I’ve worked the Middle East beat since the l950s, back in the days of Moshe Dayan, Golda Meir, Menachem Begin, Anwar Sadat, Yasir Arafat, Mu‘ammar Gadhafi. My relations with all of them, with the sole exception of Begin, were cordial and straightforward. But when I questioned Begin in a fashion that I thought reasonable and he found belligerent [To Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who had once been a radical underground leader, Mike asked, "What is the difference between the Yasser Arafat of today and the Menachem Begin of 1946?"], our conversation was brought to an end by the intervention of Ezer Weizman, his defense minister, who shortly afterward took me for a friendly drink at a nearby bar. My eyes had first been opened to Israeli/Palestinian realities by two pioneering figures from that part of the world. Back in the ’50s, Reuven Dafne, a Romanian Israeli, and Fayez Sayegh*, a Palestinian Christian, two friends of mine, gave me a primer course on the complicated subject, for which I remain grateful.
Fayez Abdallah Sayegh (1922-1980) was for years the leading political consultant for the Palestinians at the United Nations. He was also the chief architect of the 1975 U.N. resolution on Zionism and racism. He was a member of the Palestine National Council. Dafni (in)famously received a $50,000 donation for the Hagana from Bugsy Siegel.