of Farouk Systems, the hair care and spa products company. Born near Ramallah in Beit Ur-al Tahta, Farouk spent much of his early life in Palestine. In 1956, he immigrated to the United States with $71 and later attended cosmetology school in Arkansas.

Shami served as an active board member of the American Task Force on Palestine. In 2009, he ran in the Democratic Primary for governor of Texas. Known for giving back to his various communities, Shami has established a factory in Ramallah as well as aiding fellow hairdressers by building schools for education and manufacturing plants.

Shami is the first hairdresser to: receive a Doctor of Beauty (Honorary Ph.D. of Arts by SeoKyeong University in Korea), invent the first ammonia-free hair coloring product, utilize NASA technology to develop hair care and styling tools, and own twenty-three patents. He was also appointed Special Representative and Adviser for International Affairs of National Defense University. He was named Entrepreneur of the Year in 2013 and recently established the Farouk Shami Foundation for Peace Farouk systems currently serves 144 countries worldwide, and has an estimated revenue of over $1 Billion.

Walid Khalidi (1925) is a Palestinian historian who specializes on the Palestinian exodus. Born in jerusalem, he went on to study at the University of London (B.A., 1945) and the University of Oxford (M.Litt. 1951). He taught at the Faculty of Oriental Studies in Oxford until transferring to a teaching position at the American University of Beirut. In 1963 he co-founded Beirut’s Institute for Palestine Studies, the oldest independent non-profit research institute in any Arab country. His work Before Their Diaspora (1984) utilizes nearly 500 photos to chronologize and memorialize five historical periods of Palestinian life prior to 1948. He is also the author of All That Remains, the authoritative reference detailing the more than 400 villages depopulated or destroyed in 1948. His research on the losses of Haifa and Deir Yassin is considered groundbreaking. Khalidi has served as a fellow at Princeton and Harvard University, prior to his retirement in 1977 He contributed to the founding of Amman’s Royal Scientific Society (1966) and Beirut’s Center for Arab Unity Studies (1975). Further, he is a founding member of the Palestinian Welfare Association (1982) and the Center for Christian and Muslim Understanding at Georgetown University (1993). He is currently chairman of the Board of Trustees of Jerusalem’s Friends of the Khalidi Library, which is home to the largest Palestinian collection of Islamic manuscripts. Khalidi is the recipient of the Palestinian Heritage Foundation’s award, the Order of Al Istiqlal from the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and the Jerusalem Prize (1998) from the Palestinian National Authority.

Edward Said (1935-2003) was a Palestinian American political activist, scholar, and pioneering literary critic. He is best known for founding the academic field of post-colonial studies. This area of literary criticism was spearheaded by his book Orientalism (1978), which explores Eurocentric perspective of inherent Middle Eastern “otherness” that shapes Western narratives of the Orient. Born in Jerusalem in Mandatory Palestine to an army veteran father with American citizenship, Said attended English-speaking schools in Cairo before emigrating to the United States in 1951. He later attended Princeton University (B.A., 1957) and Harvard University (M.A., 1960; Ph.D., 1964). After being initially hired by Columbia University as an English lecturer in 1963, he published his first book, Joseph Conrad and the Fiction of Autobiography, in 1966. He went on to become a full professor in 1969. Said spoke at over 200 universities in his lifetime, and served as a visiting professor at Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Yale, and a Fellow at Stanford University. In 1977, he was elected to the Palestinian National Council. As an accomplished pianist, he authored and co-authored four music books and was fluent in English, Arabic, and French. Said continued teaching at Columbia University until his death from leukemia in 2003. Following his passing, friend Mahmoud Darwish eulogized his death with a public poem. Said is championed as one of America’s greatest advocate for Palestinian rights and an independent Palestine, and one of the twentieth century’s greatest intellectuals.

Ghassan Kanafani (1936-1972) was an influential author and prominent member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Born in Akka, Mandatory Palestine, he was educated at a French Catholic missionary school in Jaffa before his family was forced to flee from their home in 1948, first to Lebanon and then to Damascus, Syria. In 1952 he received an UNRWA teaching certificate, and taught the art of short storytelling to children in Palestinian refugee camps. While enrolled within the Department of Arabic Literature at the University of Damascus, he became influenced by Dr. George Habash, founder of the PFLP. After expulsion from the Department due to his involvement with the PFLP’s precursor, the Arab Nationalist Movement, he moved to Kuwait in 1956 and again pursued teaching.

Kanafani is considered a pioneer of Palestinian Resistance Literature (adab al-muqawama). His fictitious works are written in straightforward style and greatly emphasize struggles of everyday Palestinian life, and have inspired an entire generation of Palestinian youth. In addition to hundreds of articles, Kanafani published eighteen books before his death – the most famous of which, Men in the Sun (1962), is widely lauded for its depiction of the Palestinian refugee experience. In July of 1972, Kanafani and his niece were assassinated by Mossad. He is remembered as one of the greatest modern Arabic authors, and his works have been translated into seventeen different languages and published in twenty countries worldwide.

Jabra Ibrahim Jabra (1920-1994) was a Palestinian-Iraqi author, poet, art critic, artist, translator, and intellectual. He was born in Bethlehem, Mandatory Palestine, to a Syrian-Orthodox family. His family moved to Jerusalem, where he attended the Arab College. He later studied at the University of Exeter and then Cambridge, graduating in 1943 with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, and a Master of Arts in 1948. From 1943-1948, he taught English Literature in Jerusalem. After losing his home during the Nakba, he taught in exile in Iraq at the College of Arts of the University of Baghdad. Further, he received a Rockefeller fellowship to study literary criticism at Harvard University for two years.

He was a major contributor of the Iraqi art movement and was an active member of the Baghdad Modern Art Group. From 1954-1977, he served as the appointed head of publications at the Iraq Petroleum Company in Baghdad.

Though better known for his writings which focused on modernism and Arab society, Jabra was nonetheless a pioneering Palestinian artist, using oil paint on less commonly-used media and having opened his home in Bethlehem for anyone who wished to see his paintings. He was also a founding member of the One Dimension Group, which projected a rejection of Western art forms and embraced a fusion of individual nationalism and Arab identity. In 1977 he was appointed cultural counselor at the ministry of Culture and Information, and also served as president of the League of Iraqi Art Critics.

Over his lifetime, Jabra produced approximately sixty literary works in English and Arabic. He also translated thirty books from English into Arabic, including various Shakespeare plays. His own literary works have been translated from Arabic into English, French, Spanish, Italian, Slovac, and Serbo-Croatina.

Awards Jabra received include the targa Europa Award for Culture (1983), the Sultan Oweis Cultural Award for Literary Criticism (1989), the JErusalem Medal for Culture, Arts, and Literature (1990), the First Class Recognition Medal (1991), and the Thornton Wilder Award for Translation (1991).

Samia Halaby (1936) is a a leading abstract painter and an influential scholar of Palestinian art, known as one of the Arab world’s leading contemporary painters. Born in Jerusalem, Mandatory Palestine, She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Design from the University of Cincinnati (1959) and from Indiana University with a Masters in Fine Art (1963). With a grant from the Kansas City Art Institute, Halaby returned to Palestine and in addition visited Syria, Turkey, and Egypt in 1966 to study Islamic architecture. Her 1999 and onward series “The Kafr Qasem Drawings” is born from interviews conducted with survivors and surviving relatives of the Kafr Qasem massacre victims. Her abstract creations are often inspired by nature, especially trees native to Palestine. Since the 1970s, her works have been collected by institutions such as the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum of Art,; Yale University Art Gallery; National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; Art Institute of Chicago; Cleveland Museum of Art; Institut du Monde Arabe; and the British Museum. Her solo shows include Ayyam Gallery, Al Quoz, Dubai (2017); Birzeit University Museum, Ramallah (2017); Beirut Exhibition Center, Lebanon (2015); Ayyam Gallery, London (2015, 2013); Ayyam Gallery, Al Quoz, Dubai (2014); Ayyam Gallery, DIFC, Dubai (2011); and Ayyam Gallery, Beirut (2010). Further, recent group shows include Katzen Art Center, American University Museum, Washington, USA (2017); Palestine Museum, Birzeit, Palestine (2017); Galerie Tanit, Munich, Germany (2017); The School of Visual Arts, New York, USA (2017); Ayyam Gallery, DIFC, Dubai (2017); Zürcher Gallery, New York, USA (2016); 3rd Qalandiya International Biennial (2016); Darat Al Funun, Amman (2015); the National Academy of Arts, New York (2015); The Guggenheim Museum, Abu Dhabi (2014); Broadway 1602, New York (2014); and Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris (2009).

In addition, Halaby served as the first full-time female associate professor at the Yale School of Art, and contributed a groundbreaking studio art program to art departments throughout the American midwest. Her survey Liberation Art of Palestine: Palestinian Paintings and Sculpture in the Second Half of the 20th Century (2001) is considered a pioneering work of Palestinian art history. She is the subject of the film “Samia” (2008), and has produced over 3,000 works, including paintings, sculptures, and drawings.

Born in Beirut to Palestinian parents, Hatoum was not eligible for a Lebanese Identification Card. After drawing throughout her childhood, she studied graphic design at Beirut university College for two years. In 1975, civil war began in Lebanon while Hatoum was in London, and she was unable to return to Beirut.

From 1975 to 1981, Hatoum trained at the Byam Shaw School of Art and the Slade School of Fine Art.

Her art focuses on juxtapositions and contradictions, exploring themes of human struggle in conflict and displacement. Her early work highlighted individual vulnerability within violent institutional structures. Her 1988 video piece Measures of Distance underscores the physical and emotional separations imposed by wars in Palestine and Lebanon, as well as challenges stereotypes of Arab women.

Hatoum’s solo exhibitions include: Centre Pompidou, Paris (1994), Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (1997), The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (1998), Castello di Rivoli, Turin (1999), Tate Britain, London (2000), Hamburger Kunsthalle, Kunstmuseum Bonn, Magasin 3, Stockholm (2004) and Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2005), Parasol Unit, London (2008), Darat Al Funun, Jordan (2008), Fondazione Querini Stampalia, Venice (2009), Beirut Art Center (2010), and the Menil Collection (2017). The Tate Modern gallery of London held a comprehensive history of her work, including performances, ideos, sculptures, and installations, in 2016. In 2015, she was awarded the 10th Hiroshima Art Prize.

Sari Khoury (1941-1997) was a Palestinian-American abstract expressionist artist who largely used acrylic, oil, and charcoal in his works. He was born in Jerusalem, Mandatory Palestine. After the Nakba, his family became refugees and he spent the remainder of his time in Palestine in Bir Zeit. At age 17, he immigrated to the United States with a fine arts scholarship to Ohio Wesleyan University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in 1963. In 1965, he then earned a Master of Fine Arts at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Detroit.

Khoury taught as a professor of art at Berea College in Kentucky and at Central Michigan University in Michigan.

His artwork encompasses various elements of his cultural roots, such as Arab writing, Islamic design, and Byzantine motifs. Khoury exhibited his pieces across the US and internationally, including in Germany, Japan, and Sweden.

Exhibitions include fifteen solo exhibits (some posthumous) and over forty group exhibits. Khoury participated in an exhibit titled It is Possible in 1988, invited due to his dedication for a dignified and equitable solution in Palestine.

Sari was commissioned by the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social services to paint a mural illustrating Arab-American life in 1987.

In 1992, Sari received an award for his contributions to the arts in Wayne Country, Michigan. He was also invited to participate in an Arab-American Artists series at the Detroit Institute of Arts in 1995. In 2008, the Arab American National Museum honored him with a retrospective. Today, many of his archived materials are held at the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan.

Ismail Shammut (1930-2006) was a Palestinian artist and art historian. Born in Lydda, Mandatory Palestine, his artistic talents were discovered at an early age. Elementary teacher Dawud Zalatimu taught him how to draw with pencil and ink, paint with watercolors, and sculpt in limestone.

Shammut began decorating wedding dresses, soon thereafter opening his own shop which served as his first studio. After the Nakba, Shammut and his family were forced to walk to Ramallah without water; as a result, his younger brother died of thirst. His family eventually settled in Khan Yunis refugee camp in Gaza, and the march Shammut endured to Ramallah is documented in many of his paintings throughout the 1950s, including the famous Where To..? (1953).

In Gaza, Shammut taught drawing in refugee schools. In 1950 he joined the Fine Art Academy in Cairo, earning a living by drawing movies posters. Shammut’s first exhibition (joint, alongside his brother) came in 1953 at the Employees Club in Gaza City – approximately sixty paintings were presented, and the event is remembered as the first contemporary art exhibition in Palestinian history by a Palestinian artist on Palestinian land. The next year, Shammut held another joint exhibition in Cairo titled The Palestinian Refugee, attended by various Palestinian leaders. He then received a scholarship to study at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Rome, and afterwards moved to work at UNRWA in Beirut.

In 1965, Shammut joined the PLO as the Director of Arts and National Culture. In 1969, he and fellow artists founded the first general Union of Palestinian Artists (where he served as secretary-general) and in 1971 he participated in founding the General Union of Arab artists (serving as its first secretary-general). Awards include the Revolutionary Shield for Arts in Literature from the PLO, the Jerusalem Medal for Culture, Arts and Literature, the Palestine Prize for the Arts, and the Creative Prize for Arab Painting from the Arab Thought Forum. Shammut also produced various films, such as Memories and Fire (1973), Urgent Appeal (1973), and On the Road to Palestine (1974).

His art is remembered as iconic for Palestinian people, because of its strong symbolism and influence from life in refugee camps.

Kamal Boullata (1942) is an abstract Palestinian artist and art historian. Born in Jerusalem, Mandatory Palestine, Boullata grew up in the Christian Quarter of the Old City. Because there was no formal art school in Jerusalem, Boullata taught himself to paint scenes from life around him, and also attended icon painting workshops of Khalil al-Halabi. By selling painting at exhibitions in Jerusalem and Amman, he was able to travel to Italy and graduate from the Academia di Belle Arti in Rome (1961-65) as well as study at the Corcoran Art Museum School in Washington, DC (1968-71). His art focuses on divisions of Palestinian identity, exploring representations of separation from homeland.

In 1974, he served as Beirut’s appointed art director of the Palestinian Planning Center’s Dar al-fata al-’Arabi publishing house. In 1993 and 1994, Boullata spent his time as a Fulbright Senior Scholar Fellow researching Islamic art in Morocco and Spain. He pursued field research again in 2001, studying post-Byzantine painting in Palestine with a grant from the Ford Foundation. His English and Arabic articles have been published in catalogues, anthologies, and academic journals, such as The Muslim World, Journal of Palestine Studies, Third Text, Cuadernos de Arte, Peuples Méditerranéens, Mundus Artium, and Michigan Quarterly Review; his writings have been translated into French, German, Italian, Hebrew, and Spanish.

Boullata’s art is featured in various collections across the world, including the British Museum; the Museum of the Alhambra in Granada; the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris; the New York Public Library; the Bibliothèque Louis Notari in Monaco; the Zimmerli Art Museum in New Brunswick, NJ; and Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts in Amman.

Naji al-Ali (c. 1938-1987) was a Palestinian cartoonist, remembered for his political criticism through his work. Born in Al-Shajara, Mandatory Palestine, he and his family were expelled during the Nakba and fled to Ain-al Hilweh camp in Lebanon. After graduating high school, he attended vocational school in Tripoli for two years before moving to Shatila refugee camp; later, he moved to Saudi Arabia after qualifying as a car mechanic.

Al-Ali returned to Lebanon in 1959 and in 1960 began studying painting at the Beirut Academy of Fine Arts, but was forced to leave due to harassment from Lebanese secret police for his lack of party discipline to the Arab Nationalist Movement. While spending time in jail, he drew on various surfaces, including the walls and inmates’ clothes. After moving to Kuwait in 1963, he worked for Al-Tali’a newspaper as an editor, cartoonist, designer, and newspaper producer. In 1974, he was able to durationally return to Lebanon and worked for the newspaper Al-Safir. In 1979, al-Aji was elected president of the League of Arab Cartoonists, and in 1979 and 1980 was the recipient of the first prize in the Damascus Arab cartoonists exhibitions. He again moved to Kuwait in 1983 to work for Al-Qabas and then worked for its international edition in London until his death.

Al-Ali created over 40,000 drawings, the most famous of which is Handala, the refugee boy who stands with his hands clasped behind his back as he witnesses the depicted satirized policy or event. Handala has since become an iconic figure of Palestinian resistance.

On January 22, 1987, Al-Ali was assassinated while outside the Al-Qabas headquarters in London. His death remains one of the unsolved deaths of the twentieth century. Naji al-Ali is remembered as a groundbreaking political satire cartoonist who stood firmly for ordinary people, and is the most celebrated Palestinian cartoonist to date.

Simon Shaheen (1955-) is a Palestinian-American composer and oud and violin virtuoso. Born in Tarshiha, Shaheen holds Israeli citizenship. Shaheen’s family moved to Haifi when he was two years old. At age five, he began playing the oud and later began playing the violin.

In 1978, Shaheen graduated from the Academy of Music in Jerusalem and was appointed its instructor of Arab music, performance, and theory. In 1980, he emigrated to the United States and continued his studies at the Manhattan School of Music and eventually Columbia University. He formed the Near Eastern Music Ensemble in New York in 1982, and also began workshops, lectures, and demonstrations in academic institutions. To this day, Shaheen spends nearly half of his time working with schools and universities including Julliard, Columbia, Princeton, Brown, Harvard, Yale, University of California in San Diego, University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and various others.

He has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, Meet the Composer, the Jerome Foundation, Continental Harmony, and Yellow Springs Institute; his theatrical repertoire includes Majnun Layla, (performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC and The Museum of Natural History in New York), The Book and the Stranger (from Kalilah Wa-Dimanah), Possible City, and Collateral Damage.

Throughout the 1990s, Shaheen released four albums of his own: Saltanah, Turath, Taqasim, and Simon Shaheen: The Music of Mohamed Abdel Wahab.

Since 1994, he has produced the Annual Arab Festival or Arts in New York, and in 1997 he founded the Annual Arabic Music Retreat.

He also contributed selections to soundtracks for The Sheltering Sky and Malcolm X , as well as composed the soundtrack for the United Nations-sponsored documentary celebrating the 50th anniversary of the United Nations Human Rights Charter, For Everyone Everywhere, in its entirety. His band, Qantara, aims to showcase Shaheen’s vision for the fusion between Arab, jazz, Western classical, and Latin American music.

Shaheen tours extensively with his two bands, Qantara and the Near Eastern Music Ensemble, and also as a solo artist and academic music lecturer.

Rim Banna (1966-2018) was a Palestinian singer, composer, arranger, and activist, remembered for her modern interpretations of traditional Palestinian poetry and songs.

Born in Nazareth, she grew up in a working-class Christian family. She first gained fame in the 1990s after releasing an album of largely-forgotten Palestinian children’s songs. She later released over a dozen albums, and became popular in Europe after accepting Norwegian music producer Erik Hillestad’s invitation to participate on the CD Lullabies from the Axis of Evil (2003). The album was an anti-war work featuring women from Palestine, Iraq, Iran, Norway, North Korea, Syria, Cuba, and Afghanistan.

In her own music, Banna focused on themes of Palestinian suffering, particularly in the West Bank. However, she also wrote songs lauding the sumud (steadfastness) of Palestinian people. She aimed to contribute to a sense of Palestinian unity through music.

She studied singing and conducting at the Higher Music Conservatory in Moscow, graduating after six years in 1991. She performed her first concert in Syria in 2009.

Rim Banna was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006, and passed away to much worldwide grief in 2018.

Khaled Mohamed Khaled (1975-) is a Palestinian American DJ, songwriter, record producer, record executive, and actor., he first gained fame from hosting 1990s radio show “99 Jamz” in Florida. After serving as a DJ for hip-hop group Terror Squad, he released his first studio album Listen…the Album in 2006. In 2009 he became President of Def jam Records South and co-founded his record label and management and production company We the Best Music Group. He has since worked with a plethora of music stars from multiple genres, including Mariah Carey, Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, and Justin Bieber. He has released multiple Billboard 200 albums since, and his tenth studio album Grateful (2017) debuted at number one on the chart. Khaled is a prominent social media figure, with 15 million Instagram followers and a dedicated Snapchat fanbase. His motivational novel The Keys (2016) is a New York Times Bestseller. In 2019, he is set to release his eleventh studio album Father of Asahd, as well as star in computer-animated film Spies in Disguise.

Suheir Hammad (1973- ) is a poet, author, actor, and political activist. Born in Amman to Palestinian refugee parents, Hammad moved to Brooklyn, New York at five years old. After being forced from Lydda during the Nakba, her family had lived in Gaza before relocating to Amman up until her early childhood. Hammad unearths and illuminates a common theme of dispossession through her identities as an immigrant, Palestinian, Muslim, and woman living within societal sexism. She was offered a deal with HBO’s Def Poetry Jam after Russell Simmons discovered her 9/11 reaction piece “First Writing Since.” She starred in Annemarie Jacir’s Salt of this Sea (2008), Official Selection for the Cannes International Film Festival of that year. Past awards include the Audre Lorde Writing Award, Hunter College (1995, 2000), the Morris Center for Healing Poetry Award (1996), New York Mills Artists Residency (1998), Van Lier Fellowship (1999), 2001 Emerging Artist Award at NYU (2001), and the Tony Award for Special Theatrical Event as an original cast member and writer for Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry Jam on Broadway (2003). She has produced a documentary film entitled Half a Lifetime, and notable works include Born Palestinian, Born Black and Drops of This Story. Through her poetry Hammad desires to transcend cultural and religious barriers, and her writings have appeared in over a dozen anthologies.

Fadwa Tuqan (1917-2003) was a Palestinian poet known for her resistance poetry and remembered as the leading female poetess of Palestine. Born in Nablus, Mandatory Palestine, she grew up within a wealthy family. After quitting school at age 13 due to illness, her brother Ibrahim Tuqan tutored her in poetry. With the Nakba came an influx of refugees into NAblus from the lost cities of Jaffa, Haifa, and West Jerusalem. The death of her strict father and the mixing of different Palestinian city cultures was in some sense personally liberating for Tuqan, as she experienced the decline of feudalism and the acceptance of young and educated women into social spheres previously only inhabited by their male counterparts.

Her first poetry collection, My Brother Ibrahim (1946) was later followed by seven others, translated into various languages. Her collections chronologically trace the evolution of Palestinian political consciousness., from victimhood to summud (steadfastness) and beyond. Her autobiography, “Mountainous Journey” (1990) explores the restrictions of women within Palestinian and Arab society. Israeli and Jewish feminists forged connections with Tuqan despite the physical separation.

She studied English Language and Literature at Oxford University from 1962-1964, and traveled extensively throughout Europe and the Middle East. In 1990, she was awarded the Jerusalem Award for Culture and Art. She also won prizes for her poetry from Greece, Jordan, and Italy, and served on the board of trustees for An-Najah University in Nablus.

Fadwa Tuwa died in December of 2003, as Nablus was under siege during the Second Intifada. She is remembered as one of the most distinguished figures of modern Arabic literature.

Maysoon Zayid (1974- ) is an Palestinian-American comedian, actress, and disability rights advocate. She is the first person to perform stand-up comedy in Palestine and Jordan, and is one of the first Muslim women comedians in the United States.

After growing up in New Jersey, she later earned her BFA from Arizona State University. Her first acting experience was a two year appearance on the soap opera As the World Turns, as well as guest appearances on popular shows such as NBC Nightly News, Law & Order, and 20/20. She is vocal of her experiences living with cerebral palsy and uses her platform to fight ableism. Because of the difficulty she faced building an acting career due to her ethnicity and disability, she began stand-up comedy and performed at various popular venues in New York, playing on material regarding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and terrorism. In 2003 she co-founded the annual New York Arab-American Comedy Festival alongside comedian Dean Obeidallah. She is proud to have provided comedic relief while performing in Palestine at the height of the Second Intifada. Her one-woman show Little American Whore debuted at the Comedy Central stage in Los Angeles in 2006, and in 2008 was chosen for the Sundance Screenwriters Lab. Maysoon was a special guest on the Axis of Evil Comedy Tour and served as a full-time contributor on “Countdown with Keith Olbermann.”. Further, she is a co-host of the radio show Fann Majnoon (Crazy Art). Her viral Ted Talk, “I got 99 problems…palsy is just one,” is a personal narrative of her experience living with cerebral palsy and was the number one Ted Talk of 2014. The lecture received millions of views online and cemented her place as one of the world’s most recognized disability advocates. She is also featured in the documentary The Muslims are Coming! (2013), which documents various Muslim American comedians touring America in an effort to combat Islamophobia. In 2001 she founded Maysoon’s Kids, an arts program for orphaned and disabled children living in refugee camps in Palestine, narrowing the gap between disabled and non-disabled children and teaching kids how to cope with trauma through art.

Mohammed “Mo” Amer (1981- ) is an Arab-American stand-up comedian and writer of Palestinian descent. Born and raised in Kuwait, he and his family were forced to flee the country during the Gulf War and emigrated to the United States when he was nine. In high school, Amer’s English teacher permitted him to perform stand-up weekly in front of his class, and he credits her with helping him shape his talent and drive for comedy. Amer has performed in over two dozen countries on five continents, and is the first and only Arab American refugee comic to perform for U.S. and coalition troops overseas. He toured with comedian Dave Chappelle and together they performed over 600 shows. Amer has previously sold out shows at the Royal Albert Hall and Hammersmith Apollo in London, Acer Arena in Sydney, Nelson Mandela Theater in Johannesburg, and Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. His shows are crafted around political satire and autobiographical anecdotes, through which he aims to bridge understanding across political, religious, and cultural divides. He is best known for his Allah Made Me Funny comedy tour and 2018 Netflix special, the Vagabond.

Laila al-Haddad (1978- ) is Palestinian author, social activist, policy activist, and speaker. Born in Kuwait, she was subsequently raised in Saudi Arabia and spent many of her summers in Gaza.

She received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Comparative Areas Studies from Duke University, and her Masters in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School in 2002. At Harvard, she was the recipient of the Clinton Scholarship and the Barbara Jordan Award for Women’s Leadership. After her studies, she returned to Gaza to cover happenings as a journalist. She moved to the United States, where her husband was living, in 2006. br>
El-Haddad is the author of Gaza Mom: Palestine, Politics, Parenting, and Everything In Between and co-author of The Gaza Kitchen: A Palestinian Culinary Journey, which was the recipient of ‘Best Arab Cuisine Book’ award from Gourmand magazine, and a finalist at the 2013 MEMO Palestine Book Awards. She is also the co-editor of anthology Gaza Unsilenced. From 2003-2007, El-Haddad served as Al Jazeera English’s Gaza correspondent and a regular contributor to the BBC World Service. Her coverage included the Gaza Disengagement and the 2006 Palestinian elections. She also co-directed two Gaza-based documentaries, including the award-winning Tunnel Trade. In 2014, she was featured in Anthony Bourdain’s CNN program Parts Unknown and was his guide throughout Gaza. The episode, entitled “Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza” was the first instance of American audiences viewing Gaza in a lighthearted, humane, and ordinary light. El-Haddad is a frequent lecturer to student groups, academic faculty, community groups, and non-profits in the US and around regarding her work and experience. In addition, she dedicates her free time to volunteering with Syrian refugee relief and resettlement efforts in Maryland, as well as advocating for Palestinian rights through her involvement with various community and national groups, including the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights and American Muslims for Palestine. Awards include the American Friend’s Service’s Committee’s Inspiration for Hope award and the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee’s Literary Leadership Awards. Newspapers and magazines El-Haddad has written for include the Baltimore Sun, Washington Post, International Herald Tribune, The New Statesman, The Daily Star, and Le monde diplomatique. She has also appeared on NPR, CNN, Aljazeera, and CCTV.



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