Summertime and family reunions go hand-in-hand, and that’s no exception for the hundreds of Palestinian Americans, who have been living in diaspora for more than 60 years, and who plan to attend their family reunion in their ancestral city of Ramallah, Palestine, July 4-7, 2018.
The 60th Annual American Federation of Ramallah, Palestine (AFRP – www.afrp.org) Convention will take place in Ramallah, located 10 miles north of Jerusalem. Each year, the AFRP hosts the annual convention/family reunion in a U.S. city populated by large numbers of Ramallahites. This is the second reunion held in the family’s ancestral homeland of Palestine. The first was held in 2014.
The attendees include immigrants – now naturalized U.S. citizens, and up to fourth-generation, are the descendants of five brothers whose family settled and founded the Christian city of Ramallah in the early 1500s. During the Arab-Israeli conflict in 1948, and following the creation of Israel, many fled to the U.S. hoping to return. However, subsequent wars and conflicts in Palestine prevented families from returning, and most became U.S. citizens who are successful, productive and contributing members of their communities.
Today, there are more than 40,000 descendants of the five brothers living in the U.S., with approximately 10 percent of the original family living in Ramallah.
“Traveling nearly 6,500 miles to attend a family reunion is in itself unique but going back to the place where our ancestors started it all and reconnecting with aunts, uncles, and cousins from throughout the U.S., gives you a sense of connectivity, being united with each other and our land,” said Najwa Baba, a first-generation Arab American from San Francisco, California.
Convention Committees – one in Ramallah and one U.S.–based, have been planning the reunion for more than a year. Events include a welcome dinner, a parade through Ramallah, nightly “haflehs,” or parties celebrating traditional singing and dancing, etc. Following the reunion, sightseeing tours of the Palestinian territories including Bethlehem, Nazareth and Jerusalem, will take place.
“We are excited to go back home to Ramallah and celebrate with our families near and far,” said Dr. Hanna G. Hanania, current President of the AFRP. “While we live in diaspora, our hearts and our deep roots are forever in Ramallah. This is an opportunity for our children to see firsthand, their ancestral homeland and participate in our traditions and culture.”