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on October 14, 2003
This is a splendid, stunning, investigative work of dramatic proportions by the Professor and Head of Mediterranean Studies at Kings College, University of London.
The reader cannot fail but be impressed by the depth of knowledge and experience upon which this book is founded. An incisive, thought-provoking, penetrating exposé of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat that surgically excises any propaganda to reveal a discerning revelation of the "man and his mission". An immensely readable & well argued book commendably drawing upon Arabic, Hebrew and English language sources and which holds the reader's attention on every page. A book which will undoubtedly draw much reaction from all sides of the political spectrum.
This book is "strong medicine" and the reader will be immediately aware that the book does not pull any punches with Arafat being described on the cover as a "bloodthirsty terrorist with no respect for human lives, impervious to his own peoples needs & aspirations" whilst being absolutely committed to "Israel's destruction".
It is virtually impossible to refer to all the issues covered in a review alone. However, the book opens with a description of the establishment of the PLO in 1964 when the areas of the "West Bank" and Gaza were already under Arab rule, leaving the reader to assess what "Palestine" actually needed "liberating". At the outset the book cites on page 10 that Yasser Arafat himself does not even conform to what his "own" definition of a "Palestinian" is. This is discussed at some length but essentially reveals that Yasser Arafat (born Muhammad Abdel Rahman Abdel Rauf Arafat al-Qudwa al-Husseini, in Cairo, Egypt on August 24 1929) had never resided in "Palestine" prior to 1947 as required in the Palestinian National Covenant "definition", or indeed at any subsequent time until his arrival in the Gaza Strip in 1994. Many may find this a most interesting analysis on it's own merits.
Another important issue in this study is Arafat's alleged rejection of Palestinian "statehood" in 2,000. Arafat is accused here of being far more interested in the PLO's historic goal of "Israel's destruction" than in establishing any Palestinian state or the interests of his own people.
Further to this the book provides details of what it portrays as Arafat's effort, since the Oslo Peace Accords, to build an extensive terrorist infrastructure, together with the "failure" to disarm Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Something recounted as being simultaneous with the pursuit of a systematic effort to indoctrinate the Palestinian population (through the official Palestinian Authority media/education syllabus) with a hatred of Israel & it's people through rumour and religious zealotry. The book further details how this policy has produced what it cites as a level of violence unmatched in scope and intensity since the re-birth of the Jewish state in 1948. The book's study on these particular issues contains creditable detail, is enormously interesting and is worthy of a study all of it's own.
Crucially, this work relates that Arafat's alleged "disingenuous" approach to the "peace process" and it's culmination in terrorism and violence, is just as much a betrayal of his "own" people who he purports to defend, as it is a betrayal of his Israeli peace partner.
Whatever your views on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, this is a book without which any individual's library on the Middle East would be incomplete. Highly recommended. Thank you for your time.
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VINE VOICEon November 20, 2003
In Arafat's War, Karsh offers a convincing case that Yasser Arafat does not now and never did intend to make peace with Israel. Drawing on diverse sources, many in Arabic, he explains how Arafat never abandoned violence or his dream of destroying the Jewish state. Indeed, Arafat's efforts in creating the cult of the suicide bombers and continually seeking to delegitimize Israel for his people, as well as his willingness to use violence and terror as negotiation tools have severely weakened the Palestinians credibility.
Karsh also deserves credit for sympathizing with the Palestinian people, who Arafat betrays with his self serving leadership. The author's coverage of Arafat's rejection of a state in 2000, when Israel offered him all of Gaza, 95% of the West Bank, and a shared Jerusalem is particularly thorough. What emerges here is a portrait of a man primarily interested in the advancement of his own political faction and cronies over those of his people. Karsh does an excellent job putting this in perspective as fairly standard behavior throughout the Middle East.
Unfortunately, while this book is recent, it was in the presses when recent revelations of Arafat's vast personal holdings, estimated at over $1 billion came to light. So, while Karsh can present evidence of Arafat's personal enrichment through graft and embezzlement, he missed the opportunity to give the full story. Nonetheless, Arafat's War remains a must read for any wishing to understand the conflict.
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on October 4, 2013
Yasser Arafat was without a doubt one of the most evil figures of the post-World War II world. He likely had more Jewish blood on his hands than anyone since Hitler (though the Ayatollhist regime in Iran, and their supporters in Hamas, Hezbollah, the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Campaign against Israel and the various Palestine solidarity groups certainly aim to finish Hitler's work today).
The author in this very exciting and very eye-opening book explains in detail what the real goals of Arafat and his Palestine Liberation Organization were, and particularly explains in detail the reasons for the failure of the Oslo Peace process of the 1990s. Karsch here proves that Arafat was not interested in peace and building up a Palestinian state alongside Israel, but his aim, as is the aim of Hamas, Fatah, Islamic Jihad, BDS etc is the total violent eradication of the State of Israel and its replacement in its entirety with an Arab Muslim-dominated state called 'Palestine'. A very good documentary on the failure of the Oslo process and the Palestinian terror war against Israel's civilian populace that followed is Relentless: The Struggle for Peace in the Middle East

Detailed here are Arafat's construction of a massive terrorist infrastructure in the West Bank and Gaza, his very deliberate failure to disarm the genocidal terror groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad and the systematic program of hate and genocidal determination indoctrinated into Palestinian children and youth for the Israeli people, inculcated by the Palestinian Authority through its education system ,youth groups and Islamic religious network.

As the author explains 'To the nineteenth century military strategist Carl von Clausewitz war was the continuation of politics by other means, to Yasser Arafat peace has bveen the continuation of war by other means' From the beginning of his career in the early 1950s until his death in 2004, Violence was central to Arafat's very being and world view. 'The more he resorted to violence, the more enamored with it he became', until violence was an inextricable part of his identity. Like the Roman Emperor Nero who revelled in the sight of his imperial burning capital, Arafat feels most comfortable in wreaking and havoc and death on a large scale'

Hence the author traces how Arafat and the PLO nearly brought about the destruction of Jordan in 1970, his role in the civil war in Lebanon which Arafat helped spark in which the PLO massacred thousands of Lebanese Christians and Druze, and the PLO. support for Saddam Hussein's monstrous and deadly occupation of Kuwait in 1991.

From its launch in September 2000, the Palestinian terror campaign launched by Arafat and jointly carried out by various terrorist groups including the PLO/Fatah/Tazim/al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the PFLP , DFLP and Popular Resistance Committees-homicide bombings, mortar shelling, drive by shootings, lynching, rock throwing, stabbing , around a thousand Israelis were murdered, and tens of thousands injured and often maimed. This led to the construction by Israel of a security fence between pre-1967 Israel and the West Bank, to protect it's population, which has resulted in a hysterical campaign by Muslims and the international left to get the wall (dubbed the Apartheid Wall by the 'burn Israel' crowd, removed, presumably so more Jewish men, women and children could be murdered.

The author points out that Arafat himself was born in Egypt in 1929, and therefore does not even conform to the PLO's own definition of what a Palestinian is. A lot of the PLO, Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist leaders were born out of 'Palestine'.

While pledging peace with Israel when he signed the 1993 Oslo accord, Arafat addressing South African Muslim leaders in Johannesburg in May 1994, Arafat claimed that the Oslo agreements fell into the same category as the Treaty of Hudaibiya that was signed by Islam's founder Mohammed in 628 only to be reneged on a couple of years later when the situation tilted in Mohammed's favour.
In a plush Stockhlom hotel in January 1996 Arafat told Arab diplomats 'I have no use for Jews, They are and remain Jews. We now need all the hlp we can get from you in a united Palestine under Arab rule' continuing that 'We plan to eliminate the State of Israel and establish a purely Palestinian state'

In June 2001 when a Palestinian homicide bomber blew himself up outside a Tel Aviv nightclub killing 21 Israeli teens (mainly girls) and wounding 120 others) Arafat praised the killer : 'The heroic martyrdom of the man who turned his body into a bomb, is the model of manhood and the sacrifice for Allah and his homeland' while senior Palestinian Authority cabinet minister, Ziad abu Ziad described the new Palestinian strategy ' Make them fear going to the malls or coffee shops, taking buses or trying to live normal lives'. The Palestinian terror war was never a n ordinary military encounter between two armed forces, but rather a terror assault on an unprotected civilian population

when the mass murderer and terror chief Arafat died in 2004 'progressives', the main stream world media and governments around the world. Across the Muslim world and in countries ruled by revolutionary regimes, like South Africa, streets and buildings are named after him.
His legacy of terror, murder and the drive for genocide are being furthered by Hamas, Hezbollah, the 'Palestine solidarity networks' , the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaign of economic genocide against Israel, most the Muslim world community and the international left.
Peace will only come to levant when the arabs and all their backers realize Israel is here to stay and exists on right and not sufferance, and that a two state solution to the conflict cannot be merely a step to the eradication of Israel and its replacement by a unitary Palestine but that Israel is here to stay and will not be replaced by another Arab Muslim state.
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on December 30, 2007
It was supremely difficult to get through the book, because the outrage you feel continually overtakes you. Comparisons to Hitler fall well short, unless you imagine not one, but twenty Neville Chamberlains at work believing the lies boldly professed to the West.

The basic problem I have with such comprehensive scholarship is that Professor Karsh does not seem to have a single cogent, rational detractor among scholarly historians -- necessarily eliminating revisionist pop historians from the mix. Without a single counterpoint, without any contrary evidence, one is left to wonder why the morass was tolerated in the first place. Moreover, why it continues to be studiously ignored provides me with no rest whatsoever. To inculcate entire generations to hate a race and culture is Arafat's ultimate victory, ensuring his evil lives on, and why this isn't pointedly admitted and addressed in the West embarrasses me.

In finishing the book, I came away with a different picture of the so-called peace talks, and in light of such evidence and documentation to support Professor Karsh's thesis, I am stuck. Why, if it's all true, do the same willful denials of reality persist?

-C
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on March 3, 2008
Arafat's War: The Man and His Battle for Israeli Conquest
By Efraim Karsh
3.5 out of 5 stars

Although this book seems to be marketed as a biography, do not be mistaken. This book fails to delve deeply enough into Yasser Arafat's upbringing or psyche to be considered as such. Instead, Efraim Karsh's work should be principally read to understand the hostile and implacable mentality of Arafat his Fatah / Palestinian Authority colleagues towards Israel, particularly during the Oslo years and the subsequent breakout of the Second Intifadah, which Karsh more accurately dubs "Arafat's war of terror" (9).

Where this book excels is in the clarity of its argument. Karsh cogently concludes that Arafat never intended to implement a peaceful settlement with Israel in the form of the Two-State Solution but rather desired to eliminate the State of Israel, whether by violence or by the coerced implementation of the Right of Return. Despite being party to the Oslo Accords, Arafat was never willing to make the transition from revolutionary to statesman. He always maintained the use of violence as a political tool, thus violating the spirit of Oslo.

In the words of Karsh, "From the moment of his arrival in Gaza, Arafat set out to build up an extensive terrorist infrastructure in flagrant violation of the Oslo accords and in total disregard of the overriding reason he had been brought from Tunisia [his base of operations in exile], namely, to lay the groundwork for Palestinian statehood" (p. 6). Among Arafat's violations of Oslo:
- Permitting and participating in incitement against Israel
- Failure to disarm Palestinian terrorist groups, principally Hamas and Islamic Jihad
- Reconstruction of the PLO's old terrorist apparatus in the West Bank and Gaza
- Creation of a larger Palestinian police force than permitted by the agreement, turning it into a virtual army
- Acquisition and smuggling of prohibited weapons into the territories using international money earmarked for the economic benefit of the Palestinian people
- Tacit support of terrorism against Israeli civilians when not supporting it outright
- Application of mass violence to achieve political goals, primarily the establishment of a Palestinian state within the territories and ultimately over all of Israel

While Karsh's account of Arafat is forthright and illuminating, it does suffer from some conspicuous flaws. One of the principal flaws of the book is the vitriolic tone Karsh consistently employs with regards to Arafat. For example, Karsh labels Arafat a homosexual and a "congenital liar" (p. 15) and physically characterizes him as "short (5 feet 4 inches tall), chubby, soft, with bulging eyes and [a] protruding lower lip" (p. 23). Although these assertions are more than likely true, this invective seems misplaced in what is supposed to be a serious academic debate.

Furthermore, Karsh's work suffers from a lack of "evenhandedness." Take note, by evenhandedness I am not referring to "moral symmetry." Instead, what I criticize Karsh for is his virtual inability to hold Israel responsible for any of Oslo's failings. Not once does he mention Israel failing to fulfill any of Oslo's provisions. By failing to take real note of Israeli failures vis-à-vis the Palestinians or other wrongs committed by the Israeli government or its citizens (such as the 1994 Baruch Goldstein massacre in the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron), Karsh once again takes away from the seriousness of this academic debate. And to me, that is quite unfortunate given the desperate need for a more dispassionate analysis of Yasser Arafat, who has been falsely lionized as a heroic resistance fighter.

In his achievement though, Karsh is able to characterize Arafat for who he really was--a self-interested extremist whose ultimate goal was not compromise, but destruction. For this reason, readers interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, who desire an account that contradicts the commonly-held and false view of Arafat as a hero and "man of peace," should read this book despite its imperfections.

The main conclusion I reached from this book: Although Israel may have violated certain provisions of the Oslo Accords, the Israeli government and the great majority of Israeli people truly believed in the spirit of the agreement. On the other hand, Arafat and his PLO compatriots calculatingly and systematically contravened provisions of the Oslo Accords because they never believed in the spirit of the agreement. Peaceful coexistence with two states side by side was not their dream. Israel's disappearance was forefront in their mind and their violent aggression corresponded to this mentality.
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on October 24, 2004
One of the most depressing things for many humans on this planet has been the fact that a few people can just sail through life by being wicked and violent. We'd like to think that after enough crimes, such people would be arrested and removed from the public scene permanently. But Arafat proves that this isn't the case, and this book shows how serious a blot it is on Mankind's record to have treated Arafat so generously.

As Karsh shows, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was correct to point out that "Arafat is the greatest obstacle to peace and stability in the Middle East." But he also shows that this is due in large part to the positive reactions Arafat's crimes have generated. People in nations all over the world, leaders included, have rewarded Arafat for the violence he's almost constantly perpetrated. This has not required any cleverness on Arafat's part: he simply commits violent acts and gets applause. If he gets caught, he gets away with it. As for what he says, that is easy too. He simply tells lies all the time. People accept some of them, or say they do. Again, when he gets caught, he gets away with it.

Arafat has been a lifelong enemy of human rights, and especially of human rights for Jews. What impressed me about this book was not how awful Arafat has been. It was how awful human civilization has been to honor him for it. It made me embarrassed to be a human being.

Of course, Arafat has taken obvious advantage of being put in control of Gaza and much of the West Bank. He's made sure that the sermons in these places are political incitement. And he's made sure that the schoolkids are all taught to hate and kill. Karsh shows the extent to which this has happened, as well as the toleration of such behavior by the world community. And Karsh also shows how Arafat has organized violent attacks on Israel. I was surprised that the bulk of the violence was unprovoked, although ridiculous excuses for it were often invented at the time or afterwards. And I was shocked by the degree to which some of these patent lies were taken seriously by world leaders. Some may feel that this merely shows Arafat's ability to deceive. I strongly disagree with such a conclusion. I think if Arafat could do it, anyone could. After all, he's never acted intelligent or trustworthy.

Well, what needs to be done? Karsh gives us all some advice. He points out the structural reforms that were needed in 1945 in Germany and Japan for them to attain freedom and democracy. And he explains that Arafat and his gang will need to be swept from power and replaced by leaders who are willing to co-exist with their neighbors.
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Here is revealed fully for the first time Arafats lke war progress towards peace. As early as the 1980s some qustoned whether Arafat was a Terrorist or a 'Peacemaker'. Here we see the definitive truth. We see how while Barak was trying to give 97% of the West Bank and Gaza to the PLO, Arafat worked behind the scenes to loose Hamas bombers against Israeli civilians. We see how Arafat engineered the so-called Al Aqsa martyr attacks and how he has always wanted no peace. THis book is excellent in uncovering the turth and showing that even as Rabin and Peres worked for peace, the PLO girded for war, and even as Barak was giving in to all Arafats sopposed requests, that bombing of Israeli civilians were being planned and executed.

This book will help anyone understand the true nature of the Israeli-Palistinian conflict.

Seth J. Frantzman
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on May 16, 2004
Far superior to many of the other fawning biographies of Abu Amar. This fascinating, well researched and very current biography was a delight to read. I liked my library edition so much that I came to Amazon to purchase my own copy.
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on December 17, 2013
This is an excellent work. The scholarship is impeccable, as always with this author. It tells the story of what happened after the Oslo agreement, proving it to have been a disastrous mistake for Israel.
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on March 4, 2014
A highly recommended book on the duplicity and subterfuge of arch-terrorist, Yasser Arafat.

The book elucidates how Arafat used the Oslo Accords as a facade for his terrorism and propaganda activities, all part of his and the PLO's grand plan to destroy Israel. Karsh brilliantly expands on how nothing changed with regards Arafat's and the PLO's activities after signing the Oslo Accords, but yet, the world remained fooled by the man and continued funding his activities thereby providing a stamp of legality to all his activities.

And Israel being the bigger, more powerful side on this conflict, automatically got (and continues to be) blamed for the failure of peace talks, even though it was Arafat who was responsible for their breakdown -- all part of Arafat's effort to diplomatically isolate Israel.
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