[Jerusalem brings us together whenever we find ourselves apart]. The Operetta is a huge art work that was prepared in 2009 as a part of the Celebration. Performed by singers representing six geographic zones, the Operetta conveys the centrality of the issue of Jerusalem to the consciousness of the Arab and Islamic nation. It is considered until today the largest work of its kind that is dedicated to Jerusalem.
Following the Operetta were speeches by representatives of the organizing committee of the Campaign. The first speech was by Prof. Dr. Ishaq al-Farhan (Jordan), President of the Campaign. After welcoming the guests, al-Farhan summarized the various activities and achievements that took place throughout the past year in Arab and European countries. These included festivals, contests, gatherings, media works, literary and academic meetings, conferences and publications, etc… He thanked the “innumerate” participants, hoping that Jerusalem will always be present in our intellectual realms and spaces; and that such activities will not end by the fiscal end of 2009. Al-Farhan called upon Arab and Islamic capitals to always dedicate financial and moral support for Jerusalem and the Jerusalemites, especially in facing the continuous Israeli colonial Judaization projects in the city.
Then was a speech by Dr. Muhammad Akram al-‘Adlouni, head of the preparatory committee in the Campaign, and secretary-general of Al-Quds International Institution. Al-‘Adluoni thanked all those whose efforts contributed to the success of the campaign; be them individuals or social committees, private and public institutions, and media organizations. He also mentioned specific “remarkable and significant” projects that deserve consideration: the electronic community for Jerusalem, the mobile Bayt Al-Maqdis encyclopedia, the aforementioned Operetta, Short Messages Texting (sms) initiatives, Media promos, advertising campaigns and material, Jerusalem calendar, posters, brochures, etc..; in addition to the publication of 26 referential books about Jerusalem’s history, culture and religious identity, and Al-Quds award that was presented in two tracks: the academic and literary tracks.
About this award and its different related aspects of nomination, selection, and presentation; Prof. Dr. Mohsen Mohammad Saleh, head of the Award’s committee and general manager of Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies and Consultations, presented the speech of the Award’s committee. Saleh praised the significant participation of many researchers and writers, that reflect the centrality of Jerusalem and the Palestinian issue in the Arab intellectual realm. “These numerous and distinguished entries also revealed many hidden potencies of researchers and writers who deserve estimation and support,” according to Saleh; who added that the Award’s committee found it difficult to decide upon the winners because of the high qualifications among some considerable number of entries. Saleh concluding by announcing that the two institutions that directly moderated the academic and literary tracks of the Award, i.e. Al-Zaytouna Centre and Palestine Institute of Culture respectively, will publish some of the significant entries that should find their way to the concerned readers, and not, otherwise, stay un-noted.
Saleh’s speech was followed by a speech by Dr. Hasan Khater, on behalf of the people of Jerusalem. Khater, the secretary-general of the Islamic-Christian Front for Defending Jerusalem and the Holy Sites and a resident of the city, conveyed the regards of the Jerusalemites to all the efforts that support them in facing the fierce Israeli attempts to Judaize the city and distort its cultural and religious identity; and called for the urgent need to respond more efficiently to the intense Israeli infringements and transgressions in the Holy city and its sites.
Finally, the recipients of Al-Quds Award were announced and awarded their prizes. Honorary shields were also presented to the members of the Campaign’s executive committee.
In the Academic Research Track
First Prize ($10 thousand USD): Dr. Sawsan ‘Adel Al-Fakhri (Jordan), on her entry: “Jerusalemite Biographies in the literature of Al-Daw’ Al-Lami’ Li-Ahl Al-Qarn Al-Tasi’ – The Mamluke Era”.
The winner, Al-Fakhri, holds a PhD in Islamic History from Mo’ta University in Jordan, with specialty in Artifacts and Excavations. She has served as the general manager of the Department of Antiquities in Al-‘Aqaba region in Jordan between 1991 and 2008. She has many scientific and research participations about Antiquities in specialized academic journals and conferences.
Second Prize ($3 thousand USD): Eng. Nash’at Bahjat Tahboub (Palestine), on his entry: “Irrigation and Water related-structure in Jerusalem in Islamic Period”.
Eng. Tahboub was born in Bethelehem. He has served as head of the Board of Directors in the Palestinian Housing Council between 2004 and 2008. He has also been a member of the General Assembly of Jerusalem Society for Welfare and Development since 2000.
Third Prize ($2 thousand USD): Dr. Zouhair Abdul-Latif Ghanayim (Palestine) & Mr. Muhammad Sa’id ‘Ashqar (Palestine), on their joint entry: “Waqf Institutions in Jerusalem and its Surroundings, between the Early Ayyubid and Late Ottoman Eras”.
Dr. Ghanayim is a resident of the West Bank, holds a PhD in history, and is currently an Assistant Professor at Al-Quds University.
Mr. Ashqar is the vice-chair of the Foundation for Reviving the Islamic Heritage and Research in Jerusalem since 2007; and a part-time lecturer at Al-Quds University since 1997. He is the recipient of President Arafat’s Award in Islamic Studies for the year 2004.
In the Literature Track
First Prize ($10 thousand USD): Prof. Dr. Hafnaoui Ba’li (Algeria), on his entry: “The Palestinian Issue and Arab Jerusalem in Contemporary Arab Theater: A Critical Analytic Study”.
Dr. Ba’li is a professor at the Department of Literature and Humanities in ‘Annabah University in Algeria. He is the recipient of many other awards, including most recently Sheikh Zayed Book Award.
Second Prize ($3 thousand USD): Mr. Saleh Mahmoud Hawwari (Palestine), on his poem collection entry, entitled: “Palestine, my beloved”.
Hawwari is a Palestinian poet residing in Syria. He has published tens of poetical works and plays in Arabic.
Third Prize ($2 thousand USD): Mr. Mahmoud Rida Hamed (Palestine), on his poem collection entry, entitled: “Zaizafoun al-‘Ard [lit. lime/ basswood of the Land, i.e. Palestine].
Hawwari is a Palestinian poet residing in Syria. He has published several poetical works and plays.