Born in Syria to Palestinian Arab parents, Nadia Hijab was raised in Lebanon. She earned a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from the American University of Beirut. During her years at the university, she also worked as a journalist. In 1975, as the Lebanese civil war intensified, Hijab moved first to Qatar and then to London, where she became the editor-in-chief of Middle East Magazine and appeared frequently as an Arab-affairs commentator on the BBC as well as other television, radio, and print outlets. Hijab also authored more than 100 articles and in 1988 she published her first book, Womanpower: The Arab Debate on Women at Work. Her second book, Citizens Apart: A Portrait of Palestinians in Israel, was released two years later.
In 1989, Hijab moved to New York to work for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). During her ten years there, she served in several UNDP departments and helped organize the Program’s contribution to the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights.
After leaving the United Nations, Hijab became executive director of the Palestine Center, a Washington, DC-based think tank founded in 1991 as part of the Jerusalem Fund for Education and Community Development. The Palestine Center’s website posts regular summaries of briefings by Middle East experts usually hostile to pro-Israel positions, such as Palestinian politician Hanan Ashrawi and Institute for Policy Studies fellow Phyllis Bennis.
In 2000, Hijab established Development Analysis and Communications Services (DACS), a consultancy firm which she continues to head. Through this firm, Hijab has worked as a consultant on a broad range of issues – including human rights, human development, gender, and the media – for such organizations as UNDP, the World Bank, UNICEF, and Columbia University.
Hijab supports the notion of a Palestinian “right of return,” which would mean the end of the Jewish State. A May 6, 2002 New York magazine story quoted Hijab speaking about “the difference between ‘absolute justice’ which would entail ‘turning the clock back to 1917’ [before the dismantling of the Ottoman Empire] and ‘achievable justice,’ which would mean stopping the annual U.S. $4 billion in aid until Israel ends its occupation.”
In a 2004 address to the annual convention of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), Hijab stated that “the[Israeli] occupation itself is illegal and should be ended without negotiation.” She also praised “American-Arab groups like ADC,the Arab American Institute, and American Muslim groups like the Council for American-Islamic Relations.”
In 2006 Hijab became a senior fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies, an anti-Israel organization. Also in 2006, Hijab lamented that “the 1967 Arab defeat” in its war against Israel “drove home the fact that Israel was a reality and it was no longer possible to liberate the part of Palestine that became Israel in 1948.” Complaining that Israel “has penned the Palestinians behind walls and checkpoints and a separation barrier,” Hihab condemned the Jewish state for “doing everything possible to limit the number of Arabs on their original land in Palestine.” By Hijab’s reckoning, “the Arabs have been ready for a meaningful peace for decades,” and “[t]he only threat to Israel comes from its occupation of other people’s land and [its] denial of their rights.”
In 2009 Hijab praised the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation (USCEIO) for the boycott it was leading in an effort to force the Motorola Corporation to end all its “sales of communications and other products that support Israel’s military occupation of Palestinian land.” Hijab also lauded British activists who had conducted protest actions against the supermarket chain Tesco because of its business dealings with the Israeli government.
In addition to her work with the UNDC, the DACS, the Palestine Center, and the Institute for Palestine Studies, Hijab has served as a founder and co-chair of USCEIO, and as president of the Association of Arab American University Graduates.
Portions of this profile are adapted, with permission, from Stand4Facts.org.