From Beirut to Jerusalem - A book by Thomas
Friedman, published in 1989.
Friedman was in Beirut from 1979 to 1981 as a UPI reporter, then
from 1982 to 1984 as a correspondent for the New York Times.
From 1984 to 1988, he was in Jerusalem for the Times.
Lebanon was in a civil was from 1975 to 1991, and Friedman reported
on the Israeli invasion in 1982 and the departure of the PLO, as well as the American peacekeeping
mission. Friedman also covered the first Palestinian
Intifada in 1987.
This book covers a lot of ground. I'll try and summarize the main
- Prelude: From Minneapolis to Beirut
The author discuses
the chain of events that lead to this book. Thomas Friedman is an
American Jew born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In the 1968, he
visited Israel for the first time and became very interested in the
subject of Israel. He studied modern Israeli history and spent
high-school summers in Israel. In college, he studied Arabic and
spent a semester in Egypt. He also got a master's in Middle Eastern
Studies at Oxford University. After that he became a reporter for
United Press International (UPI). Then he had adventures in the
The second half of this chapter summarizes the events that lead to the
Lebanese Civil War, and why the PLO was involved.
- Would You Like to Eat Now or Wait for the Cease-fire?
A description of life in Beirut. Somebody blows up the author's
apartment building. Random killing. Comparison between life in
Beirut and Thomas Hobbes' default state of nature: Life in Beirut
was nasty, brutish, and short, but not poor and solitary. How people
cope psychologically with life when there is so much killing and death.
(Tom later suggested in a column that Americans learn to play these
kinds of mind games to get over 9/11/2001.)
- Beirut: City of Versions
What it was like as a reporter in Beirut.
- Hama Rules
A description of the Hama incident. And an explanation of the rules
of the game. There are three "political traditions" at
work: tribe-like politics, authoritarianism, and nationalism.
- The Teflon Guerrilla
- Inside the Kaleidoscope: The Israeli Invasion of Lebanon
"Ariel Sharon never sent Yasir Arafat flowers." Menachem
Begin, Prime Minister of Israel, invades Lebanon to kick out the
PLO. Begin enlists the Lebanese Christian Maronite Phalangist militia
to help him because he sees them as the good guys. (Spoiler: there are
no good guys in this story.) The PLO is forced to leave; they are
exiled from the land of their exile.
- Poker, Beirut-Style
The Phalangist leader Bashir Gemayel is elected president of
Lebanon. President Hafez Assad of Syria has him killed. Then the
Israelis sat around and watched as the Phalangists killed a thousand
Palestinian refugees in the camps of Shatila and Sabra.
- Betty Crocker in Dante's Inferno
U. S. Marines arrive in Beirut. They get tricked into propping up
the so-called "legitimate government," which was just
Amin Gemayel and a bunch of his militia cronies. Stupid Americans,
sicking our noses into other people's business.
- The End of Something
The civil war between the Christians and the Muslims heats up again,
and the government falls apart. Lebanon gets depressing.
Tom gets bored and prepares to leave. The peace movement fails.
Tom arrives in Israel. A discussion about how it it impossible for
the Israelis to achieve all of the three goals of Zionism: (1)
Create a Jewish state (2) Be a democracy and (3) locate that state
in all of historical Palestine. It turn out that you can have any
two of them at once. Between 1948 and 1967, they had (1) and (2), but
not (3). Between 1967 and the present, there was a Jewish state that
controlled all of the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan
River, but the Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza were not
citizens of that state, so it was not democratic. And if the Israelis
had made them citizens, the Israel would no longer be a predominately
Jewish state. (As an American quasi-Christian who believes strongly
in separation of church and state, this option makes the most sense
to me. But it's not my country.)
- Whose Country is This, Anyway?
A discussion of the four main factions in Israel:
- Secular Zionists. 50%. These guys believe in a Jewish state,
but it's a nation thing and an ethnic thing, not a religion thing.
- Religious Zionists. 30%. Same as above, but are also religious.
- Religious Zionists with a Messianic Bent. 5%. These are the
scary guys who are looking for the Messiah. They expect the
extension of the Jewish state to the West Bank and Gaza to bring the
- Ultra-Orthodox Non-Zionist Jews (Haredim). 15%. They don't
really care about politics.
- The Fault Line
A description of life in the West
Bank and Gaza before the Intifada. In other words, why Palestinians hate the Israelis
- The Earthquake
The first Intifada.
- Under the Spotlight
A discussion of the media's involvement in the first Intifada.
- Israel and American Jews: Who Is Dreaming about Whom?
Israeli Jews need American Jews because of all the money and support
the U. S. gives Israel. At the same time, Israelis wonder why more
Jews would rather live in America than Israel. There is also a
discussion in this chapter about how the official state religion in
Israel is Orthodox Judaism, and how the more liberal Reform and Conservative branches
are almost nonexistent in Israel. (As an American, I see
state-sponsored religion as very, very
- Conclusion: From Beirut to Jerusalem to Washington
Tom leaves us with a question: does America have what it takes to fix
things up in middle east?
From Beirut to Jerusalem E2 Writeup, Copyright 2002 Frank Grimes.
This writeup is dedicated to the public domain. Do with it what you will. (For details, see http://creativecommons.org/licenses/publicdomain/ )
--Frank Grimes, 2007