Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Tribute To A Dear Teacher: Hanna Batatu


Hanna Batatu (1926 - 2000) exemplified the essence of what it is to be a good teacher and a fine human being. He was an excellent "murabbi". In Batatu's case the Arabic word is absolutely correct in showing teaching as a rearing mission. He was a role model in every sense of the word. Batatu was decent, diligent, smart, dignified, passionate, a perfectionist, and a true academician. During college years when all sorts of rushes were at their peak, Batatu always urged us, his students, to systematically and consistently be calm while seriously considering the root causes of any problem rather than focus on the symptoms. Acquiring the skill of critical thinking in looking at things in terms of causes, effects, and symptoms was such a great discovery. A discovery that must come in handy today when we are bombarded with solutions that superficially treat the symptoms without serious consideration of the real causes. As far as I am personally concerned, Batatu was a great mentor, even though I never thought of him as such at the time. I won't talk of his academic work because he is greater than having one of his pupils praise him for it. His academic work speaks loudly for itself. Today the whole world swears by the great research he left us.
Hanna Batatu was a brave man, a man of rock-solid principles. He spoke the truth even when it ran contrary to his own interest and livelihood. At the time of the Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait, Batatu expressed his views that were based on history and on an objective reading of it. This cost him the Kuwaiti chair at Georgetown University. The very chair that was behind his bread and butter at the time. I do not know much about the details of this incident. It was shrouded with secrecy. Nobody ever talked about it. However, we all knew of and respected him for it.
For those who would like to catch a glimpse of the man I am talking about, may I suggest looking up the greatest work that has ever been written on Modern Iraq: “The Old Social Classes and the Revolutionary Movements of Iraq”.
Professor Batatu, may your soul rest in peace!

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dear Tallouza:

Thank you for your warm sentiments about our uncle Hanna Batatu. It is wonderful to see that people remember him seven years after his death.

My cousin and I want to draw your attention that Hanna did not lose his chair at George Town and retired as a professor emeritus. Please see http://www.cafearabica.com/people/people17/peobatatu.html

Thank you
Brenda Davis/niece
Shukri Abdallah/nephew

Tallouza said...

Dear Brenda and Shukri,
Thank you for your kind note. Your uncle Dr. Batatu was a great man. He will not only be remembered seven years after his passing, he will be remembered for a very very long time to come.
Thank you for clarifying the issue of the Kuwaiti chair. This was the understanding we had at the time. Still, this fact does not take away from the issue that he had the courage to say what might have seemed contrary to popular culture and very unpopular at the time. He had the credibility and the objectivity that we are all yearning for these days.
By the way, after I graduated I often used to talk to Dr. Batatu over the phone. I must tell you he was so fond of his nieces and nephews. He spoke about you with such love and admiration.
If you ever come to Jordan, please let me know. I would love to meet you.
With all my love..Tallouza

Anonymous said...

Dear Tallouza:

We want to say thank you again for your wonderful, kind words about our Uncle. It makes us feel so good that others loved him as we did. He was a brave man and always spoke his mind. He was never afraid.
Thank you for your invite to call should we ever come to Jordan. It would be a pleasure to meet you too.

Sincerely:
Brenda & Shukri

lo said...

dear friends,
I am a taiwanese graduate at AUC (american university in cairo) middle east studies. my professor Dr. W. Kazziha is also an admirer of Dr. hanna batatu, so i have the chance reading Dr. Batatu's books. not only his academic achievement impresses me, but also his courage in speaking the truth and compassion in loving and speaking for the Iraqi and Syrian general public. he brings a world to me, which might have eluded without his profession and passion.
May the great scholar be remembered all the time, and peace be with his family members and those he loves.

Tallouza said...

lo: Thank you for adding your input regarding the legacy of Dr. Batatu.
I also would like to thank you for visiting Tallouza. I hope one day you will be able to visit the real Tallouza (town in Nablus - Palestine). This way you will get the chance to witness first-hand the brutality of the Israeli occupation.