A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice
A teacher, a scholar, a philosopher, and an eyewitness to history, Sari Nusseibeh is one of our most urgent and articulate authorities on the conflict in the Middle East. From his time teaching side by side with Israelis at the Hebrew University through his appointment by Yasir Arafat to administer the Arab Jerusalem, he has held fast to the principles of freedom and equality for all, and his story dramatizes the consequences of war, partition, and terrorism as few other books have done. This autobiography brings rare depth and compassion to the story of his country.
Nusseibeh's new memoir, Once Upon a Country, is a remarkable chronicle of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, seen through this improbable pair of eyes. His Palestinian colleagues come in for abundant criticism -- for negotiating without a clear vision or sufficient expert knowledge and, above all, for becoming intoxicated with their own deadly delusions about violence. Nusseibeh's message is clear: that the two sides are divided by ignorance, not malice; that the burden is on the Palestinians to win over their Israeli counterparts; that this can be done only through dialogue and nonviolent resistance; that Palestinians should not insist on the right of their refugees to return to what is now Israel proper; that Palestinian negotiators need not be intransigent to be tough and need not surrender their principles to reach a deal with Israel.