Amahl, Nidal, and 1for3

Posted on 05/08/16

by Nadia  Abuelezam

When I first met Amahl Bishara, I was in awe. Here was a woman who was an academic (something I have aspired to become) ,who was raising a beautiful daughter, had published a book with two on the way, was maintaining a rigorous research program, writing an alphabet book with youth in a Palestinian refugee camp, and supporting her husband’s non-profit organization. I mean, how could I not be in awe!?!


Besides writing an alphabet book with the youth in Aida Refugee Camp at the Lajee Center,  (which you can hear more about in our 8th episode) Amahl and Nidal (her husband) have dedicated a great deal of time to improving access to clean water in the camp as well. Recently (April 2016), Nidal’s organization 1for3 hosted a walk in Boston to raise money for a number of different projects they plan to complete with the support of Lajee Center in Aida Refugee Camp. While the mission of 1for3 is to create a rain collection water garden, athletic facility/playground, rooftop/household gardens, community gardens, a health clinic and a pre-school, they also gained a great deal of support and attention for the water crisis during this walk.  The day included inspirational speeches by Amahl and Nidal, beautiful and energizing dabke by the Boston Dabke group, and an awesome Skype session with Aida Refugee Camp residents who cheered walkers on from across the ocean. The walk was also celebrated in three other cities including Santiago (Chile), Detroit (Michigan, United States), and Bethlehem (Palestine).


How often do you have to think about your access to clean water? Have you ever worried that you might wake up or return from work and not find any water in your pipes or in your home? Have you had to ration water or collect rainwater to shower or wash your face? These are all daily worries, fears, and realities for those living under Israeli Occupation. With the support of individuals like Nidal and organizations like 1for3 we may begin to see a new reality for residents of Aida camp.  If you feel compelled to help 1for3, you can learn more about the organization and donate to their cause at

Make sure you check out the 8th episode of Palestinians Podcast that features Amahl Bishara!  Click here to listen!

Mama’s Day

Posted on 05/08/16

by Nadia Abuelezam

As a Palestinian American, I always *knew* I was different from most of my friends at school. My mother didn’t pack me nice little sandwiches with a fruit cup and a cookie. I didn’t fit into regular size clothing and never really wore anything stylish in elementary school. When my mother came to watch me play basketball, you could hear her shrill screams across the gym screaming “DEFENSE” when we were on offense.

But one of the only things that felt consistent, normal, and comfortable in my life was my mother’s love and presence. You see, my mother stopped working when she had me. She stayed at home and took care of the house, took care of us,and took care of many cousins and relatives on the weekends! She dedicated her whole life to ensuring my life was comfortable and full of love. I think consistency in a mother’s love is something many people of all different cultures, races, and religions feel and experience in their lives.


For that reason, this Mother’s Day, I wanted to highlight one of the many times my mother made me feel loved and special even when I didn’t. Even when the world seemed cruel and my pants were too tight, my mother always knew how to make me feel better! I hope you enjoy the special Mother’s Day episode.


For those who don’t speak Arabic or know much about Arabic language or food, you should know the following:

1. The music is a song by Fairuz called “Oumi ya Malaki” which translates to “Mother, My Angel.” One of the lyrics to the song includes the following: “Mother, my angel, my everlasting love. Your arms are still my swing and I am still a child.”

2. Some of the mouthwatering dishes I mentioned are warak dawali (stuffed grape leaves), kifta wa batata (Arabic spiced meatballs and potatoes), and Arabic style spaghetti (spaghetti cooked in the oven with Arabic spices).

3. Some of the sweets/desserts I listed in the episode included ghrebeh (a butter and sugar cookie) and knafi (a delicious dessert made of cheese and covered in sugar syrup) are delicious – go to an Arabic sweet shop to try them!

Make sure you listen to the 7th episode of Palestinians Podcast that features our very own creative force Nadia Abuelezam!  Click here to listen!

Hamza and Reham Are Not Numbers

Posted on 04/29/16

by Nadia  Abuelezam

What do young people in Gaza, Palestine, and Lebanon have to say? We Are Not Numbers (WANN) seeks to bring the voice of young Palestinians living in and outside of Palestine to the world. By pairing young writers with successful writing mentors from all over the world, WANN gives young Palestinians living in Palestine and Lebanon an opportunity to tell their story.

WANN stories range from the personal (stories written in memory to family members), the political (letters written to American presidential candidates), and to the personal made political (discussion of the impossibility of raising daughters in Gaza). The stories highlight the depth and passion with which these young Palestinians experience life even in the most harrowing of circumstances. What is especially unique about WANN is that they are giving a voice to a population of young people and empowering them to do great things with their ideas and their stories. We are so excited to partner with WANN to bring these voices to the rest of world through our podcast.

Palestinians Podcast aims to highlight stories from WANN in the personal voices of the story tellers in the coming months. This month, we featured Hamza Moghari. Hamza is an impressive young nursing student who lives in Gaza. His story about Reham, which is reads for us in his episode, was recently featured on Electronic Intifada. Hamza is not only a talented writer and public speaker, but is also a certified health educator and health rights activist. His impressive resume at his young age is a testament to his never ending passion to improve people’s circumstances and their health.

If you’d like to support WANN and their endeavor to bring voices to young Palestinians through writing, please visit their website and look for the red DONATE button in the top right corner. There you can also find a link to hundreds of stories and learn more about the awesome storytellers and young mentors.

If you have been motivated by Hamza to tell a story about your own life or about someone you love, please pitch us your story! You can pitch us your story by emailing us at or by calling our story hotline and leaving us a message with a 2 minute condensed version of your story (415-POD-PAL5). We can help you craft your story! We may have you tell your story for a podcast episode or in a live storytelling event somewhere near you!

Make sure you listen to the 6th episode of Palestinians Podcast that features Hamza Moghari!  Click here to listen!

The Search for 1948

Posted on 03/22/16

by Hannah Mermelstein

Part 1:

“Where do you want to go?” asked the taxi driver, expecting to give me a short ride and collect a few shekels.

“Baqa’a,” I replied, “but it’s a bit of a project.”

The West Jerusalem neighborhood of Baqa’a is only a ten minute drive from the East Jerusalem road where we were, but time travel takes somewhat more imagination.

“I’m looking for a house from 1948,” I told him, and handed him a diagram of a house that looked similar to hundreds of other old houses in the Jerusalem area.

“Is it yours?” he asked.

“No, a friend’s.”

I had recently discovered that a friend of mine in Boston, who I’d always known as Lebanese, was actually born in Jerusalem. In 1948, at the age of four, Munir and his family, along with 800,000 Palestinian people, were forced out of their home by pre-Israeli forces. They fled to Lebanon, where his father had lived before moving to Jerusalem twenty years earlier. Nobody in the family had been back to Palestine since 1948, so I had asked Munir if he would like me to try to find his house. He had gathered some information, including a few nearby landmarks and a diagram of the house, and I set off on my search.

This brings me back to Abed’s taxi, where I sat hoping he knew the neighborhoods well enough to help me. I had planned to seek out an older taxi driver, and possibly someone who spoke English so I could make sure to communicate every little detail I knew. Abed is a young man who speaks very little English, but he seemed interested in and moved by the project, and immediately began to call all the older people he knew.

“Do you know where the Jordanian embassy was before 1948?” he would ask, as this was our major landmark.

“Yes,” one man told him, “but it wasn’t in Baqa’a.”

“No,” said a couple people, “there was barely a Jordan at that time. How could there be a Jordanian embassy?”

So we began to drive, looking for the other smaller landmarks, or for people who might recognize Munir’s father’s name. Abed would pull over next to every older person he saw (Palestinian or Israeli), and ask about the Ummah school, the Jordanian embassy, and the British army women’s headquarters. Some people were vaguely helpful, some not, and some would inform us in a slightly insulted tone that they were not yet born in 1948.

We left Baqa’a and crossed the street to another neighborhood that is to this day mostly Palestinian, thinking we would have a better chance of finding both people who wanted to help and people who could help. Not two minutes later, we passed an old man and Abed stopped. We got out of the car, said hello, and explained what we were doing. “You’re in luck,” replied the old man, “I know more about these neighborhoods than anyone else in the area.”

Before I knew it, his wife was serving me coffee in the middle of the street and the man was telling his wife and daughters to go ahead without him, as he would join us in the taxi in exchange for a ride home afterwards. We gratefully agreed and continued on our journey, this time with a new passenger.

We drove for about a half hour with little success, and then the man (whose name I never learned) suggested we stop at an old house on the corner. We knocked on the door, and an old Israeli man answered. He took one look at us and asked, “Are you looking for someone who used to live here?” as he opened the door and let us in. “You’re in luck,” he said, “I know more about these neighborhoods than anyone else in the area.”

So here I was inside a house with Abed the taxi driver, and two older men, one Palestinian and one Israeli, who said they knew everything there was to know about this part of Jerusalem. They talked for a few minutes and argued amicably for a few more in a combination of Hebrew, Arabic, and English. The interaction had an air of pre-Zionism to it that is difficult to explain. The men were interacting like I would expect any two older men would, both trying to be helpful and both trying to prove what they knew. They used language of “Arab” and “Jew” instead of “Palestinian” and “Israeli,” which many people do, but it seemed more appropriate in this situation than usual. As though nationalism and the way it has played out could not taint this simple human search for an old home.

I had started the trip too late, so by this time it was getting dark and I was running late for a meeting. We had gathered some information that might help us for next time, I had a few questions to take back to Munir, and we took the name and phone number of the Israeli man so we could try again another day.

Part 2:

Jerusalem House 1941.jpg

Two weeks later, on the only day that week with semi-clear skies, I met Abed in Jerusalem. I had received more precise directions from Munir, including names of other people who lived and worked in the area and, most importantly, a photograph taken from their front yard in 1940.

Abed met me and told me he knew where the house was, that he had gone back there after our last search. I showed him the photograph and we drove towards the area where he thought the house was. We parked and began to walk around, holding up the photograph to each gate and entrance. We found one house that looked similar and currently has a huge construction project going on directly on top of it. The managers were Israeli, the workers Palestinian. We went in and asked the workers what they knew about the house, which wasn’t much. We were stopped on the way out by a manager. Abed explained in Hebrew that we were trying to find a house. The man glanced at the photo and said, “Yes, this looks like the house.” Another manager came out and ordered us off the property. “This isn’t the house,” he said. “There was nothing here before 1948.”

We stood outside for a few minutes as Abed explained to me (as though explanation was needed) that the Israeli man felt threatened by us. “We need to find an Israeli to help us,” said Abed. “They think you and I are here to claim the house because I’m Arab and you have papers in your hand. They don’t know we’re only here to look and photograph.”

“We should take the house,” I replied, only half joking.

By that time we had realized this was probably not the house we were looking for. The gate looked the same but we couldn’t figure out the angles in the photograph and it just didn’t seem right. Another older Israeli man on the street asked if he could help. Abed explained that we were searching for a house, and the man joined us for the next 20 minutes as we walked around the neighborhood. We kept finding similar sights, but none of them fit together. Finally he asked, “Are you sure the house is in the German Colony?”

“No,” I replied, “it’s in Baqa’a.”

Apparently the older Israeli man who had helped us the first time had convinced Abed to come to this area and I, unfamiliar with West Jerusalem’s neighborhoods, had gone along for the ride. Once I realized we were in the wrong neighborhood, we got back into the car and headed back to the Israeli man’s house where we had paused our search two weeks earlier. He answered the door and I shared all my new information with him. It was near the Trans-Jordanian consulate, I told him, not the Jordanian embassy, and there was a road that went down from the main street towards their house. These two pieces of information were all he needed. He followed me out to the street, pointed, and said, “Go two more traffic lights. The Allenby building is probably what you mean, and that’s on your left. There’s a street that goes down from there on the right.”

Something felt right about this, so I got back in the car excitedly and we drove those two blocks, turned right, parked, and started walking down. The streets were different than they were described to me, and the building supposedly on the corner wasn’t there. But sure enough, after a few minutes of meandering, I found myself in front of the large building that was in the background of the photo I was holding. I positioned myself exactly at the angle that the photo was taken from, and looked around. One street continued to go down, so I took it. To my right was a synagogue that I guessed was either Munir’s property or their neighbor’s. I hoped it was not his, that his house had not been completely destroyed and replaced by a synagogue.

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We passed the synagogue and stopped in front of the gate to the next house. This was it. Different from the photo, but with the same dimensions, and seemingly the right distance from the larger building up the street. We entered and found ourselves on the stone path described in the e-mail I had in my hand from Munir’s older brother: “…continue along the stone-paved path… some 8 meters, you reach the level of the house… Move some 10 more meters and you will have the six stone steps (to the left) that lead up to the veranda and you will then be facing the main door, entrance to the house.”

I was facing the main door, the entrance to the house. I wanted to knock on the door, but wanted to take in as much as possible first. I walked around the house, wondering which plants and trees had been there when Munir lived there and which were new.

Finally Abed knocked. No answer. We waited a few minutes and then left. I came back alone about five minutes later to photograph more, and the door to the house was open.

 I walked to the entrance, knocked, and said “hello?” A man appeared.

“Do you speak English?” I asked.

“A little,” he replied, which turned out to mean a lot.

“My name is Hannah, I’m from the United States, and I have a friend who I think used to live in this house before 1948. Can I come in and look?”

He seemed hesitant but let me in. I asked if I could photograph and he was slightly more hesitant, but again agreed. He asked if I was sure this was the house, and I told him about the description of the path, stairs, and entrance. I asked how long he’d lived there, and he told me only a couple years. He rents the place from a French Israeli man who has owned it for about five years. Before that, the building was owned by a Moroccan Israeli family.

“Since 1948?” I asked.

“Well, the government probably had it first and then gave it to them, but yes, for a long time.”

I kept photographing. I was a bit uncertain about saying too much, worried that he might change his mind about letting me film. As I was getting ready to leave, though, he initiated a conversation:

“The reason I let you in,” he told me, “is that one time my sister went back to Morocco to find our family house. The man currently living there wouldn’t let her in. She cried and cried, and finally he let her in, but he wouldn’t let her photograph. This is why I let you in and let you photograph.”

Seeing this as an opening, I asked, “Do you want to return to Morocco?”

“No,” he replied, almost laughing at the suggestion.

“If the situation changed?”

“No, Morocco is for the Moroccans and Israel is for the Israelis.”

“What about the Palestinians?”

“We were here first,” he said, “thousands of years ago. This is our land, it says so in the bible.” I had noticed all the Torahs and other religious texts in the house, so it did not surprise me that he was religious.

“Sixty years ago my friend was living here,” I said.

“History doesn’t start in 1948,” he answered.

I briefly considered sharing with him something my Palestinian friend from Hebron often states: “It says in the Torah that Abraham came here to Hebron and bought a cave, right? Well, who did he buy that cave from? My great great great… grandfather!” Knowing, though, that this Israeli man’s argument was not rooted in, or concerned with, reliable historic analysis, I decided there was no use arguing with religion. We said an awkward goodbye (saying “thank you” did not seem appropriate in this situation), and I left.

My search for 1948 was over. Or, almost over…

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Part 3:

After receiving the photographs I sent, Munir and his brother excitedly confirmed that this was indeed their house, and asked if I might be able to find any legal documentation to corroborate this. Not knowing where to start, I turned to a Canadian-Israeli friend, who agreed to help track down whatever she could. She visited the local Registry of Deeds in Jerusalem, which manages land deeds for the municipality. After being sent from office to office and compiling information about the current address and plot number, according to Israeli zoning laws and not the memories of the prior owners of the house, she finally had the information she needed.

She returned to the Registry of Deeds. They looked at the address and block number, and told her they had no record of the property before 1992. When she protested, they sent her to the microfilm, saying she could search through it all she wanted. So she did. After almost giving up, she came upon a document that seemed to be for that property. It was from the British Mandate period, and was thus written in English. She scanned the paper: 672 square meters, original owners’ names… and then, finally, proof of sale of the property “in whole” on January 6, 1932, to one Najeeb Jirmanus. Munir’s father.


There is something about finding the land registry hidden in the microfilm of Israel’s archives, after being told in effect that the property did not exist before 1992, that reminds me that nothing lies too deep under the surface in this part of the world. Beneath every Israeli road lies the dirt of the agricultural paths from centuries before. Beneath every kibbutz field lie the remains of a destroyed Palestinian village. Beneath every modern-day name on the map, the memory of a people who will not forget where they come from.

I think about the number of people involved in the uncovering of this one small slice of history, this one family’s relatively brief presence in the land of Palestine. I think about some of the people I met throughout this search for 1948, and their names give the story an air of parable:

The wonderful taxi driver, always at my service, was named Abed: “one who serves.”

The man currently living in Munir’s house was named Israel.

The older Israeli man who helped us find the house was named Shalom.

Perhaps if more people named Shalom helped facilitate the return of Palestinian refugees to their homes, the word “peace” would have true meaning.

Make sure you listen to the 6th episode of Palestinians Podcast that features Munir Jirmanus!  Click here to listen!

-Hannah Mermelstein is an activist, educator, and aspiring radical librarian currently based in Brooklyn, NY.

Podcast Recommendations

Posted on 02/19/16

by Nadia Abuelazam

Are you new to podcasts? Or maybe you’re looking for some recommendations? As an avid podcast listener, I have plenty of suggestions for you to listen to! Take a look at my list below!

The episode that will make you laugh and cry comes from a great show called Radio Diaries. Radio Diaries features a wide array of stories including the episode entitled “#42: The Last Place.” I showed up to work with a huge smile on my face and also smeared mascara from tears after listening to this. What a raw and emotional experience this episode was!

For the science buff who cares about the world and its people, I’d highly recommend the episode “Birthstory” on Radiolab. The story highlights the struggles of an Israeli same-sex couple who seeks to have a baby (or two, or three) through surrogacy. The episode, if you stick through until the end, raises important questions about personal rights and liberties that had me thinking for a long time after it was over.

If you want action packed drama on your commute you should listen to the first season of Limetown! I really enjoyed this more than I would enjoy a drama on television. There’s something about radio dramas that causes you to use your imagination! I’d highly recommend this to those looking for high entertainment value!

If you’re looking for a good entertaining chuckle, I’d highly recommend Mystery Show! I especially enjoyed “Case #3: Belt Buckle” and “Case #2: Brittany.” I found myself laughing out loud at multiple times during these episodes. They have great humanity and humor!

If you’re looking for consistently diverse material, every Sunday night I would highly recommend downloading This American Life from NPR. One of my all time favorite episodes is “#567: What’s Going on In There” which sheds light on some difficult relationships and discoveries.

If you have recommendations of your own, email me at! I’d love to listen to something new! As always, we hope you’ll listen to Palestinians Podcast! We cant wait to share our newest episode with you soon! Happy listening!

Also, don’t forget to check out episode 4 of Palestinians Podcast featuring Laila Kassis.  Click here to listen!



Amer Makes Us Smile (And so do other comedians, artists, writers etc.)

Posted on 01/29/16

by Nadia Abuelezam

Amer Zahr is a man of many talents (and many jokes)! Besides being a writer and editor on the Civil Arab, managing very active Facebook and Twitter accounts, and being an Adjunct Professor at University of Detroit Mercy School of Law you’ve probably seen Amer representing Arabs and Palestinians on a number of major news sources including CNN!

As if he didn’t have enough going on, Amer is producing and performing the first Palestinian run show at Carnegie Hall in New York City on February 5, 2016 entitled “Being Palestinians Makes Me Smile.” The next day he’s taking the show to Philadelphia! Click the links to learn more about his shows or to get tickets for the show in NYC.

I appreciated that Amer agreed to spend time with me during his very short trip to Boston this past fall. What I appreciated most about the time I got to spend with Amer was his support of this small and growing podcast. He provided feedback and ideas, truly valuable feedback, especially with his experience in media. This made me smile more than his stories made me laugh.

It is especially important for Palestinians to support each other in their activism. At Palestinians Podcast we aim to help artists, writers, novelists, professors, activists, and musicians! Let us know if you know any artists, musicians, writers, novelists, professors, or activists who would like to tell a story and get a bit of exposure! We’d love to hear from you! Feel free to email us at

Also, don’t forget to check out episode 3 of Palestinians Podcast featuring Amer Zahr.  Click here to listen!

Coming Home with Shush-Barak

Posted on 01/22/16

by Rana Akleh

One of my favorite things about Palestinian culture is the food. All my best memories are of my family sitting down together over a traditional home cooked meal. This past holiday break (December 2015), my family gathered over shush-barak. Shush-barak, if in English terms, is ravioli stuffed with lamb or beef, stewed in a thick goat milk yogurt. My description doesn’t do the taste justice. Taking a bite into shush-barak rushes back memories: my mom making it on a cold day when I was younger, my cousins and mom visiting me in the East Coast for my first Thanksgiving away from home, my wonderful aunt in Bethlehem and our drive around town, my extended family uniting to all cook and eat shush-barak, and especially, laughter shared among mother and daughter while making and eating this meal. This dish brings me home and I hope it will bring you home as well. Enjoy!

DISCLAIMER: The goat yogurt for this recipe comes from distinct areas in Palestine where the goat milk yogurt is dehydrated into rock like structures. This is not a recipe to make the goat yogurt.

The Meat:

  1. Cut one onion into small pieces.
  2. Sautee the onion with butter until a little brown, and add one pound of organic ground lamb/beef and mix until all the water is gone from the pan.
  3. Add salt to taste, a little cinnamon, a hint of nutmeg, and a little ground coriander. Mix well.
  4. Once it is done cooking, add the meat to a strainer to remove all the excess fat.
  5. Set to the side.

The Dough:

  1. Mix 4 cups of sifted all-purpose flour, a little salt, and warm water together in a bow and mix until the dough is done. It should have a medium consistency, where it isn’t too soft or too hard.
  2. Put the dough in a bowl and cover for about an hour.
  3. On a flour surface, roll out the dough to about 0.5 cm thickness.
  4. Using a champagne glass, cut the dough into circles.
  5. Into the circles, add the cooked meat and close the dough into a knot shape. Put each “ravioli” on a tray separate from other another.
  6. When the tray is full, place in the freezer.
  7. When frozen, remove from tray and put in a plastic bag in the freezer.

The Soup:

  1. The yogurt is specially bought from Palestine. It’s rock solid dehydrated goat milk yogurt.
  2. This needs to be soaked in water over night.
  3. The next day, put the yogurt mixture into a blender and mix. It will become a thick liquid.
  4. In a stainless steel pot, whisk the yogurt on low heat until it starts to boil, then add hot organic chicken broth until the desired thickness of the soup.
  5. Add the frozen “raviolis” to the soup and let it boil for 10-15 minutes. It shouldn’t take too much time since the meat is already cooked. Just make sure the dough is cooked.
  6. Enjoy!

My Palestine

by Rana Akleh


At this moment in time, there are two words that describe me: scientist and artist. While I am more than these things, usually I am doing either some form of science or art. In fact, I commonly argue that these two are intertwined, despite their seemingly opposite nature. To be a scientist requires an artistic creativity to open up the mind to discover new things, and being an artist is heightening the senses to explore and depict the world viewed only through the artist’s eyes. So if I am not discovering new things about viruses, I am trying to recreate my observed world through art.

When I came back from my 6-week trip to Palestine, my artistic side yearned to document my experiences in the West Bank through art. However, I couldn’t pinpoint the best way to do that. I wanted to communicate “my” Palestine to my audience and I wanted to do it in a way where my artwork would make Palestinians proud. As I was attempting to redefine my art to encompass Palestine, I read a poem called Invictus by William Ernest Henley. As I read this poem, the faces of the new generation of Palestinians flashed in my mind.

Out of the night that covers me

Black as the Pit from pole to pole

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate:

I am the captain of my soul.

Thus, I was inspired. The ink of the marker was flowing on paper, my hand attempting to draw the faces of these Palestinians. Each artwork depicted here represents a stanza of this poem: the young Muslim woman praying and, thanking God for her unconquerable soul in the midst of occupation, the young man with his back turned and his head high despite the occupations perpetuation, the aged gentleman with a continued determination and a fearlessness in his eyes, and the young girl ready to take on the world.

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The last piece in the series is of a woman covered in a shawl, with melancholy and heartbreak washed over her face. I saw a picture of a woman, which inspired this piece. In this picture, the light was cast on the woman to illuminate her beauty, but the light displayed her internal sadness. It was captivating to see a juxtaposition of grief and poignancy in such a heavenly light. I attempted to create that disparity in this artwork through colored pencils. People living under occupation demonstrate their strength, resistance, defiance, and rarely often show the opposite. However, in certain moments in just the right light, their raw emotions are revealed on their face. This piece was meant to encapsulate that small moment of authenticity.

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These five pieces are my homage to my homeland. This is my Palestine.

Also, don’t forget to check out episode 2 of Palestinians Podcast featuring Rana Akleh.  Click here to listen!

What I Don’t Know and What I Do

Posted on 01/15/16

by Annalise Raziq

When I told my story on October 24th, 2015 in Boston, my father was still alive. He was ill. He was on oxygen 100% of the time and dialysis three times a week. But he was still full of the same steely determination and fire that I had known all my life.

When I told that story, and spent so much time before that reflecting on my past and my relationship with my dad – which shaped my foundation in profound ways – I did not know he would be gone a month and a half later. When I was interviewed for the podcast, he was still in his recliner in St. Louis, still working as a research chemist from his armchair, still calling me often. We were still planning what middle-eastern bakery I would try next in Chicago, when I would next come for a visit, bringing with me another sample for him to assess on our hunt for the perfect knafeh.


When I was in St. Louis on November 5th, taking him to a doctor’s appointment and planning where we would have lunch after (food is inextricably entwined in almost all my memories of my father), I didn’t know we only had another month or so. He’d been thinking about a Mexican restaurant that was near the doctor’s office but he couldn’t remember the name. We drove around before the appointment and finally found it, both of us like two little kids playing a road trip game (“I spy with my little eye… a dry cleaner. A Burger King. A… Mexican restaurant!!! We win!”). But when the appointment was over, he was too tired to sit in a restaurant, and I realized suddenly we had both been dreaming to think that could happen. Wishful thinking. So I ran in to order fajitas to go, while he waited in the car with the oxygen tank. I knew he was starving so I brought out a bag of chips and some salsa for him to munch on while we waited. Fifteen minutes later, when I got back to the car with the food, he had already mowed through half the bag of chips and I was feeling bad, realizing how hungry he was. But he was in good spirits, even though our ride home through traffic would now take an additional half hour. As I drove, he said, “You must be really hungry too” and even though I told him I was okay until we got home, he said, “I will feed you.” And the whole ride home, he carefully picked the biggest tortilla chips out of the bag and artfully put hunks of salsa on each chip, timing the hand-off with the traffic and warning me about “this one has a big hunk of tomato” and “this one has a lot of liquid.” I didn’t know how little time we had left yet still my chest ached.

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When my daughter Kalila and I were in St. Louis for Thanksgiving, literally being in town for only 36 hours because of the sudden illness of one of our cats, I didn’t know we only had two more weeks together on this earthly plane. He called me for days after that, asking after the cat, wanting to know if the antibiotics had kicked in yet and how he was doing. My father had a very soft heart that he did his best to cover. He even had me fooled for a while. We were in the car once together when I was about ten years old and a squirrel darted into the street. I thought he had hit it and I started to cry.  He acted astonished and kind of irritated: “You are crying about a squirrel??” But that was a sham. Because he loved cats and even fell in love with my dog (after getting over the initial cultural shock of having a dog in the house) – and I have many stories about that for another time. He said to me on more than one occasion, “There is a special place in heaven for those who take care of God’s weaker creatures, for those who love animals.”

When he called me on December 10th, and we discussed his various pains for the day, even though he told me he was very tired, I didn’t know that in a little over 12 hours I would be getting a call from my brother telling me my dad had died in his sleep (what a blessing!). I didn’t know that my dad would leave this life behind on December 11, 2015, and that I would be heartbroken so soon.

And even with the knowledge of that now, I still feel tremendous gratitude. I am grateful he didn’t suffer much, and I am grateful he is now released from a body that had run its course. And I am especially grateful to have been his daughter. My relationship with him has not ended. I can feel his presence, even as I write, and I know we have more stories to explore together. There are many more to tell.

So for now I will just say rest in peace, Said I. Raziq. Your work on this planet is done. You were, and you remain, as you always signed your letters, my loving father.

Also, don’t forget to check out the PREMIER episode of Palestinians Podcast featuring Annalise Raziq.  Click here to listen!

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Story Tips

Posted on 01/10/16

by Nadia Abuelzam

This is our podcast and the success of our efforts is contingent on us all being involved.  To tell the stories of everyday Palestinians, we need to hear from everyday Palestinians!  Here are some tips on telling stories.

Here’s some help if you’re having trouble thinking of a story:

         a. Think of a moment where you experienced:

                   a. great sorrow or sadness

                   b. happiness or euphoria

                   c. confusion or strife

                   d. a mix of emotions

          b. Think about a difficult situation you were in that was resolved (or left unresolved).

          c. Think about one of the biggest life lessons you were ever taught. How were you taught

          that lesson? What were the events that led up to that lesson?

          d. Who are your role models? What have your experiences been with your role models?

          e. Who is important to you? Why are they important? Was there a defining event that made your connection stronger?

Remember the details surrounding the event/story you have recalled and the circumstances that led up to and after the event.  What was the environment like? What were you wearing, what was around you? Try to remember the details and share them. What did you think of the event then? What do you think about that event now?

Use your own voice and speak naturally.

Tell the truth, do not exaggerate the truth. Be honest about your experience. Your experience does not have to relate to you “Palestinian-ness,” it just has to be a human experience!

Here are some steps to follow to submit a story to our podcast:

          1. Call our story hotline (415-POD-PAL5) and tell us a 1-2 minute (condensed) version of your story. Make sure to include your name and the best way to contact you.

          2. Email us a voice recorded version of your story (preferably condensed, 1-2 minutes) to

          3. Email us a written story

Your participation is what will make this podcast successful! Please be patient with us as we filter the stories and get back to you with its potential fit for the podcast!

Thanks! Can’t wait to hear from you!