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Born in Jerusalem, Born Palestinian: A Memoir

By Jacob J. Nammar

Olive Branch Press, an imprint of Interlink Publishing, 2012, 224 pages, paperback

PAvailable from the publisher at www.interlinkbooks.com, www.amazon.com, and in Jerusalem from ducational Bookshop.


When Jacob Nammar was a young boy growing up in Harret al-Nammareh, his family, his friends, and the streets of his West Jerusalem neighborhood were the center of his life. But it wasn’t long before his existence was turned upside down when his family was forced out of their home during the Nakba, the catastrophe that resulted in the ethnic cleansing of nearly 750,000 natives and the destruction of over 500 Palestinian villages and towns.

In this heartwarming memoir, Jacob paints a vivid portrait of Palestinian life –from his childhood days in pre-1948 Jerusalem, the struggles of the Palestinian community under Israeli rule, to his ultimate decision to leave for America at the age of 23. Readers will laugh, cry, and be inspired by this charming coming-of-age story set amid the backdrop of one of the most tragic historical events that engulfed the region.

The following are excerpts from the great reviews the book has received:
“Very compelling and personal … fragrant details, great zoom-lens scenes of Palestinian family life … pull us right into the landscape and the domain … I support this book and salute its honesty and stirring intentions. We need it in our world. We need every single politician to have a copy in his/her back pocket. As the daughter of a Palestinian also from Jerusalem, I can say that this book rings deeply true to me and assuages my sorrow somewhat over all the injustice which has pervaded the Holy City for far too long … Nammar makes a strong stride in all the right directions.” Celebrated Palestinian American writer and poet Naomi Shihab Nye

“There is so much in this autobiography to savor. The history we know so well is told to us through a Palestinian life that survived it. It shines with the richness of Palestinian culture, expansive generosity and the hills we cherish in our hearts and memories. It is filled with a sad patience and a dream tarnished with decades of impunity. This is a Palestinian narrative that should be read far and wide.” Susan Abulhawa, author of Mornings in Jenin

“Told with exquisite detail and beauty … this readable memoir will help many people around the world understand the reality of Palestine and its dispossessed people.” Mazin B. Qumsiyeh, author of Sharing the Land of Canaan

“This is a compelling and compassionate memoir of a Jerusalem life during wartime and after… stands out as one of very few works that addresses the life for those Palestinians who stayed behind in the Israeli occupied part of (West) Jerusalem … On this level the book is original and has significant ethnographic value for the historical researcher, as well as for students of the Arab Israeli conflict.” Salim Tamari, editor of The Jerusalem Quarterly

“His memoir of his experiences in Israel until he emigrated to the U.S. is heartfelt and engrossing, and it provides an immensely valuable perspective from among the rarely heard voices of Israeli Arabs… his story provides valuable insights into the hopes, difficulties, and sorrows of Israeli Arabs.” The American Library Association’s Booklist

Jacob J. Nammar was born on May 16, 1941, in Jerusalem, Palestine. In 1964, he moved to the United States to pursue higher education. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in international relations and business from North Dakota State University and the University of Wisconsin Graduate School in Madison, Wisconsin.

From 1970 to 1974,  Jacob was the executive director of the YMCA in St. Paul, Minnesota. For the next 36 years – until his retirement in 2006 – Jacob held senior management and board positions in US-based multinational engineering and manufacturing companies in Texas, South Carolina, and Minnesota. Born in Jerusalem was published six years later by Olive Branch Press (Interlink Publishing Group, Inc.).

Jacob Nammar is multilingual and has extensive international business and global travel experience. He is married and the father of three grown children. He is also an avid recreational golfer. Jacob currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and is a popular peace activist and speaker at universities, peace organizations, churches, and book clubs.

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