When the tragic photos of Aylan Kurdi recently hit the media, someone in the tech community pointed out that the late Steve Jobs, Apple founder and inventor of the iPhone, was the child of a Syrian migrant, too.
David Galbraith is a Geneva-based tech entrepreneur and co-founder of the company that created Yelp. Galbraith also helped to author RSS technology and is a great fan of Steve Jobs.
When he saw the tragic image of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi, he told the Chicago Tribune that he “could barely look as I have two beautiful young children of my own.”
“It seemed to be that what the most precious thing in the world, a small child, was washed up on the sea shore like a discarded object of no value, when a child with a parent of the same nationality, given opportunity had created the largest company in the entire world. And here we are seeing an acrimonious debate, about stopping migrants.”
When he saw the image of Aylan, Galbraith recalled Steve Jobs’ family history and immediately headed to Twitter, where he posted a brief but powerful message.
According to Galbraith, he learned about Jobs’ ancestry when reading the Apple founder’s authorized biography, Steve Jobs, written by Walter Isaacson.
“Many fans of Steve Jobs, like myself, were aware of the story of both his biological and adoptive parents from Walter Isaacson’s biography, and I notice that Isaacson was one of the people that first shared the Tweet.
I did have a hunch the Tweet would go viral, because it used few words, stated fact not opinion, defied stereotypes and had an iconic picture.”
Galbraith’s Tweet reminds us that Steve Jobs was a Syrian immigrant’s child, just like those in truck & on the beach http://t.co/6QiOmMByAW
— Walter Isaacson (@WalterIsaacson) September 4, 2015
As reported in the Independent, it turns out that Jobs’ father was Abdul Fattah Jandali, born to a well-off family in Homs, Syria in 1931. Homs, these days, is well known as being the scene of some of the worst fighting in Syria’s ongoing civil war.
Jandali and his partner, Joanne Carole Schieble, had Jobs out of wedlock and were forced to give him up for adoption. They did go on to marry later and had Steve Jobs’ biological sister, Mona Simpson, and Jandali became a Syrian migrant when he left Syria for the United States in the 1950s.
Galbraith said when comparing the story behind the tech giant to that of a current Syrian migrant, “it contrasted that of Aylan Kurdi in every way and made me wonder what little boys like him could have achieved if they had been given the chance.”
Galbraith’s tweet has been retweeted almost 12,000 times and favorited over 6,000 times, and while Steve Jobs’ background varies greatly from Aylan’s, many have praised the message, while others have criticized it.
One responded that the tweet suggests “that human life is worth something only if it achieves ‘great things’.” Another asked when speaking of a Syrian migrant, “Must we even value the human in economic terms?”
However, on a more positive note, others on the social media platform praised the message, wishing they had done the same.
— TroyHenikoff (@TroyHenikoff) September 6, 2015
Another remarked that “Most times the simplest statements are the most powerful.”
Jobs died in 2011, and is currently the subject of a film by British director Danny Boyle, titled simply Steve Jobs, which is set for release on September 10. The movie is currently receiving strong reviews at the Telluride Film Festival.
[Photo: Steve Jobs by Justin Sullivan / Getty Images News]