I was both shocked and saddened to discover news of the death of Dr. Ghassan Shabaneh, for several years an Associate Professor of Middle East and International Studies at Marymount Manhattan College, and more recently a researcher at the Al Jazeera Centre for Studies in Doha, Qatar. The news is now almost a month old; I happened to discover it, painfully enough, while trying to “friend” him on Facebook.
Despite being on a first-name basis with him, I didn’t know Ghassan well enough to call him either a “friend” or a “colleague.” Having heard great things about him for years from his Marymount colleague Carrie-Ann Biondi (my then-wife) I happened to meet him exactly once, purely by coincidence, in the summer of 2013–in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. I was touring Bethlehem with my friend Sinan; he was visiting with his wife Tara. After expressing shock at the coincidental nature of the meeting, we had our one and only conversation, promising to meet up again in the near future. Our schedules never seemed to coincide, so–to my eternal regret–we never did meet again. I’d been looking forward to the meeting for years.
My deepest condolences to his family and loved ones. Unfortunately, I’ll have to miss the memorial service that will take place for him in a few days in New Jersey, but hope to attend the service that will be held for him this fall at Marymount.