By Sherri Muzher
When I was a kid, I was often asked what my nationality was. Was I Italian? Was I Greek?
The answer was none of the above. “I’m Palestinian,” I would respond with a smile.
“Oh,” was the usual quiet response with a polite smile.
I grew up in the 1970s, a time when the word Palestinian practically became synonymous with the word, ‘terrorist.’ So I somewhat understood the reaction of strangers. The harmful and inaccurate messages they were being bombarded with were endless; a big chunk of info about Palestinians was missing.
The images were nothing I could relate to as my parents stressed resilience and excellence in our academics and family values. Politics, money, and the role they play in helping to shape public opinion were not yet understood at my age.
Fast forward a few decades.
While the dehumanization continues, the “freedom fever” spreading throughout the Middle East means there is an exciting new chapter of change.
Isn’t it time for decades of dehumanization to end?
There’s a new “website book” in town. The only one of its kind in the world, this site will put a smile on your face with gems like: the Palestinian women’s national movement began as far back 1920; Scottish bagpipes are used in religious celebrations; the largest Palestinian community outside the Middle East is in Chile; and so on.
I call it a website book because this was supposed to be an actual book. It just made more sense to turn it into a website. After all, not everyone will go to the bookstore but nearly everyone has access to the Internet. And the sad reality is that too many people have formed their opinions of Palestinian people, places, and things by the words of others. Well, I’m an American-Palestinian and I’d like to tell you about my own people and heritage.
This website book is not intended to lead a movement of political correctness but it will take you on an enjoyable journey of surprises that will tear down illusions that Palestinians have not made positive contributions in our world. The black and white picture that has been dished out to the world for decades will be challenged on a number of levels.
As you go through “Escape to a World of Palestinian Surprises,” please keep in mind that this website is an on-going project with additions to be made as they come to my attention.
The “surprises” are brief synopses which should peak your interest to find out more. And wherever possible, I tried to include links to videos, pictures, and interviews to make the journey more enjoyable. A bibliography of my sources is included.
Finally, it is important to keep in mind that there is no rhyme or reason to the order of the “surprises.” Well, except for two – The first, as well as #48. The first is St. George, the patron saint of Palestine. He is revered by both Palestinian Christians and Muslims. The number 48 is significant for Palestinians because 1948 was the year that the Palestinian narrative and history gave way to decades of misinformation about who the Palestinians are as a people. For #48, I purposefully chose the late Professor Edward Said.
Professor Said spoke and wrote often about how Palestinians were denied a voice to narrate their own history and talk about their lives in popular media and culture. Essentially, his words came to be known as “Permission to Narrate.” And the “permission to narrate” is what this website is about.
Just go to: www.palestiniansurprises.com.
Enjoy your escape to a world of Palestinian surprises!
– Sherri Muzher, JD is author of Escape to a World of Palestinian Surprises. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Visit: www.palestiniansurprises.com.