Nonfiction — print. Bantam Dell, 2008. 408 pgs. Purchased.
Assigned reading for my U.S. Foreign Policy in the Middle East class, and the source of much debate among my peers and I, Miller’s book is more of a personal reflection on his years as a peace negotiator for the Americans between the Israelis and the Palestinians than a historical account of the conflict.
One of the kids in my class stated that because Miller is not a politician, maybe he can trusted more than the politicians leading us down the ‘path to peace’. I guess that could be said. He does seem more honest about the failures (and successes) of the whole thing and why they occurred during the many peace processes Palestinians/Arabs and Israelis have gone through with American leaders.
“I was a very slow learner. It took me a while to see that we were already in a new phase of the Israeli-Palestinian problem that would be long and transformative but would not lend itself easily to the ministrations of diplomacy.” (pg. 342)
As Miller says in the quote above, he is a slow learner and it takes him a while to realize that Palestinians do have a right to their own state. Of course, the ordering of importance when it comes to the peace process is always American interests, Israeli interests and then Palestinian interests, when it’s convenient to the first two. Palestinians are characterized as ‘cardboard characters’, but I read this book in three sections — read during September, October, and now December — that I can’t honestly remember if this is his characterization or a politician’s. It just stood out to me so much that I cannot forget it.
It was interesting to read about how demands have shifted from president to president and secretary to secretary over the twenty years Miller was an adviser on the peace process. In the end, he decides that Israel needs tough love on the issue of peace, and American officials must resist American Jewish pressure to always give in to Israeli demands, which doesn’t always align with the current president’s goals. However, I do remember feeling pretty bored with Miller’s tale as I read the majority of the book back in September and October (I read part four this week), and I’m not sure it’s the best book to start out with when you know next to nothing about the peace process.