In Memory of ISSAM M. NASHASHIBI
9 August 1951 - 28 August 2003
Deir Yassin Remembered lost one of its most passionate supporters on 28 August 2003 when Mr. Issam Nashashibi passed away that morning in his sleep.
From its inception in 1995, Issam and his family were the embodiment and the spirit of Deir Yassin Remembered. He was to have been the lead speaker at the unveiling of the first DYR memorial in the United States on 24 September 2003 (described here). While that ceremony still went on, as Issam would have wanted it to do, his absence was not unnoticed that day, and his passing will be mourned for many days to come...
Issam was a widely respected Palestinian-American political activist whose writing on social justice issues and human rights appeared in numerous international and national magazines and newspapers. He was born in Jerusalem on August 9, 1951, and received his bachelor's of science in electronic and electrical engineering from King's College, University of London, in 1974. He then worked in Kuwait as an electrical engineer until coming to the United States to pursue his master's of business administration at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill which he obtained in 1979. He served a variety of major firms including Chase Manhattan Bank, Booz-Allen & Hamilton, Arthur Young & Company, and Arthur Andersen & Co. His assignments included postings in Australia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Egypt, and around the United States. In 1992, Issam founded his own financial services firm, American Fund Transfer Group.
Issam was best known as a fierce proponent of Palestinian rights and other human rights causes, to which he devoted himself passionately but with an unbounded optimism in what the future would bring. He served as the US-based director of Deir Yassin Remembered, a civil rights organization whose objective is to memorialize the approximately 100 men, women and children of the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin, who were killed by Jewish paramilitary groups on April 9, 1948.
Issam wrote eloquently in both English and Arabic and was frequently interviewed for U.S. and British newspapers and radio programs. He also lectured extensively on the Israel/Palestine conflict, speaking at various high schools and universities including Georgia State, North Georgia College and State University. In addition, he served on the board of directors of various chapters of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. A lesson module Issam co-developed on the Israel/Palestine conflict can found online here.
In January 2003, Issam was invited by the King family to be one of the tribute speakers at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Annual Commemorative Service, held at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. In his speech, Issam declared: "Dr. King has taught me the righteousness of speaking truth to power, that individual courage in the face of brutality is a moral imperative, and that silence gives consent to the prevailing order. These principles are just as appropriate in our beloved United States today, where we have allowed the acts of a few mad men to erode our civil rights ... and where our ethnicity must be dismissed in getting an equalizing education, but must be employed if we are driving or flying."
Issam also devoted himself to community service activities including volunteering for Big Brother/Big Sister. He is survived by his wife, Margaret, of Dawsonville; brother Tareef, of Aliso Viejo, CA; and sister, Rima Nashashibi, of Laguna Hills, CA.
A memorial service was held in Atlanta on August 30. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made in Issam's name to Deir Yassin Remembered, in care of Dan McGowan, 4078 Scandling Center, Geneva, NY, 14456.