Sami Hadawi (Arabic: سامي هداوي, March 6, 1904–April 22, 2004) was a Palestinian scholar and author. He is known for documenting the effects of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War on the Arabpopulation in Palestine and published statistics for individual villages prior to Israel’s establishment. Hadawi worked as a land specialist until he was exiled from Jerusalem after a fierce battle in his neighborhood between Israeli and Jordanian forces. He continued to specialize in documenting Palestine’s lands and published several books about the 1948 War and the Palestinian refugees.
Hadawi was born in Jerusalem to Arab Christian parents. His father was a soldier in the army of the Ottoman Empire and died in combat during World War I. In 1915, after his father’s death, Hadawi’s family moved to Amman. Three years later he worked as an unofficial interpreter for the British Army and then moved back to Palestine the year after to work as a clerk for the Land Registration Office.
His interest in the structure of Arab villages began with his job there and then his job at the Land Settlement Department from 1920-27. Hadawi eventually became an inspector and land value assessor from 1938-48 and was the major contributor to the Village Statistics 1945: A Classification of Land and Area Ownership in Palestine which was a land and population census of the Arab localities in the British Mandate of Palestine. He lived in his grandfather’s home in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City until 1948. In 1948, he, his wife Nora and their two children built a home for themselves in Katamon. That same year they were forced to leave with the advance of Israeli forces.
Hadawi’s wife died of a heart attack shortly after their expulsion. Hadawi had similar work with Jordanian land authorities as he did with the British. He retained that job until 1952 when he became a land specialist for the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine in New York. His job was to determine the extent of property that Palestinian refugees left behind after the 1948 War. This led him to co-found the Palestinian Information Office in 1959 and then twoArab League offices in the United States. His final work years were as Director of the Institute for Palestine Studies (IPS) in Beirut throughout 1960-70 in which he published Palestine – Loss of a Heritage.
He retired in 1970, moved to Toronto and began writing books on the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict including Palestinian Rights and Losses in 1948 (1988) and Bitter Harvest: a Modern History of Palestine (1989). Hadawi died on April 22, 2004 at the age of 100. He was buried in Toronto instead of his desired request to be buried in his hometown of Jerusalem. “I would like to be buried in Jerusalem, but I have no choice,” he told journalist Hicham Safieddine, in the last interview he gave.
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