cover image The End of the Peace Process: Oslo and After

The End of the Peace Process: Oslo and After

Edward W. Said. Pantheon Books, $27.5 (368pp) ISBN 978-0-375-40930-1

In his 18th book, Palestinian writer and Columbia University literary scholar Said (author of the highly praised memoir Out of Place) once again brings acute insight to a controversial subject. In 50 essays (most of which were originally published in the Cairo Ahram Weekly and London's al-Hayat), he offers a bleak and somewhat cynical view of the Middle East peace process since Oslo. Deeply concerned with the fate of the Palestinian people, and without mincing words, Said probes their relationship to the Israeli government and their lives under Arafat's Palestinian Authority. He skewers the Oslo Agreements--arguing that Palestinians merely surrendered to the Israelis--as well as the Palestinian Authority and Arafat. (Peace, he points out, can only exist if equality and respect exist; as a result, he urges Palestinians to resist Israeli settlements with nonviolent demonstrations and to create stable, democratic institutions that can coexist peaceably with Israel.) Throughout, Said also comments on the role of intellectuals in political discourse, the Holocaust and, in a particularly poignant essay, the political development of his son, Wadie. Although they're stimulating, because these essays originated as newspaper columns, they're also occasionally repetitive, and some of the events that inspired them have receded into oblivion. Still, on the whole, this is a potent analysis--one that refuses to follow a party line--of the complexities and stark realities of Middle Eastern politics. (Apr.)