Egypt's Road to Jerusalem
A Diplomat's Story of the Struggle for Peace in the Middle East
by Boutros Boutros-Ghali
New York: Random House, 1997. 366 pp. $27.50.
Reviewed by Daniel Pipes
Middle East Quarterly
Boutros-Ghali chronicles his four years of experiences working for Anwar as-Sadat, starting with the moment of his being appointed as minister of state for foreign affairs in 1977 and ending with the president's assassination in 1981. Although the author was hardly a novice at diplomacy at the start of his account (having already served as a high official of the Arab Socialist Party), joining the government made him a front-row participant at such epochal events as the Sadat trip to Jerusalem, the Camp David negotiations, and the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty.
True to his promise, Boutros-Ghali presents the memoirs he kept at the time raw, unimproved by later information, and they convey a candid sense of his errors and triumphs, his inconsistencies, digressions, and insights. The memoirs somewhat paradoxically reveal an aristocrat, very conscious of rank and appearance, who has an abiding concern for Africa; and a politician threatened with violence by the Palestinians who nonetheless insists on dealing with their concerns. But probably most interesting is how Boutros-Ghali came to appreciate Sadat's vision. Consumed with non-aligned and African conferences, the author started out slightly horrified by Sadat's concessions to Israel. With time, however, he appreciated Sadat's extraordinary vision. His epiphany came in April 1979, a few days after the signing of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, when he realized that "Egypt had sacrificed enough lives and money for the Arabs and the Palestinians. The time has come for Egypt to think of itself." By September 1979, he was "fully convinced by Sadat's argument" that getting back the Sinai mattered more than suffering isolation at political conferences. So public an acknowledgment of one's own failings is rare, and all the more creditable coming from as distinguished a personage as the former secretary-general of the United Nations.
Related Topics: Arab-Israel conflict & diplomacy, Egypt, Israel | Daniel Pipes | September 1997 MEQ
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