Dining with Al-Qaeda: Three Decades Exploring the Many Worlds of the Middle East

Dining with Al-Qaeda: Three Decades Exploring the Many Worlds of the Middle East

by Hugh Pope
3.7 4
ISBN-10:
0312383134
ISBN-13:
9780312383138
Pub. Date:
03/16/2010
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
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Dining with Al-Qaeda: Three Decades Exploring the Many Worlds of the Middle East 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
F.Brauer More than 1 year ago
You don't have to be an expert to understand and enjoy the book Dining With Al-Qaeda by Hugh Pope, the former WSJ Istanbul bureau chief. The smells, dust, noise of the Turkish, Arab, or Iranian streets burst from the book's pages as if through an open window of a seedy hotel, in which the reader might end up staying if he decided to travel in footsteps of the author. The book is a trough of sad and funny stories from the most intolerant, xenophobic and complicated part of the world. Hugh Pope makes it less complicated. He is an Oxford-trained Orentalist turned journalist, who has spent many years reporting from the region. He has a sharp eye and merciless pen. He knows the culture, customs, and speaks the languages. In by-gone days of the British Empire he would be regarded as 'gone native' like T.E. Lawrence or St-John Philby. Pope's profound sympathy to Arabs is the reason his writing about them is so very credible. Unfortunately, for the same reason he loses all fairness and balance when reporting from Israel. Among the funny stories from Israel is one about Pope fainting in Haifa during his first visit to the 'enemy territory'- Israel. Used to the misery of the Palestinians he observed during years of reporting from the squalid refugee camps of Syria and Lebanon, he was shocked to discover Palestinians having a normal life in Israel. Coming quickly to his senses (that's another story) he decided to speak Arabic to any Israeli he had a conversation with. He discovers that many Jews speak Arabic and do not fret about it. Eventually it dawned on him that Israel, while not being an Arab country, is as Middle Eastern as her neighbors. The discovery of Israel did not do him much good, because it led to a terrible conclusion. In his epilogue Pope proposes a solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict, and it is worth quoting him in full: "In Israel/Palestine, I believe real peace can come only when Israelis agree to fully share the country they have conquered with its native Palestinian inhabitants, that is to work toward a truly democratic, one-state solution". In other words, he proposes that Israelis give up on their independence, bring in Palestinians from the UN refugee (concentration) camps in hope that everyone will live happily ever after. This proposal, a parody of common sense, is so bizarre, that it sound like a magic incantation, an attempt to conjure Israel off the map of the Middle East. The problem is that there is a solution begging to be implemented. No magic incantations are needed for implementation of a one-state solution for Palestinians and Jordan, since both people are of the same ethnicity, religion and culture. Jordan is Eastern Palestine. It included the West Bank before Six Day War, when Jordan was ill-advised to attack Israel. Some fear that the re-unification will destabilize Jordan. But if the Arabs can't get along with each other, how does Pope or anyone imagine they would get along with Israelis? One more thing! Since, despite anti-Israel bias, Dining with Al-Qaeda is a very interesting and educating read, there is a good chance it will soon be translated into Hebrew and published in Israel. No such guarantees about translation into Arabic.
Auditman More than 1 year ago
This was an interesting read since the author gives details of living/working in Arab countries that 98% of us will never experience. Having said that, one can definitely see the pro-Arab, anti-Isreal bias run through the book. The author is left-of-center in his politics and makes that clear in the chapter regarding Iraq invasion. Having lived much of his life in Arab countries there is a running theme of Western Civilization is deserving of a comeuppance and caused many of the Arab problems. I disagree. He also seems to think that if only the Isreal/Palistinian problem could be "solved" than so many of the Arabs problems would be lessened. I disagree. He does bring you right into the scene with his descriptive writing and at times I did feel like I was right there with him on some of the journeys. Lastly, I thought the title was misleading. The book had little to do with Al-Qaeda and more to do with him publishing newspaper articles from different parts of the Arab world for different papers/magazines. That was interesting in itself, but little to do with Al-Qaeda.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago