Model Role Details

Najati Sudqi

Sector : Cultural Figures , Writers

Personal Info

  • Country of residence : Russia
  • Gender : Male
  • Born in : 1905
  • Age : 111
  • Curriculum vitae :

Information

Muhammad Najati Sidqi (1905–1979) was a Palestinian public intellectual and activist, trade unionist, translator, writer, critic and erstwhile communist. Though almost forgotten as a figure in the Palestinian movement for independence, he played an important role in it, and witnessed many momentous moments in the early history of the 20th century. Aside from his native Arabic, he was fluent in French, Russian and Spanish.
 
He was present with his father when Sherif Hussein launched the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire in 1916; the beginning of Zionist immigration to Palestine; the early years of the establishment of communism in the Soviet Union, and was one of the few Arabs who fought on the Republican side against Franco in the Spanish Civil War. At the outbreak of World War II, he wrote a book in which the thesis of the incompatibility of Nazism with Islam was passionately argued. Sidqi was born into a middle-class Palestinian family in Jerusalem in 1905. His father Bakri Sidqi was a teacher of Turkish. His mother, Nazira Murad, came from a prominent Jerusalem mercantile family. After an early education there, he joined his father in 1914 as the latter worked in other parts of the Ottoman Empire, and in his formative years he grew up in Damascus, Cairo and Jeddah in the Hejaz, where Bakri had joined Prince Faisal's campaign. On returning to Palestine he became an employee of the Mandatory Palestine's Department of Posts and Telegraphs. There he met Jewish workers who introduced him to Communism. He spent three years, from 1925 to 1928, at the Comintern's Communist University of the Toilers of the East (KUTV, pronounced Kutvo), and during his time there married a Ukrainian communist. He developed contacts with Joseph Stalin, Nikolai Bukharin, Georges Marchais and Khalid Bakdash, the Kurdish leader of the Syrian Communist Party, met Mao Zedong and got acquainted with the Turkish poet Nâzım Hikmet and members of the family of Jawaharlal Nehru. He returned with his wife to Palestine in 1928, and they began to organize activities against the British Mandate authorities.

In 1935 he was sent to Tashkent to study directly the issue of nationality under communism. While in Uzbekistan he developed close relationships with the Uzbek communist leaders Akmal Ikramov and Fayzulla Khodzhayev. Both sided with Nikolai Bukharin's agrarian policies, which ran counter to the line set down by Stalin. They also familiarised him with the ideas of the Left Opposition to Stalinism associated with Grigory Zinoviev. His two Uzbek friends were killed shortly afterwards, victims of Stalin's Great Purge. Sidqi had first hand experience of Nazi Germany, having travelled through the country in 1936, and when, later, party loyalty dictated silence after the signing of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, he refused to buckle under and conceal his disagreement.


His book 'An Arab Who Fought in Spain' was published under the name of Khalid Bakdash, his Kurdish adversary within the Communist Party, a fact which only increased his enmity towards both Bakdash and the Party.
 
His translations included works ranging from major American and Chinese novelists to Russian classics: he introduced Alexander Pushkin, Anton Chekhov and Maxim Gorky to the Arabic world. He published two collections of short stories, many of them depicting the lives and inner feelings of the lower classses. The first, The Sad Sisters (al-Akhwat al-Hazinat, Cairo 1953), looks at the problems Palestinians encountered in adjusting from traditional, romantically remembered Arab Jaffa to the rising metropolis of Tel Aviv and the strange habits of foreigners, the new Jewish society. The title story (1947) is a narrative of a Palestinian man, sitting down at the base of one of five sycamore trees, the ragged residue of what was once an Arab orchard, and imagining them as five sisters who in mourning clothes recall the rapid changes as the orchard was taken over by the modern urban sprawl. As an autumnal storm sweeps the area, the trees stand firm like 'towering mountains'. The second, The Communist Millionaire (Beirut 1963) consisted of many satirical vignettes of Arab Communists of his acquaintance. His memoirs (Mudhakkirat Najati Sidqi: The memoirs of Najati Sidqi), edited by Hanna Abu Hanna, were published in Beirut in 2001.



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