How an American Woman Found Her Way Through Politics, Love, and Obedience in the Middle East

By Deborah Kanafani
(Free Press, Paperback, 9780743291842, 272pp.)

Publication Date: February 5, 2011

Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover

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In the early 1980s, Deborah Jacobs was an ordinary Lebanese American college student from Long Island, New York. By the end of the decade, she would bear witness to the making of international history. Her story begins in graduate school: through a series of chance encounters, young Deborah was introduced to Marwan Kanafani, a dashing former soccer star turned high-ranking Palestinian diplomat who was working at the United Nations. A political dynamo with movie-star charm, Marwan swept Deborah off her feet and into a marriage that kept her in the company of diplomats, dignitaries, world leaders, international glamour and intrigue. Although exciting, this lifestyle also isolated Deborah increasingly from her independent, American way of living, creating a rift that would end their marriage.

Marwan's profile was on the rise, and with it came a number of crucial connections for Deborah: while his involvement with the PLO intensified, eventually resulting in his appointment as senior advisor and spokesperson for Yasir Arafat, she formed friendships with such women as Suha Arafat, Queen Dina of Jordan, and other women married to Arab leaders.

After her divorce, when these women agreed to tell their stories of struggle and survival for a book, Deborah traveled to the Middle East to record them, planning to join her children, who were on the West Bank visiting their father. To her shock and horror, he refused to return the children to her.

Deborah stayed in the Middle East for several years to be near her children, finding strength in the women whose lives she documented and whose incredible stories are told in this book. She was eventually able to arrange the return of her children when they were evacuated to another country during a Palestinian uprising. The story of her journey, intertwined with those of the wives of the Arab leaders, takes the reader into an otherwise inaccessible and cloistered world populated by larger-than-life characters living out all-too-human dramas.

Culture, politics, and family collide in this gripping front-row perspective of the Middle East conflict and of the courageous women working behind the scenes for peace and challenging the patriarchal traditions of their homeland.

Praise For Unveiled

"Deborah Kanafani mesmerizes with her words and personality; her personal experience is a gift of enlightenment. Her firsthand account of a world we know so little about is straightforward, intriguing, and infused with the sweetness and the agony of life itself. Once you open the book, you will not put it down." -- Dr. Aida Takla O'Reilly, President Emerita, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and the Golden Globe Awards

"Much of this remarkable story takes place in parts of the world many of us will never see, but its essential geography is familiar to us all: the hardscrabble landscape of the heart, the longing for love, the disappointment when it fails, the stubborn optimism that impels a person to collect the pieces and soldier on, the fearless resolve of parenthood. Debbie Kanafani's courage is palpable, whether when fighting for her children or in standing up to the powerful men in her way. The unadorned honesty of her writing is luminescent, eminently accessible, and impossible to forget." -- Ernest Thompson, Oscar-winning screenwriter of On Golden Pond

"Deborah Kanafani sheds light on a region that remains mysterious today, with an amazing personal journey that brings out the contrasts as well as the similarities between East and West. Her electrifying experiences entertain us, and her unique access to a cloistered world enriches us." -- Carlotta Pardini, Ambassador-at-Large, Republic of Panama

"Deborah Kanafani's rare access to the Middle East provides an insightful portrayal of a region in great need of understanding. Her book is a gripping account of Middle East politics, parental sacrifice, and the compelling stories of unforgettable heroines." -- Bianca Jagger, human rights advocate

"Kanafani's writing is graceful, her story poignant, her message essential for all of us who care about Palestinian-Israeli relations. Unveiled is a riveting account of human courage: the courage of a mother to retrieve her children, the courage of women to determine their future (in Arab society), and the courage of ordinary people to build peace in the face of militancy, occupation, and despair. It is a story of personal struggle to hold on to what matters most." -- Ronit Avni, Founder and Executive Director of Just Vision, an organization promoting Israeli and Palestinian peace building, and producer of Encounter Point

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