The following is from the lengthy new foreword to the third edition of The Gun and the Olive Branch: The Roots of Violence in the Middle East, a classic history of the Arab-Israeli conflict originally published in 1977. The forthcoming edition, to be published in Spring 2003 by Thunder Mouth's Press/Nation Books, brings the story up to date, covering the approximately two decades since the second edition issued in 1984, which itself added three chapters to the original. The new edition contains a detailed summary of the peace process from Arafat's "peace offer" of 1988 through the second intifada, with additional sections examining the U.S.-Israeli relationship and American policy under President George W. Bush. The section reproduced below deals primarily with the first edition's reception in the United States and lays out some of the themes to be dealt with subsequently. It was selected for the light it sheds on the evolution of perceptions concerning the Palestine problem since 1977 and the growing disconnect between the state of knowledge and the situation on the ground in Palestine.
DAVID HIRST is a veteran Middle East correspondent of the London Guardian.