Life in the city goes on, especially in fashionable Ras Beirut, still largely unscathed. On every wall, posters of Gamal Abdel Nasser, Yasser Arafat, Ayatollah Khomeini, and Palestinian martyrs compete for space with spray-can graffiti in Arabic: “The Land Belongs to the Steadfast”; “Revolution Is the Road to Liberation”; “No U. S. Bases in the Middle East.” Yet American and Egyptian films pack theaters along Rue Hamra. Supermarkets are well stocked. Nearby, one still finds Paris couture at Milady, works in English at Uncle Sam’s Bookstore, fast food at Kentucky Fried Chicken, and fast ladies at the Dolce Vita or the No Name Bar. What chilled me was how many in Beirut had adapted to the anarchy. At a friend’s apartment on Rue Madame Curie I heard horror stories: a cousin cut down stepping out of her car; the small grocery on the first floor bombed, smashing most of the building’s windows. To get home that night, my host had to detour around a shoot-out. A machine gun crackled outside. I jumped. “Take it easy.” My friend smiled. “It’s probably just a wedding celebration.” BEIRUT, JANUARY 1975. Armed soldiers lead me through labyrinthine back streets, up a dark stairway to a midnight rendezvous. Only a bare bulb lights the temporary command post; Yasser Arafat, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, seldom dares spend two days in the same place. “Our argument is not with the Jews,” he tells me. “We are both Semites. They have lived with us for centuries. Our enemies are the Zionist colonizers and their backers who insist Palestine belongs to them exclusively. We Arabs claim deep roots there too.” Two decades ago Palestinians were to be found in United Nations Relief Agency camps at places like Gaza and Jericho, in a forlorn and pitiable state. While Palestinian spokesmen pressed their case in world capitals, the loudest voice the world heard was that of terrorists, with whom the word Palestinian came to be associated. Jordan fought a war to curb them. The disintegration of Lebanon was due in part to the thousands of refugees within its borders. Prospects for peace brightened, however, when President Anwar Sadat of Egypt, most powerful of the Arab countries, made his historic trip to Israel in November 1977. A year later Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin signed the Camp David accords, a framework for the return of the occupied Sinai Peninsula to Egypt. The former enemies established diplomatic relations and opened mail, telephone, and airline communications.