In This Review

From Oslo to Iraq and the Road Map
From Oslo to Iraq and the Road Map
By Edward W. Said
Pantheon, 2004, 352 pp

This is a collection of Said's political essays that appeared in Al-Ahram, Al-Hayat, and the London Review of Books from December 2000 through July 2003, just two months before Said's death. Ever since the 1978 publication of his classic Orientalism, Said, who long taught at Columbia University, has shaped the way many view the Middle East and the West. These essays are important because it was he who wrote them, and also because they provide a penetrating appraisal of Middle Eastern politics, centered around the brutal confrontation between Israel and the Palestinians. With a slashing style worthy of Jonathan Swift, Said is ever evocative. One example, penned just weeks before the U.S. invasion of Iraq: "This will be a purifying war whose goal is to throw out Saddam and his men and replace them with a redrawn map of the whole region. New Sykes-Picot. New Balfour. New Wilsonian Fourteen Points. New world altogether. Iraqis, we are told by Iraqi dissidents, will welcome their liberation and perhaps forget entirely about their past sufferings. Perhaps." Said has no heroes among the powerful. He excoriates both Ariel Sharon and Yasir Arafat, along with Bush, the neoconservatives, and sundry public intellectuals and scholars. His heroes are the beleaguered Palestinian people. His proposed methods include Martin Luther King, Jr.-like resistance; stopping suicide bombings and Holocaust denial; talking to Israelis and Jews; and most of all, an end to the 37-year-old Israeli occupation.