Death Tango traces the Middle East dynamic back to the events of March 27–29, 2002. March 27, Passover Eve, witnessed the most bloody and traumatic Arab terrorist attack in Israel’s history, the Park Hotel bombing in Netanya. On March 28, an Arab League summit in Beirut adopted the Arab Peace Initiative, the most far-reaching Arab attempt to set parameters for ending the Israel-Arab conflict. The next day, Israel invaded and reoccupied the West Bank in Operation Defensive Shield.
Alpher illustrates the interaction between these three critical events and depicts the key personalities—politicians, generals, and a star journalist—involved on all sides. It moves from a suicide bombing to the deliberations of Arab leaders; from the Israel Prime Minister’s Office—where Ariel Sharon fulminated against Yasser Arafat—to Washington, where the United States fumbled and misunderstood the dynamics at work; and on to the Jenin refugee camp, where Israeli soldiers won a bloody military battle but Israel lost the media battle of public opinion.
Based on extensive interviews and his deep personal knowledge, Alpher analyzes the three days in late March 2002 as a catalyst of extensive change in the Middle East, concluding that Arabs and Israelis are dancing a kind of “death tango.”
Yossi (Joseph) Alpher is a consultant and writer on Middle East strategic issues. He is the author of Periphery: Israel’s Search for Middle East Allies and No End of Conflict: Rethinking Israel-Palestine. His books have won the Yitzhak Sadeh Prize, the Chechik Prize, and the Chaikin Prize. He lives in Israel.
Glossary of Terms
Prologue: Time and History
1 March 27, 2002: Netanya, Tulkarm, Beirut
2 March 27, 2002: Passover Eve in Netanya and Jerusalem
4 On Suicide Bombings as a Strategy
5 March 28, 2002, Jerusalem: Israel Prime Minister’s Office
6 March 28, 2002, Beirut: The Arab Peace Initiative I
7 The Arab Peace Initiative II: A Conversation with Thomas L. Friedman
8 The Arab Peace Initiative III: The Document Is Written and Approved
9 Ariel Sharon and the Arab Peace Initiative
10 A Kind of Death Tango: Sharon and Arafat
11 March 29, 2002: Operation Defensive Shield and the “Inner Palestinian Soul”
12 Sharon, Weissglass, and the American Effort
13 The Fence
15 Behind the Events of March 2002
17 Conclusion: March 27, 28, and 29 as a Turning Point
Appendix I: The Arab Peace Initiative as Ratified in Beirut, March 28, 2002
Appendix II: The Roadmap for Peace in the Middle East, April 30, 2003
Persons Interviewed for This Book
About the Author
An impressively detailed and presented account of a key military episode in Israel's troubled history, Death Tango is both a compelling and informative study and one that is unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Contemporary Israel History collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.
Death Tango is Alpher’s latest in a string of penetrating books on the region. If you have any interest in the Middle East and you’re not reading it, then you’re simply not paying attention.
Anyone seeking to understand how Israelis and Palestinians traded the hopes of Oslo for something approaching hopelessness is well-advised to read this book. With penetrating analysis and elegant prose, Yossi Alpher has told the gripping story of three days nearly two decades ago that continue to haunt would-be peacemakers. Yossi’s faithful readers will not be disappointed with his latest effort.
A riveting account of the crucial days in March 2002 when the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was profoundly changed for the worse. The peace camp has never recovered from those wrenching days, and we live now without any hope of a just settlement. Alpher is a highly respected expert who has spent decades studying this conflict from both sides.
A critical assessment of a key period in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict never before presented in such detail. The best and most capable players at the executive and political levels proved unable to forge any resolution, final or partial, because both parties continued to maintain an insurmountable gulf between themselves. This is a MUST-read for anyone daring to tackle the future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and of Israel-Arab relations in general.
-Visit the author's website here.
1/11/22, Israel Studies Podcast: Yossi Alpher was interviewed about the book.
1/30/22, Too Jewish Radio: Yossi was interviewed about the book.
2/1/22, Jewish Insider: This book was included in a roundup of new books to read in February.
2/23/22, The Times of Israel: Yossi Alpher was interviewed about the book and the 20th anniversary of the events he analyzed.
3/18/22, Jewish Telegraph: A feature on Yossi Alpher, highlighting the book, is running in the Jewish Telegraph.