Quartet lost a good friend this week, who has died after a long illness. He was also a distinguished journalist, a brilliant writer and had that rare quality: the courage of his convictions. We were very fortunate to be able to add his name to our list of authors, in 1993, when we published The Forgotten Faithful.
Said K Aburish was born in the biblical village of Bethany, near Jerusalem in Palestine, in 1935. One of his grandfathers was a judge of the Islamic Court and a lecturer at the Arab College. The other was Village Headman. His father was correspondent for the London Daily Mail, the New York Times, Newsweek and TIME.
Said attended schools in Jerusalem and Beirut, and then at universities in the United States. He returned to Beirut in the late 1950s as a reporter for Radio Free Europe and the London Daily Mail.
After a varied career, which included positions as a consultant to two Arab governments, he returned to full-time writing in 1982. At this time, he took up residency in London and contributed articles to the Washington Post, the Independent and Libération, among others.
The Forgotten Faithful is about the Christians in The Holy Land, particularly those in Jerusalem and its surroundings who were cruelly treated by both the Israeli government and Muslim fundamentalists. The book was very well received and drew worldwide attention to this outrage.
In the early sixties, when my budding banking career took me to Intra Bank, which had its head office in Beirut, I became acquainted with Said’s father, who for almost forty years had held court at the bar of Hotel Saint Georges in his capacity as correspondent par excellence of so many international newspapers. When he was not at the hotel’s bar he held majlis at his office, attended by many of his admirers. We clicked on the spot and became great friends – just a few years before I met Said, who was truly his father’s son.
Said inherited his charisma as well as his charm, but above all his father’s great journalistic flair. Said wrote many books, some of which were hard hitting and controversial but always worthy of note. He will be remembered for his patriotic zeal as a Palestinian who loved his land and his people and never denied his origins. He died were he was born and he would not have wished to be buried anywhere else.
He will be sorely missed.