Palestinian Americans you should know: Abeer Najjar, Belal Muhammad
Palestinians are constantly fighting for accurate and fair representation. Censorship I faced early on in my journalism career inspired me to create Palestine in America. With no correlation whatsoever, Palestinian Americans’ representation in the US has gotten better over the years. It’s not where it should be, but I’m optimistic about the direction it’s headed—Thanks to organizations like Palestine Legal, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, American Muslims for Palestine and many others for defending, educating and lobbying in the name of equality. The work they do also slows down Israel’s propaganda machine. Israel’s blatant violations of human rights also help a great deal.
But there’s more to the improvement in representation for Palestinians than the aforementioned. Individuals with immense talent, are forcing the world to recognize them and the background that helped shape who they have become.
Whether its Abeer Najjar being a part of a new LifeTime TV series, to Belal Muhammad gaining traction in the UFC, we are being blessed with Palestinians showing off their impeccable talents without apologizing for where their ancestors originated.
There isn’t a meal that Abeer shares to Instagram that me and my wife don’t drool over—even the food I technically can’t enjoy (I don’t mess with 99.9% of dairy products). Thankfully, I’ve gotten to enjoy Abeer’s cooking in the past. I attended her supper club in 2017 and it was one of the best dining experiences I’ve ever had.
Belal, on the other hand, amazes me with his combat ability. I wrestled in high school—wasn’t that good—which is why I appreciate that he is literally fighting for his next opportunity. The Palestinian-American fighter made his UFC debut in 2016.He lost two of his first three matches but has been on a roll ever since. Winning his last 3 UFC fights have forced the UFC world to pay closer attention. However, he has not fought recently because he tore his meniscus when he defeated Tim Means last November.
But in a recent interview with MMA Radio Junkie’s George Garcia, Brian Garcia and Dan Tom he told them he’s feeling 100 percent healthy and aiming for a fight at UFC 225 in Chicago this June. It would be his first fight in his hometown and would give me my first opportunity to see him live—and maybe even get an exclusive PiA interview.
Pop culture in the US isn’t bursting at the seams with Palestinians. For every DJ Khaled and Bella Hadid basking in fame and glory, there are dozens of Palestinian Americans accomplishing amazing things in their respective fields without receiving the recognition they deserve.
Palestine in America is looking to feature some of those very people online and in our annual print edition. To nominate a person, email PiA at PalestineinAmerica@gmail.com or contact us on any of our social media platforms.