Palestine Prize Foundation
When Yousef Khanfar, founder of the Palestine Prize Foundation, was in Jerusalem in 2009, he desired to visit the Music School for the Palestinian children. While he was in front of Damascus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem, he asked people for directions, and several passersby shared with him how to get there. However, a young Palestinian lad, about twelve years old, volunteered to take him there.
As Yousef walked with the young boy, he struck up a lively dialogue with him. Then Yousef asked the young lad, “What is your dream in life?” And to Yousef’s surprise, the young lad said, “I have no dreams; we do not dream here.”
Yousef was very astonished. He stopped in his tracks, then gently went down on his knee to gaze at the young lad eye to eye. Yousef said, “What do you mean you do not have dreams?” With sad eyes, the young boy said, “Sir, why dream when we know the reality? We are under Israel occupation, and I am going to end up doing the same thing as my father and work in his grocery store.” Yousef gave the young boy a tight hug and promised to do something about it.
When Yousef arrived at the music school, he extended money to the young boy, but he refused to take it and said, “You are our guest.” Yousef thanked him and the young boy left because he needed to get back to his father’s grocery store. Yousef spent some time in the music school, then went back to his hotel. That night, Yousef was deeply troubled about the incident.
Next day, Yousef conducted a previously scheduled interview with Palestinian reporter Ruba Anabtawi for Al-Hal newspaper, during which he mentioned the encounter with the young boy and his fading dreams. The interview was published, and Ruba gave Yousef a copy of the newspaper.
When Yousef went back to his home in the United States of America, he cut the interview out of the newspaper and pasted it on top of his mirror. He wanted to face it every morning. He wanted to keep the voice of the young boy alive. He was determined to do something about the vanishing dreams in his homeland.
In 2021 Yousef established the Palestine Prize Foundation, a not-for-profit organization, with the objective of keeping Palestinian dreams alive. He wrote the Foundation’s mission statement: “To preserve, protect and promote Palestinian dreams and achievements.” Every year, the Palestine Prize Foundation selects and honors the best laureates in art, literature, science and more.
Yousef’s message to his Palestinian people:
I have two wings,
For you and Palestine,
Do you have a sky…?