Leader Blues

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

SATURDAY EDITORIAL >> Five-year feud appears over

Mike Abdin, who passed away in 2000, was a successful Jacksonville businessman who left his mark on his community, having long served as an alderman and police commissioner.

A Palestinian by birth, he moved from East Jerusalem to the United States in 1960, eventually settling in Jacksonville, where he opened a jewelry store and prospered. Those who knew him remember his outgoing personality and generosity toward those less fortunate than himself.

But few people besides his relatives and close friends knew that his passing led to a bitter five-year court battle over his estate which finally appears to be over. An appeals court this week upheld a lower court ruling that dismissed his brothers’ claims that Abdin drew up a final will that would have left everything to them and a sister and nothing for his widow.

The contested will was almost certainly fraudulent, drawn up in one of those Byzantine bazaars back in the Middle East. The original will that the courts have upheld was filed here long ago and should never have been contested, except for the greed of others.

Mike Abdin would have been aghast had he witnessed the fight over his estate. He worked hard, invested wisely and served his community. He might have become mayor if his health had held up. Arkansas’ first Palestinian mayor: That would have pleased him.

He was proud of his roots and displayed a picture of himself in his store in an Arab headgear. He’d go back to Jerusalem and buy jewelry from Orthodox Jews, which made him part of a peace movement that would have put an end to wars in the Middle East if more people would only learn to get along.

Mike Abdin knew how to bring people together, which is why he left his mark on his community. He lived the immigrant’s dream of success through hard work. May he now rest in peace.