Read my review of a new profile by of Mahmoud Abbas by Grant Rumley and Amir Tibon in the Washington Independent Review of Books. Abbas succeeded Yasser Arafat and since 2005 has been president of the Palestinian National Authority. This review of Abbas’ life succeeds at being brisk and objective, but steers clear of some of the complex dynamics between Israel and the Palestinians that a more comprehensive biography would have explored.
A couple of years ago I found myself changing my flight to Jerusalem to include a side-trip to Jordan, so that I could meet a friend-of-a-cousin-of-a-friend who had offered to help me with my research. It was difficult to find anything about the man I was to meet, but among the precious snippets I could glean was that he had founded an organization called the Jerusalem Day Society headquartered in Amman. And there was a review in Publishers Weekly indicating he was was a fabulist and an anti-Semite. Who to trust?
Nobody seemed to care that an upscale Islamic community center was being proposed for lower Manhattan until 2010 when Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post christened it “The Ground Zero Mosque”. Sporting its new sobriquet, the proposed project made the familiar leap from scandal rag to cable news to becoming a fetish in America’s culture war.