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Sami al-Jundi

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Sami al-Jundi
Member of the Regional Command of the Syrian Regional Branch
In office
1 February 1964 – 4 April 1965
Prime Minister of Syria
In office
11 May 1963 – 13 May 1963
Preceded bySalah Bitar
Succeeded bySalah Bitar
Minister of Culture
In office
8 March 1963 – 12 November 1963
Preceded byRafik Gabriel Bashour
Succeeded byShibli al-Aysami
Minister of Information
In office
13 May 1963 – 14 May 1964
Preceded byJamal al-Atassi
Succeeded byAbdullah Abdel-Dayem
Syrian ambassador in France
In office
11 July 1964 – 1 August 1969
Preceded byAssaad Said Mahassen
Succeeded byKamel Hussein
Personal details
Born(1921-12-15)15 December 1921
Salamiyah, French Mandate of Syria
Died14 December 1995(1995-12-14) (aged 73)
Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic
Political partySyrian Regional Branch of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party
RelativesAli al-Jundi (brother)
Abd al-Karim al-Jundi (cousin)
Alma materDamascus University

Sami al-Jundi (Arabic: سامي الجندي‎; 15 December 1921 – 14 December 1995) was a Syrian Ba'athist politician, and a follower of Michel Aflaq.

Life

An older cousin of Abd al-Karim al-Jundi,[1] Jundi was born to a scholarly family in Salamiyah.[2] He studied dentistry at Damascus University, graduating in 1944. Initially attracted to Arab nationalism by Zaki al-Arsuzi, he joined the Ba'ath Party of Michel Aflaq and Salah al-Din al-Bitar in 1947. In the 1950s he joined Gamal Abdel Nasser's Arab nationalist movement, and Nasser appointed him director of information and propaganda after Egypt and Syria merged as the United Arab Republic in 1958. After the 1961 Syrian coup installed Nazim al-Qudsi, Jundi lost his job, but after the 1963 Syrian coup he became minister of information in Salah al-Bitar's cabinet. He was also official spokesman for the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC).[3]

The RCC named Jundi prime minister, delegating him to form a cabinet on 11 May 1963, but he failed to do so and resigned three days later. He was minister of information, culture and national guidance in Prime Minister Bitar's second cabinet, and remained in government under President Amin al-Hafez until October 1964. In 1964 he became ambassador to France.[3]

Jailed in Syria for some time in 1969,[1] Jundi retired to Beirut, writing his memoirs. After Israeli invaded Lebanon in 1982, he returned to Syria, but worked as a dentist and was not active politically.[3]

Jundi's account of the fate of the Ba'ath Party has been characterized as "an honest and sad portrayal of what has befallen many national anticolonial movements".[4]

Works

  • Arab wa Yahud [Arabs and Jews], Beirut, 1968
  • Sadiqi Ilyas [My friend Ilyas], Beirut, 1969
  • Al Ba`th [The Ba`th], Beirut, 1969
  • Athadda wa Attahim [I challenge and I accuse], Beirut, 1969

Origins of the Ba'ath

As a school student, al-Jundi attended political lectures of Arsuzi and became the secretary of a tiny group that called itself the Arab Resurrection (Ba'ath) Party.[5] Of that period he wrote:

We lived through this hope, strangers in our society which gradually increased our isolation: rebels against all the old values, enemies to all the conventions of humanity, rejecting all ceremonies, relationships and religions. We sought the fight everywhere we were an unrelenting pickaxe. ...

We were racialists [’irqiyyin], admiring Nazism, reading its books and the source of its thought, particularly Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra, Fichte's Addresses to the German Nation, and H. S. Chamberlain's Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, which revolves on race.[6] We were the first to think of translating Mein Kampf.

Whoever has lived during this period in Damascus will appreciate the inclination of the Arab people to Nazism, for Nazism was the power which could serve as its champion, and he who is defeated will by nature love the victor. But our belief was rather different. ...[7]

We were idealists, basing social relationships on love. The Master [Arsuzi] used to speak about Christ, and I think he was influenced by Nietzsche's The Origin of Tragedy. He took the pre-Islamic period for his ideal, calling it the golden age of the Arabs.[5]

Arszuri's group disbanded in 1944, but most of the members belonged as well to Michel Aflaq's group, also called the Ba'ath, that grew in the Syrian Ba'ath Party.[5]

References

  1. ^ a b Itamar Rabinovič (1972). Syria Under the Baʻth, 1963-66: The Army Party Symbiosis. Transaction Publishers. p. 237. ISBN 978-1-4128-3550-3. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
  2. ^ Fouad Ajami (2012). The Syrian Rebellion. Hoover Press. p. 29. ISBN 978-0-8179-1506-3. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
  3. ^ a b c Sami M. Moubayed (2006). Steel and Silk: Men and Women who Shaped Syria 1900-2000. Cune Press. p. 264. ISBN 978-1-885942-40-1. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
  4. ^ Fouad Ajami (1992). The Arab Predicament: Arab Political Thought and Practice Since 1967. Cambridge University Press. pp. 49–59. ISBN 978-0-521-43833-9. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
  5. ^ a b c Elie Kedourie (1974). Arabic Political Memoirs and Other Studies. London: Frank Cass. pp. 199–201.
  6. ^ According to Gilbert Achcar, The Arabs and the Holocaust (2010), p.69, "which revolves on race" is a mistranslation for "and Darré's The Race".
  7. ^ This ellipsis appears in Kedourie's translation. Nordbruch provides a fuller translation: "But we were a different school [of thought]. Those who do not get deep into the principles of the Arab National Party – and these principles are the very principles of the Arab Ba‘th – might be misled [about the influence of Nazism]." Götz Nordbruch. "'Cultural Fusion' of Thought and Ambitions? Memory, Politics and the History of Arab–Nazi German Encounters". Middle East Studies. 47 (1): 183–194.
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Sami al-Jundi
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