A night filled with food, music and laughter took place on May 22nd, at The Food Co-Op Café under Lena Karmel. Here it was illustrated that no matter which side of the Arab-Israeli debate one may align themselves on, a people’s right to celebrate their own culture can always be honoured.

The night began with a talk from Izzat Abdulhadi, the Palestinian Ambassador to Australia, as he spoke of the importance of gaining a better understanding of Palestine, paired with a slideshow of uniquely Palestinian architecture and significant Palestinian minds who characterize the region. Dr. Minerva Nasser-Eddine, professor at ANU’s Arab and Islamic faculty followed with an explanation of the richness of Palestinian culture, one that she believes is able to flourish despite attempts to suppress it. Traditional music and food are a way by which Palestinians are able to express themselves outside of the political landscape. An Oud, which resembles a bent-out-of-shape guitar was strummed upon, providing beautiful music. Onlookers enjoyed a selection of Palestinian cuisine such as falafel and hummus, something that apparently can get quite competitive between different Arabic cultures.

Speaking to him afterwards, Ambassador Abdulhadi had optimistic words for both Palestinians and Australians alike. He stressed the need for better education of Australians to “shed light on Palestinian cultural heritage so that people will know Palestinians in real emotional situations.”

Cultural events compliment the political aspects of Palestine and by targeting university students, especially in an informal setting like the Co-op, a more well-rounded knowledge of Palestine can be attained. Most importantly, celebration of distinct aspects of their culture provides a needed disassociation of Palestinians from their Israeli counterparts. Building a robust independent identity is vital in aiding their pursuit for a recognized sovereignty.

If I learned anything from the night, it is that despite all the troubles that Palestinians face in their homeland, their own communities, even in Australia, are filled with plenty of joy and hospitality.