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St. Paul, MN
5 Stars Out Of 5
Fascinating Story of Hope
May 23, 2011
St. Paul, MN
"Once an Arafat Man: The True Story of How a PLO Sniper Found a New Life" is a fascinating read. As the title indicates, this is a true story of a former Fatah fighter. Tass Saada was born in a Palestinian refugee camp in the Gaza strip. His parents left their land in Israel at the encouragement of the neighboring Muslim countries. After the failure of the 1948 war, they (with many others) were displaced. He grew up in Saudi Arabia and later Qatar.
Saada, like many young frustrated Palestinians, grew to respect Yasir Arafat and his rhetoric about Palestinians standing up for their rights. He fled from his home and joined the movement in its infancy. As a teenager he became a sniper and fought in many terrorist skirmishes.
Eventually his father's influence brought him back out of the Fatah, just before Black September's chaos, and he wound up ultimately in America. There for many years he succeeded in business and lived the American dream, with its money, prestige and also its sinful vices. Then he met Jesus, and the rest is history!
His story of conversion is amazing, and the transformation in his life and family is dramatic. God had his hand on this man and eventually he became the founder of Hope for Ishmael a non-profit organization that aims to reconcile Jews and Muslims, and that also aids the many Palestinians caught in the crossfire of the Middle-East conflict. God took Tass from being a one-time chauffeur to Arafat, and allowed him to share the Gospel with the Muslim leader in the final years of his life.
Saada's story is a celebration of God's grace. Along the way, Saada has some wise Gospel words to speak about the Middle-East conflict. He finds the Bible's honorable treatment of Hagar and Ishmael to have special significance in our understanding of this conflict. He also stresses God's promise in Ez. 47: 21-23 that "the aliens [foreigners] who have settled among you and who have children... along with you they are to be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel." (NIV)
His story will also challenge you to see God's hand at work in your own life. This book will open your heart to the suffering of the Middle-East and give hope! I highly recommend this quick read. May Jesus be exalted in the Middle East!
Disclaimer: This book was provided by Tyndale House Publishers for review. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.
Some books are just confrontational. You know how some books make you realize that assumptions you have had are not correct or that they are wounding to people? Some books confront ideas that you have long had or make you see the other side of the issue.Once An Arafat Man has been one of those books for me. It is subtitled the True Story of How a PLO Sniper Found a New Life yep, not exactly light reading.However it is a fascinating book. Because of Tass Saada, I no longer see things the way I did before. While I now understand even better what a confusing mess it is in the Middle East, I also have to say that Once An Arafat Man left me feeling more hopeful at the end. It also showed me one of the ways that God is working in that mess.God worked a miracle in Tass Saadas heart and now God is using Tass to do more work.
Tass Saada was a terrorist. Trained by Fatah as a sniper, Saada rose to the level of personal driver for Yasser Arafat. Saada tells his story as, I am sure, only he can tell it. He was born a Palestinian Arab in the Gaza Strip. At a young age he joined Fatah to help remove Israel from former Palestinian land, land he saw as belonging to his people. At the age of 22, after living life as a trouble-maker, Tass immigrated to the United States. He got married as a ploy to get his permanent resident status, then fell in love with the woman he married. He worked many years in the restaurant business, achieving some real success. One of his regular customers, who became a friend, introduced Tass to Jesus Christ and Tass became a Christian. He remained in the restaurant business for some time then felt God leading him into ministry. His vision is to reconcile Jews and Arabs based on a relationship with Jesus Christ. Saada has gone on to found a humanitarian ministry called Hope for Ishmael.I found this book to be an easy, but not always comfortable, read. The first part is devoted to Saadas lifestyle of hatred and anger. He describes in enough detail some of the violent acts he committed. The second section of the book is about his conversion and growth into the founder and leader of a ministry. It is a joy and blessing to come alongside Saada as his heart breaks to lead Jews and Muslim Arabs to Christ. the third section of the book is devoted to the idea that peace in the Middle East will not be found in politics or diplomacy. It will only be found in the reconciling power of God through Jesus Christ. This was an interesting book that I would recommend. Anyone with even a remote interest in world affairs, especially the Middle East, would enjoy and appreciate Once an Arafat Man. I was provided a copy of this book by Tyndale House Publishers for review purposes.
Last week, my husband and I watched the movie, The Kingdom. It was a powerful and frightening movie. As I read the first part of this book, I put Tass's story in the context of what was in that movie to help me picture what he did and what life was like for him. The first half of the book is very easy to read, not too gory or bloody in its description. It isn't especially engaging writing, but the first half does convey the story of Tass's life well. The second half is really what makes this book worth reading. Particularly pg. 196-200. I appreciated Saada's description of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well as what he believes are the reasons behind it. I think it would be good for every Christian to read this part of the book. I think it would give us all great deal of compassion for the Palestinians and understanding.Last year, I read Jimmy Carter's second book about Palestine and Israel. It was very good (as was the first), but this book is different because it comes from an insider. Saada above all wants peace for all and truly wants to live out the Lord's command for us to Love One Another as God has loved us.
As I read this book I found myself in awe and saying a variety of things such as: "WOW" ~ "Lord, your mercy and grace overwhelm me" -OR- "Oh my gosh!" Once an Arafat Man is NOT my typical choice of books and even when I received it, I honestly thought it would go on the bottom of my review stack, but I felt the Lord calling me to this book. I am so very thankful! This book is by far my favorite of 2009! Taas Saada was a young man who whatever he set his mind to, he conquered. In his young age he was a very determined young boy who believed strongly in fighting for his people and was destined to be a leader no matter what the situation. This is a story of mercy, of grace, and an amazing look into the Life of a Muslim man and how the Lord can change that heart. You will see how a family can overcome many obstacles despite different belief systems and how the Lord can restore relationships despite the pain caused over many years.I strongly recommend this book on so many levels. It will encourage, inspire, and I must warn you~ You might not be able to put it down!! I know I couldn't.