Musaddaq Masri balances two lives. As a 27-year-old English major at An-Najah University, he waxes enthusiastic about a course in the American short story: He's reading Ernest Hemingway's ``The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.''
But he is also a Palestinian, a relative of Zafer Masri, the former mayor of Nablus who was assassinated in March by rival Palestinians.
He was eight years old when the Israelis first arrived on the West Bank. He has traveled to America, which he likes, and, at age 19, to Jordan and Syria for what he calls ``theoretical training.'' There, he learned to use a Kalashnikov assault rifle, although he insists he never took part in paramilitary activity.
Returning to the West Bank, he was arrested by the Israelis for membership in the Palestine Liberation Organization and spent four years in prison. ``I had to write an affidavit about what I did and what I think. I was thinking,'' he adds after a pause, that ``if I had the opportunity to do [terrorism], I would do.''
But he cannot justify hijackings or embassy bombings and sees no purpose behind Palestinian terrorism in Europe. Since the goal is to resist Israel, especially on the West Bank, ``the main place to do it is here.''
He insists, however, that violence is ``not our aim,'' but that Palestinians have been driven to it by ``daily harassment.''
He complains that those who condemn the paramilitary activist ``don't look at his background -- he didn't have anything to lose.''