Palestinian Heritage Foundation Celebrates 16th Anniversary
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
On Sept. 13 the Palestinian Heritage Foundation held its 16th anniversary
banquet in Teaneck, New Jersey. Some of the foundation’s achievements of the
past year include Palestinian costume shows, lectures, and exhibits in Montreal,
Princeton, colleges in New Jersey, New York and Maryland, and in Canberra,
Australia. It also contributed parts of its collection of traditional Palestinian
clothing to the six-month exhibition on Arab Americans at the Museum of the City
of New York, and has recently launched a Web site: <www.palestineheritage.org>.
from left: Naila Asali, Clovis
Maksoud, Mary Rose Oakar, Rami Mortada, Sayyidna Philip, Farid Abboud and Ziad
Standing Farah and hanan Munayyer
Two special exhibits honored Arab American women who recently died.
Palestinian actress Bushra Karaman was a major force in establishing Palestinian
theater and cinema. In her memory, and in order to make Palestinian cinema more
available to those in the diaspora, the Palestinian Heritage Foundation supports
and has contributed to the creation of a Palestinian film archive at Columbia
Dr. Hala Maksoud, a university professor and former president of the
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), also was the co-founder of
the Committee for the Preservation of Palestine Heritage in Washington, DC. The exhibit in her memory featured traditional Arab dresses from her personal
collection. The foundation contributed a portion of the proceeds from the banquet
to the Hala Salaam Maksoud Foundation for Arab American Leadership.
The evening’s honored guest and keynote speaker was her husband, Dr. Clovis Maksoud. A lawyer, journalist, diplomat and academic, Maksoud was formerly the
senior editor of Al-Ahram, and the Arab League ambassador first to India, then
to the United Nations. Currently professor of international relations at The
American University in Washington, DC, he is founder and director of the
university’s Center for the Global South.
Display in memory of Hala Salaam Maksoud
Display in memory of Bushra Karaman
Palestininian Heritage Foundation founders Farah and Hanan Munayyer presented
Maksoud with a plaque honoring his achievements. Among others paying tribute,
former Rep. Mary Rose Oakar, the current ADC president, said that during her
years in Congress, “no one was a more effective diplomat than Clovis." She
praised Maksoud as a champion of freedom and justice throughout the world.
His Eminence Metropolitan Philip Saliba,
Primate of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America, said
that, as one of the generation of Arabs that
has seen defeat in every decade since the 1940s, he shares Maksoud’s dream of
a united Arab nation, established on democratic values, with no ruler and ruled,
but a free people practicing their rights. Dr. Simon Shaheen performed an
improvisation on the oud in honor of Maksoud.
Audience to honor Clovis Maksoud
Thanking the Munayyers, Dr. Maksoud said the award was particularly
meaningful because, whatever the deficit of power, the Palestinian cause is an
important element of moral influence on the global scene among the international
constituency of conscience. It is the arena of the Arab historical struggle
against the new apartheid and the new colonialism. But, he said, the Palestinian
struggle with the Zionist project is also an historical embarrassment, the
result of an abdication on the part of Arab governments of their responsibility
toward the liberation of Palestine.
In the absence of a united Arab front able to provide a framework for
Palestinian resistance, the ruthlessness of Israeli power has at times generated
a recklessness of response, he noted, adding," It is crucial that we stop
suicide bombing in order that we develop
within resistance the cult of life and
not the cult of death.”
Maksoud described what is taking place in both Palestine and Iraq as vengeful
acts that may satisfy a desire to make the occupations costly to the occupiers,
but do not constitute resistance.
According to Maksoud, the lack of a united front renders every component of
the Arab nation—Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria—vulnerable to interference
by those who have hegemonic intentions in the area. Arab unity has been
interrupted by both those regimes that have developed a shameful dependency on
the U.S., and those that irresponsibly confront the West. Moreover, he said, the
Arabs are not what their regimes project to the world. Because of the gap between
governments and civil society in the Arab world, the Arab nation has been
associated with dictatorial governments rather than human rights and empowerment. It
is past time, Maksoud said, for Arabs to reclaim their national
heritage and to make the dream of Arab unity a reality.