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A lyrical memoir
on 22 April 2008
Sari Nusseibeh is one of the most prominent Palestinians alive today, an eminent academic, a man of reason and compassion, and the scion of an old and illustrious Jerusalem family. His life story is a microcosm of the events that have unfolded in the Middle East during the 20th and 21st centuries, which have blighted the existence of so many and had such a profound effect on the world as a whole.
Once Upon A Country starts and ends with a fairy tale of extraordinary power and pathos, and sets a lyrical tone that is maintained throughout, even when the events being described are of the grimmest kind. Nusseibeh has had a turbulent life - not of his own choosing - but he has emerged from it with his human values in tact. His love of his family, his strong sense of tradition and loyalty to others, his pragmatism and distaste for extremism, his devotion to his people and the cause of Palestinian nationalism are evident, as is his acceptance of the existence of the State of Israel and the need for a comprehensive peace between all the elements in the region.
Sari Nusseibeh mentions another lyrical memoir of Palestinian life, albeit from a Jewish perspective, Amos Oz' A Tale of Love and Darkness. I defy anyone who has read the latter not to see in Once Upon A Country its Palestinian equivalent. Both are essential reading for anyone who wishes to gain a balanced perspective of the history of the Israel-Palestine problem, and especially for those who want to achieve a balanced insight into the impact that the State of Israel has had on the Palestinian people.