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.”
May 22 2023
Q. Last week, Israel celebrated Jerusalem Day, commemorating the reunification of the city in 1967. Destructive?
A. First, a few facts. The majority of Jerusalemites are either Palestinian Arabs or Israeli ultra-Orthodox (Haredim). Neither celebrate Jerusalem Day. The provocative Flag March that has in recent years come to symbolize the celebration consists primarily of non-Jerusalemites: messianic ultra-nationalist youth from West Bank National Orthodox yeshivot and “hill youth” from the West Bank’s illegal outposts. Their marauding annual march through the Old City once again left behind beaten-up Palestinian shopkeepers and trashed Arab shops.
This year, for good measure, members of the international press were roughed up, too. Simultaneously, National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, who is in charge of order in Jerusalem, paid a provocative visit to the Temple Mount that led to angry Jordanian protests.
This is all the work of a “violent fringe”, according to some National Religious apologists. No. Sorry. These criminal elements are now at the very heart of religious Zionism.
It is only in recent years that messianic Jews like Ben Gvir and the Hill Youth have violated the traditional Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox prohibition (for fear of treading on the ruins of the Temple) on visiting the Temple Mount. The Muslim Arab response has been to declare the entire Mount with its three mosques a virtual ‘Holy Mosque’ and term every Jewish visit to the esplanade a violation of Islamic sanctity. There is growing religious extremism on both sides.
Here it is helpful to recall that back in June 1967, the then-moderate National Orthodox ministers in Israel’s government voted against the IDF conquering the Old City and the holy places of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. They feared igniting extremism. Prominent secular leaders like Moshe Dayan voiced reservations and warnings about the broad regional ramifications of Israel’s occupation. Initial annual celebrations of Jerusalem Day featured mainly secular Israelis.
Euphoria quickly took over. Israel mindlessly annexed to West Jerusalem not just the modest neighborhoods of Arab East Jerusalem but huge expanses of adjacent Arab villages that were never part of Jerusalem. Little constructive thought was given to integrating these Palestinians into Israel.