BRIAN LAMB, HOST: David Halevy, author of "Inside The PLO," do you find Yasir Arafat an interesting man?
DAVID HALEVY, AUTHOR, "INSIDE THE PLO": Interesting is a strange description. First of all, every politician is a very interesting man. Politicians are strange animals. Yasir Arafat is a real survivor. Yes, he is a very interesting man. We are talking about somebody that was involved in Palestinian student movement in the '50s, so we are talking about somebody that is with us--in reality over the Palestinian national movement for almost 40 years.
LAMB: You ever met him?
HALEVY: No. Never met him. And we deliberately decided not to conduct interviews with Mr. Arafat and his lieutenants while researching the book. The reason for that was very simple. What are you going to ask them? What are you going to get in return?
Whenever you see Mr. Arafat and his lieutenants appearing on TV or giving interviews, they deny that they were responsible for terror operations; they deny that they were responsible for the killing of American ambassadors and charge d'affaires in Khartoum and in Beirut. They deny that they were behind Black September organization, a very deadly, murderous organization who operated in the '70s. So what's the point of conducting an interview with somebody who is not ready even to say, `Hey, OK, I did those things. Maybe I'm not proud. Maybe I am proud of those things. But right now the situation has changed and we are doing something different.'
So we decided not to conduct any interviews with PLO top leadership. I conducted a lot of interviews with PLO combat officers, commanders captured alive in Beirut, in Lebanon, in South Lebanon, in Israeli prisons, outside the Israeli prisons and in their camps. Yes, I did that, but not Arafat and not the top leadership of the PLO.
LAMB: Tell us more about him. Where's he from?
HALEVY: Yasir Arafat was born in Gaza--actually, I'm sorry, he was born in Cairo. The family comes from Gaza--from the Gaza Strip. Originally, the family is from Jerusalem. He is a relative of the grand musfe of Jerusalem, Rajamane Hosseini. He is third cousin to Rajamane Hosseini. Family belongs to the Hosseini tribe. These people--this family arrived in Jerusalem around the 14th century, 15th century. A very, very important Palestinian family. The family was involved in battle against the state of Israel and against the Jewish community in Palestine from the very beginning of the Jewish settlement in the Holy Land and of the 19th century--the beginning of this century.
And Arafat, himself, was born in Cairo, at least he spent some time in Jerusalem as a kid, went to elementary school both in Jerusalem and in the Gaza area, then went to Egypt, finished his high school, went to university there. And in reality, at the Faudwon University, Egyptian university, he became involved with the Palestinian student movement. And ever since he is in politics, ever since he is carrying the flag of the Palestinian cause.
There was a short period where he gave up everything and operated as a constructor, developer in Kuwait. There is some conflicting information that he, himself, a few years ago started saying that he made a fortune in Kuwait. His period in Kuwait is a very short one. It's approximately one year, two years period. And already in 1960 he appears in Beirut, Lebanon, looking for a place to establish the headquarters of then an unknown organization called al-Fatah, which even today is the main body of the PLO.
Arafat himself is in his 60s. He never married. A lot of evidence of being a homosexual. Does not smoke; does not drink. Has one love and this is honey. He eats honey from the jar as if there's no tomorrow. Let's say 10 years ago: black, dark glasses, a pistol, very rough, very arrogant guy. Somebody gave him a good advice. He lost weight, took off the glasses. The kafia is now organized--the hat is organized in a very fashionable form. More soft-spoken, much more articulate, but as always, describing himself a peacemaker. That definitely is not the case.
They were terrorists. They were military people. They fought. They conducted some bloody operations, some murderous operations. They were left without an option. They lost the battle. The military option dried out and the terror option brought them nowhere. State of Israel was not defeated. Jews and Israelis did not start running away from the Holy Land because of PLO terrorism. And left without an option, they decided to take the political option, and that's clearly because of Israel's ability to withstand and fight back and counter terrorism conducted by Mr. Arafat and his lieutenants.
LAMB: Where are you from?
HALEVY: Born in Jerusalem, 1941, in a British-mandated city, growing up with a lot of Arab and Jewish friends, kids my age, to a family who came from eastern provinces of Germany. Mother language in Jerusalem in the '40s German, not even Hebrew. I learned Hebrew when I went to elementary school.
LAMB: Where'd you go to school, college?
HALEVY: Went to school first in, Jerusalem, then high school, nearby Tel Aviv; then military service, which is a must for any Israeli at that age--Tel Aviv University. Back and forth military, back and forth politics, back and forth military, journalism.
LAMB: How long were you in the service altogether? And did you fight in any of the wars?
HALEVY: Oh, I served three years, which was obligatory at that time.
LAMB: At what age?
HALEVY: From 18 to 21, a bit more than three years. Almost three and half years. Came out as a second lieutenant and decided the military is not for me. And I was not cut for the military. But then the military called me back for reserve duty and more and more time spent, more and more causes. The '67 war found me as a first lieutenant and commander of a small reconnaissance unit. Then the war of attrition started along the banks of the canal. I volunteered to go and fight there against the Egyptians.
LAMB: Suez Canal.
HALEVY: Yes. I was with Soviet advisers.
LAMB: What years?
HALEVY: 1970. Fought there for three and half months. Got my captain there. Came back, became a platoon commander. Decided to leave the special operation forces and go to armor. Was involved in reconnaissance, 1973. Started the war as platoon command--as a company commander, sorry. And ended the war as battalion commander. Badly wounded in combat, spent a couple of days in the hospital and returned to combat. Never loved the military; hated the military service. After the war the IDF asked me to return for one year active duty...
LAMB: IDF stands for?
HALEVY: Israeli Defense Forces asked me to return for one year to active duty as battalion commander in Sinai. Went back. Served one year battalion commander. Enjoyed the challenge of taking young people and building a battalion with an esprit de corps--with a spirit of the unit. Enjoyed turning young people to soldiers. Did not enjoy the military way of life. And came out as lieutenant colonel. Then in reserves, was assigned deputy brigade commander and then acting brigade commander. And that's basically my military base.
LAMB: What was your other profession during the time you had to do all this reserve duty?
HALEVY: Oh, I was in the beginning involved in politics and became a journalist.
LAMB: Who'd you work for in politics?
HALEVY: For Labor Party. I was involved in the party headquarters. Worked under Mrs. Golda Meir when she was party leader. I was assistant to then an Israeli vice prime minister by the name of Yigal Allon. Got out of politics; got into journalism. While I studied in university I was editor of the student newspaper, as normally we come to journalism from that side. Was involved a night editor, as a free-lancer and started working for Time magazine as a stringer in '68 in Jerusalem, and became a staff correspondent and worked for Time almost 20 years.
LAMB: When was the first time you came to the United States?
LAMB: Where do you live now?
HALEVY: Chevy Chase, Maryland.
LAMB: Why Chevy Chase and not Jerusalem?
HALEVY: Oh, that's a tough question, and the answer is not going to be easy. First of all, I would like to live in Jerusalem. But when you move and you move your stations in Europe, your stations in the States, you cover events in Central America or you cover events all over the Middle East, you gain on one hand internationalism; on the other hand you lose maybe an attachment, a very strong professional attachment. Not an emotional attachment, but professional attachment to a country, to a place.
Washington was and still is the capital of the world. I was assigned here for Time. I came here in '85 again as a correspondent for Time. And I stayed after leaving Time. Will I go back to Jerusalem? Yes. No doubt about it. I have a son who serves in the military right now in Israel. I have a second son who is studying in Haifa--the Technion in Haifa. So Washington is an interim period. It's fun to be here. It's a lovely city. It's a great place where you really get educated.
LAMB: And now this book "Inside The PLO" co-authored by Neil Livingstone--Livingstone, who is he?
HALEVY: Neil is a Montana boy who lives in Washington for the last I think 25 years. Was a Capitol Hill assistant. Worked with--I can't remember right now which senator. He's involved in politics as a Georgetown University professor. Neil is a terrific guy.
LAMB: Why the two of you together on this book?
HALEVY: First of all, we do a lot of things together. Three years ago we joined forces and we started writing together some articles for The Washingtonian, for The Washington Post and The Times. We appeared on TV a lot together. So one, we have a partnership. This assignment came about and it was given to both of us. So we decided to go ahead and do it. We enjoy working together. I think we compliment each other very much. I run around and I collect information; Neil puts it in this singing form, in the singing fashion. It's terrific to have that capability and I do believe when you operate, especially in this highly controversial area of intelligence and facts that are not clear-cut and you need to double and triple and to quadruple check everything you got. Four eyes, four ears, four hands make it a lot easier and you are really walking on the bridge made of steel.
LAMB: Would you go back to the story that you tell that's in early 1987 about a Palestinian with $999,000 in his bag trying to cross the Allenby Bridge? Can you tell us about that?
HALEVY: That's the beginning of the uprising in the West Bank and Gaza--the beginning of the Palestinian Intifadah. In order to finance the Intifadah, to finance the uprising, you need a lot of cash because the Palestinian population of the West Bank and Gaza, basically earns its salary, one, from selling goods to the Israeli society; second, working as blue-collar labor in Israel. When the uprising started, those people were told by the leadership of the uprising not to go to work, not to sell their goods. Then there is...
LAMB: The Intifadah?
HALEVY: Yes. The demand of cash you have to pay out to people so that they will be able to survive. And money was coming in. Money is coming in in many ways. And one of the ways is just crossing he Allenby Bridge. Allenby Bridge is the borderline between Israel or the occupied territories and Jordan. And the Palestinians have the full right, if they are residents of the West Bank and Gaza, to cross on Jordan into the territory, and cross back and go back to Jordan. And one of these days while routine checkup of one of the tourists or visitors, call them any name you want, at the Allenby Bridge, they discovered nine hundred ninety-nine thousand dollars in the attache case of this gentleman, obviously a courier, a money messenger, who was carrying the money.
Now the question is: What do you do with that? Do you confiscate the money? That's not according to the international agreements Israel cosigner of. You have no evidence this money is being used for terror activities. That man--obviously, they checked him out and he had no terrorist background and his contacts were not terrorists. And what you can do, you can freeze the money, keep it in a closed account, and when the gentleman comes back to cross again to Jordan you hand him the money and you say, `Bye-bye.' That moment one Israeli is calling another Israeli. One Israeli was in charge of the administration of the occupied territories and the other one is the deputy finance minister. And he's asking, `What shall we do with the money?'
Given the situation in Israel at that time trying to fight inflation. If you remember, these were the days where the inflation was coming down from 400 percent to a two-digit number. The Finance Ministry was interested in an influx of cash, US dollars, in order to fight inflation. So the Finance Ministry guy, the deputy minister says, `Let him go.' Which the military or intelligence guy who is in charge of the occupied territories takes it with a rain of salt. He's not sure that this is exactly what we want to do because the money will be channeled in order to refinance the Palestinian uprising--the Intifadah. But the money was let go and the Palestinian crossed the bridge with $1 million minus $1, and reached the West Bank. Obviously, the money was dispersed immediately and was used to finance a lot of striking people, a lot of families who lost their main source of income.
LAMB: Why the lack of $1 million? Is there a reason? I mean, what was the $1 million...
HALEVY: That puzzles me also. That puzzles me. I think because that courier or whoever sent him anticipated that the Israelis will be much more forthcoming when it will be $1 million minus $1. And they will have less problem letting him go with a sum that is not a round sum, I think. In reality, he could have brought with him $5 million, and by the way, there were a lot of people who crossed the bridge in the last two and half years, three years, with a lot of cash. And you can't stop it. You can't stop it because, first of all, the international laws and Israel is obliged to play according to the international laws. And, second, if you don't have evidence this money is used to finance the purchase of arms or combat means or is used for terror activity, why should you confiscate it?
LAMB: Do you think the money came from the PLO?
HALEVY: I have no doubt about it. And the Israelis had no doubt about it.
HALEVY: It came directly from the PLO.
LAMB: You say that Mr. Arafat is not a charismatic fellow, that his power base is money. How much money does he have?
HALEVY: We, Neil and I, after conducting very thorough research in that particular area, came up with a sum that is close to $14 billion. But this includes all the money that is also part of the Palestinian National Fund, not only the chairman, Arafat's own fund. If you talk about Arafat himself, the figure we used is $6 billion to $8 billion, his personal fortune. All the money he controls. The Israeli's got rid or killed, assassinated, one of his lieutenants in Tunis, Abu Jihad who was a co-signer with Mr. Arafat on that specific fund. Arafat now is the only signer who is capable to withdraw money from that secret fund he controls. The amount of money there is between $6 billion to $8 billion.
LAMB: Where does he keep it?
HALEVY: All over the world, including in the United States under cover names, front names, company names. Very difficult to trace money. If you'll remember, when Noriega was caught and some of his lieutenants were caught, the real issue is how do you trace the money? And banks don't like to open their archives. Banks are very secrecy-minded. Very difficult. If you establish a company in Panama that is in reality a sister company established in Norway, and--which is a sister company to a company established in Jamaica, and that Jamaican company is investing money in New York, how can you trace the money?
LAMB: How do you know he's got this much money?
HALEVY: A lot of intelligence documents, Arab intelligence documents; not Israeli, not American. The CIA has an estimated Arafat's personal fortune as approximately $12 billion to $16 billion. We based our conclusions on a lot of financial documents that came from Arab intelligence services.
LAMB: On page 168 you have a list. I don't know if we can get a close-up of this now or not, but you show countries and how much money they gave in 1988 or one of the years?
HALEVY: Yes. Yes.
LAMB: A total of pledges undertaken by seven countries at the Baghdad summit were as follows, and it's $300 million.
LAMB: There are two obvious countries that are not listed on here I want to ask you about. One of them is Jordan...
LAMB: ...and the other is Egypt.
LAMB: Why aren't they part of this?
HALEVY: Because Jordan never donated money to the PLO. Jordan claims, and rightly so, that it has a bigger Palestinian population than any other country. Jordan, in reality, is a Palestinian state. The majority in Jordan today are Palestinians. So Jordan never donated money to the PLO and Jordan was also in direct conflict with the PLO after Black September, 1970.
And please keep in mind that after 120 years fighting and battling with the Palestinians--not with the PLO, but with the Palestinians in general--the total number of Palestinians killed by Israelis is only half of the number of Palestinians killed by the Jordanians during four months between September 1970 and January '71. King Hussein and his army killed approximately 10,000, 15,000 Palestinians in four months. So we are talking about a very strong, emotional, political, economic rivalry between Jordan and the PLO. This is the reason why Jordan did not donate money, and for the reason that Jordan is in reality a Palestinian state.
I think Egypt got away because of its own financial problems. Yeah, you're making a face. You're right. It's a good question. But Egypt got away until '78 or '77 for its own financial reasons. Then in the Baghdad summit of '78, Egypt, of course, is not invited because of the Camp David accords signed between Israel and Egypt, and Egypt became the outcast of the Arab world, the state that signed the peace treaty with Israel, and the PLO was not interested in getting money from Egypt.
So Egypt, in the beginning, claimed that they didn't have the money to pay in the years before, and in reality the Egyptians paid back in services to the PLO. They offered them bases in the '70s. They offered them combat means. They offered them training. They offered a lot of things, intelligence work, but not money. And then in '78 after Anwar el-Sadat's historic visit to Jerusalem, of course, Egyptians are the outcast and nobody talks to them and everybody wants to get money from other sources but the Egyptian source.
LAMB: Where are the PLO headquarters located today?
HALEVY: Right now, in coastal town near the city of Tunis, Tunisia, a place called Kumanlal Shuk.
LAMB: How long have they been there?
HALEVY: Since the Syrians kicked them out of Tripoli, Lebanon, in 1983.
LAMB: How many people are on the payroll of the PLO?
HALEVY: Oh, yeah.
LAMB: ...the occupied territories, people that are actually day-to-day taking orders from Arafat.
HALEVY: There are two sides to the issue. One, you have the administrative side, you have the leadership, you have a lot of bodies of the PLO. There are a lot of financial, economic, industrial bodies of the PLO, a lot of people to take orders from Arafat who deal in non-combat, non-terrorist activity: factories run by the PLO; banks where the PLO has a major investment; economic research center of the PLO; the whole Palestinian National Fund, the PNF, which is a PLO organization. You take all those people together, I would say about 15,000--14,000 to 16,000 people are working in those areas. And you have the military arm, of course, of the PLO. But 4-17, the special operation groups, affiliation with all kinds of terrorist groups like Abu Nidal, like Akmed Jabril. The alignment is not a very clear-cut thing. They all deny that they have cooperation but, of course, there is cooperation, to some extent. If you take all those people, you're talking about another 25,000, 30,000 people.
So all in all, you are talking about a very big organization. Not all of them are on the payroll. I want to make that clear. A lot of people are working other places and giving time to the PLO. Some of those people make their money from other sources and volunteer. The PLO is paying salaries to the families of those who lost their husband or son in combat, which is, I think, a very humanitarian act and I have a lot of admiration when I discovered that. I didn't know that. I said (foreign language spoken). That's an indication that this organization is a serious one, at least when it comes to a human side of its services. So nothing is completely black; nothing is completely white. So the PLO, obviously, has a lot of people they control.
LAMB: Any women?
HALEVY: Oh, yes. This is a very interesting thing. In the Palestinian national movement, this is probably the only place where some women --the first traditional Arab society, who managed to become national heroes, like Leila Khaled, the famous terrorist who tried to hijack an El Al plane in 1970; like the wife of Abu Jihad. There are some women there--again, some on the combat side, on the terrorist side; some on the political side.
LAMB: How many under arms?
HALEVY: Oh, right now, about 20,000, 25,000.
LAMB: And they are headquartered where?
HALEVY: That's also very difficult. In reality, all in Kumanlal Shuk.
HALEVY: Tunisia, yes. All the organizations that make the PLO are headquarters in Tunisia. But they have headquarters all over the world in Syria, in Lebanon, in Baghdad, Iraq, very few in Jordan, Tunisia, some representation in Algeria. Algeria was used in the past as the base for operations. It's far away from Israel and outside the reach of the Israelis. But in reality, the PLO political headquarters, military headquarters in Kumanlal Shuk, Tunisia, are camps and training areas and a lot of combat systems in Lebanon. Some administrative offices in Jordan. They were moved when Syria broke off with the PLO from Damascus to Amman. These are the three main locations of the PLO.
LAMB: Most Americans you come in contact with have knowledge of this area of the world? And if they don't, what's their biggest misunderstanding about the Middle East?
HALEVY: We are different people. First of all, we don't live in the 21 century. We are not 21century people. We might be dressed like any European or American. We might even be very softly speaking people, but we are not 21 century. We are still fighting in the wars and the battles of the 19 century and 18 century, and this is one.
Second, the name of the game in the Middle East is survivability. You have to survive. The name in the game in western Europe and into the United States is to raise your standard of living. No American is threatened by any outside force or internal force that tomorrow will kill him or kill his family or assassinate his children coming back from school for just being Americans. Very few Americans are threatened. If they are, it's away from the mainland of the United States. It's in Europe because of international terrorism. But in reality in the big cities of America and the small cities and the villages in the Midwest--we're threatened here. The only threat you have is to survive, to make it bigger, reach a better standard of living. In the Middle East you can be killed for just being Jewish, Christian, Shiite, Sunni, you name it; being a Syrian, being a Copt, being Druze. There are a lot of minorities in the Middle East. So the issue is still survival. And that changes your entire attitude to life. But this is also not the whole thing.
Number three, is because we are not 21-century people, we are great believer in blood revenge. Eye for eye, arm for arm. You kill my cousin, I'll kill your cousin. Very simple.
Number four, the role of the woman. At least in the Arab society--I'm not talking now about the Jewish or even the Christian society in the Middle East, but in the Muslim society in the Middle East, the Summa and the Shiite, the
woman is a piece of furniture. She is nobody. She is there to cook. She is there to give birth to children. To get a divorce is a very simple thing. You say you're divorced and she goes back home. You don't have to hire a lawyer and start a very expensive process of divorce and dividing the property and everything. You say goodbye. She goes. That's a different mentality, different society.
LAMB: Do you find that your mind works differently when you're in Jerusalem than when you're in Bethesda, Maryland?
HALEVY: That's funny you mention it because for years I claimed that while crossing the Atlantic Ocean my political point of view changing. In Israel I'm regarded a leftwinger and a very liberal guy. When I come to this country I'm regarded a rightwinger and a very conservative guy. You tell me why--why is that? What identity am I losing or gaining over the Atlantic Ocean? I think because of this issue of survival you have the luxury here of being a liberal. You have the luxury here of trying out a lot of things. Americans are very fortunate people. The country is beautiful. Life is basically made very easy. Sure there are tensions that come from income and professional problems, but life is basically very easy. Life in the Middle East is very harsh. While fighting for survival you try--I, at least, try very hard never to lose the humanitarian side. I hate to see people die no matter for what reason or what cause.
LAMB: Have you seen it?
HALEVY: Too many. Too many. I was in combat too many times. I saw some of my best friends die in combat. And this is something you'll remember for the rest of your life. And we tend to forget that on a scale from 1 to 100, money is number 100, human blood is number 1. And in the Middle East because of this issue of survival, you want to remember all the time the blood; that the life of one human being is more precious than anything else. And because of that, I believe I'm a liberal in the Middle East. Here you can have the luxury of being a conservative because there are many other liberals and the issue is not survival.
LAMB: Whose idea was it for this book?
HALEVY: We got a call from the Washington-based institute headed by Ambassador Ernst LeFevier, who actually called Neil and later myself, and we went there together, and he asked whether we can put a book about the PLO--he wanted really a very short kind of a summary of where the PLO is today. And while starting the research we realized that we have huge amount of material and that we can turn it into a book and that here is information and a lesson that maybe should be learned.
I don't know how Americans feel about it, but I sometimes have a problem when I discovered that when the US started its political negotiations with the PLO, the first man to shake the hand of the American ambassador to Tunisia was a man who also killed an American ambassador and an American charge d'affaires in Khartoum, Sudan, 11 years--no, 15 years before. That was something that bothered me. I don't know how Americans respond to that, but it's OK for me, as an Israeli, tomorrow to shake the hand of the PLO or a master of terrorism of the PLO, because what are peace negotiations for if not to bring enemies from yesterday to the negotiating table and sign a peace treaty between them?
The US never had a war; never fought a war against the PLO. The US never stood in the way of the PLO. The US supported Israel. And not while ignoring the cause of the Palestinians. The reasoning behind the killing in Khartoum of 1973 and the reasoning behind the killing of the American ambassador in Beirut in 1976 is so strange, so unrealistic, so unbelievable that I wonder how Ambassador Platero felt when he shook the hand he knew that pulled the trigger and killed a friend of him, Ambassador Clair Nowell and Charge D'Affaires Moore. I don't know. I have a strange feeling. I had the shiver down my spine when I discovered that information. I didn't feel it was right.
LAMB: Do you have any residual feelings about the Time magazine Ariel Sharon incident?
HALEVY: I don't. This is funny because in reality what was the case in the story published by Time we clearly indicated--or I, to some extent, wrote the memo which pointed the finger and said that behind the Palestinian massacre conducted in September of 1982 in two refugee camps in Sabra and Shatila around Beirut--that the man who orchestrated, initiated, encouraged, condoned--call it any name you want--the man behind that massacre of 730 or 750 Palestinians was Israeli Defense Minister Arik Sharon. Sharon sued Time. But Time won from a legal point of view, and to some extent lost in the public arena. The story is still correct. The story is still right. I have no second thoughts or misgivings.
LAMB: What happened to your relationship with Time after that?
HALEVY: Well, I continued to work for Time for another three years as a correspondent, and then I decided and Time decided--and we both came to the same conclusion--I mean, I was 19 years with the company and I wanted out. I had enough. And they had probably enough me. So it was very simple.
LAMB: You explain to us your background and that you used to work for the Labor Party. You're a journalist, you've been in the military in Israel. Do you have problems with people looking at you and saying, `He's got too much baggage. He's been on too many sides of this political fight. I have a hard time reading objectively what he's writing'?
HALEVY: First of all, I don't believe that the word objectivity exists at all. I think -as journalists we come to a story, we bring with us our background, education, nationality, religious connections--anything. Objectivity is a word that was invented by those who refuse to stand up, one. Two, I do believe that journalism is a fighting profession. You have to fight. You fight for cause, you fight against corruption, you fight against misleading information. You fight for a lot of things.
I think a lot of my colleagues forgot that we are really the tools. We are only a loudspeaker. We are not the issue. We are just the loudspeaker through which somebody is transmitting a message. We are not the newsmakers. We are the news carriers. If you'll remember in ancient Greece they used to kill the messenger when he brought bad news. We bring a lot of bad news, and nobody kills us. And what does that mean standing up? I stood up for a lot of things. This book does not end with a conclusion. This book does not offer you a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian--Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It does not. It's dealing with facts.
My personal baggage, I carry it with me. Some of it causes me nightmares; some of it I look back with a smile. Life is not easy as a journalist in the Middle East, but it's not so terrible. So, no, I think on the contrary when you have been there, you can offer a better description. You can offer a better analysis.
I discovered in my years as a journalist that a lot of times when I open the intelligence archive and boxes loaded with intelligence documents that in reality some of the journalistic reporting is better than the intelligence reporting. Journalists are intelligence officers. We work as a one intelligence operation. We work as one without the huge overhead of the intelligence organizations. But we collect intelligence. We are for the intelligence to our readers. We are for their analysis to our readership and we are responsible for that information. So I don't think that's a problem.
LAMB: In your book you have a lot of pictures. We haven't got enough time to go through who all these people are. There's a scene of…where's this funeral, remember?
HALEVY: This is the scene of the burial of the two American diplomats killed--assassinated in Khartoum, 1973.
LAMB: But if you go through the book and look at the different pictures, each one of them has a story behind them.
LAMB: What makes these people do what they do?
HALEVY: Some because they really believe in the cause. Some because they became so accustomed to live in the international arena, to fly from one place to another, to have unlimited amounts of money, to be the center focus of the international media. Some are doing it for the fun, for the kicks that international terrorism offers. Some for the cause. The gentleman you are showing right now, Sala Kralab Abuiad, I would regard him the most articulate leader of the PLO and probably the most dangerous man of the PLO. He is in charge of all the special operation forces of the PLO and he's in charge of all the intelligence apparatus in the PLO. A very articulate man, a very interesting man, a very dangerous man.
LAMB: In the beginning of the book you say that you rely for your information--a lot of your information--on six intelligence services.
LAMB: Three in the West and three in the Middle East.
HALEVY: But you don't expect me to list the six if I didn't list them in the book...
LAMB: Of course I do.
HALEVY: Yeah. Well, Brian, I'm sorry. If this is the case, I would like to apologize. Three in the West, three in the Middle East.
LAMB: Now after you finished with this book, did you and your co-author and others sit around and say, `That's our stroke. We have done with this book what we hope will be damage to the PLO'?
HALEVY: No. No. God forbid. No. I don't think it's, by the way, damaging to the PLO. It's very difficult for me to try and analyze something I lived with for the last 18 months, but I don't think it's damaging to the PLO. I think the book describes the agony, the pain of the Palestinians. The book has a lot of--How shall I call it?--emotional understanding of the Palestinian fight, struggle, for dignity, for a passport, for a jail, for a flag. Whether the PLO is the right leadership at this given moment, I don't know. That's up to the Palestinians to decide. We describe the PLO as it is, for the better and for the worse.
PLO is not a tea party at 5:00. It's not. And I'm not sure that in many parties in this city or in Boston people would love to have the PLO for dinner or for lunch. The PLO is a very bloody, murderous national liberation movement. And the PLO's hands are loaded with blood. Now did we cause damage to the PLO? Maybe. I don't know. It's not for me to make the judgment. But but one thing should be clear, no major stroke, no `Ha ha, we did it.' No. Was a lot of sadness.
You know, I'll tell you a story. When we got the assignment, I said to Neil, `Neil, listen, I'm for negotiations with the PLO. I'm for a Palestinian state as an Israeli. And I don't know how I'll adjust to that situation.' And we both agreed that we will have that argument at the end--fight it out. While conducting the research I turned around 180 degrees. Yes, I want Israel and I want the Israelis to live in peace in the Middle East. I want the Palestinians to find their dignity and to have their own homeland. Yes, I want to negotiate with the Palestinians. Do I want to negotiate with the PLO? Honest answer? No, I don't want to negotiate with the PLO.
HALEVY: But this was a conclusion I came to while and after finishing my research. There was a lot of information I learned from my own research, from the documentation, from the opening of archives. I was amazed. And no, was a lot of sadness I can say. Maybe the Palestinians need different leadership. But this is not for me. I can't decide for any other nation, for any other group of people who their leaders will be. But I say that with a lot of sadness, maybe the Palestinians ought to have a different kind of leadership.
LAMB: Could you see yourself going back to Israel and getting involved in politics again?
HALEVY: Because I'm not a political animal. I lost it. You know, politicians are different kind of people. L'etat c'est moi. The state is me. I am the state. I don't believe in that. I am a volunteer. I am ready to go to the new frontier and be the pioneer there. I'm not there to make calculations, `This gentleman is voting for me and this gentleman is against me and I'll buy this gentleman and offer him something in order to turn him around,' no.
LAMB: In your...
HALEVY: We need politics. We need politicians, but I am not cut of that material. I'm sorry.
LAMB: In your heart do you think this area of the world will ever live in peace?
HALEVY: No doubt about it. No doubt about it. Too much blood shed. Too much blood--all of our hands are loaded with blood. We did too much killing. Came to the point where nobody can stand it. Reality is knocking at the front door for everyone: for Israel, for the Israelis, for the Palestinians, for the PLO, for the Syrians. You know, in a funny way the end of Cold War, the pullout of the Soviet Union and the East Bloc countries from the Middle East, the lack of need of bases in the Middle East--sixth fleet, American bases, American allies for strategic needs--I think will leave the Middle East and the nations there to struggle it out, and they are fed up.
LAMB: "Inside The PLO" is the title of the book. It's published by Morrow, co-authored by Neil Livingstone and, our guest here for the last hour, David Halevy, who was born in Jerusalem, lives in Bethesda, works as...
HALEVY: Chevy Chase.
LAMB: I'm sorry. Chevy Chase, Maryland, and works as an editor a writer for The Washingtonian magazine. Thank you for joining us.
HALEVY: Thank you.
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