Philip Khuri Hitti

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Philip Khuri Hitti (فيليب خوري حتي in Arabic),(1886 - 1978), a Maronite Christian born in Shimlan, Lebanon, was a scholar of Islam and introduced the field of Arab culture studies to the United States.

Biography[edit]

Hitti was educated at an American Presbyterian mission school at Suq al-Gharb and then at the American University of Beirut. After graduating in 1908 he taught at the American University of Beirut before moving to Columbia University where he earned his PhD in 1915 and taught Semitic languages. After World War I he returned to AUB and taught there until 1926. In February 1926 he was offered a Chair at Princeton University which he held until he retired in 1954. He was both Professor of Semitic Literature and Chairman of the Department of Oriental Languages. After formal retirement he accepted a position at Harvard University. He also taught in the summer schools at the University of Utah and George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He subsequently held a research position at the University of Minnesota. Philip Hitti almost single-handedly created the discipline of Arabic Studies in the United States.

In 1944 before a U. S. House committee, Hitti gave testimony in support of the view that there was no historical justification for a Jewish homeland in Palestine. His testimony was reprinted in the Princeton Herald. In response, Albert Einstein and his friend and colleague Erich Kahler jointly replied in the same newspaper with their counter-arguments. Hitti then published a response and Einstein and Kahler concluded the debate in the Princeton Herald with their second response.[1] In 1945 Hitti served as an adviser to the Iraqi delegation at the San Francisco Conference which established the United Nations. In 1946, Hitti was the first Arab-American witness at the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry on Palestine. Bartley Crum, an American member of the committee, recalled that

Hitti.. explained that there was actually no such entity as Palestine- never had been; it was historically part of Syria, and "the Sunday schools have done a great deal of harm to us because by smearing the walls of classrooms with maps of Palestine, they associate it with the Jews in the minds of the average American and Englishman"... He asserted that Zionism.. was an imposition on the Arabs of alien way of life which they resented and to which they would never submit.[2]

Hitti was a distant relative of Christa McAuliffe, a teacher-astronaut who was killed in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster on January 28, 1986.[3] McAuliffe's mother was Hitti's niece.

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References[edit]

  1. ^ Rowe, D. E.; Schulmann, R. J., (eds.) (2007). Einstein on politics. Princeton U. Press. pp. 315–316. ISBN 0-691-12094-3. 
  2. ^ Crum, Bartley C. Behind The Silken Curtain. Page 25. Victor Gollancz Ltd., London. 1947.
  3. ^ "20 Years Later...Remembering Lebanese American Astronaut Christa McAuliffe" (PDF). Lebanese Monthly Magazine. February 2006. p. 18, Volume 1, Issue 2. Retrieved 2009-01-12.