Audience listening to George Harb's speech, 1966

This is a digital reproduction of an image held in the private collection of George Harb.

This photograph shows the audience listening to one of George's speeches in 1966. In the centre of the front row sits Bernard Rock and to the right of him sits Carpucci – a well known priest from Syria who frequently worked with the Frères School and the Bethlehem municipality.

George Harb became famous all over Bethlehem as a “khatib” (orator/public speaker) due to his specialism in the Arabic language and his talent for oratory. Arabic was the main subject he taught in his career as a teacher. As such he was often selected, and often still is, for any event requiring a public speaker, especially for the various marriage rituals. These include the “tulba” (formal request of hand in marriage – usually a private affair within the families’ homes); the “khutba” (engagement ceremony/party where bride and groom exchange rings); the “sahra” (evening party for the groom and male friends/relatives); and the actual wedding reception/party (which includes the “zaffa” – wedding procession).

George would be hired as a speaker at all these events, especially for Bethlehem’s notable and elite families. He would also be hired for funerals, especially during the First Intifada when he was regularly called out to Bethlehem’s refugee camps to commemorate individuals recently martyred.

These images are part of the George Harb Photos collection, within the George Harb project of the Planet Bethlehem Archive.