Monday, August 04, 2003

Review of Jacobo Timmerman's The Longest War: Israel in Lebanon

It is clear that Jacobo Timmerman's book The Longest War: Israel in Lebanon was not inspired by any facts about Israel or Lebanon. It is a series of ramblings about how evil Israel was with respect to her intervention in Lebanon. It is clearly the musings and feelings of a dogmatic leftist who did not at all understand the political realities of the middle east and was in the mood for a writing project. Israel, his home at the time, lucked out.

The book just goes on and on about how wrong the whole thing is and how blind people must be, not to see it. What makes the book so awful though is its complete inability to separate reality from the author's perception of it. The solipsism abounds. There is no sense that the author was aware that there was a war going on prior to Israel's involvement, you actually do not get the feeling that the war was bigger than Sharon, Begin, the Israeli right and those who Israel killed. The Lebanon War, like all wars, has a context. Without information about this context, any war is just about who killed whom from the time officially designated "beginning-of-war" till the time designated "end-of war". This is obviously the dumbest way to think about war, but Timmerman does it nonetheless, and this is how Israel's involvement in Lebanon is portrayed. It is sad to see such a narrow book in print.

What is even worse is that I never got the feeling that the author ever really understood the victims he rambles on about so much. For him the Lebanese and Palestinians are simply objects-of-pity rather than real people. They are things he can use to purse an anti-Sharon/anti-Begin agenda. It is quite sad.

Don't bother with this book. I learned nothing except how uninformed people can be about a subject and still write a book about it.