National Geographic : 1992 Jun
from giving their names for fear of reprisals from the Israeli government or Palestinian extremist groups. Among the most hard-line Palestinians, such friendly gestures toward Israelis are viewed as "collaboration," which often results in assassination. Most Palestinians I know deplore such vio lence, and yet it continues. According to B'Tselem, a private Israeli human-rights group, 571 Palestinians have been killed by other Palestinians since the intifada began. At his office in Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, where the Palestine Liberation Organization is headquartered, Bassam Abu Sharif hands me a photograph in a silver frame. A hand some young man with a neat mustache smiles out at me. It's the way he looked nearly 20 years ago, before a book bomb arrived in the mail at his office in Beirut, blew up, tore part of his face away, ripped fingers from his right hand, and partially blinded him. He believes the book was mailed by Israelis. After many painful operations and much time for reflection, Sharif began to question the PLO's stance on terrorism. Today, like other mainstream PLO leaders, he is "eager to achieve peace." This is a dramatic shift for Sharif and others, once aligned with the PLO factions that bombed planes, hijacked ships, and assassinated hundreds in the name of Pal estinian nationalism in the 1970s. But that approach earned more scorn than sympathy. Now the PLO, which functions as the Pales tinian government in exile, is willing to recog nize Israel in hopes of gaining a homeland in the occupied territories. Though radical fac tions throughout the world still engage in ter rorism against Israelis, Palestinian moderates disassociate themselves from such acts. Sharif is symbolic of new Palestinian leader ship-scarred from the old battles but relying more on reason than force in pursuit of the Pal estinian dream. While most Palestinians still look to people like Yasser Arafat, chairman of the PLO, for leadership, the lines are gradual ly shifting - away from Tunis, toward a newer generation of leaders from Jerusalem and the occupied territories. But for now, Arafat still makes the final decisions. Sophisticated and soft-spoken, Hanan Wedding belle Hayat Tawil was born and raised in the U. S. but met and married her husband, Eyad, during a visit to the West Bank. Her grandmother played matchmaker for this arranged marriage. Unfazed, Hayat says, "That'sthe way I was brought up." The couple now reside in Riverside, California. Despite the modern kitchen in her West Bank home, Nihad al-Tarifi sits on the floor to prepare dinner-not because her mother did, but because it's more comfortable. Who Are the Palestinians?