Born in Jerusalem in 1928, P.J. Vatikiotis grew up in the cosmopolitan and colourful town of Haifa, whose population was then evenly divided between Arabs and Jews. A member of the small Greek community in Palestine, he thus grew up alongside Arabs and Jews in the turbulent years of the 1930s and 1940s. He was at school with the later notorious PFLP leader Wadi Haddad and he lost a friend in the bombing of the King David Hotel. He writes with affection and humour of his friends in both communities and about what it felt like to be living in an increasingly polarised society. The Second World War brought a temporary respite to the Arab-Jewish conflict, uniting British, Jews and Greeks against the Axis powers. But after 1945 the conflict resumed with increasing ferocity - with the Jews better organised and more determined - and he realised that the old cosmopolitan world that he knew in the Middle East was disappearing. After four years at the American University in Cairo, Vatikiotis left Egypt in 1949 for the USA, seen off by three Jewish, five Arab, two Greek and two Anglo-Italian friends. Both in the USA and in Britain- he moved to London University in the 1960s - Vatikiotis helped to get Middle Eastern Studies established. One of the world's leading Middle East scholars, he continued to resist the creeping politicisation of this subject. "Among Arabs and Jews" is written with a rare and objective insight into one of the world's most volatile areas, and is essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand the politics and people of the region. P. J. Vatikiotis is Emeritus Professor of Politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies in the University of London. He has taught at several North American universities and has lectured and travelled widely in the Middle East.
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