Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tragedy in South Lebanon by Cathy Sultan

Tragedy in South Lebanon

Tragedy in South Lebanon:
The Israeli-Hezbollah War of 2006
by Cathy Sultan

Trade Paperback: 172 pages
Publisher: Scarletta Press
First Released: 2008

Author Website
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Source: Review copy from publisher

Back Cover Description:
Cathy Sultan combines compelling history and vivid personal interviews to relate the lives of the oft-ignored civilians of southern Lebanon and northern Israel during the July war of 2006. She also addresses media treatment of the war and policy decisions, both historical and contemporary, made by Lebanon, Israel and the US. She discusses how divisive factions within the current Lebanese government leave the country teetering on the brink of yet more violence, imploring government officials on all sides to act with foresight, compassion and responsibility. Features include a chronology of Lebanese history, maps depicting wartime activity and a glossary of Middle Eastern terms.

Tragedy in South Lebanon tells the history of Israel and Lebanon leading up to, during, and after the The Israeli-Hezbollah War of 2006. This book left me feeling frustrated because it kept slipping from a fair and balanced view of the situation to one-sided reporting, finger-pointing with no supporting evidence (or contradictory evidence given later in the book), and unrealistic expectations. For example, the author often blames the USA for everything wrong in the region and thinks the USA virtually controls every move made in the Middle East. Yet she later gives details about the situation that prove this not true.

The first 29 pages were the worst. The section about the 2006 war (lasting 30 pages) included several excellent interviews from people on all sides of the conflict. It was the best section of the book. The remaining sections often slipped into giving only one side so that the actions of the USA and Israel seemed completely baffling as well as deliberately unethical. (In reality, probably some of those decisions were unethical, others poor judgment or mistakes due to poor information, and some would have made sense if the reasons were given.) I also found it annoying that she often told the reader what value judgments to make about the facts instead of letting the reader come to their own conclusions.

So why was I so frustrated? If the author left out the bias, gave the full picture, and let the facts (from both sides) speak for themselves, then I think the facts would have convinced many people into taking action. Instead, I was left wondering how accurate her view of the situation was due to the frequent obvious bias in the information she gave.

And, though she used many excellent sources, the number of newsletters and newspaper articles she used as sources for her facts only increased my concern about the accuracy of her information. I've been interviewed by newspaper reporters before and know how inaccurate newspaper articles can be. I was left wondering if she double-checked the information with other sources.

So this book has useful information, but it doesn't give the full picture. The black-and-white maps were very easy to understand, and the author was not anti- one faith or the other--faith played little role in her analysis. However, the only people I think would thoroughly enjoy this book are those who think the USA is responsible for all of the Middle East's woes and that modern war is the equivalent of terrorism.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Chapter One
South Lebanon's continued descent into chaos has, to a large degree, been fomented by foreign powers. The root cause of the 2006 Israeli-Hezbollah war can be traced back to the 1968 cross-border skirmishes between the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Israeli Army. The PLO guerrillas occupied villages in South Lebanon from where they launched attacks into northern Israel. The Israeli Army responded with reprisal raids, killing civilians, destroying homes, crops and entire villages. A decade later, twenty-five thousand Israeli troops invaded South Lebanon to wipe out PLO guerrillas who continued to lob Katyusha rockets across their
border. The PLO evacuated the region ahead of the advancing Israeli troops leaving villagers to face a powerful military force unarmed. During the two-month siege five thousand innocent civilians were killed.

1 comment:

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