“I see Palestine everywhere I look”: First festival held by the Women Association for Palestinians Abroad
On Tuesday, August 11, 2020, the Cultural Committee of the Women Association for Palestinians Abroad (WAPA) organized its first festival, titled “I see Palestine everywhere I look”, in which a selection of Palestinian figures, poets and personalities involved in the Palestinian folkloric scene, participated.
Starting first, Siham Abu Ghazaleh, a Palestinian heritage researcher, said:
“Reading a few history books on Palestinian heritage, I noticed a remarkable indication. The books said that the traditional embroidered designs found in the Palestinian Thobe / dress are not authentic. This triggered me to be a researcher in the field of Palestinian heritage, thobe and embroideries.”
She explained that the Palestinian thob and the embroidery first appeared 1500 or 2000 years ago, when cotton was yet cultivated in Palestine and fabrics made there. Concerning the colors, she pointed out that the fabrics are dyed with plants, which abound in the Palestinian nature. These are all factors that helped the Palestinian woman to create her dresses.
She also described the stages that the Palestinian thob went through and the designs that appear on it, adding that the designs developed hand in hand with the Palestinian society. The more the latter deepened in civilization, the more the designs multiplied in number and took a further complex shape.
Abu Ghazaleh added:
“When she embroiders, the Palestinian women does it with creativity. She threaded designs of the historical happenings, her religious beliefs and the tools around her, drawing thus the environment where she lived.”
Finally, she displayed photos of Palestinian designs and explained the implications of their details.
On her turn, Faten al-Tamimi, director of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign and a human rights advocate, recounted her experience of Palestinian activism in Europe and about the Irish solidarity with Palestinians.
She introduced the Campaign as an institution founded in 2001 by Irish volunteers, academicians, artists, journalists and human rights activists, who all seek to bring the Palestinian rights to the forefront and support the Palestinian cause.
Al-Tamimi added that Irish people are known for their love of and support for the Palestinian cause, saying that they have suffered from the same British colonialist and Israeli regime, which is the reason for their solidarity with the Palestinian people.
Commenting on the attempts to preserve the Palestinian identity and heritage, she added that they organize cultural events and exhibitions on every national occasion, to display Palestinian heritage-related items, such as embroidery, cuisine, works of art and other cultural manifestations.
The festival also included intervals of poetry, recited by the poet Samer Issa and the doctor and poetess Iman Abdulahadi, in addition to a theatrical sketch presented by director Kifah Salameh, as well as embroidery done by artist Safa Surour. The festivals’ presenter had a surprise for the audience, a competition of two questions and a corresponding symbolic financial award.