Nora Lester Murad is a writer and social justice activist, originally from California. She is coauthor of Rest in My Shade: a poem about roots (Interlink, 2018). She posts her writing at noralestermurad.com.
Mariam Barghouti studied sociology and global change at the University of Edinburgh. She is a Palestinian writer, researcher, and producer whose political commentary is featured in Al-Jazeera English, The New York Times, Huffington Post, Newsweek, and International Business Times, among others. She resides in Ramallah, Palestine. (Photo credit: Heidi Levine)
Thimna Bunte is a trainer and consultant in nonviolent conflict transformation and sustainable activism, and a systems therapist, based in Berlin. For six years, between 2011 and 2016, she worked in occupied Palestine with various nonviolent civil resistance groups and human rights defenders.
Jonathan Cook is a British journalist, based in Nazareth since 2001. He is married to a Palestinian woman from Nazareth, where they are raising two children. He contributes to online publications such as Al Jazeera, Middle East Eye, and The National, and he has written three books on Israel-Palestine, including Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair. He maintains a website for his independent journalism, blog, media criticism, advocacy, and photography at www.jonathan-cook.net. For his writings on the Middle East, he was awarded the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism in 2011. (Photo credit: Katie Ramadan)
Helene Furani has lived in Haifa with her husband and three children for the past fourteen years. She was born in New York City and grew up in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC. She has worn many hats in her manifold career, but currently makes a living as an academic editor, a role she has long played for her anthropologist husband of twenty-five years. (Photo credit: Wael Awad)
Fatima Gabru came from a small, apartheid-era “Indians-only” town in South Africa, where many anti-apartheid activists were subjected to some of the most extreme violence of the apartheid regime in that country. But she felt as if she had not been active enough in ending apartheid there. Palestine, for her, became another chance to do what her heart told her to do, and what she was unable to do for her own homeland of South Africa.
Nadia Hasan, Chilean by birth but Palestinian by blood, went on a twelve-year pilgrimage to get to Palestine. Her trek took her to Jordan, India, Lebanon, Syria, and back to Chile. She is now firmly planted in Ramallah where she is raising her daughter, Maya.
Donn Hutchison taught for forty-four years at the Friends Schools in Ramallah. From his Palestinian students, neighbors, and his wife’s Palestinian family came material for a series of books of historical fiction based in Palestine. He is the author, as well, of two devotionals based on Suras from the Quran, Polishing the Lamp of the Heart and Trays of Light.
Neta Golan Kamal was born to a Jewish Israeli family in Tel Aviv, in the part of historic Palestine occupied in 1948. In January of 2000, she moved to a Palestinian community in the West Bank. Neta, her husband, and three daughters now live in Nablus, where she feels fortunate to live with Palestinians, and not instead of them. She is committed to supporting the Palestinian struggle for implementation of the right of return.
Didi Kanaaneh moved from her native Hawaii to her husband’s village of Arrabeh in the Lower Galilee in 1970. After retiring from teaching English as a foreign language in 2005, she and her husband spend part of each year with their children and grandchildren in California and New York.
Andrew Karney was born in the United Kingdom during the Second World War and brought up, the second of six children, in a middle-class family. After studying engineering at Cambridge University, he went to work as a teacher for the United Nations in Palestine and fell in love with the country, the people, and their culture.
Maria (Kouremenou) Khoury was born in Tripoli, Greece, and raised in Denver, Colorado. She graduated from Hellenic College and Harvard University, and earned her doctorate in education at Boston University. In 1995 following the Oslo Accords, she moved with her Palestinian husband, David Khoury, to his home village of Taybeh, north of Jerusalem. They returned there to raise their three children—Elena, Cana’an, and Constantine—with ancient Palestinian Christian traditions and values, and to work with David’s family to establish the first Palestinian microbrewery.
Born in Oruro, Bolivia, in 1966, Corina Mamani studied agriculture in Russia where she met her husband, Saad, and got married in 1990. She moved to Palestine, where she now has four children and works as a supervisor at Dar Al-Shifaa Pharmaceuticals Company in Ramallah.
Originally from Michigan, over the last fourteen years Cody O’Rourke has worked for the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, the Christian Peacemaker Teams, Defense for Children International—Palestine, and the Holy Land Trust. He is a co-founder of the Good Shepherd Collective in the South Hebron Hills. But most importantly, he’s the proud father of a seven-year-old Israeli Jew, Alex.
Carolyn Agner Quffa would consider herself the most unlikely person ever born to live in the Holy Land. She came to Ramallah in June 1985 with her Palestinian husband. They have four children.
Rina Rosenberg is cofounder and international advocacy director of Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel (www.adalah.org/en). She expresses special thanks to her Arabic and English professors at Yale University, 2005−2006: Muhammad Aziz, Munzar Elby, and Emily Zinn.
Marty Rosenbluth is an immigrant rights defense attorney and human rights activist. Prior to attending law school, Marty worked with Al-Haq, the West Bank affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists, where he was a human rights researcher and director of the Trade Union and Worker’s Rights Project. While in the West Bank, he also served as a foreign affairs advisor to the General Federation of Palestinian Trade Unions. He also coordinated the first visit of the Congress of South African Trade Union (COSATU) to the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Ann Saba is an American woman married to a Palestinian born in Jerusalem. She met her husband in 1996 when she was a student at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, where he was studying on a Fulbright Scholarship. From 2012 to 2015, she and her family lived in East Jerusalem. She currently lives in Iowa City and works in communications for the university’s injury and violence prevention research center.
Samira Safadi was born in 1977 in East Berlin. In 1980, she fled with her Palestinian father, her German mother, and her younger sibling to West Berlin. She grew up traveling between the two Germanys until the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. After her schooling, she spent a year in a voluntary work program in northern France, where she met many Arabs. She then decided to study Arabic literature, and in 2004 she received her master’s degree in Paris, before moving to Ramallah. There she met her Palestinian future husband, Mahmoud. She continued studying while working in Ramallah and received a second master’s in library and information science through the distance learning program at Humboldt University, Berlin. Her children were both born in Jerusalem. Today, she and her family live in Bulgaria.
Zeena Salman is a pediatrician and pediatric cancer specialist, a public health expert, a wife, and a mother. She was born in Rome to a family originally from Sudan, and grew up outside of Washington, D.C. She lived in New York City for several years before moving to Ramallah to continue to pursue her goal of closing the treatment gaps for children with cancer. Her proudest achievement to date is being a part of building the only pediatric cancer department in Gaza, with the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund
While working as a freelance writer during the first Palestinian uprising, Steve Sosebee founded the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF) to identify and place injured kids for free care abroad. The PCRF has sent over 2,000 sick and injured children from all over the Middle East for free medical care all over the world, in addition to bringing hundreds of foreign volunteer surgery teams to provide free medical care in Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon’s refugee camps. PCRF is the main medical relief group working now in the Middle East to treat injured and sick children with surgical care they cannot get locally.
Saul Jihad Takahashi was deputy head of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Occupied Palestine from March 2009 through May 2014. After leaving the UN in 2014, Saul returned to Japan, and he is currently working as Professor of Human Rights and Peace Studies at Osaka Jogakuin University. Saul is the co-founder of Muslim Legal Affairs and Research Japan, an NGO focusing on the rights of Muslims in Japan, and he is working on a doctoral thesis on the police surveillance of Muslims in the country.
Trees Zbidat-Kosterman, originally from Holland, married Ali, a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship, in 1985. She is a proud mother of two daughters and grandmother of a beautiful girl. Since 1994, Trees has been living in her husband’s hometown, Sakhnin, a city in the Galilee. Trees has worked with several nongovernmental organizations. In 1998, along with women from Sakhnin, she helped established an NGO that advocated for the rights of Arab Palestinian women inside Israel. Currently, she works as a resource developer at the Social Development Committee, Haifa, an NGO advocating for the rights of the Palestinian-Arab community in the mixed city of Haifa.
Nora has completed her doctorate from Fielding University in Santa Barbara, California focused on social change and structural inequality; a Master of Arts degree in Intercultural Relations from Lesley University, with an emphasis on conflict management and training. Nara has also founded the first Palestinian community foundation, Dalia Association (www.Dalia.ps), which she directed from 2006 to 2010.
نورا لستر مراد محرّرة كتاب «وإذ بي في فلسطين» (منشورات أوليف برانش ــ 2020) الفريد كتبت: «لقد تبلورت فكرة هذا المؤلف أثناء تناول فنجان من القهوة في رام الله، وعملية إتمامه لم تكن علمية أو صارمة. لقد تواصلت مع أشخاص من مختلف أنحاء العالم متزوجين من فلسطينيين، أو عاشوا في فلسطين لفترة طويلة، أو لديهم خبرة طويلة وعميقة في ما يتعلق بفلسطين، فوجدت نفسي أبحث عن نوع معين من «الأجانب»، النوع الذي يدرك أنه في ظن العديد من الفلسطينيين يعني «الذين يستفيدون من معاناتهم». أشير إلى هؤلاء المتخصصين في المساعدة الدولية والدبلوماسيين الذين تحركهم الاهتمامات المهنية أكثر من التضامن. إنهم يثيرون غضب الفلسطينيين. لكني أردت في المقابل تسليط الضوء على قصص الأجانب الذين عملوا بجدّ وبتواضع وصدق لأجل الفلسطينيين ومعهم. هم نوع مختلف من الأجانب الذين يمكن أن يصبحوا جزءاً من المجتمع الفلسطيني ويتغيرون بواسطته. بعض من دعوته اعتذر عن عدم المشاركة وقال: على الفلسطينيين التحدث عن أنفسهم، لكنهم ساعدوا باعتذارهم هذا في تشكيل رؤية المشروع واتجاهه. «وإذ بي في فلسطين» ليس مؤلفاً عن فلسطين، وإنما مجموعة من تأملات غير فلسطينيين تعتبر قصصهم أيضاً هدية من هذا المكان».
Nora Lester Murad's latest book, “I Found Myself in Palestine,” collects essays from men and women who found themselves living in Palestine, navigating both their privilege and the occupation. The charm and poignancy of the book lies in understanding that whatever the impetus for travel, the writers contributing these reflections are sharing profound human experiences that indelibly shaped their lives.
It is rare that we come across writings of how people identify with Palestine. Zionist colonisation has created both a displaced population and a contradiction in terms of affinity and belonging. "I Found Myself in Palestine" is a collection of narratives that explores the concept of being a foreigner in relation to Palestine, juxtaposed against the creation of the Palestinian people depicted as foreigners in their own land, as far as Israel’s colonial narrative is concerned.
In all the stories, in different ways and from different contexts, gratitude is clear.
An engrossing anthology that attempts to see past the pain and bloodshed into the soul of the Palestinian people … A diverse collection of authors with a shared connection to Palestine meditate on why their relationship to the land and its people endures.
Mabrouk to Nora Lester Murad and all the contributors to this courageous volume – I Found Myself in Palestine pushes our understandings of solidarity as inextricably linked to radical love, and sheds light on the many incommensurabilities, like the opposite banks of a river, that may mark the limits of our raced/classed/gendered relationships in struggle and across colonial borders – yet can never hold the vastness of our love and continual quest for justice in Palestine and beyond.