There was never to be a homecoming for a man who spent more than 50 years pursuing the dream of repatriation for his people.
Sami Hadawi, a Canadian Palestinian scholar regarded as the most important Arab authority on the question of land ownership in the Holy Land, died in Toronto last month at age 100.
In a wooden casket at a North York funeral home, his emaciated palms were folded over his stomach, a pink rose placed on his chest. After decades of tirelessly speaking out in support of Palestinian human and political rights, the author's lips had finally been sealed April 22.
Mr. Hadawi told the Star last August how he lost his land, his house, his wife and, toward the end of his life, all hope of an imminent end to the tragic saga of Palestinian dispossession and struggle against occupation.
Born in Jerusalem in the time of Ottoman rule, Mr. Hadawi became a living witness to the Middle East conflict, a researcher who laid out its root causes and potential resolutions.
He experienced the waves of early Jewish migration to Palestine, the British mandate and the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, which led to a mass exodus of Palestinians.
Mr Hadawi, who took part in the exodus, was in charge of land taxation operations under the British Mandate and served as a land specialist for the U.N. Conciliation Commission in New York. In the 1960s, he became director of the Institute of Palestine Studies in Beirut, described on its official Web site as the only institute in the world exclusively dedicated to the documentation, research and analysis of Palestinian affairs and the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Michael Fischbach, history professor at Randolph-Macon College in Virginia, wrote of Mr. Hadawi's life and work in a new book about Palestinian refugee property.
"Sami Hadawi made the biggest contribution towards documenting and compiling village land statistics prior to the partition of Palestine in 1948," Fischbach said.
Mr. Hadawi moved to Toronto in the 1970s and became a prominent member of the local Arab community.
Mr. Hadawi was strongly opposed to the partition of Palestine and believed the conflict could be resolved only by justly redressing the refugee problem.
One of the oldest remaining refugees of that era, he died days after U.S. President George W. Bush for the first time publicly questioned the right of Palestinians to return to their homes.
"Hadawi's efforts were continually undercut by apathy and the failure of the global community to deal with the fundamental concerns of refugees, without which the peace process would continue to founder," Fischbach said.
Mr. Hadawi leaves son Nabil, daughter Aida, two brothers, a sister, five grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
"I would like to be buried in Jerusalem, but I have no choice. Once I am dead, it is all finished," Mr. Hadawi told the Star last summer. His ashes will be placed in a family plot in Texas.
His granddaughter Randa Jackson found a note posted at his bedside that read: "The greatest want is the want of men who in their inmost souls are true ... and who will stand for the right though heaven fall."