Elias Nasrallah Haddad (1878/79–1959) was a teacher, translator, writer, ethnographer, and linguist whose career spanned the final decades of Ottoman rule in Palestine, the whole of the British Mandate period, and the Nakba and after. Based for most of his life at the German-run Syrian Orphanage in Jerusalem, he asserted, in his many books and articles on Palestinian life and language, his adopted country’s right to progress, alongside the importance of recording its traditions. He highlighted the Arab nature of Palestinian society while urging tolerance and coexistence as the foremost of its values and virtues. This article draws on multiple sources and genres to trace Haddad’s life history and his impact on a wide range of fields and people, ranging from the British high commissioners to whom he taught colloquial Arabic, to the storytellers in the villages of pre-World War I Palestine whose memories of Bedouin poetry he transcribed and translated.
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