“[An] absorbing autobiography . . . Nusseibeh’s memoir presents an introspective gloss on his life and times."—Carlin Romano, The Philadelphia Inquirer"Nusseibeh’s political memoir is a monumental achievement both in breadth and boldness . . . Nusseibeh details the financial fraud of the ring around Arafat with painful precision—automobiles bought abroad with public funds then sold to the local populace with the profit pocketed, collusion with unscrupulous local Jews in smuggling in gasoline. He argues persuasively that Arafat gained no personal financial benefit and was not squirreling away millions as has been charged . . . He is a thoughtful, passionate and fair-minded moderate.”—Howard Kaplan, Jewish Journal"[Once Upon a Country] is an admirable and necessary [book]. Americans need to hear the Palestinian story told in terms that they can relate to . . . Sari Nusseibeh is a man committed not just to reason and nonviolence but to hope."—Leslie Woodcock Tentler, Commonweal"While the book is Nusseibeh's autobiography, it is also an account of the Arab-Israeli efforts, including the impediments, to establish peace in the region. For Nusseibeh, the only viable solution is the creation of two states. Nusseibeh begins with the Balfour Declaration, describes the Six-Day War, the strife between Fatah, led by Yasir Arafat, and Hamas, and the Israeli attack on the Palestinians after the Park Hotel Passover Massacre. He also provides an interesting account of his activities as a university teacher and president, his role as Arafat's representative in Jerusalem, and his problems with both the Israelis, who refuse to believe his two-state non-violent approach, and the militant Palestinians, who regard him as a traitor."—Thomas L. Erskine, Magill Book Reviews"This is the story of how Sari Nusseibeh, committed all his life to Palestinian national liberation, committed himself also to Palestinian-Israeli peace. Modestly told, but wonderfully engaging, it is a tale of political independence and moral courage."—Professor Michael Walzer, Institute of Advanced Study, author of Politics and Passion: Toward a More Egalitarian Liberalism"Sari Nusseibeh is a man of enormous personal integrity, courage and vision. If the people of Israel and Palestine some day enjoy the peace and national sovereignty that they deserve, they will owe a lot to Sari Nusseibeh’s pioneering leadership."—Paul Wolfowitz"Once Upon a Country is a subtle, sad, and humorous memoir that casts a fresh light on the Israeli-Palestinian tragedy, and a vivid picture of Palestinian society as well."—Amos Oz, author of A Tale of Love and Darkness"From the first elegant sentence, Sari Nusseibeh uses his poetic sensibility to illuminate the dislocation, oppression, fratricide, and extremism that have plagued his 'violated and broken land.' In his honest and unsparing account of a remarkable life, this courageous advocate for peace makes clear why this tragic conflict is so enduring, and a resolution so essential."—Richard North Patterson, author of Exile"This is a compelling narrative of a life lived at the cross-roads of history, which is also a moving personal story of an individual of rare integrity who creates a political vision that is both true and useful. It is difficult to find the 'middle ground' in the Middle East conflict, but Sari Nusseibeh opens up a space for reflection and dialogue that balances the cunning of history with the irony of one man's adventures and aspirations. As he confronts his own complex circumstances, Nusseibeh reveals a landscape of hope, generosity and justice that makes this a crucial text of our times."—Homi K. Bhabha, Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of English and American Literature and Language Director, Harvard University"Philosophy professor and political leader Nusseibeh, as the Oxford and Harvard-educated descendant of an ancient and influential Jerusalem family, draws on deep roots in his account of a dramatically displaced life. That's one reason why, despite his relative privilege, his autobiography dovetails persuasively with the larger story of Palestinian dispossession and struggle in the 20th century. Nusseibeh, as a former PLO representative, also has the vantage of a political insider. Equally instructive are his differences from his fellow Palestinians, many of whom he encountered as his students in the classrooms and cafes at Birzeit University in the West Bank, and later as president of Al-Quds University in Jerusalem. These interactions, among others, give shape to the story of this curious but reticent loner's immersion into national politics, which is overshadowed by the memory of his father (a fiercely independent former Jordanian minister and governor of Jerusalem). In relating the Palestinian perspective on the expulsions, expropriations and deprivations during and after the wars of 1948, 1967 and beyond, Nusseibeh convincingly interweaves personal experience and tectonic historical shifts, while charting his own political evolution and eventual and resolute insistence on a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict."—Publishers Weekly
Sari Nusseibeh, a philosopher, was the Palestine Liberation Organization’s chief representative in Jerusalem from 2001 to 2002, in which role he advocated a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. He is the president of and a professor at Al-Quds University, the Arab University of Jerusalem. Nusseibeh was educated at Oxford and Harvard, and was a Radcliffe Institute Fellow at Harvard for 2004–05. He is the author of two previous books.
WHEN I WAS A CHILD it seemed that everywhere I went I came across traces of my family’s history in Jerusalem. My father once told me that we Nusseibehs came from a long line of thieves. All family dynasties, he explained with an expression between earnestness and jest, can trace their histories back to some act of brigandage. I think he said this because of the pride Arabs often take in their ancient roots.