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Reflection from Taybeh
Maria C. Khoury, Ed. D. — Green is such an amazing color during the spring time every year in Taybeh since everything blooms and all the hills and valleys reflect the deep beauty Mother Nature has granted to the highest mountain region in Palestine. My youngest son loves green so much as his favorite color that the family building in Ramallah has green windows on the main street possibly as part of his grandfather’s vision to encourage him to return and stay in Palestine awaiting freedom and a just peace.
I sort of like green only because it is part of the beloved Palestinian flag but it is sometimes difficult to mention that green was selected as a drink label to reflect the mother Earth and not Hamas when the Taybeh Brewing Company selected to launch its first non alcoholic beverage a few years ago.
My favorite color before returning to Palestine was black but not anymore since all of the villages and cities reflect their mourning by wearing black, it’s simply hard to think of it as an elegant and chic color anymore. Especially this month in Taybeh, it was simply a very dark black day when the twenty-three year old Izzat Nael Oweis died of a heart attack so you do not dare go visit his home in any bright colors. Thus, whether you like it or not, this family in mourning would most likely feel comfortable to see you in black for their great loss. As a Greek-American, I try my hardest to follow the local traditions and values so I am grateful that I simply finished wearing black for forty days and I am done expressing sadness using this color. I only wore black for a whole year when my father-in-law passed away.
There is a powerful color that I always see at the local fourth century ruins of St. George and it is the sparkle of red on the stones when people have finished sacrificing a lamb to give glory to God. So please know that this is nothing religious at all but a deep culture tradition where I think in the past , families simply did not have cash money to give away to the poor or in the form of almsgiving and they used to own animals so you simply take some of your property, the lamb or goat that you own and you slaughter it to give away to those in need since you are grateful for something in your life.
In this day and age people are simply grateful for things like surviving a car accident, surviving a deadly illness, surviving a major operation, having a healthy child born in the family or in my case having my child pass the Massachusetts bar exam to have a license to practice law. It is really not easy to fit into the deep traditions and customs of Palestine, but this week as a foreigner I found myself dressed in black staring at the bright red blood at the Al Khader Byzantine Church while sneaking views of the beautiful green valleys and country side of my husband’s village. However, truthfully speaking, I like all of these colors since I see them on the Palestinian flag but the white part of the flag gives me the greatest hope that one day we will live in Taybeh like normal people and have a normal life with basic human rights and it’s this white part that I am working so hard for the world to see since we do so many things to reflect peaceful existence. Therefore for me personally, the whole village is simply white as part of contributing to the flame of peace.
Note: Dr. Maria C. Khoury is organizing the 7th annual Taybeh Oktoberfest in Taybeh-Ramallah, Palestine, Oct 1 & 2, 2011 and inspiring people to travel to the Holy Land.
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Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.
Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com. He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites TheArabDailyNews.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.
Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.
His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania
Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com
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