Books by Uzi Mahnaimi

Released: Sept. 6, 1995

Parallel chronicles of 30 years of history by an Israeli and a Palestinian. The star of this book is Bassam Abu-Sharif, famous first, in 1967, as the ``public face'' and recruiter for one of the most radical Palestinian factions and then, 20 years later, as the spokesman for the faction wanting to make peace with Israel. Mahnaimi is a former hard-line major in Israeli military intelligence turned journalist who broke Israeli taboos about reporting on the Palestinians, often with Abu-Sharif as his source. The book is structured as parallel memoirs, shifting from one man's story to the other, but the clear intent is to offer parallel stories of two peoples with diametrically opposed perceptions of the same events. Mahnaimi, for instance, describes Israel's euphoria after its victory in the 1967 Six-Day War; Abu-Sharif says, ``It was a year before I smiled again.'' Abu-Sharif tells why radical Palestinians like himself turned to ``strategic guerrilla action'' after the 1967 war; Mahnaimi describes how these actions by ``Arab terrorists'' inspired Israeli ``fear and loathing.'' Abu- Sharif describes his disfigurement in an Israeli assassination attempt; Mahnaimi assesses the Israeli thinking behind the attempt. Abu-Sharif was in besieged Beirut in 1982; Mahnaimi was among Israel's attacking troops. Abu-Sharif offers an insider's view of the workings of the PLO; Mahnaimi reveals the devious ways in which Israel recruits Arabs as spies. Abu-Sharif, whose political ambitions have been widely reported, may be accused of going easy on himself, particularly in his failure to describe his reactions to some of the more horrendous acts of terror perpetrated by Palestinian factions. But there is no doubting the fascination or the importance of the journey from opposite poles to a central meeting place taken by these two men. This rare, first-hand point-counterpoint to history is a must- read for anyone who would understand Israeli-Palestinian conflictand Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking. Read full book review >