Success stories of Palestinian achievers from all over the world

Tawfiq Bishara Kanaan

Personal Info

  • Country of residence: Palestine
  • Gender: Male
  • Born in: 1882
  • Age: 134
  • Curriculum vitae :


Tawfiq Canaan (24 September 1882 – 15 January 1964) was a pioneering physician, medical researcher, ethnographer and Palestinian nationalist. Born in Beit Jala during the rule of the Ottoman Empire, he served as a medical officer in the Ottoman army during World War I. During British rule, he served as the first President of the Palestine Arab Medical Association founded in 1944, and as the director of several Jerusalem area hospitals before, during, and after the 1948 war. Over the course of his medical career, he authored more than 37 studies on topics including tropical medicine, bacteriology, malaria, tuberculosis and health conditions in Palestine, and contributed to research that led to a cure for leprosy.
Deeply interested in Palestinian folklore, popular beliefs, and superstitions, Canaan collected over 1,400 amulets and talismanic objects held to have healing and protective properties. His published analyses of these objects, and other popular folk traditions and practices, brought him recognition as an ethnographer and anthropologist. The several books and more than 50 articles he wrote in English and German serve as valuable resources to researchers of Palestinian and Middle Eastern heritage.
An outspoken public figure, he also wrote two books on the Palestine problem, reflecting his involvement in confronting British imperialism and Zionism. Despite his arrest by the British authorities in 1939 and the destruction of his family home and clinic in Jerusalem during the 1948 war, Canaan managed to re-establish his life and career in East Jerusalem under Jordanian rule. First taking sanctuary in a convent in the Old City for two years, he was appointed director of the Augusta Victoria Hospital on the Mount of Olives, where he lived with his family through his retirement until his death in 1964.


Achievements and Awards

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