“A vital yet unfamiliar perspective on the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a heartfelt, judicious invitation to dialogue” (Publishers Weekly).
Palestinians feature regularly in news headlines, but their country is much less known. In this humane and deeply compelling book, Karl Sabbagh traces Palestine and Palestinians from their roots in the mélange of tribes, ethnic groups, and religions that have populated the region for centuries, and describes how, as a result of the interplay of global power politics, the majority of Palestinians were expelled from their home to make way for the new Jewish state of Israel.
Palestine: History of a Lost Nation offers a sympathetic portrait of the country’s rich heritage, as well as evidence of the long-standing harmony between Arabs (Muslim and Christian) and the small indigenous Jewish population in Palestine. Karl Sabbagh has written both a transporting narrative and a meditation on a region that remains a flashpoint of conflict—a story of how past choices and actions reverberate in the present day.
“A powerful and graceful polemic.” —Kirkus Reviews
“A welcome addition to a new mini-genre of works on Israel and Palestine that focus on people rather than politicians . . . Sabbagh writes with an easy, engaging style . . . [a] poignant, often moving work.” —Guardian
“Sabbagh has furnished the reader with what is needed for a rational settlement of this mutually destructive dispute.” —Jonathan Miller
“A uniquely intimate portrait of a vibrant land that has always known conflict but, for its people (including both Jews and Muslims), has nevertheless provided continuity, pride, and especially identity.” —Booklist
Sabbagh, a writer and television producer of English and Palestinian descent, combines his family history and the political history of Palestine, tracing what he forcefully argues is the much misunderstood story of the resistance and dispossession of 700,000 Arab Palestinians in the face of a European-centered Zionist movement. Sabbagh has a colorful family past to draw on, as the son of Isa Sabbagh, a well-known voice on the BBC's Arab Service in the 1940s and a direct descendant of Ibrahim Sabbagh, unsavory chief minister to Daher al-Omar, a local 18th-century ruler labeled "First King of Palestine." But the personal narrative serves a larger purpose: to underscore the continuity of a predominantly Arab Palestinian presence and culture going back centuries (in contrast to Zionism's biblical claims to the same land). While the narrative also uncovers a century of ill treatment and injustice meted out to Palestinians, Sabbagh emphasizes the long-standing harmony between Arabs (Muslim and Christian) and the small indigenous Jewish population in Palestine, including many acts of solidarity amid growing tensions. Carefully researched and engaging, his memoir offers a vital yet unfamiliar perspective on the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a heartfelt, judicious invitation to dialogue.