Yossi Alpher's Death Tango: Ariel Sharon, Yasser Arafat and Three Fateful Days in March
"Anyone seeking to understand how Israelis and Palestinians traded the hopes of Oslo for something approaching hopelessness is well-advised to read this book. With penetrating analysis and elegant prose, Yossi Alpher has told the gripping story of three days nearly two decades ago that continue to haunt would-be peacemakers. Yossi’s faithful readers will not be disappointed with his latest effort."
Ambassador Frederic C. Hof, Bard College
"A riveting account of the crucial days in March 2002 when the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was profoundly changed for the worse. The peace camp has never recovered from those wrenching days, and we live now without any hope of a just settlement. Alpher is a highly respected expert who has spent decades studying this conflict from both sides."
Bruce Riedel, Director of the Brookings Intelligence Project
"A critical assessment of a key period in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict never before presented in such detail. The best and most capable players at the executive and political levels proved unable to forge any resolution, final or partial, because both parties continued to maintain an insurmountable gulf between themselves. This is a MUST read for anyone daring to tackle the future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and of Israel-Arab relations in general."
Efraim Halevy, former Head of the Mossad (1998-2002)
Oraib Khader and Avi Bar-On are youngish Palestinian and Israeli bachelors with security experience, readiness to do business with one another, a shared fondness for women and money, and total cynicism about the lack of peace between their two peoples.
Oraib and Avi can never become true friends: the cultural and political gaps are too wide. But as they confront a failed peace process and a bleak peace future, they readily become business partners: shady business that exploits a lot of naïve international peace aspirations.
As Oraib sums up on a visit to Sarpsborg, Norway, where the ultimately-failed Oslo peace talks were held, “There is a lesson here for those who still doggedly and hopelessly pursue a two-state solution in the Middle East. Get smart. Get out of the Israeli-Palestinian peace business. Step back and let the Jews and Arabs screw one another while making money.”
Jan 23 2023
Q. Last Thursday, the High Court of Justice ruled by an overwhelming majority that Shas party leader Aryeh Deri may not serve as a minister in the government. Shas and the Netanyahu coalition in general reacted angrily and vowed to accelerate their effort to legislate new laws that reduce the High Court’s authority. What is metaphorical about this?
A. Taken together, the case brought against Deri along with the High Court decision and the angry right-religious reaction express a very dangerous dynamic. Israeli society, deeply divided, threatens to cease functioning as a democracy. The social, religious and political faces of the Deri affair are in many ways those of Israel as a whole. They embody the most controversial aspects of the Netanyahu government’s plan to ‘reform’ Israel’s judicial branch of government.
Q. Why social and religious?
A. To understand why, we have to look at the Likud and Shas through a sectorial lens. The Likud originally rose to power by championing the disadvantaged Sephardic and other Eastern Jewish (Mizrachi) sectors of Israel. In the last election, two-thirds of Likud voters came from these sectors. Note, by the way (a separate but sociologically related issue), that the Likud’s leader has always been Ashkenazic--Begin, Shamir, Sharon, Netanyahu--and its voters have consistently found ways to rationalize this anomaly.
Shas originally emerged as a strictly Sephardic and Eastern Jewish party of Orthodox, Haredi and traditional Jews from the lower socio-economic brackets, with a heavy emphasis on Moroccan Jewry. Shas is the only political party that openly represents an ethnic sector of Jews. It has consistently run on a platform of grievance and victimhood regarding the standing in society of Eastern and particularly Moroccan Jews--a very large ethnic community in Israel. Yet only about 20 percent of Eastern/Sephardic Jewry voted for Shas in the last election.