Palestinian identity

Abdul Aziz Samour accepts an award from Mr Maroof Nasser
Abdul Aziz Samour accepts an academic achievement award from Mr Maroof Nasser at the community’s annual academic awards ceremony, 2007.
Source: Museum Victoria Palestinian Community Photographic Collection

For the majority of Palestinians in Australia, there is no lived experience of Palestine. The link to homeland is passed from one generation to the next through acts of memory.

“Once, for school, I asked my dad for his earliest memory,” says Sofia, 15. “He told me about sheltering with his mother, brother and sister from falling bombs. That surprised me.”

One of the tensions between the older and younger generations is what defines Palestinian identity.

“The young are Aussies,” says one elder. “They can find it difficult to relate to our loud, emotional arguments. For those parents who came from the Arab world, being Palestinian is a fragile thing, and some have fed a fear of activism to their kids.”

“The uncles want to preserve,” says Sara, 20. “Our identity is more fluid – sometimes they see it as disrespectful.”

For people who have been powerless and dispossessed, education takes on added importance; it is something that can be taken anywhere and used to build a new life. An annual awards ceremony for young people recognises academic excellence and reinforces its place in Palestinian identity. One student from Year 12 and one from university are selected to speak, and the community brings traditional sweets to honour them all.

Image Gallery

Palestinian cooking classes Manningham Palestinian festival ca. March 2007 Graduation celebrations at the Manningham Community Centre, April 2007 Painting hands with henna