Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Yossi Alpher's "Death Tango"

Yossi (Joseph) Alpher is a consultant and writer on Middle East strategic issues. He is the author of Periphery: Israel’s Search for Middle East Allies and No End of Conflict: Rethinking Israel-Palestine. His books have won the Yitzhak Sadeh Prize, the Chechik Prize, and the Chaikin Prize. He lives in Israel.

Alpher applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Death Tango: Ariel Sharon, Yasser Arafat, and Three Fateful Days in March, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Death Tango: Ariel Sharon, Yasser Arafat and Three Fateful Days in March, deals with American efforts to bring about a ceasefire between Israel and the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority during the early months of 2002, at the height of the Second Intifada. A browser opening to page 99 could get the mistaken impression that Death Tango is all about the United States and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In fact, the main thrust of the book is about Israelis, Palestinians and the Arab world, not Americans. Indeed, the ceasefire effort that was spearheaded by American General Anthony Zinni is significant precisely because it failed—like so many other American efforts—to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. A paragraph about that failure alludes to the wider struggle:
In retrospect, Zinni’s mission was a good indicator of the fruitless nature of the Bush administration’s Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts. Zinni was charged by [Secretary of State Colin] Powell with achieving an immediate cease-fire. This was rendered impossible first by the Karine A revelations of January 2002, then by the Park Hotel attack, which Zinni labeled “Israel’s 9/11 ... I knew immediately we had come to the end of the road.”
Death Tango is mainly about a confluence of events in late March 2002 that set the stage for the next 20 years, to this day, of the Arab-Israel conflict. Israelis, confronting the Park suicide attack that killed 30 Passover celebrants, lost faith in a two-state solution. Israel reoccupied the West Bank in a bloody reconquest and the Israeli security grip there grew tighter, thereby neutralizing one of the important achievements of the 1993 Oslo Accords. Yet the Arab states, by means of a convoluted Arab League summit resolution ratified in Beirut, resolved to live at peace with Israel regardless of the Palestinians.

The 2019 Abraham Accords, whereby with notable American backing Israel normalized relations with four additional Arab states, is the ultimate confirmation of the complex dynamic that began on March 27, 28 and 29, 2002.
Visit Yossi Alpher's website.

--Marshal Zeringue