Dr. Clovis Maksoud, former diplomat, professor, editor, writer, and humanistic thinker, died May 15, 2016, at Washington Hospital Center, in Washington DC, as a result of severe cerebral hemorrhage. His life journey took him from the U.S., to the Middle-East, Europe, Africa, and Southeast Asia.
In 1918, at the end of World War I, the Ottoman Empire collapsed and the Levant fell under French and British mandates. Throughout the Arab World resistance to the foreign occupation stimulated the birth of new national movements. A wave of fresh Arab ideals rushed through the schools, colleges and universities of Aleppo, Beirut, Damascus, and Jerusalem. It is during this unprecedented surge in democratic and social aspirations that Clovis Maksoud was born in 1926, in Oklahoma, to American Lebanese parents.
At the start of World War II in 1939, he was a student at Beirut’s renowned Chouwaifat high school where a group of passionate teachers nurtured his nascent ideals. When Clovis Maksoud enrolled in 1944 at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon was on its way to gain its independence from France. AUB was at the time widely viewed as the cauldron of liberal Arab ideas. During his years at AUB he was greatly influenced by the forward-thinking intellect and pan-Arab ideals of Professor Constantine Zuraik. During that time World War II’s ripples shook the Middle East, tore up Palestine, and destroyed the area’s intertwined political and historical fabric.
After graduating from AUB in 1948, he traveled to study law in the United States where he received his J.D. from George Washington University. In 1951, Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas introduced him to Rosemary Curry. They were married in 1951 and had one child, Elizabeth.
Upon Clovis Maksoud’s return to Lebanon in the mid-1950s he became actively involved in democratic and social reforms. The aftermath of 1956 Suez War greatly marked him. It anchored his political commitment and made him an enthusiastic advocate of Arab unity and a vigorous defender of Palestinian rights.
His writings and pan-Arab ideals led to his nomination in 1961 as Ambassador of the Arab League to India and South East Asia. For the duration of his term, Clovis Maksoud played a pivotal role in establishing closer relations between India and the Arab World. In response to the growing tensions of the Cold War, India stood as an outspoken advocate of the interests of the non-aligned countries and showed its unequivocal support of Arab causes and Palestinian rights.