Thursday 25 September 2003

Edward Said Dies at 67

Why is it always the good ones who go? With all the little warmongering demons running amock on the planet Edward Said is the last person who should die.

Edward W. Said, a Columbia University professor, literary critic and a leading advocate in the United States of the Palestinian cause, has died, his editor at Knopf publishers said Thursday. He was 67.

Said died Wednesday night at a New York hospital, said editor Shelley Wanger. He had suffered from leukemia at least since the early 1990s.

Born in 1935 in Jerusalem -- then part of British-ruled Palestine -- Said spent almost all his adult life in the United States. He wrote passionately about the Palestinian cause but also on a variety of other subjects -- from English literature, his academic specialty, to music and culture.

His books ranged from "The Question of Palestine" in 1979 and "After the Last Sky" in 1986 -- both about the Arab-Israeli conflict -- to "Musical Elaborations" in 1991, and "Cultural Imperialism" in 1993.

Said was consistently critical of Israel for what he regarded as mistreatment of the Palestinians.

He prompted a controversy in 2000 when he threw a rock toward an Israeli guardhouse on the Lebanese border. Columbia University did not censure him, saying that the stone was directed at no one, no law was broken and that his actions were protected by principles of academic freedom.

He wrote two years ago after visits to Jerusalem and the West Bank that Israel's "efforts toward exclusivity and xenophobia toward the Arabs" had actually strengthened Palestinian determination.

"Palestine and Palestinians remain, despite Israel's concerted efforts from the beginning either to get rid of them or to circumscribe them so much as to make them ineffective," Said wrote in the English-language Al-Ahram Weekly, published in Cairo.

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