Hezbollah: Born with a Vengeance
by Hala Jaber
New York: Columbia University Press, 1997. 247 pp. $29.95.
Reviewed by Patrick Clawson
Middle East Quarterly
Lebanese Hizbullah has become an important actor in Middle East politics through its attacks on Israel and Israelis. Jaber, a journalist who writes for British papers, offers a short survey that looks at the "party of God" from its origins through the 1996 Grapes of Wrath campaign. She presents Israel especially and also the United States in a bad light wherever possible; in her telling, an Israeli blunder of ignorantly sending an armored column through the Shi‘i town of Nabatiya on the holy day of `Ashura becomes "tightening the noose to ensure the submission of the Shiites." She also writes approvingly of "Hezbollah's belief that Israel exists to execute American policy."
Despite its political bias and historical errors, Jaber's account would still be useful if it presented new information about Hizbullah's activities and organization; but it does not. Long quotes are presented without even a hint of their date or context. Suspiciously precise figures are cited without any evidence about sources ("In 1992, the [Hizbullah] Relief Committee distributed $1,998,670.87 dollars to 6,885 families"). Information derives from the standard second-hand accounts and the standard translation services. Nothing in the volume reflects what Jaber claims was her "unparalleled access with the leadership of the Party of God."
Related Topics: Lebanon, Terrorism | Patrick Clawson | March 1998 MEQ
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