THROUGH DIFFERENT EYES by Hyman & James G. Abourezk Bookbinder


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A rare debate between two US representatives of divergent views on the Arab-Israeli conflict: Abourezk, a former Senator and currently chairman of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, and Bookbinder, a representative of the American Jewish Committee. This ""debate in print"" begins with each man answering the question, ""Is US policy in the Middle East in America's best interest?"" Following their opening statements, each writes a rebuttal. At this stage in the book's production David Shipler, author of Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land (1986), moderated a face-to-face debate, which appears as the third section, followed by a written closing statement. What underlies this exercise is an old problem--two people examining the same history and interpreting it differently. Bookbinder finds four main themes running through US Israeli relations: Israel's legitimacy as a state is justified by its history; our special relationship does not preclude our working with moderate and flexible Arab states; our self interest has been served by our ""tilt toward Israel;"" and the overwhelming majority of Americans support that policy. As for the Palestinian problem, Bookbinder asserts strongly that the Palestinian exodus was made strictly at the exhortation of Arab leaders, not as a result of Jewish threats and violence. Abourezk counters this, stating that the bulk of Palestinian refugees were rural peasants who fled in fear of their lives--""hardly people Who owned radios, or who sat around waiting for orders from outside Arab governments."" Abourezk argues that the Palestinian cause has been ignored or denigrated by lumping all Arabs together in the public mind as ""terrorists."" From this point, the debates descend into pure table thumping. A unique, if rancorous, encapsulation of the two sides.

Pub Date: Oct. 20th, 1987
Publisher: Adler & Adler--dist. by Harper & Row