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From the Author’s Introduction

As a member of Palestinian society and someone who has had the privilege of sharing in its culture and values, I have been shaped and influenced by the everyday use of proverbs since early childhood. It is during these years that I first began to understand and appreciate that Palestinians, like most Arabs, routinely draw on a myriad of popular proverbs in their communication with each other. This book represents a compilation of my long-standing efforts to both record and teach with these proverbs. Passed down from generation to generation, these proverbs have endured the test of time and have come to reflect and influence our present cultural identity just as they have for generations before us.
As is often the case with popular knowledge, proverbs may vary according to the experiences that produced them. While most of the proverbs included in this book are derived from my day-to-day experience as a Palestinian, one must not assume that they invariably reflect universal truth or wisdom. In fact, it is not uncommon to find that some popular proverbs contradict each other. As such, it may be helpful to think of the proverbs in this book as an important reflection of the culture which produced them and as a means for the transmission of certain beliefs, customs and values. These popular proverbs are not only a sacred part of our cultural heritage but represent an enduring tradition to be passed on for many generations to come…

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Given the integral role of proverbs in Palestinian life, and indeed throughout all Arab cultures, the study of such proverbs as used by Palestinians offers a unique perspective on the beliefs and values shared among Arabs. Not only do proverbs provide a historical record of the development of Palestinian civilization throughout time but I also strongly believe that in order to fully know and appreciate our people’s culture, history and values one should look to our proverbs. It is often said that culture is a representation of a way of life and a collection of ideas and habits that are learned, shared and transmitted from generation to generation. This is precisely what is reflected in Palestinian proverbs; they express a specific set of beliefs, customs, habits, knowledge and morals handed down throughout time.
With so much international attention fixed on its political conflicts, it is unfortunate that Palestine is known to the world as a land in everlasting turmoil. However, relatively little is known about Palestine as a multicultural nation, a nation where diverse customs and values come together. I believe that studying the culturally rich proverbs of Palestine is one of the more basic and informative ways to promote this cultural education. It is my hope that this book will help all people achieve greater knowledge of this rich cultural tradition and encourage continued learning to promote better understanding. While Popular Proverbs has been designed on one hand for students and teachers of Arabic, providing a practical tool for incorporating Arab culture in language teaching, it will also prove to be invaluable for anyone with a general interest in Arab and especially Palestinian culture…

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It is my hope that the use of this book contributes not only to improved Arabic language pedagogy but also to increased reconciliation and integration among all cultures and societies. By studying something as simple and common as Palestinian proverbs perhaps we can help raise a better awareness of foreign cultures and learn how to interact on a more meaningful level.