Professor Emeritus Farhat J. Ziadeh

His patriotism knew no bounds

بروفسور فرحات زيادةHanna Mikhail was the most intelligent, modest, loyal, and self-effacing friend that I have ever had. I first met him in the 60’s of the last century when he came to Princeton University to assist in the teaching of Arabic. He was loved by his students and several faculty. Some faculty still contact me to inquire about his fate. Even last month Professor Robert Tignor of the History department at Princeton, who was visiting in Seattle, inquired whether I knew anything more about his fate. When I left Princeton in 1966 to establish Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Washington, he was invited here to teach Political Science. He was a popular lecturer and was missed when he decided to take a leave of absence to join the PLO in the Middle East.

His modesty can be illustrated by the fact that when I took his Harvard dissertation on the Al-Mawardi to the University of Washington Press to be published, he, unknown to me, went to the Press and retrieved it because he thought it might need some more work. He never published it, but it was published posthumously and reviewed very favorably by prominent scholars including Albert Hourani.

For the PLO, he performed great services in the field of Public Relations. On a visit to Seattle from Amman, he told me how he had delivered a lecture in Italy, in Italian, which he must have memorized. Apparently, somebody approached him and spoke to him in Italian, but he answered that he does not speak Italian! Also, one can mention his debate on American television against the notorious Harvard Pro-Israeli Law Professor by the name of Dershowitz, in which he obviously obtained the upper hand.

Before he left the University of Washington to join the PLO, he told me about his plans. I pleaded with him not to go to the Middle East, but to stay teaching and writing about the Palestinian Cause. I even pointed to him that he was the only boy in the family and had the responsibility towards his mother and sisters, but he answered that other PLO members have mothers and sisters too. Why is he any different? His patriotism knew no bounds. I shall miss him to the end of my life.

University Of Washington
Seattle - USA

August 2011

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