Sari Nusseibeh, Center board member and president of Al-Quds University in Jerusalem, speaks at Harvard University

Sari Nusseibeh, Center board member and, president of Al-Quds University in Jerusalem, spoke at the conference "Cultural Citizenship: Varieties of Belonging," held at The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University on Feb. 20, 2004.

In a session entitled "Citizenship and Belonging in the Middle East," Nusseibeh engaged in conversation with long-time friend and colleague Avishai Margalit, professor of philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Forty years ago, when they were young students at Oxford, Nusseibeh and Margalit met daily at 11 a.m. for discussion. This conversation between the two, now-mature, scholars was held near to 11 a.m., recognizing their long friendship.

Nusseibeh spoke of the many tiers of belonging in Israel, where the Palestinian goal is not to deprive the Israelis of their state but establish their own. He feels that the majority of both Jewish Israelis and Palestinians want peace. However, he feels that they don't believe those on the other side also want peace. To dispel this myth, there has been a popular movement to collect signatures on a compromise plan. Hundreds of thousands of signatures have been gathered over the past six months to endorse a specific peace plan. The goal is to collect a million signatures within a year. Both Margalit and Nusseibeh spoke of the complexities of identity and citizenship in the Middle East, where "belonging" has enormous implications.