Sepia Prints (2014 - Present)
Portraits of Denial & Desire Sepia

Zeinab Sakallah. Digital Print. Sepia.
80 x 60 and 110 x 80 inches
John Halaka © 2015

Zeinab Sakallah - Born 1930 Jaffa Palestine - Lives in Beirut Lebanon.

Zeinab Sakallah was displaced from Jaffa to Gaza in 1948 and then had to flee Gaza due to political activities after 1967.  She was a teacher in Gaza and when forced to flee, went to Kuwait and became the headmistress of a high school. Her tenure at that school abruptly ended when a student called her an offensive name because she was Palestinian.  The school defended the student leaving her no option but to resign her post.

She went to Beirut in the early 1970’s and worked as a literary editor and translator. Zeinab lived through the 15-year civil war that devastated that country. During the civil war, her apartment was bombed and destroyed twice and she was later jailed for a period of time.  But the most painful thing for her is that she was separated from her family, didn’t get to see her mother and father before they died and has not met most of her nieces and nephews. She never married, lives alone and laments the fact that she has no family nearby as she ages and her health begins to deteriorate.

Zeinab Sakallah is filled with an amazing combination of passion for her homeland and a profound sense of apathy caused by the realizations that she has not succeeded at changing anything for the Palestinians. She has on more than one occasion lamented “I have not been able to move one grain of sand for the Palestinians.”  Zeinab Sakallah’s strong sense of passion and devotion to serving her people is as nurturing of others as it has been self-destructive.

"I’ve often been asked why I didn’t get married. I tell them that when I was of marrying age, men didn’t let women work, and If I had children, then I would have to take care of them and couldn’t work. I don’t want men or children.  I want to Liberate Palestine. I want to go back home to Jaffa. I want to work..."