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on 25 September 2010
It is a sign of the bankruptcy of the Israel lobby that they portrayed the late Edward Said as "The Professor of Terrorism". In the real world, as will be evident to anyone who reads "From Oslo to Iraq and the Roadmap" or any other of his Palestine writings, the mans commitment to justice, equality and democracy were deep and principled, and his criticism of the "armed struggle" trenchant, angry but (and it's no doubt the "but" that earns him the above sobriquet) always qualified by where the fundamental responsibility for the violence lies: with those who have oppressed, dispossessed and humiliated the Palestinians, their society and institutions.

This book is a collection of 46 articles primarily published in the Arabic language newspapers Al-Ahram and Al-Hayat between winter 2000/01 and summer 2003 when he died. It opens with a fine introduction by historian Tony Judt, and is divided into three parts, the first of which "The Second Intifada Begins, Clinton's failure" covers the circumstances in which the Al-Aqsa intifada broke out and the realities of the Clinton administered peace process, as well as the events of the period leading up to 9/11. This is followed by "September 11, the War on Terror, the West Bank and Gaza Reinvaded" whose focus is on how the Sharon government used the Bush administrations so-called War on Terror as both rationale and cover for the increasingly brutal attack on the Palestinian people. The final section "Israel, Iraq and the United States" focuses on the growing momentum towards the US and UK (known in polite circles as "the coalition") invasion of Iraq, while keeping an eye on developments in Palestine and Israel. The book closes with a short Afterword from his son Wadie.

The articles are well written, managing to be coherent as well as angry and urgent. He is blunt and often coruscating in his criticisms whether of Arafat and Abu Mazen, or Clinton, Bush, Bernard Lewis, Samuel Huntington, Ariel Sharon, Saddam Hussein or Ehud Barak. There is also a personal edge including a brief mention of his illness, and examples of the methods used by the Israel lobby when they have attacked him. Despite the urgency and anger of much of the writing, Said's commitment to a real peace, as opposed to the mean, cold and triumphant one that Israel released drop by drop during the Oslo years is clear, as is his admiration for what the Palestinian people as a whole endure year after year.

A greatly missed writer and Palestinian activist who's writing, including this book, on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is always of a high calibre. A book I'd highly recommend as well as his other writing on the same subject: The Politics of Dispossession,Peace and Its Discontents and The End of the Peace Process].
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