The Lost Years
Radical Islam, Intifada, and Wars in the Middle East 2001-2006
Publication Date: December 15, 2007
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"Enderlin meticulously chronicles the political and diplomatic impasses...revealing the history of this former film noir through interviews with the men who were its lead actors." —Le Monde
From Ariel Sharon's ascent to power in February 2001 to the Israel-Lebanon conflict in July 2006, the Middle East has seen the most murderous years of a feud which is, today, half a century old. After the monumental convergence of powers at Camp David, the world watched with bated breath as hope for a peaceful resolution to the long, bitter dispute between Israel and Palestine was lost in the wake of the Intifada. Following years of searching for an end to the bloodshed, how did the tragic blindness of both parties throw this region into such chaos?
In The Lost Years, Charles Enderlin presents a scrupulous chronicle of the Israeli and Palestinian descent into hell. Political leaders and secret negotiators, military chiefs and CIA agents, Enderlin has met them all–Israelis and Palestinians–and he accounts for all sides, including U.S. and international involvement. He trails the bad political calculations of the Palestinians, which led to the defeat of Fatah and to the victory of the Islamists. And he exposes Israel's unilateral political approach and new military doctrines that had disastrous consequences for both camps. Intifada, September 11th, war in Iraq, the construction of the wall, the withdrawal from Gaza, the end of the reigns of the two old enemies–Arafat and Sharon–the electoral victory of Hamas, and the war in Lebanon; Enderlin reveals the implacable logic at work behind the crucial events of a confused period. The Lost Years, the sequel to Enderlin's bestselling book, Shattered Dreams, is an essential work for those who try to understand without judging, but still want to believe in peace.
Charles Enderlin has been the Bureau Chief for France 2 since 1990. When Shattered Dreams (Other Press, 2003) was first published in France it was an immediate bestseller and led to a documentary series aired worldwide. The Lost Years also became the basis for a television documentary, “The Years of Blood,” to be aired in its American version by the Discovery Times Channel and in its international version by TV stations all over Europe. He has lived in Jerusalem since 1968.
Suzanne Verderber is Associate Professor of English and Humanities at Pratt Institute. She recently translated Jean-Michel Rabaté’s The Ethics of the Lie and Charles Enderlin's The Lost Years.
"This absorbing story of the unraveling of the Middle East and the Persian Gulf includes interviews with the political leaders, diplomats, and intelligence agents who have tried to avoid, or who have contributed to these failures."
From Enderlin, the Middle East bureau chief for France 2, a journalistic account of the current era of troubles in Israel and Palestine.In the author’s view, the seating of Ariel Sharon’s government in February 2001 signaled the end of the Camp David era of negotiation with the Palestinian government of Yasir Arafat, undoing years of effort on the part of the Clinton administration. Sharon declared that Arafat was an unfit partner for peace. Although most Israelis agreed that a joint venture with the Palestinians was essential, most also accepted that Arafat was an enemy arguing for the destruction of Israel; worse enemies notwithstanding, he became “Arafat the terrorist” once more. In response to the growing intifada, Israel put new procedures in place. “The military police no longer immediately investigated the circumstances of a civilian death,” Enderlin charges, freeing troops to “react more spontaneously” in the field. That spontaneity, the journalist calculates, led to a lopsided body count: During the next five years, some 3,185 Palestinian civilians died in confrontations with the Israeli Defense Force, “among whom were hundreds of bystanders.” This confrontation was inevitable, argued Israel and its allies in the American government—most notably, in Enderlin’s view, neoconservative theoretician Richard Perle, then chair of Bush’s Defense Policy Board. It was inevitable, the author agrees, to the extent that all other possibilities but confrontation were systematically eliminated, freezing out Arafat (who bitterly complained, “Am I bin Laden?”) and fueling a vicious circle of rising radicalism and intransigence. Rejecting warnings by Bush administration moderates such as Colin Powell, the Sharon government finally decided it must either expel Arafat from Palestine or kill him. When he died of cancer in 2004, however, the cycle of violence continued, climaxing with the disastrous Lebanon invasion of 2006. Enderlin urges Israel to negotiate with the new government of Mahmoud Abbas based on the principle of “territory for peace”—without which, he reasonably concludes, peace will be impossible. An evenhanded view of a most partisan conflict.
This French journalist, with long experience in the Middle East, presents a detailed chronicle of the recent period of military, diplomatic, and political conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. He concludes that verbal commitment to mutual recognition and negotiation by both sides could not overcome Israeli determination for military action and unilateralism or Palestinian ineptitude and internal divisions. Militant Palestinian continuation of the intifada and Israeli reprisals resulted in lost opportunities and continuing occupation and misery.