In this week’s conversation we speak with the visionary businessman Faisal Saleh, who is behind the Palestine Museum US, as he embarks on a tour to bring the Nakba and history of Israel’s expulsion and dispossession of Palestinians from their land to the world.
The Palestine Museum opened its doors in Connecticut in 2018 after Saleh decided to focus on creating an institution to tell the story of the Nakba. Saleh’s roots are in the Palestinian village Salama, five miles east of Jaffa.
The exhibition is billed as the boldest presentation of the ethnic cleansing and dispossession of the Palestinian people ever seen in the West.
Born in 1951, Saleh is the youngest of 11 children. His mother gave birth to him in the family’s crowded, rented room in El Bireh – a stark contrast to the comfortable home the family had enjoyed in Salama.
In Salama, Saleh’s father, Ahmad Saleh, was a well-established landowner and farmer, with flourishing orange groves and banana trees. But in 1948, the Saleh family fled Salama following months of fighting between Zionist forces and village defenders. As a teenager, Saleh grew up against the backdrop of continuing Palestinian resistance to encroaching Israeli domination.
He later moved to the US to continue his studies and received a Bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College in 1974, also completing an MBA at the University of Connecticut.