By Bassam Abu Sharif, Palgrave Macmillan (2009), ISBN 978-0230608016, pp 288, RRP £14.99
Book Review by Yusuf Shabbir
Bassam Abu Sharif was described as the ‘face of terror’ and the ‘most notorious terrorist’ in the 1960s and 70s when he advanced the cause of the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine). In 1972, a bomb placed in a book sent to him left him severely disabled. Subsequently, he abandoned the use of violence and aligned himself with Yasser Arafat, eventually becoming one of his closest advisors and an architect of the peace plan. In this indispensable personal memoir, Abu Sharif presents a first hand account of all the major events in the Middle East over the last 30 years; from the wars in 1967 and 1982 to the 1993 Oslo accords and Arafat’s death in 2004. Throughout, he reflects on his relationship with Arafat, his role and methodology and how this affected the Palestinian cause.
By Azzam Tamimi, Hurst & Company, London (2007), ISBN: 185065834X, 344pp incl. index, £14.95
In January 2006, Hamas won an overwhelming electoral victory in the occupied Palestinian territories. Branded as a terrorist organisation by the USA & the European Union, this lead to suspension of direct aid to the Palestinian government and forced the West to reconsider the success of imposing democracy in the Middle East. International attention turned towards the organisation, its aims and objectives. A few English books about Hamas are available, but most of these have drawn sharp criticism as they are essentially from an Israeli perspective, lacking balance, and some argue, containing unauthentic narratives. Azzam Tamimi, a Palestinian by descent, explains in this book the origins and history of Hamas, and presents a deep analysis of its internal structure and political objectives and how these have been achieved since its inception.