Arafat and the Dream of Palestine An Insider's Account

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2009-05-12
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press

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Bassam Abu Sharif was one of the most notorious and dangerous terrorists in the sixties and seventies, acting as "minister of propaganda" for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and as a recruiter for terrorists (including Carlos the Jackal). In 1972, a bomb was placed in a book (the memoirs of Che Guevara) and sent to him, leaving him half-blind, deaf in one ear, and almost fingerless. He later became one of Arafat's closest advisers and one of the minds behind the Oslo Peace Treaty between Israel and the PLO. This is his first-hand account of the inner-working of Arafat's regime, the PLO, Fatah and the relationship that allowed Abu Sharif to encourage important strides toward peace. In taking readers behind the scenes of all the major events in thirty years of Middle East politics, Abu Sharif delivers a unique living history of Palestine.

Author Biography

Bassam Abu Sharif is a former senior adviser to the late Yasser Arafat and press officer of the PLO. Formerly a member of PFLP, Abu Sharif was dubbed the “face of terror” by Time Magazine for his role in the 1970 hijackings of four planes that led to Black September. He is the co-author, with former Israeli intelligence officer Uzi Mahnaimi, of Best of Enemies about their roles in Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts. A member of the National Council of Palestine, he lives in Amman and Ramallah.

Table of Contents

Key Terms and Organizationsp. v
Principal Charactersp. ix
PLO Chartp. xii
Mapp. xiii
Prologuep. xv
Introductionp. 1
The Rise of Yasser Arafatp. 9
Black Septemberp. 17
Hijacked!p. 25
Arafat's Escapep. 31
War and Pieces of the Middle Eastp. 37
Book Bombp. 45
Steadfastness and Confrontationp. 53
Reagan's Broken Promisep. 61
Invasionp. 69
Military Ethics Breachedp. 73
Walid Jumblatt's Messagep. 79
A Close Callp. 83
Practical Solutions to Impractical Problemsp. 87
The Soviet Invitationp. 91
The Storming of Beirutp. 97
A Terrorist at Buckingham Palacep. 101
Tension with Syriap. 109
A Dangerous Journeyp. 121
Getting the Truth Outp. 125
India Loves Youp. 135
The Handshakep. 139
Almost Deportedp. 147
Lost in Translationp. 151
Children of the Stonesp. 157
A Political Bombp. 163
The Abu Sharif Documentp. 169
Give Peace a Visap. 179
The Difference a Paragraph Can Makep. 187
The Ambassador's Lost Opportunityp. 193
The Power of an Embracep. 199
Two Wagersp. 205
U.S. Trapp. 211
Last-Minute Modificationsp. 219
Love and Hatep. 225
Under Siegep. 235
House Arrestp. 243
Epilogue: The Final Farewellp. 249
Acknowledgmentsp. 253
Indexp. 255
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.


When the plane hit the ground, it broke into three sections—the tail, the middle and the cockpit, which was completely crushed. Both Captain Darwish and his co-pilot were instantly killed on impact. Arafat quickly ordered everyone to search for the wounded and then to evacuate in case of fire. As the men began leaving the twisted metal carcass of the plane, they were blinded by a violent desert storm awaiting them. Sand was churning all around them, twisting and turning, pushing them along into the howling darkness.
I was working in my office in Tunis when I received a call from a radio operator.  He had picked up a distress message from Arafat’s plane somewhere over the Libyan desert. I called Colonel Muammar Qadafi’s aide, and asked him for news of the President’s plane. He told me they had lost contact. My worst nightmare was confirmed.
I weighed the odds, knowing that every minute was crucial. My most important call was to the White House. I asked to speak to President Carter explaining that it was an urgent matter. I was transferred to the security office and once my identity was confirmed, I was put on hold.  A few moments later, Mrs. Carter answered the phone, informing me that the President was asleep. After I had explained what had happened, President Carter was soon on the line. The President informed me that he would do his best and would get back to me in fifteen minutes. Those fifteen minutes felt like a lifetime.   

Excerpted from Arafat and the Dream of Palestine: An Insider's Account by Bassam Abu Sharif
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