The Writing of Royalty

I’d been curi­ous to read this for a short while. I con­sid­ered buy­ing a copy to read on the flight when I went to Ver­mont last week, but picked the book about the Iran hostage cri­sis instead. Then, at my grand­moth­er’s house as I got ready for bed, what should I see on the shelf?

The next day I asked her about it. She said she had loved it. When I asked if I could bor­row and read it, she rec­om­mend­ed it enthusiastically. 

I’m not obsessed with roy­al­ty as some are. I con­sid­er roy­als at best to be a quaint throw­back of the past. But I am sen­si­tive to the virtues of lead­er­ship, even for those whose oppor­tu­ni­ty to lead seems arbi­trary or unde­served. While the «Cin­derel­la sto­ry» aspect did­n’t do much for me, her report­ing of world affairs from her per­spec­tive did.

I’m tak­ing her ver­sion with a grain of salt, of course. Espe­cial­ly regard­ing Israel and the Pales­tini­ans. Even the things I’ll believe I’ll prob­a­bly nev­er repeat because if I cite her as a source the fact that she is an Ara­bist par­ti­san will auto­mat­i­cal­ly dis­qual­i­fy any­thing she wrote to some­one with anoth­er ver­sion of events.

Nonethe­less, it was refresh­ing to read the ver­sion of events that goes com­plete­ly ignored in the U.S. Even Israeli jour­nal­ists give more voice to debate about the Arab-Israeli con­flicts than Amer­i­can jour­nal­ists do. How many more times do I have to hear about Arafat turn­ing down «the best offer ever pro­posed»? The Rea­gan Plan was far more favor­able to the Pales­tini­ans than any­thing Clin­ton’s team dreamed up (try get­ting that fact past lib­er­als or con­ser­v­a­tives in this country—no one wants to hear it). Arafat was a thug and not par­tic­u­lar­ly smart, but not the total­ly irra­tional demon he’s made out to be.

Noor elo­quent­ly spelled out the frus­tra­tions she and most of the rest of the world have with the U.S. with­out ever point­ing the fin­ger of blame or dis­parag­ing the U.S. In today’s «with us or against us» cli­mate, artic­u­late, calm oppo­si­tion is sad­ly underrepresented.

At times Noor’s accounts are self-indul­gent, but hey, what part of mem­oirs aren’t? I also had the impres­sion she was acute­ly aware of her read­ers and took pains to spin events to avoid crit­i­cism. Even so, I found it to be a good read and would rec­om­mend it.

3 Replies to “The Writing of Royalty”

  1. Arafat killed every peace
    Arafat killed every peace pro­pos­al made. He was­n’t a “total­ly irra­tional demon.” He knew that if there ever was a true peace with Israel that he would be gone. As long as there was an ene­my he could retain pow­er. And his wife could have the bil­lions they (OK, alleged­ly) ripped off from the Palestinians.

    And what is that lib­er­al pap, your impli­ca­tion that con­ser­v­a­tives don’t want peace in the mideast? Of course Rea­gan’s peace ini­tia­tive was bet­ter than Clin­ton’s. Every­thing Rea­gan did was bet­ter than any­thing Clin­ton did. Ooops, there is one notable excep­tion: Selec­tive Avail­abil­i­ty. Clin­ton turned it off. (Bush, Sr. also turned it off tem­porar­i­ly dur­ing the Gulf War so our troops could use cheap com­mer­cial GPS units in the desert.) 


  2. I’ll take the bit about
    I’ll take the bit about “lib­er­al pap” and raise you one “con­ser­v­a­tive denial”. Pres­i­dent Rea­gan fol­lowed up his insis­tence that the U.S. will not nego­ti­ate with ter­ror­ists with an arms deal to Iran in exchange for hostages. OK, OK, it’s nev­er been proven in a court of law that Rea­gan’s intent was to trade for hostages, but still, it’s not like Iran was on our most-favored nations list.

    Even if I were to con­cede that Rea­gan Won The Cold War Sin­gle­hand­ed­ly, it would still be plain that his for­eign pol­i­cy was entire­ly based in the cold war mod­el and frankly rather clum­sy regard­ing mid­dle-east affairs. I’m not even say­ing that Clin­ton was any good in this are­na, but the crit­i­cism of Arafat that I keep on hear­ing is the one you start­ed out with: that he turned down deals that his oppo­nents said were roads to peace. Sad­ly I don’t think that it’s that sim­ple. I don’t think that there’s any shame in turn­ing down a bad offer, and Arafat turned down a few.

    There’s plen­ty to crit­i­cize Arafat for, too, which makes it all the more absurd to me that his crit­ics like to claim that Arafat Killed Peace Sin­gle­hand­ed­ly by walk­ing out on some bad offers where there was no room for nego­ti­a­tion on the Israeli side.

    In the end I’d still rather hear both sides of an issue. Espe­cial­ly when there’s no impar­tial observers report­ing, hear­ing the “ene­my spin” even at the absolute worst-case pro­vides some tac­ti­cal knowl­edge. I’d much rather know my ene­my than know that he’s the enemy.

  3. Whew. How did we jump to
    Whew. How did we jump to Iran-Con­tra, Oliv­er North, and Poindexter?

    Back to Arafat. He reject­ed deals that were essen­tial­ly one-sided give-backs from Israel. No, they did­n’t give back every­thing that Arafat want­ed, but they cer­tain­ly would have improved the Pales­tini­ans posi­tion. From there he could have pur­sued fur­ther con­ces­sions. They say half a loaf is bet­ter than no loaf. Israel will nev­er give up every­thing that the Pales­tini­ans want. (Some of the Israelis have actu­al­ly said they won’t vol­un­tar­i­ly go drown them­selves in the sea.) Instead of a par­tial vic­to­ry, Arafat gave both sides more of the same blood­shed and hatred that that he foment­ed in Jor­dan and which forced him to sneak out of that coun­try dis­guised as a (very ugly) woman when the Jor­da­ni­ans got sick of it.

    Did Arafat want peace under any pos­si­ble terms? I don’t believe so. Show me hwere he made a sin­gle step in that direc­tion, oth­er than by dying.