Middle East studies in the News
The Scone Foundation's Seventh Annual Archivist of the Year Awards, 2010 [incl. Rashid Khalidi]
by Michael Thorn
Achuka Blog (U.K.)
February 3, 2010
This year, the honor was awarded for the first time to two archivists, both from Jerusalem. One Palestinian archivist, Mr. Khader Salameh of the Al-Aqsa Library and Muslim Museum and one Israeli archivist, Dr. Yehoshua Freundlich, the Israeli State Archivist.
Beginning with a presentation promptly at 6 o'clock, Stanley Cohen, founder of The Scone Foundation, kicked off the evening by explaining why it is important for archivists to be acknowledged for their work. "The archivist plays an understated, but essential role in our society," stated Mr. Cohen. "The role of the archivist is, however, much broader than acting as an essential resource for writers, researchers or historians and we thought that they should be honored more directly than a mention in the front or the back of a book."
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Mr. Khader Salameh was the first to speak and accept his award. One of his ongoing concerns is the preservation of Palestinian newspapers from 1900 to the present day. He touched on this concern in his speech, showing select images of the 1,000 Palestinian documents that are in dire need of preservation. He believes it is important for these documents to be available to the public and hopes to be able to publish the documents on their website for everyone to view.
Mr. Salameh has served as director of the Islamic Museum and director of the al-Aqsa Mosque library for over two decades. He has published several catalogs on Arabic manuscripts, not only at the al-Aqsa library, but at private foundations as well. Mr. Salameh has played an important role in the preservation or archives and has delivered many lectures on the importance of digitization of archives. Among his publications is a monograph: "A General Survey of Christians in Jerusalem through the Shari'ah Court Registers." He was previously employed in the Hebrew University Library and worked as a librarian in Saudi Arabia and as a teacher in Libya. A PhD candidate in Ottoman History, he holds a Masters degree from Hebrew University.
Dr. Yehoshua Freundlich was second to accept and deliver his speech. Dr. Freundlich painted a picture for the audience of Jerusalem, the place he and Mr. Salameh call their home. He described Jerusalem as a diverse community. He stated that even though Jerusalem is rich with diversity, there are no Palestinian archives in Israel. "Don't lose faith," Dr. Freundlich said, "We are keeping all the information...and it is incumbent upon us to pay attention to all communities."
Dr. Freundlich has served for many years as the general editor of the series, "Documents on the Foreign Policy of Israel'; he has also edited studies on the Jewish Agency and lectured on the relations between the U.N. and Israel. He joined the Israel State Archives in 1974 and was appointed State Archivist in 2006. He was born in Israel and educated at the Hebrew University with a major in the Modern History of Israel. He also earned a PhD studying diplomatic history of the Zionist Organization 1945-1948.
The evening concluded with a post award conversation with Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University and Dr. David N. Meyers, Director of the UCLA Center for Jewish Studies. The two discussed "Archives and History" and the challenges archivists face due to Israeli's political state. Dr. Meyers stated, "Archives can be the bridge of understanding between conflicting parties." Rashid Khalidi agreed saying "We need shared narrative in order for there to be peace. However, we need peace to reach this narrative and a narrative to reach peace."
Noted guests included two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Caro; politician Hamilton Fish; New York Time's columnist Roger Cohen; writer David Kahn; French academic, writer and historian Annie Cohen-Solal; and American journalist David Margolick.
The Scone Foundation is a non-profit organization that provides grants for artist programs, historical societies, and art schools as well as the annual Calder Prize, which provides to a sculptor a residency program at the Calder home and studio in France.
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