Why Did Steve Jobs Reject His Arab Father?

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Yesterday I heard Walter Isaacson talking about his biography of the last Steve Jobs on Terry Gross’s NPR show Fresh Air.

The story of Jobs’s parenthood is amazing. He was given up for adoption by his American mother, Joanne Schieble, and his Syrian-American father, Abdulfattah “John” Jandali, born in Homs. He was raised by Paul and Clara Jobs in Mountain View, California.

In his 20s, Jobs sought to find his biological parents. By reaching out to the doctor listed on his birth certificate, he was able to find Schieble. And Schieble introduced him to his sister, Mona Simpson, the novelist.

Walter Isaacson said that Jobs was pleased to discover that his sister was a great artist. Simpson told Jobs who his father was, and Jobs realized that he had met Jandali. Because Jandali ran a restaurant in Silicon Valley.

Says this account online:

“When I was looking for my biological mother, obviously I was looking for my biological father at the same time. I learned a little bit about him, and I didn’t like what I learned,” he told Walter Isaacson.

Jobs decided he did not want to see his father again. On the radio yesterday, Isaacson said that Jobs described Jandali as fat and balding. Terry Gross did not press the point: Why was Jobs averse to meeting his father?

No doubt Steve Jobs was an aesthetic monster. That taste/perfectionism/snobbery guided his achievement.

But I have to wonder whether he did not also share the conventional social prejudice against Arab-Americans, even in our “high” culture, the attitude reflected by novelist Erica Jong, who once titled a chapter of a book, Arabs and Other Animals. I hope that Mona Simpson, who shares Jobs’s Arab-American background, will write about this issue some day.

P.S. Jobs’s adoptive mother was an Armenian-American.

3 Responses to Why Did Steve Jobs Reject His Arab Father?

  1. gsw 28/10/2011 at 10:15 AM

    markjuliansmith is right. Plus, I object to the title of this, somewhat biased, report.

    The man was not his ‘father’, Mr. Jobs was his father. This man was – at best – a progenitor. Ah, but now the famous, and rich, son has died, so he pretends to be all upset. People are sorry for him, he lost his son. What rubbish, the man dumped him and never even showed his face until he thought it might benefit him.
    Millions of people are adopted, some take the trouble to check on their biological parents, some don’t. Some people are thinking of having a family and wish to know of any genetic hazards – others do not consider it necessary.

    Calling this man Steven Jobs father is an insult to the people who cared for him, loved him and gave him a good start in life.
    Enough already!

  2. markjuliansmith 28/10/2011 at 8:43 AM

    the conventional social prejudice against Arab-Americans – ever crossed your mind he simply did not appreciate being dumped? That he simply did not like what he saw. And even if it was the nature which Islam informs ie Other are deaf, dumb and blind evil and diseased is it not a natural response?

    If I came into the home of a person who had Mein Kampf on the table I would react the same way because it might come as a shock but exactly the same construct of Other is contained therein see Quran Chapter “THE COW” – and please note there were moderate liberal Nazi.

    By the way Goebbels also said we will not do anything to the Jews their own nature will determine that ‘grievous harm’ will happen to them – sound familiar.


    Where do you think Islamic Terror comes from – thin air?

  3. Hassan 27/10/2011 at 9:38 PM

    Cant believe you are making up this story. Steve jobs did not say he was fat. He said he was bold to describe this person. Also he said he did not like him because he abondand his sister mona Simpson. Check the facts. Mr jandali left mona when she was 5 and she found him when she was in her twenties. She even changed her name from jandali to simpson taking her step father’s name.

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