Last week supermodel Gigi Hadid (née Jelena Noura Hadid) posted to Instagram a photo of her hands decorated with henna, a traditional natural ink used by women in the Middle East and South Asia with a note about her Palestinian heritage. Her picture grabbed fashion magazine headlines, praising the ingenue for highlighting her cultural background—“check out the last name. Hadid. Half Palestinian & proud of it.”
Half-Palestinian and half-Dutch, Hadid is the daughter of real estate mogul Mohamed Hadid and former supermodel turned reality star on the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills Yolanda Foster.
But Hadid is not the only one in her celebrity family (her younger sister Bella Hadid is also a famed model and will compete in the 2016 Olympics in Rio for horseback riding). Her father Mohamed Hadid has posted a series of images of the past few weeks of his Nazareth-born family as refugees in Syria following the 1948 war.
Next to a photograph of a baby Mohamed Hadid with his family, the model’s father wrote:
“I was only about 18 month old. After we were expelled from our beloved #Palastine into the Syrian refugee camps .. My dad got a brief job at the university of Damascus in #Syria .. This was our family pictures for a Palestinian Refugee Card. The Hadid Family, my beautiful mother Kharia Daher Hadid. My father Anwar Mohamed Hadid. My sisters Ghada,Raida, Sana, and me. Thank you #Syria for taking us in. And thank you America for allowing All of us to realize our dreams …”
In another post, Mohamed Hadid revealed his family is descended from the Ottoman governor of the Nazareth district noted for supporting inter-faith cooperation between Muslims, Christians and Jews.
“Love this picture. Momma and all of her 8 kids … 4 were born in Nazareth Palestine and 4 in Damascus Syria. Photo circa 1956/8 or some where close. My beautiful Momma …her Great-Grand Father and my G-G grand father, Ruled and was the Sheik of Palestine and Galilee and I was the Amir of Nazareth in 18th century. Google.. Daher El Omer To read more about this amazing ruler. That gave our cousins the Jews, a safe and peaceful stay under his rule .. A mandate in writing. The first ruler that did that in our ancient or Modern history. Let’s keep peace alive. And love in the hearts”
On Tuesday Mohamed Hadid added to his family’s historical narrative, explaining they sheltered a Jewish refugee family from Poland at their home in Safed (today Tzfat in northern Israel) who later “kicked us out of our own home.”
“Thats how we became refugees to Syria and we lost our home in Safad to a Jewish family that we sheltered when they were refugees from Poland on the ship that was sailing from country to country and no one would take them… they were our guest for 2 years till they made us refugees and they kicked us out of our own home. That my history.. Strange thing. That I and my family would do it again.”
Weeks ago Mohamed Hadid returned to his hometown for visit, making stops in Jerusalem and Old Jaffa. On social media he showed his followers a picture of the house where he was born, and the many meals he ate while in the holy land.
According to Mohamed Hadid’s Instagram account his family emigrated to Syria during the 1948 war where Israel declared its independence and a wave of nearly 800,000 Palestinians were forcibly expelled or fled from their homes, called the nakba, or “catastrophe.” In a 1989 profile of the acclaimed businessman the Washington Post reported of the move into exile, “His father, Anwar Hadid, said he did not want the family ‘to live under the Israeli occupation.’ The parents walked for two nights to reach the Lebanese border — with Hadid’s mother carrying her oldest son.”
Today Palestinian refugees and their heirs make up more than 44 percent of all Palestinians reported the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, with the Hadid’s as perhaps one of the most well-known families.