President of Al Quds University Speaks about Memoir

October 15, 2007

Image1Sari Nusseibeh, president of Al Quds University in Jerusalem, called for tolerance and understanding between Palestinians and Israeli Jews and discussed his recent memoir with Center Director Daniel Terris in an appearance at Brandeis on October 11.

A member of the Ethics Center's Advisory Board and the Center's first distinguished visitor, Nusseibeh wrote Once Upon a Country: A Palestinian Life, which chronicles the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from his perspective, including his 1991 imprisonment in an Israeli prison.

He was introduced by Brandeis President Jehuda Reinharz, who noted that Nusseibeh was the only person in the Arab world who spoke against a proposed academic boycott of Israel. Of the memoir, Reinharz said: "It really is a great book and well worth reading, even if you disagree with some things in it."

In the discussion, Nusseibeh said that too often people become "prisoners of Jewish or Palestinian identity," to the detriment of forming relationships with one another.

"People are so rigid and fixed on how they see themselves that they feel compelled to act in a certain way or see others in a certain way," he said.

Nusseibeh cited "a lot of radicalization in Palestinian society," born out of desperate conditions and a lack of hope for the future. Improving the conditions would temper the radicalization, he said.

He also spoke about the influence of his father, who tried to establish a university in the 1950s but could not. His example and values led Nusseibeh to his leadership role in higher education. Indeed, he said, education is the best hope to help all people develop to their full potential.

For information on a partnership Brandeis University has formed with Al-Quds University, click here.