Remembering Two Special Anera Supporters

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We are sad to report that, in May, Anera lost two valued members of our community: Joseph Asfour and Michael Hudson. 

“The Anera family has lost two long-time supporters who, individually and taken together, represent the essence of Anera’s early base of support,” says Anera President and CEO Sean Carroll. “Joe, born of the Middle East and forced to flee, was present for Anera’s creation, one of our Arab American founders. Michael taught and inspired generations of Middle East scholars, advocates and thought leaders, many of whom became involved with Anera and who then invited him to join our board. Joe and Michael leave enduring legacies. We will miss them and their wise counsel.”

Joseph Asfour, an Anera Founder

Joe was one of Anera’s founding members. He came to be involved with Anera through his affiliation with US-OMEN (United States Organization for Medical and Educational Needs), a California-based nonprofit dedicated to delivering relief and expanding educational opportunities to young people. US-OMEN was one of many small organizations formed in the US after Israel was founded to help Palestinian refugees with food, funds and other relief. 

The 1967 war triggered a new wave of refugee flight and inspired a massive response from Americans of many backgrounds. Joe and Anera’s other founding members created Anera in 1968 as a means of channeling Americans’ sympathy and concern for needy Palestinians into a centralized, organized and professional response. 

Photo courtesy of dignitymemorial.com.

Joe served on Anera’s board of directors for many years and also actively participated in the capital campaign for Anera’s 35th anniversary. Murad Siam, one of Anera’s current board members, whose father also was involved in US-OMEN, says that “Outside of his own family, Anera was Joe’s one true lstove.” And, sure enough, he gave Anera unwavering support in every way until Alzheimer’s robbed him of his ability to continue.

Schooled in both Haifa and Nazareth, Joe left in 1948 and settled in Beirut, Lebanon, where he opened an insurance and import/export agency. He then moved to the US, where he settled in San Francisco and started an insurance business called Asfour Agencies. He retired in 1999.

Joseph Asphour died at the age of 93, on May 14, 2021.


Michael Hudson, Scholar and Humanitarian

Mike’s lifelong engagement with the Arab world was sparked when he was an exchange student in Beirut in the 1950s. He went on to focus his study of politics and international relations on the Arab world and Middle East. He became a professor of Arab studies and international relations at the City University of New York, the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, and the School of Foreign Service of Georgetown University in the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS). 

Photo courtesy of the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies.

Mike authored two important books, The Precarious Republic: Political Modernization in Lebanon (1968) and Arab Politics: The Search for Legitimacy (1977). He edited and wrote scores of academic articles and commentaries and was also a frequent and sought-after media commentator on Middle Eastern affairs.

In 2019, Anera was fortunate to welcome Mike to our board of directors. Zeina Azzam, an Anera board member and Mike’s former colleague at CCAS, nominated him to join us. 

“He was a true leader and visionary as he guided the growth and development of CCAS, with decisions based on integrity, unwavering principles, and an abiding caring for the people of the Arab world,” says Zeina. “He was an inspiring director, professor, and scholar and a genuine humanitarian.” 

Michael Craig Hudson, of Chevy Chase, Maryland, died at age 82 on May 25, 2021.

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