Farewell to Fouad Ajami
1:05 PM, Jun 25, 2014 • By LEE SMITH
Why were the words of Fouad Ajami “never welcomed in the cultural salons of Beirut and Cairo?” asks Samuel Tadros in Tablet magazine. And why are they now “unfashionable … in the halls of power in Washington?” Because “instead of following the herd and blaming the ills of the region on the foreigner, he had written in the opening pages of his 1981 book The Arab Predicament that ‘the wounds that mattered were self-inflicted wounds.’”
Tadros, a contributor to this magazine, has written a wonderful tribute to his teacher, and later publisher of his two brilliant books on the failure of liberalism in modern Egypt, Motherland Lost: The Egyptian and Coptic Quest for Modernity, and the recently released Reflections on the Revolution in Egypt. “I met Ajami for the first time in October 2010,” writes Tadros.
Tadros’s moving reminiscence, alongside those of others like Paul Wolfowitz, Bret Stephens, and Michael Mandelbaum, is perhaps the most personal. “For me,” writes Tadros, “I will remember the magnificent scholar who took a young man under his wing and mentored him for four years. I will remember the kindness, the encouragement, the generosity he showed me. Farwell, my Mo’allem. Farewell my friend. Farwell to the complex and extraordinary Fouad, the American, the Shia, the Lebanese, and though he wouldn’t have liked it, the Arab as well.”
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