The Hour of Sunlight



We are overjoyed to announce that The Hour of Sunlight: One Palestinian's Journey from Prisoner to Peacemaker has been chosen as the winner of the Middle East Monitor’s inaugural Palestine Book Award, for the best English-language book about Palestine!

The Hour of Sunlight was in excellent company among the other finalists, including books by Izzeldein Abuelaish, Sara Roy, Ben White and Mourid Barghouti. It was such a tremendous honor and privilege for The Hour of Sunlight to have been chosen for the award, and such an important affirmation of how vital Sami's story is, and the capacity it has to reach people far and wide. Congratulations, Sami Al Jundi!

Synopsis of The Hour of Sunlight:

As a teenager, Sami Al Jundi had one ambition: overthrowing Israeli occupation. With two friends he formed a militant cell and began building a bomb to use against the Israeli police. But their plans were derailed when the bomb exploded prematurely, killing one of his friends. Sami was sentenced to ten years in prison.

The Hour of Sunlight (Nation Books) describes Sami’s extraordinary metamorphosis from a militant to a passionate advocate of nonviolence and peaceful reconciliation. Born to a family of Palestinian refugees in the Old City of Jerusalem, Sami was only five years old when Israeli soldiers took over his home after the 1967 war. His family began life again as refugees in another part of the Old City. In moving detail Sami describes how these and other realities (and indignities) of his early years caused his radicalization.

Following his arrest, Sami was bound and tortured for weeks by the Israeli General Security Service before beginning his ten-year prison sentence. Ironically, it was in an Israeli jail that his personal transformation began: Sami was welcomed into a highly organized, democratic community of political prisoners who required that members of their cell read, engage in political discourse on topics ranging from global revolutions to Russian literature.

In the prison library, Sami found a book on Mahatma Gandhi. He was struck by one story in particular—a Hindu man who had murdered a Muslim baby came to Gandhi seeking repentance. Gandhi told him that there was one way that he could find peace again; he must raise a Muslim orphan for twenty years. It took two decades to build a life, Sami reflected, but only seconds to destroy one.

Sami left prison still determined to fight for his people’s rights—but with a very different notion of how to undertake that struggle. He discovered the Palestinian Center for the Study of Nonviolence, and later became supervisor of an Israeli-Palestinian coexistence center in Jerusalem. He kept his faith in reconciliation alive through the most difficult times, remaining determined to inspire a new generation to follow the path of peace and nonviolence.

The Hour of Sunlight offers a perspective that is sorely missing from the mainstream media’s portrayal of Palestinians. Marked by honesty, humor, pain, and, ultimately, compassion for all Palestinians and Israelis, The Hour of Sunlight charts an inspiring journey of perseverance and personal transformation. In so doing it illuminates the Palestinian experience through the story of one man's impassioned struggle for peace with justice.

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