Palestinian Writer Nominates Sami Michael for Nobel Prize

"It is with great pleasure that I recommend author Sami Michael to be nominated to become a Nobel Prize laureate in Literature for 2005" - this recommendation comes from a Palestinian writer, who penned the words at the height of the armed conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

A prominent writer and critic, Professor Ahmed Harb of Ramallah sent his recommendation of Israeli novelist Michael to the Nobel Prize committee in Sweden after being asked to suggest nominees for the prize.

Speaking with Haaretz, Harb said that he was deeply impressed by Michael's writing, which, in his opinion, influences not only Israelis, but also many Palestinians and Arabs, who through his books are able to grasp the fate shared by the residents of this region.

"Through his 11 novels, which were carved by a master, Sami Michael has won an Israeli, Palestinian and international audience, and, as a Palestinian writer, I am honored to warmly recommend Sami Michael as a Nobel Prize nominee," Harb wrote.

Harb, a native of the West Bank town of Dahariya, has written novellas on the lives of Palestinians, and has won great acclaim as one of the most important critics of Palestinian literature. He studied in the U.S. and teaches English literature and comparative literature at Bir Zeit University.

"To me, literature and art stand above any conflict, as difficult and complex as it may be," Harb said in explaining his choice for a nominee, "and it might be appropriate to view my letter as a missive of peace for both parties."

In response to Harb's recommendation, Michael said he was so moved by the important gesture that "I feel like kissing him. He is taking such a huge risk by writing this recommendation. Gracious human beings like Harb are the most important indication that we can have allies in the other camp," he said.