Flashes of Memories from a Childhood Friend

نبيه طوطحHanna and I started first grade together in 1941 at Government (public) school in Ramallah. I remember he was an only son (like me). For the next 6 years we were neighbors, classmate and friends. In 5 of the six years he was ranked #1 and I was #2 academically. I think I beat him once in 3rd grade, we were always friends.

Later we were at Friends Boys School together and Hanna was always the best student in class and me second or third. He was also, I think, the most popular. In ’52 I left for the University of Texas and lost track of him. We reconnected in 1963 at Princeton where he was teaching and I paid him a visit.

I was surprised to hear later that he taught at the University of Washington in Seattle in the mid-sixties, the city I had left in 1962. The last time I saw Hanna was sometime in the early 70’s in San Francisco after his appearance on the Advocates when he successfully debated , I think, Alan Dershowitz. We had a nice talk and he asked me not to reveal his real identity to the Ramallah folks there as he was then known as Abu Omar.

His unexplained loss a few years later was truly shattering.
God rest his soul.

Nabih Totah*

August 2011

*A retired vice president with Space Systems/Loral in CA

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