National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations


By John Duke Anthony

September 3, 2010

Peter Gubser

It is with great sadness that I write to say that Dr. Peter Gubser has lost his battle with cancer.


Peter was not just a fellow laborer in the vineyard of trying to place the relationship between the United States and the Arab world on the firmest footing possible. He was not only a great teacher, scholar, and lucid writer as well as author of several very good books on Lebanon, Jordan, and Saladin. He was also a role model as an inspirational leader, an institution builder, the longtime head of one of the world's most effective philanthropic organizations devoted to the alleviation of suffering and the provision of opportunities for those in need, as well as an indefatigable champion of the rights of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. And he was still more. His devotion to his beloved wife Annie, their two children and two grandchildren, together with his great sense of humor, incisive wit, and joy in laughter, even when the joke was on him, was boundless.

For the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, Peter was all these things and many more. He was one of four friends who agreed to join me in establishing the Council in 1983. In the twenty-seven and a half years from that founding until the board's most recent gathering this past May, Peter, whose sage input and comment always enriched the sessions' deliberations, was the sole board member never to have missed a single meeting.

In addition to being one of the National Council's cofounders, Peter served from the beginning to the present as its treasurer. In the process, he introduced to the Council its system of accounting that has remained in place to this day. That gift helped pave the way for the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations being awarded this past year the highest possible rating for effective financial management and stewardship by America's foremost charitable organization accrediting agency.

Peter Gubser Peter Gubser (1941-2010)
More than with any other founding board member, Peter and I had a particularly rich formative experience in common. The late Joseph J. Malone, former head of the history department at American University of Beirut (where Peter had been a student) and later chair of the U.S. National War College's Middle East Program, was long Peter's and my mentor, close friend, and colleague. Indeed, Peter was first introduced to me by Joe in 1971. When I was the then Assistant Editor of the Middle East Journal, Joe persuaded me that, because Peter's command of Arabic was so good and his detailed knowledge of Lebanon's system of governance and political dynamics so thorough, he should be the person to review Man Yahkum Lubnan? [Who Rules Lebanon?] for the Journal's Book Review Section. Peter did just that, thereby cementing a friendship and professional relationship between us that lasted 39 years.

Many friends of the National Council are aware that the Malone Family earlier this past year bequeathed to the Council Joe and Lois Malone's outstanding pre-Islamic Pottery Collection. Peter and Annie were both on hand for the event that commemorated this bequest. In the evaluating criteria that influenced the family's decision to award the collection to the Council, it mattered much not only that Joe himself was a founding member of the Council's National Advisory Board but also that Peter Gubser and I as Council cofounders, together with our respective wives, had long been close to Joe and Lois.

Yet another positive factor in the Malone family's decision was that following Joe's passing on December 4, 1983, Peter lent his support to the National Council's decision to establish its premier university educator award: the Joseph J. Malone Fellowship in Arab and Islamic Studies. As the Malone Family entrusted the Council with its priceless pre-Islamic treasures in part because of Peter's long, faithful, and effective service as Council cofounder, board member, and treasurer, so too will the Council, its friends, and supporters forever treasure the memory of Dr. Peter Gubser. Fare thee well, Peter.

Saladin: Empire and Holy War

Saladin: Empire and Holy War Dr. Peter Gubser's most recent book, Saladin: Empire and Holy War, was published by Gorgias Press in April 2010. Saladin, the great Muslim leader of the twelfth century, generated far-reaching change in the Middle East. During his life, he profoundly altered the region’s landscape in religious, political, geographic and ethnic terms. In the West, he is famous for sharply curtailing the Crusader presence in the region, but also for the chivalrous and honorable way he dealt with adversaries and neighbors. In Muslim lands, he is well known - even lionized - for his success vis-a-vis the Crusaders.

Saladin: Empire and Holy War

National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations

1730 M St. NW, Suite 503, Washington, DC
Phone: 202-293-6466 | Fax: 202-293-7770