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Scholar and leading advocate for Palestinians in U.S. dies

By Associated Press
Published September 26, 2003

NEW YORK - Columbia University literary scholar Edward W. Said, the nation's foremost Arab intellectual and advocate for the Palestinian cause, has died after a bout with leukemia. He was 67.

Mr. Said was a leading member of the Palestinian parliament-in-exile for 14 years, stepping down in 1991. The university said Said died Thursday, but his publisher said he died late Wednesday.

He wrote passionately about the Palestinian cause and a variety of other subjects, including English literature - his academic specialty - and music and culture.

Mr. Said (pronounced sye-EED) was born in 1935 in Jerusalem, then part of British-ruled Palestine, but spent most of his adult life in the United States.

On the Arab-Israeli conflict, he was consistently critical of Israel's policies toward the Palestinians.

Two years ago, he said 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," Mr. Said wrote in the English-language Al-Ahram Weekly, published in Cairo.

After the signing of the Oslo peace accords in 1993 between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, Mr. Said criticized Yasser Arafat for making what he regarded as a bad deal for the Palestinians. He said Arafat and the Palestinian Authority had become "willing collaborators with the (Israeli) military occupation, a sort of Vichy government for Palestinians."

In 2000, during a visit to the Middle East, Mr. Said stirred a controversy on campus by throwing a rock toward an Israeli guardhouse on the Lebanese border. Columbia did not censure him, saying that the stone was directed at no one, no law was broken and his actions were protected by principles of academic freedom.

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