It's important to look at Palestinians holistically, and not just as people who live in a war zone," Zeina Azzam tells me. "You need to humanize this group of people in American society because, often, they're very much stereotyped."
Zeina Azzam is the executive director of the Jerusalem Fund. (Chet Susslin)As a Palestinian largely raised in the United States, Azzam should know. "In America, we hear about Palestinians as pawns in this big political mess," she says. At the Jerusalem Fund, where Azzam became executive director last month, "we just want to show them as human beings, to show they have hopes and dreams and jobs and kids."
Before joining the Washington-based nonprofit, Azzam, 59, spent three decades working to educate people about the Mideast, and her new job offers her the opportunity to expand on those efforts. Since it was founded in 1977, the Jerusalem Fund has run three distinct programs: the Palestine Center, which seeks to educate through lecture series, policy briefings, and conferences; the Humanitarian Link, which gives money to hospitals, orphanages, and schools; and the Gallery, which seeks to showcase the rich cultural heritage of the Palestinian people through exhibits running every five to six weeks.