reviewcomments - -This book has some useful material but...

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- This book has some useful material but it's too biased Norton says that Hezbollah came about as the result of the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon. And he quotes Prime Minister Rabin as asking what he was supposed to do about the threat to Israeli towns anywhere near the Lebanese border. Well, I would like to ask Norton the same question. He sure does not answer it in this book. Norton also challenges the idea that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization, but I think this merely confuses the issue. Hezbollah clearly has a goal of getting rid of human rights for Levantine Jews, by violent means. And Norton says in his conclusion that he hopes that Hezbollah will play a constructive role in the future of Lebanon. But I think that is a little like saying that one hopes the National Socialists will play a constructive role in the future of Germany. I think we all ought to hope that they don't. We ought to be opposing counterproductive organizations, not hoping that they will fare well. This book has met with a very negative review from Jonathan Schanzer in the Jerusalem Post, and I think it is worthwhile to see if that review makes some valid points. Schanzer notes that Hezbollah "exists to further the violent aims of Iran, to demonize and attack the US and to destroy Israel." And he says that Norton "neglects to state this unequivocally and, for that reason, he should be publicly shamed." I agree. By the way, Shanzer has also pointed out that Norton and Sara Roy have written an article in which they say that there can be no Israeli peace process that excludes Hamas. Given that Hamas insists on destroying Israel, this seems to show more than a little bit of bias on Norton's (and Roy's) part as well. There are numerous places in the book where Norton does indeed give some rationalizations for Hezbollah's violent acts, and Shanzer names some of them. And I agree with Shanzer that it would show far more academic honesty, objectivity, and integrity on Norton's part were he to show how weak some of these excuses happen to be. There's some useful material in this book about the nature of Hezbollah, but I think we readers deserve a less biased accounting. - Primer on Lebanese politics This book is entertaining, all too short and rather sloppily edited -- for example whether Israel destroyed 15000 homes (p.111) or 1500 homes (p.144) in the 2006 bombardment, as well as several typographical errors you wouldn't expect in few pages with large print. Moreover it is less about Hezbollah than about Shi'i politics in Lebanon since the 1970s. There are no interviews with Hezbollah officials and only a few quotations from public sources. This is understandable, however: I wanted a book, in 2007, that said _something_ about Hezbollah in the context of the 2006 war, and this provides it. Lebanese politics are intricate and this book doesn't seem to oversimplify matters. Plus there's a chapter that first appeared in a drama journal on the dramaturgy of Ashura. As others have implied
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