CONFLICT AND VIOLENCE IN LEBANON: Confrontation in the Middle East by Walid Khalidi

CONFLICT AND VIOLENCE IN LEBANON: Confrontation in the Middle East

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In this concise, well-documented account of the Lebanese Civil War of 1975-1976 and its aftermath, Prof. Khalidi--of the American University of Beirut and Harvard, and director of the Institute for Palestine Studies--traces the historical development of the crisis, analyzes its components, and offers his own interpretation of its causes and prognosis for solution. Deftly, he presents the actors in the multi-faceted ""Lebanese box"": Muslims (Sunnis and Shi'ites), Christians, Druze, the PLO, ruling elites, and refugees. And, nimbly, he exposes their reactions to the outside forces which have battered the fragile alliance of Christians and Muslims since World War II and eventually caused the Lebanese confessional experiment to self-destruct: modernization, political radicalization, the shifting interrelationships of the Arab states, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and superpower pressure. Lebanon was heading for the impending explosion but the influx of Palestinian refugees upsetting the Christian-Muslim population balance and the shift of PLO bases from Jordan to Lebanon exacerbated the tensions and touched off the civil war in 1975. It ended in 1976 with the Arab summit conference in Cairo but ignored the Palestinians. Updating Kamal S. Salibi's analysis, Crossroads to Civil War (1976), Khalidi presents his own scenario. By the end of 1977 and Sadat's Jerusalem visit, the Lebanese realized that their Palestinian problem would not evaporate and were ready to put their own house in order. But the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in March 1978--in reaction to the terrorist attack on the Tel-Aviv bus--pulled Lebanon directly into the ""vortex"" of the Arab-Israeli quagmire. The PLO's creditable stand against the Israeli march into south Lebanon, Begin's decision to ""go all out for"" the Litani River, and the resulting transfer of this border zone to Major Haddad's Christian forces re-polarized Lebanese politics and created a new tinderbox ready to explode. Whether or not one accepts Khalidi's view that the ""core issue of the Palestinians"" is the key issue of the Lebanese crisis, his slim, well-written volume is an illuminating introduction to the complicated Lebanese situation.

Pub Date: March 17th, 1980
Publisher: Harvard Univ. Center for International Affairs (1737 Cambridge St., Cambridge, Mass. 02138)