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Anis Sayigh: A Profile from the Archives

[Source: Al-Zaytouna Center Website] [Source: Al-Zaytouna Center Website]

[”A Profile from the Archives“ is a series published by Jadaliyya in both Arabic and English in cooperation with the Lebanese newspaper, Assafir. These profiles will feature iconic figures who left indelible marks in the politics and culture of the Middle East and North Africa. This profile was originally published in Arabic and was translated by Mazen Hakeem.]

Name: Anis

Last Name: Sayigh

Date of Birth: 1931

Date of Death: 2009

Nationality: Lebanese

Place of Birth: Tiberias, Palestine

Wife’s Name: Hilda Sha'ban

Category: Writer

Profession: Writer and researcher

[Source: Al-Awda Magazine website]

Anis Sayigh

  • Palestinian national of Syrian origin, Sayigh held a Lebanese citizenship.
  • Born in Tiberias, north of Palestine, in November 1931.
  • His father, Abullah, was born in Sha'ra near Homs, Syria in 1883. He studied Arithmetic, Arabic, and English in addition to developing an interest in reading the Bible and theology. Afifa Al-Batrooni, his mother, born in Bassa on the Palestinian coast, was of Lebanese origin as her father had come from Al-Barton, Lebanon and whose mother was Palestinian. After Al-Batrooni finished her studies in Sayda, Lebanon, she started working as a teacher in a school in Safed, Palestine. Abdullah Sayigh married Afifa Al-Batrooni before he joined the school of theology in Jerusalem with her by his side. He chose to be a priest and moved to live in Kharba, Syria and Bassa on the Palestinian coast and later in Tiberias.
  • Received his elementary education in Tiberias, then moved to Jerusalem to study at Zion College (named after Mount Zion), where he studied for one year. After that, and due to the outbreak of war in Palestine, he moved to Sayda to study at the Evangelical School of Arts. Once he completed his studies in 1949, he joined the American University in Beirut (AUB) where he obtained his bachelor degree in Political Science in 1953.
  • After his graduation, he taught Arab history in the French Department at the American University in Beirut (1956–1957).
  • He was in charge of editing the cultural column in the Beirut-based Annahar newspaper for one yea. He then worked as a consultant for the International Organization for Freedom of Culture for nearly two years.
  • Attended Cambridge University between 1959 and 1964 where he obtained his doctorate degree in Middle Eastern Studies. During the same period, he worked as an assistant professor in the Oriental Studies Department at Cambridge University.
  • After his return to Beirut in 1964, he headed a project to produce an English-Arabic dictionary commissioned by the Franklin Corporation. However, he quit the project in 1966 following his refusal to sign a pledge not to write political articles.
  • From 1966 to 1976, he took helm of the research center affiliated with the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in Beirut. During this period, he worked on establishing a library that contained more than thirteen thousand books in addition to documents and maps. He also built the archive for the center. In early March 1971, he issued Shu'un filastiniyya (Palestinian Affairs) magazine, where he served as editor-in-chief. A series called "Palestinian Diary" (Yawmiyat filastiniyya), was also published and he was the editor of the series as well. The center also issued the daily "Monitoring Israeli Radio Bulletin" and "Palestinian Studies Series."
  • In addition to heading the research center, Anis Sayigh served as the Dean for the Institute of Arab Research and Studies in Cairo, which is affiliated to the League of Arab States, between 1969 and 1976. In the sixties, he supervised more than thirty Masters and Doctoral theses in Cairo and Beirut.
  • He was the target of several assaults by Israeli intelligence while he headed the research center. The center was also subject to these Israeli attacks during this period as it suffered a bomb explosion in 1971. In 1972, and after several months had passed since Ghassan Kanafani’s assassination, a parcel bomb exploded in Sayigh’s hands. His finger had to be amputated and he suffered from hearing impairment. In late 1974, the center was hit with rockets which caused severe material damage. 

[Al-Jazeera Channel interview with Anis Sayigh]

  • Submitted his resignation from the research center in February 1976 where it was turned down until March of the following year, when he was appointed to be the Director of Palestine Department at the League of Arab States in Cairo between 1977 and 1978.
  • Went back to Beirut in 1978 to oversee the issuance of the Arab Future (al-mustaqbal al-'arabi), a monthly magazine which was published by the Arab Unity Studies Center. He remained at this job for one year and then moved to oversee the publication of Arab Issues (qadaya 'arabiyya), a monthly magazine he edited for a year and a half. During the same period, he was a consultant for Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Qabas, for which he established an information and documentation center.
  • In late 1980, he once again worked at the League for Arab States as a consultant for the Secretary General and as head of the magazines department. He issued Arab Affairs (shu'un 'arabiyya) magazine and was the editor-in-chief starting in March 1981. He continued to work for the League of Arab States until 1982.
  • The Arab Organization for Education, Science, and Culture, which is affiliated to the League of Arab States, adopted his idea of publishing a Palestinian Encyclopedia. He was chosen as a consultant for the encyclopedia and a rapporteur for its board of directors starting in 1983. He then became editor-in-chief and was elected chairman of its board of directors. While working at the Palestinian Encyclopedia, he participated in the first section which consisted of four volumes. After that, he supervised the preparation and editing of the second section which consisted of six volumes.
  • Wrote a weekly column in Assafir newspaper between 1994 and 1999.
  • Ran a weekly cultural seminar beginning in 1995.
  • Died in Amman, Jordan on 25 December 2009 and was buried in Beirut.


  • Sectarian Lebanon, Libnan al-ta’ifi, Al-Siraa’ Al-Fikri Publishing House, Beirut, 1955.
  • The Omayyad Armada in the Mediterranean, Al-ustul al-harbi al-umawi fi al-bahr al-abyad al-mutawasit, Beirut, 1956.
  • Wall of Shame, Jidar al-’ar, Beirut, 1956.
  • Syria in Ancient Egyptian Literature, Suriyya fi al-adab al-masri al-qadeem, Beirut, 1957.
  • Arabian Idea in Egypt, Al-fikra al-'arabiyya fi masr, Beirut, 1959.
  • Evolution of the National Concept of Arabs, Tatawur al-mafhoom al-qawmi 'ind al-arab, Al-Talee’a Publishing House, Beirut, 1961.
  • From Faisal I to Jamal Abul Nasser: The Concept of Political Leadership, Min faisal al-awal ila jamal abdul nasser: fi mafhum al-za’ama al-siyasiyya, Al-Asriyyah Library, Beirut, 1965.
  • The Hashemites and the Great Arab Revolt, Al-hashimiuun wa al-thawra al-'arabiya al-kobra, Al-Talee’a Publishing House, Beirut, 1966.
  • The Hashemites and the Issue of Palestine, Al-hashimiuun wa qadhiet filastin, Al-Asriyyah Library, Beirut, 1966.
  • Palestine and Arab Nationality, Filastin wa al-qawmiyya al-'arabiyya, The Palestinian Research Center, Beirut, 1967.
  • The Military Force Balance Between Arabs and Israel, Mizan al-quuwa al-'askariyya bayna al-'arab wa israel, The Palestinian Research Center, Beirut, 1967.
  • Nativity of Occupied Palestine: 1948 – 1967, Baldaniyet filastin al-muhtalla: 1948 – 1967, The Palestinian Research Center, Beirut, 1968.
  • Israeli Settlements Since 67, Al-mosta'marat al-israeliyya montho 67, The Palestinian Research Center, Beirut, 1969.
  • Ignorance in the Palestinian Issue: A Study in Arab Academics’ Knowledge of the Palestinian Issue, Al-jahil bi al-qadiya al-filastiniyya: dirasa fi ma’lumat al-jami’een al-arab 'an al-qadiya al-filastiniyya, Beirut, 1970.
  • Israeli Politicians, Rijal al-sassa al-israeliyuun, Beirut, 1970.
  • September 13. Right and Wrong, 13 aylul. Al-khata’ wa al-sawab, Beirut 1994.
  • The Zionist Terrorism File, Malaf al-irhab al-sahyuuni, Beirut 1996.
  • The Ten Commandments of the Zionist Movement, Al-wasaya al-'ashr lil al-haraka al-sahyuuniyya, Al-Israa’ Center for Studies and Research, Beirut, 1998.
  • Half a Century of Illusion, Nisf qarn mina al-awham, Beirut, 1999.
  • Anis Sayigh According to Anis Sayigh, Anis sayigh 'an anis sayigh, Riyadh Al-Rayyes for Books and Publishing, Beirut 2006.

[Click here for a section of the book Anis Sayigh According to Anis Sayigh (Arabic)] 

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