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What Is a Palestinian State Worth? Hardcover – February 3, 2011

3.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Following up his personal story, Once upon a Country: A Palestinian Life (2007), Nusseibeh, president of al-Quds University in Jerusalem, speaks about the current political issues in Israel with the authority of citizen, academic, and activist, “both victim and protagonist.” His call is elemental, “for Israelis and Palestinians to see each other as human beings.” But beyond slogans of equality and freedom, he examines possible solutions on the ground. How to transcend the present stalemate? Neither force nor reason has worked. The two-state solution, he argues, is a “fantasy bubble,” an unworkable alternative to Palestinians and Israelis living in equality in one state. He witnesses first-hand settler rampages against Palestinians in the Occupied West Bank, but then there are the Palestinian suicide bombings, the bloody clashes between Hamas and Fatah. Citing Gandhi, he says that precisely because the Palestinians are the weaker military force, they have the greater power to transform, not to defeat. Nusseibeh’s informal style, urgent and passionate, and especially his call to sit down with the enemy, will engage all sides in intense debate. --Hazel Rochman


Palestinians live in Israel (or under Israeli occupation) without freedom, legal rights, resources, under the constant threat of state violence; Israelis, living under the constant threat of terrorist violence, are also trapped. Nusseibeh recommends reframing the conflict and advocates that negotiators look beyond the conference room to focus on the reality in the homes and streets of Palestinians and Israelis, and envision a collective peace, progress, and safety. Nusseibeh makes a number of tentative stabs at envisioning possible solutions, and his philosophical and balanced book is unfailingly sensitive and empathetic to both sides. (Publishers Weekly 2010-11-22)

Nusseibeh's informal style, urgent and passionate, and especially his call to sit down with the enemy, will engage all sides in intense debate.
--Hazel Rochman (Booklist 2011-01-01)

Sari Nusseibeh repeatedly expresses his belief that change is possible if people have the self-confidence and faith in themselves to act. He sees his task as an educator to be one of inculcating such faith. And he also describes, in several chapters of his often moving book, a moral basis for political action that can speak to all of us. Like Gandhi, and like Abdallah Abu Rahmah and Ali Abu Awwad...Nusseibeh seeks not to coerce his opponents--in this case the Israeli people along with their political and military institutions--into changing their self-destructive course but to change their will, or their feelings. He wants them to step back from prejudice and an obsession with brute force and to open their eyes. He wants them to find in themselves the generosity of spirit needed in order to take a chance on peace, whether in the form of two states or a single binational entity or, perhaps, some kind of confederation.
--David Shulman (New York Review of Books 2011-02-24)

Sari Nusseibeh is not a Palestinian Gandhi--he is a secular intellectual, not a saint, and while he has occupied prominent roles in Palestinian life (formerly as a leader of the first intifada and a Palestinian Authority diplomat, currently as president of al-Quds University), he has never commanded a mass following. But in his short new book he comes closer to advocating a Gandhian strategy than any other Palestinian leader I know of.
--Adam Kirsch (Tablet Magazine 2011-02-08)

The ideas might sound strange in their departure from conventional wisdom about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the positions of leaders and pundits on both sides, but it's good policy to pay attention. In the past, Sari Nusseibeh has taken positions that his fellow Palestinians condemned--and then, a couple of uprisings and aborted peace conferences later, embraced.
--Haim Watzman (Chronicle of Higher Education 2011-01-30)

An oddly detached sense of hope runs through What is a Palestinian State Worth?; there is nothing like it in the literature of this conflict. Every year thousands of articles and blog posts are produced about how to end the conflict. They all feel stale. This book does not.
--Greg Waldmann (Open Letters Monthly 2011-03-01)

In a display of rationality uncommon to discussions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Nusseibeh takes an impartial vantage point, trying to sort out a mess largely generated by overblown and hyperactive political identities...Few Israelis will read Nusseibeh's book; fewer still will seriously ponder his proposal. But Nusseibeh is an experienced and bold politician and a shrewd intellectual. His views, accordingly, demand serious consideration.
--Avner Inbar and Assaf Sharon (Boston Review 2011-07-01)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; Apparent First Edition edition (February 3, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674048733
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674048737
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 4.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,078,121 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I highly recommend this short, wise book about the Palestinian problems! For someone like me, who is not familiar with the complexities there, it's a great introduction. And, it's balanced and wise, not the usual extreme political arguments.
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Format: Hardcover
"What is a Palestinian state Worth?" by Sari Nusseibeh. Adam Kirsch, an editor with the Israel-based "Tablet Magazine", reviewed Nusseibeh's book in its 8 Feb 2011 issue. Kirsch commented: "In a new book, Al-Quds University President Sari Nusseibeh assesses what Palestinians stand to gain from the creation of their own state--and what they stand to lose. But it is not wholly clear, from Nusseibeh's language here and elsewhere in the book, whether that means accepting Israel as a Jewish state. For an Israeli to be a "patriotic Palestinian" seems to look forward, instead, to a binational state, in which Jews and Arabs would embrace a common political identity. "The vision of the peaceful and prosperous future may take any of several forms," Nusseibeh writes: "one state, two states, confederation involving one country, or two, or three, and so on."....This ambiguity is not strategic or accidental; it lies at the heart of Nusseibeh's philosophical argument. Essentially, What Is a Palestinian State Worth? is a brief for liberalism--which makes it, in the generally illiberal political culture of Palestine, a radical document. ... "Among Palestinians," he writes in the book's most daring passage, "there may well be a more fundamental underlying cultural or religious disposition to believe in the reality of death so strongly as to view life as being on a par with death, or even of far less value." So long as this is true, there is no chance for peace between Palestinians and Jews, much less for the building of the kind of Palestinian society Nusseibeh hopes for. ... The most controversial proposal in What Is a Palestinian State Worth? has to be understood, I think, as Nusseibeh's attempt to change the terms of the Palestinian-Israeli discussion.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
The Palestine problem is a cauldron of contradictions, opines Dr. NUSSEIBEH, best approached by rejecting all Leviathans or meta-biological beings - the ideologies that drive our actions as they enslave us. For saying this out loud, and in a clear and articulate manner, the author should be roundly commended. Just to follow his argument is an intellectual pleasure - and a heartening message.

Indeed, we create such Leviathans - from religions to identities, only to fall under their spell and become their prisoners. Life in no longer "livable", we say, unless we pay homage to them. In order to please them, here we go about killing, maiming, and generally acting despicably. Nowhere is this more evident, at the moment, than in Palestine, where one group, claiming it needs a homeland in its tribulations, it has inflicted the very same fate on another.

In Chapter 4, the best of the book, the author calls for an end to this this, and for a new beginning based on universal principles. All human beings, in his view, could agree on equality and freedom - to prove his point he uses RAWLS' "veil of ignorance".

On the future of Palestine Dr. NUSSEIBEH seems to argue in favour of a "separate but equal" solution for a disenfranchised Arab population within one state extending from the Mediterranean Sea to the border with Jordan. He further argues against a generalized "right of return" for Palestinian refugees. At first glance, one might concur - until one remembers that this implies downloading the refugee problem on those countries who generously received them as they fled. Justice would further require that the Jewish population not be granted an asymmetry here.
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Format: Hardcover
Book of fiction. There is no palestine. There are no so-called palestinians. These are European inventions.

Palestine was nothing but the English European name for Israel. There has never in history been a country called palestine until the British invented it to name the British Mandate after World War I, in the aftermath of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. During 400 years of the Ottoman Empire, there was no palestine. Palestine is an English name. Arabs viewed the land merely as southern Syria, al-Sham in Arabic. Jews called the land Eretz Israel, Land of Israel. In fact, since there is no letter p in Arabic, Arabs cannot even write "palestine in their own language"!

The British also invented the fake name "palestinian" to call ALL inhabitants of the British Mandate, including Jews. In fact, Arabs vehemently rejected the name palestine and palestinian for being Western inventions. Today, everyone is a palestinian in palestine!

The British Mandate dissolved in 1948 and, so, too, did the British-invend palestine cease to exist along with palestinians. The British Mandate eventuated into the state of Israel and its inhabitants became Israelis.

It was the Romans who in the 2nd century first imposed the Latin name "palaestina" on Israel as punishment for the second Jewish revolt against Roman occupation, in an attempt to erase the Jewish identity of the land and 1000 years of Jewish nationhood. The Romans based "palaestina" on the Philistines who were ancient enemies of the Jews, as added insult to the Jews.

Later in the 19th century, European Christians Anglicized the Latin "palaestina" into the English name "palestine"

Do a search on amazon.com for books of history of "palestine" written by reputable historians.
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