Nessim Dawood was a mentor and a friend. Visiting him and his wife, Juliet, in their London home was an encounter with a unique kind of aristocracy. Normally the elites of Iraqi Jewry in London are associated with the great merchant families that established themselves over the centuries along the coastal cities of Asia from India to Hong Kong. He represented an aristocracy of knowledge. Like his friend Prof. Elie Kedourie, he served as a critical intellectual bridge between the Middle East and Britain, which had multiple diplomatic, military and commercial ties that needed and used his skills. These men came from an Iraq that was crumbling.At the time of the First World War, the Jewish community of Baghdad made up approximately one third of the city’s population. Jews had evolved to become part of the establishment, with some becoming senior ministers. But with the rise of pro-Axis sentiment in Iraq during the Second World War, and especially after the violent Farhud, or pogrom, against Baghdad’s Jews in 1941, many saw that the situation was becoming untenable. As a youth, he personally witnessed the brutality of Iraqi mobs against two British sergeants that undoubtedly affected his choices of where to build his home later in life. But he never let these experiences cloud his passion for the Arabic language and culture, though privately he had his own strong views of trends in the Middle East.For the more intolerant in that region, and their local branches in the UK, the idea that an Iraqi Jew would specialize in Arabic and translate an Islamic text was difficult. They had forgotten 12th-century Spain, where Jews and Muslims became aware and even influenced by each other’s philosophical texts, particularly those of Maimonides, who wrote many works in Judeo-Arabic.As the Middle East goes through the enormous changes it is witnessing, Nessim Dawood’s wise counsel will be needed, but tragically he will not be with us. For this writer, I will always think of him as my informal teacher who made my book on Jerusalem possible.What is an essential truth is that a good teacher is always remembered in the hearts of students, continuing to give them inspiration even after they are gone. The writer is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations.