Sari Nusseibeh

Sari Nusseibeh

Sari Nusseibeh ( _ar. سري نسيبة) (born in 1949 in Damascus, Syria), is a Palestinian professor of philosophy and president of the Al-Quds University in Jerusalem (Al Quds is the Arabic name for Jerusalem). He was also, until December 2002, the representative of the Palestinian National Authority in Jerusalem. He was born in Damascus to the politician Anwar Nusseibeh who was a distinguished statesman, prominent in Palestinian and (after 1948) Palestinian-Jordanian politics and diplomacy, and Nuzha Al Ghussein, who descended from Palestine's wealthy landed aristocracy and is the daughter of Palestinian political leader Yaqub al-Ghusayn. Nusseibeh studied philosophy at Christ Church, Oxford and has a Ph.D. in Islamic Philosophy, from Harvard University (1978). [ [ Linda Benedikt, Interview with Sari Nusseibeh, Media Monitors Network, 9 January 2004, accessed 21 March 2008] ]

He returned to the West Bank in 1978 to teach at Birzeit University (where he remained as Professor of Philosophy until the University was closed for an extended period - 1988 to 1990 - during the First Intifada). At the same time, he taught classes in Islamic philosophy to Jewish students at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Through the early 1980s, he helped to organize the teachers' union at Birzeit, and served three terms as president of the union of faculty and staff there. Nusseibeh is also co-founder of the Federation of Employees in the Education Sector for the entire West Bank.

The Nusseibeh family are trustees, according to tradition, for the key to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Political activism

Sari Nusseibeh has long been viewed as a Palestinian moderate. In July 1987, Nusseibeh and Faisal Husseini met with Moshe Amirav, a member of Israel's Likud Party becoming the first prominent Palestinians to meet with a member of the Israeli right. Due to his meeting with Amirav, Nusseibeh was assaulted by several Palestinian students after giving a lecture at Birzeit University. [ Sari Nusseibeh Biography ] ] Amirav, for his part, was expelled from the Likud Party.

The First Intifada

Nusseibeh was also an important leader during the First Intifada, authoring the Palestinian Declaration of Principles [see Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 17, No. 3, Spring 1988, p.63-65 for the text of the Declaration of Principles, also known as the Fourteen Demands] and working to strengthen the Fatah movement in the Occupied Territories; Nusseibeh helped to author the "inside" Palestinians' declaration of independence issued in the first intifada, and to create the 200 political committees and 28 technical committees that were intended to as an embryonic infrastructure for a future Palestinian administration. Nusseibeh's aim was to strengthen Fatah in the Occupied Territories, by creating a link between the academic negotiating class and the activists in the streets and refugee camps. However, the way it was done (as a fait accompli, without external consultation) led to accusations that he was making a grab for power, and alienated many of the external PLO as well as the non-Fatah PLO internal factions. [ Hanan Ashrawi ] ]

In May 1989, he was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the trial of four Palestinian activists facing an Israeli military court. Israelis alleged he was a member of the Unified National Leadership of the Uprising (UNLU), the underground group that coordinated the intifada, and that he was instrumental in channeling funds from the PLO in exile to the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Nusseibeh denied it, and no charges were brought. The following month, Israelis cracked down on his Holy Land Press Service, that was providing news of the intifada to foreign correspondents and diplomats; closed down for two years, on the grounds that it was alleged to be funneling money to the intifada. Nusseibeh's English language weekly newsletter - Monday report - analyzing the events of the intifada for an English speaking audience - was banned at the same time.

First Gulf War

Following the firing of Scud missiles at Tel Aviv, Nusseibeh worked with Israeli Peace Now on a common approach to condemn the killing of civilians in the war. But was arrested and placed under administrative detention on 29 January 1991, effectively accused of being an Iraqi agent [ Proof that Saddam bankrolls terrorism: documents seized by Israel in raids against Palestinian Authority offices in the West Bank in recent months detail massive terror funding from the Iraqi dictator - World: Iraq | Insight on the News | Find Articles at ] ] . (Had discussed Scud attacks on Tel Aviv with the Iraqi Ambassador at Tunis, which the Israelis alleged made him a spotter for missile attacks). Arrest questioned by British and American officials, and U.S. administration urged that he should either be charged or else the suspicion would be that the arrest was political. Adopted as a Prisoner of Conscience by Amnesty International. [ [,1,7954389.story?coll=la-headlines-bookreview A Palestinian optimist - Los Angeles Times ] ] Palestinians saw the arrest as a political warning that Israel did not intend to negotiate with any Palestinian leader, no matter how moderate. e.g. Prof. Saeb Erekat of An-Najah University: "This is a message to us Palestinian moderates. The message is, 'You can forget about negotiations after the war because we are going to make sure there is no one to talk to' ". Released without charge shortly after the end of the war, after 90 days in Ramle Prison. [ [ The True Crime of Palestinian Professor Sari Nusseibeh ] ] Though at the time, the evidence was examined by Yossi Sarid, a parliamentarian from Israel's left wing Meretz party, who told reporters that had he been the judge, he would have jailed Nusseibeh far longer .

Peace initiatives

Nusseibeh was not politically active during much of the Oslo Peace Process but was appointed as the PLO Representative in Jerusalem in 2001. During this period Nusseibeh began to strongly suggest that Palestinians give up their Right of Return in exchange for a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip [] . A number of Palestinian organizations have strongly condemned his views on this issue [] .

Criticised the militarization of the intifada in January 2002, called for the renunciation of suicide bombings and the establishment of Palestine as a demilitarized state: "A Palestinian state should be demilitarized - not because that's what Israel demands, but in our own interest".

In 2002 Sari Nusseibeh and former Shin Bet director, Ami Ayalon published the The People's Voice, an Israeli-Palestinian civil initiative that aims to advance the process of achieving peace between Israel and the Palestinians, and a draft peace agreement that called for a Palestinian state based on Israel's 1967 borders and for a compromise on the Palestinian Right of Return. The People's Voice Initiative was officially launched on June 25 2003.

Nusseibeh is head and founder of the Palestinian Consultancy Group, co-founder and member of several Palestinian institutions including the Jerusalem Friends of the Sick Society, the Federation of Employees in the Education Sector in the West Bank, the Arab Council for Public Affairs, the Committee Confronting the Iron Fist, and the Jerusalem Arab Council. He is also on the advisory board of The International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life at Brandeis University [] .

Internationally, Nusseibeh is a member of the McGill Middle East Program's Executive and Management Committees. In November 2007, following the publication of Once Upon a Country: A Palestinian Life he travelled to Montreal, Canada to lecture on the MMEP and his vision of peace.

ee also

* Nusseibeh
* The People's Voice
* Israeli-Palestinian conflict timeline
* Projects working for peace among Israelis and Arabs
* John Wallach and Janet Wallach, "The New Palestinians: The Emerging Generation Of Leaders"(Prima publishing, 1992) ISBN 1-55958-215-4
* Sylvia Murphy, "Candy's Children" (Novel) partially set in a remembered Palestine. (S.A.Greenland Imprint, 2007) ISBN 978-0-9550512-1-0


Published writings


*"No Trumpets, No Drums: A Two-State Solution of the Israeli- Palestinian Conflict," New York: Hill & Wang, 1991
*"Once Upon a Country: A Palestinian Life," written with Anthony David; New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, London: Halban Publishers, 2007 ISBN 978-1905559053

Other works

*A Formula for Narrative Selection: A Commentary on Writing the Arab- Israeli Conflict, Perspectives on Politics, Vol 3/No1 (March,2005)
*The Limit Of Reason (or Why Dignity is not Negotiable), APA Newsleters, (Vo.04, Number1), 2004.
*Singularidad y pluralidad en la identidad: el caso del prisionero palestino, La Pluralidad y sus atributos (Fundacion Duques de Soria) 2002.
*Personal and National Identity: A Tale of Two Wills. Philosophical Perspectives on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, ed. Tomas Kapitan, (Armonk, N.Y., and London: Sharpe, N.E.) 1997.
*Epistemology, The Routledge History of Islamic Philosophy, ed. Oliver Leaman.( London: Routledge, Kegan and Paul), 1995.
*Al-Hurriyyah Bayn Alhadd Wa’l Mutlaq (Absolute and Restricted Freedom). London: Al-Saqi, 1995.
*Al-Hizb al-Siyasi Wa’l dimoqratiyyah (Political Parties and Democracy). In Azmat al-hizb al-Siyasi al-Falastini.( Ramallah: Muwatin) 1996
*Can Wars be Just? in But Was It Just? Reflections on the Morality of the Gulf War, with Jean Elshtaine, et al. (New York: Doubleday) 1992.
*Review of F. Zimmermann’s Al-Farabi’s Commentary and Short Treatise on Aristotle’s De Interpretatione, History and Philosophy of Logic, 13 (1992), 115-132.
*Al-Aql Al Qudsi: Avicenna’s Subjective Theory of Knowledge. Studia Islamica (1989), 39-54.
*Selections (including translations) from the Holy Qur’an. In Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, 15th ed., 1984.
*Review of Islamic Life and Thought, by S. A. Nasr.( TLS) March 1982:267.
*Masharif al-Mantiq (Introductory Symbolic Logic). (Jerusalem: Arab Studies Society) 1982.
*On Subatomic Particles and Scientific Posits, with Basheer El-Issa. (Birzeit Journal of Chemistry) 1981.
*Avicenna : Medicine and Scepticism. Koroth Vol.8, No 1- 2 (1981): 9-20.
*Quelques figures et themes de la Philosophie Islamique. Review in Asian and African Studies 14 (1980), 207-209.
*Herbert Marcuse wa’l metamarxiyyah.” Al-Jadid, July 1

External links

* [ Sari Nusseibeh's web page]
* [ NPR interview] on Oct 18, 2001.
* [ One on One with Sari Nusseibeh: Once upon a conflict] - interview with The Jerusalem Post 26 April, 2007
* [ Haaretz interview, Aug. 15, 2008]

* [ Biography]
* [ The Connection on WBUR]

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