Saturday, October 18, 2008

Once an Arafat Man



It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!





Today's Wild Card authors are:



and




and the book:


Once an Arafat Man: The True Story of How a PLO Sniper Found a New Life

Tyndale House Publishers (September 17, 2008)


ABOUT THE AUTHORs:


Tass Saada is a former Muslim and a co-founder of Hope for Ishmael. Hope for Ishmael is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to reconcile Arabs and Jews to God and each other through the gospel of Christ. Saada was born in 1951 in the Gaza strip, and grew up in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. He was a PLO sniper and militant fighter. He worked directly for Arafat. In America, he converted to Christianity.

Visit the author's website.

Dean Merrill is the author or coauthor of more than 30 books, including the award-winning, best-selling trilogy with Jim Cymbala, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire and its sequels, Fresh Faith and Fresh Power. He also collaborated with missionary survivor Gracia Burnham on the best seller In the Presence of My Enemies. A graduate of Christian Life College and Syracuse University, Dean is a former president of the Evangelical Press Association and is currently a board member of Global Publishers Alliance. Proud parents of three and grandparents of six, Dean and his wife live in Colorado.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $ 19.99
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers (September 17, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414323611
ISBN-13: 978-1414323619

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


The Second Battle of Jericho

The morning sun felt warm on my back as I crouched behind a large pile of shrubbery I had scraped together, overlooking the Jordan River valley. Jericho, perhaps the world’s oldest city, lay across the river in the distance. Here on the east side, my comrades and I had spent the night in a chilly cave along this range of hills. Now we were up early and excited about the surprise we would deliver to the advancing IDF (Israel Defense Forces) troops. My sleek, high-powered Simonov rifle with its telescopic sight lay beside me on the ground as I gazed down upon the quiet village of al-Karameh.

The dirt roads that meandered among the humble, mud-brick homes with flat roofs were empty on this morning of March 21, 1968. Most of the roughly fourteen thousand residents had left—not because of the warning pamphlets the Israeli planes had dropped the day before, but because we had told them what we planned to do. Now the village was eerily silent. No donkeys brayed in their pens; not an infant whimpered for its mother. Nobody could see our seven thousand or so Fatah fighters hidden behind stone walls or under tarpaulins, amid date trees and olive groves—a reception committee waiting to roll out a blood red carpet for the invaders.

A trained sniper at seventeen years old, I stood ready to do my job, waiting up on the hill for the opportune moment. I would pick off any IDF machine gunner who dared to stick his head up out of a tank or jeep. A soft breeze moved through the grass. I stared intently at the Allenby Bridge in the distance, the main crossing from the Israeli-controlled West Bank to the Jordanian territory where we sat.

Sure enough, the first vehicles in the convoy now came into view, their camouflage colors making them difficult to detect. This was the same IDF that had so humiliated the Arab armies nine months before in the infamous Six-Day War. We Palestinians had been peppering them ever since with hit-and-run attacks—a grenade here, a three-minute skirmish there. Now they had decided to storm our training camp at al-Karameh in force. They wanted to take out our operation wholesale, and maybe even get our heroic leader “Abu Ammar”—Yasser Arafat—in the process.

They figured most of us guerrilla fighters would have pulled back and away from the showdown, like so many times before. They had no idea that the wily Arafat had switched strategies this time, saying to us, “We will make a stand in this place. We will fight with honor. The whole of the Arab people are watching us. We will crush the myth that the IDF is invincible!”

And they certainly did not expect the newest tactic we would use today for the very first time: suicide bombers. We had gotten volunteers who were willing to make this their final battle for Palestinian justice. They now waited on rooftops in their bulky vests loaded with explosives until the moment came to jump into the streets below.

Deadly Surprise
The growling of the IDF engines grew louder. My heart began to pound. I positioned myself for steady action as I peered through my scope. The enemy convoy reached the edge of the village. I picked out my closest target, trained the weapon on his head, and ever so carefully squeezed the Simonov’s trigger.

At nearly the same moment, my comrades in the village began firing from their hiding places. The firefight exploded all at once. The noise was deafening. At that time, the Israeli infantry had no flak jackets, so we were able to wound or kill them right away. All hell broke loose that morning in al-Karameh.

Of course, we began taking our own casualties, too. Every Fatah fighter knew that would happen. None of us counted on surviving the day. We were fully prepared to die. We might never see the moon again, but we would regain our honor. That was, in fact, the meaning of this village’s name, Karameh. It was the Arabic word for “honor” or “dignity.”

The street battle raged on at full force while I kept picking off targets from the hillside. Minutes passed, perhaps even a full hour. There was no subtlety to our approach; we were going with every thrust we had to inflict mortal damage on the Jews. Then a massive bomb blast shook the entire valley. Our troops had blown up the Allenby Bridge, cutting off the escape route if the IDF tried to pull back. The Israelis were now trapped on our side of the Jordan—the east side—and would have to fight to the death. Only a miracle of Joshua-at-Jericho–sized proportions would save them now.

A few minutes later, my commander shouted at me with alarm in his voice: “Do you hear that? Helicopter gunships are coming!” I had been too focused on my targets to notice. “Get off this hill!” he ordered. “If you stay here, they’ll blow you to bits from the air! Get down into the village with everybody else!”

I scrambled down the hill to join my comrades in the fight. There the conflict grew increasingly close range. There was hardly room to use a weapon. It became a hand-to-hand brawl with fists, knives, and even rocks. We put our karate and judo training to use immediately. The two sides were so intermingled that their helicopter gunners couldn’t sort us out. At that point, I was fighting on sheer instinct. There was no time to think or strategize. I simply kept bashing the nearest IDF soldier before he could bash me.

I could tell the enemy was bewildered by our bravery. They had expected us to act more like classic guerrilla fighters, feinting and withdrawing. Instead, here we were in a no-holds-barred fracas. Guys were screaming, blood was splashing, the wounded were moaning, and all of us were jumping over an increasing number of dead bodies to keep up the attack. I glanced down at several cuts on my arm but paid little attention. The kick of adrenaline was too strong for me to worry about injuries.

We Fatah fighters were in fact more agile than the IDF since we carried less gear than they did and could therefore run faster. We also had our bayonets already fixed on our weapons and ready to use while the Israelis were still fumbling to get theirs off their belts and attached. At times they literally ran into our knives.

Whenever they tried to regroup behind one of their tanks, a suicide bomber would leap down from a rooftop with a thunderous explosion of nails and other metal bits. Blood spattered, and body parts flew through the air.

Occasionally throughout the afternoon, there would be a short lull in the fighting while the Israelis barricaded themselves inside a house. We would then quickly set up in the house across the street, from which we would open fire again. We stormed building after building.

Bragging Rights
Somehow, after seven hours of gruesome combat, a ceasefire was called. I still do not know who arranged that or how it was done. The IDF withdrew and headed downriver to find another bridge they could use for returning to the West Bank. The smoke over al-Karameh began to clear. “We won! We won!” we shouted, slapping each other on the back. “We stood up to the Jews and beat them!” We danced around the four IDF tanks we had destroyed, along with three half-tracks, two armored jeeps, and even one airplane.

The symbolism for us was huge. We had done what the regular Arab armies had failed to do three times: in 1948, 1956, and the previous year. We would be featured the next day in the world’s headlines. We had shown that we Palestinians were no longer just a pitiful clump of refugees. We were a proud and courageous people who had been robbed of our homeland and were on the march to take it back.

I was especially thrilled to commandeer a Willys Jeep that the Israelis had left behind. A vehicle of my own! I invited some of my comrades to jump in for a quick drive through the town.

As evening approached, we turned our attention to counting our losses. My unit of eight now numbered only three. Across the village, we went about the somber task of gathering and burying the dead. We mourned the fact that these friends were gone forever. It hurt deep within our souls, and we swore we would avenge them.

The longer we worked, the more we realized we had paid a high price on that day. We eventually tallied 128 dead, several dozen wounded, and 150 missing. These numbers, we had to admit, were probably greater than the losses suffered by the IDF.

But it was all worth it, we told ourselves. The Israelis had come from Jericho, looking for a fight, and we had given them far more than they ever expected. Our cause was now catapulted to a whole new level.

More than anything, we could hold our heads high in the presence of the man in a checkered headdress who had watched the entire battle from a hilltop not far from where I had begun the day. He had seen our bravery, our determination, our sacrifice. The Israelis had wanted desperately to find him that day and kill him, but they had failed. His leadership stood intact. Yasser Arafat was alive and well, and we revered him more than ever.



Copyright © 2008 by Tass Saada. All rights reserved

Once an Arafat Man by Tass Saada and Dean Merrill is the kind of powerful book that makes you re-evaluate your life, how you view the world, and your faith. And then you want to share the story with everyone you know. Tass Saada was born in the Gaza Strip shortly before his family was forcibly removed first to Saudi Arabia and then Qatar. He was angry, even as a young child, at the unfairness in the treatment to his family and their fellow Palestinians. As a child and young man, he was impetuous, bullying, and violent. As soon as he was able to slip away from his protective family, he joined forces with Yasser Arafat's Fatah and was trained as a sniper. Saada was everything that Jews and Christians fear about Palestinians: driven, angry, and without remorse about what he had to do to restore his people to their land. His life began to change when he came to the US to live with a cousin. He quickly married an American woman to get her green card and raised her son as his own. Saada worked his way up through several high-priced restaurants and hotels, but his family life suffered, and he felt a hole deep inside. Until a business associate talked to him about Jesus, and overnight Saada was changed into a force for spreading the truth about love and forgiveness and reconciliation in Israel. Saada writes uncompromisingly, never pulling any punches when it comes to the sins and crimes he's committed. God has brought him to an amazing faith that leads him to bring his wife and children to God, testifying to the dangers of Islam in the United States, speaking with groups around the world, and ultimately, moving his family back to the Gaza Strip and creating a humanitarian organization to serve the people there. Saada has a strong understanding of both the Bible and the Koran, so he is able to discuss both intelligently and without malice. He reminds readers that the Muslim people are also descendants of Abraham, through his son Ishmael, and that God has a plan and a promise of love for them, just as much as for Jews and Christians. This is a message that needs to be heard! I have no idea how Saada and Merrill managed to pack this much story in such a small package, but I was left breathless and stunned by Saada's love for God, his humility, and his vision for the Arabic people. Impossible to put down once you pick it up, you'll find yourself talking about it for days after you're finished with it. God has done an astounding work in this man, and this book testifies to that here.

I loved this book so much, that I'm going to do something a little bit different. I want word of this book to spread around the country. So, if you would be willing to read this book and promise to give it to someone else to do the same when you are through, drop me an email with your name and address. I'll mail you the book. When you're through, give it or mail it to someone else and ask them to continue this chain.


I'm replying to My Friend Amy's Blog. She asked this question: Why do you read and review Christian fiction? Do you exclusively read Christian fiction or do you also read general market books? And here's my answer. I read Christian fiction, because it's good! I read a wide variety of books in almost all genres, and I read what is enjoyable to read. Whether it is Christian or not isn't as important as the quality of writing, at least to me. I do seriously love Christian books because I often feel that they give me a new perspective on life or help me see something about myself I wouldn't recognize any other way. I review Christian fiction because I think it's important to get the word out to the world that it's seriously good stuff, and not your grandmother's Christian fiction from the 1970s! I always try to tell the truth in my reviews whether a book is good or bad, despite the genre, because It's important recognize that there is good writing in all areas, and if I fluff the truth about a Christian ficition book that isn't very good, I'm not doing anyone any favors. I typed all of this and then realized the real reason I read and review Christian fiction. I LOVE to read books and then tell everyone I know about them. I've been doing that for years. My blog became a natural extension of something I love. Read more answers to this question on Amy's blog today!

3 comments:

Sunny said...

That's great you read all kinds! You're right...there are good books everywhere.

Wendi B. - Wendi's Book Corner ~ Rainy Day Reading in Seattle said...

Similarly to you - I love to write about the books I'm reading and share with others! :)

I just got my post up here: http://wendisbookcorner.blogspot.com/2008/10/saturday-christian-fiction-carnival.html

Have a great weekend! ~ Wendi

M. C. Pearson said...

My husband and son LOVED this book.