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Arafat's War: The Man and His Battle for Israeli Conquest Hardcover – October, 2003

4.3 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Middle East scholar Karsh (Fabricating Israeli History) makes a lively case that Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat never intended to fulfill any of his peace commitments, and has in fact "used `peace' as a strategic deception aimed at promoting the eternal goal of Israel's destruction." After sketching Arafat's pre-1993 history in a couple of chapters, the author focuses most of the book on the decade since the signing of the historic Oslo peace accords. In those years, he writes, inside the Palestinian territories, Arafat has "imposed an oppressive and corrupt regime in the worst tradition of Arab dictatorships." Outside, meanwhile, he has unleashed waves of violence on Israel, deliberately choosing to make violence "the defining characteristic of his rule." The author draws on Arabic, Hebrew and English-language sources to give what may be the most comprehensive account yet of certain events-like the Palestinian leadership's five years of maneuvering to avoid canceling, as promised, the parts of the Palestinian National Covenant that call for Israel's destruction. Karsh's conclusion is that both Arafat and his tainted Palestinian Authority must go. Many will disagree with the author, particularly because he appears to blame the failure of peace entirely on the Palestinian side, with almost no mention of Israeli settlement-building. But the book is well argued, fast-paced and engaging enough for those with a casual interest. Karsh, head of Mediterranean studies at King's College, University of London, has a stronger point of view than the Rubins, and covers recent events in greater detail.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

In characterizing himself as "the most important person in the Middle-East equation," Yasir Arafat has not given all students of his life reason to rejoice. Far otherwise. The authors of these two books probing Arafat's unlikely career see in his status only a tragically diminished likelihood for regional peace.

In the shorter and more narrowly focused book, Karsh examines Arafat's dubious role in the Palestinian uprising (the al-Aqsa Intifada) that began in September 2000 and has greatly reduced the hopes for peace raised by the Oslo Accords of the 1990s. Adducing compelling evidence, Karsh depicts Arafat as the mastermind who planned the al-Aqsa Intifada--including the suicide bombings, drive-by shootings, and lynchings--long before he found it convenient to describe the orchestrated violence as a spontaneous national response to Ariel Sharon's pre-approved visit to Temple Mount. The al-Aqsa Intifada thus fits into a cynical larger strategy--which Karsh chillingly limns in Arafat's own words--for using peace negotiations as a temporary gambit in enlarging and solidifying the machinery necessary to destroy the state of Israel. Because most Palestinians want peace, Karsh does not blame them for their leader's perfidy. But he does blame Israeli leaders and the international community, accusing them of almost criminal naivete in affording Arafat repeated openings to work his black magic.

Sharp criticism of Israeli and international leaders also frames the much fuller portrait of Arafat offered by the Rubins. Like Karsh, the Rubins portray Arafat as treacherous, tracing his malign influence back much further than the al-Aqsa Intifada, marshalling compelling evidence of Arafat's complicity in numerous earlier atrocities, including the 1972 outrage at the Munich Olympics and the 1985 hijacking of the Achille Lauro. But the Rubins also show how--for all his cunning--Arafat has repeatedly sabotaged his own projects through inexplicable arrogance and tactical foolishness. Yet even when he alienated most Arab leaders by applauding Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, Arafat managed--yet again--to survive. The Rubins attribute Arafat's staying power to his tyrannical control of all Palestinian institutions and his adept manipulation of Western credulity. Some will disagree with the authors' conclusions about their subject, but there can be no doubt that this "political biography" makes a strong and compelling case for its position. Bryce Christensen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; 1 edition (October 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802117589
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802117588
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,792,677 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M. D Roberts on October 14, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Kindle Edition
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.
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Format: Hardcover
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?

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