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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive and accurate work. A must., 12 Nov. 2010
This review is from: Sabra and Shatila: September 1982 (Paperback)
The more accurate, documented and impressive work about the sabra and chatila massacre. Reccomended to everyone that study these arguments, or simply wants to be really informed on what happened in that damned days in Beirut. Sensitive and detailed. And most of all, truly referenced. Different from the usually "as everybody knows", "as someone told", "somebody reported that" documents. Names and facts. That's it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Best account so far of the massacre of Sabra and Shatila, 2 Oct. 2014
Ben Alofs (Bangor, North Wales, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sabra and Shatila: September 1982 (Paperback)
A lot has been written and said about the massacre of Sabra and Shatila, which took place in September 1982 in Beirut during Israel's Lebanon invasion. This is the most important and thorough book about the massacre to date and I doubt if it will ever be bettered. I say this as someone who has witnessed the massacre first hand. Back then in September 1982 I was amongst a group of foreign medical volunteers working in Gaza Hospital in Sabra in West-Beirut. We were taken prisoner by the Christian phalangists, who were committing the massacre, but their Israeli masters forced them to hand us over to them and we were subsequently released. What I saw in Sabra and Shatila in September 1982 has been burned in my memory forever.
One of the ways to cope with my experience was to read everything about the subject I could lay my hand on, in order to make sense of it all. How did it happen? And why?
I consider myself as very knowledgeable on the subject. From this perspective I can say with utmost confidence that Bayan al-Hout's book is by far the most important and authoritative publication on the massacre by far.
For years she interviewed survivors and set up an oral history project and did painstaking research into the identity of the victims. She gave names to the anonymous dead in the form of an impressive and detailed name list, found nowhere else. Of particular value too is the exhaustive bibliography in the back of her book.

In her introduction she lays out the major objectives:
"1. To show conclusively that what took place in Sabra and Shatila between 16 and 18 September 1982 was a massacre, not a battle.
2. To show conclusively that the Palestine Liberation Organization did not break its promises, since there were definitely not 2500 Palestinian fighters either in Sabra and Shatila or in West-Beirut as a whole.
3. To show conclusively the incorrectness of the victim count in the two reports (the Jermanos and Kahan reports - BA), and to provide evidence for estimated figures closer to reality.
4. To document victims' names as far as possible, based on various primary sources.
5. To specify the identity of the militias and members carrying out the massacre."

Bayan al-Hout succeeds in achieving these objectives in a most impressive way.
Since the book was first published in 2004 new details have come to light, which should rekindle the discussion regarding Israel's (direct) role in the massacre. I refer to the book of veteran Lebanon-based French journalist Alain Menargues "Les Secrets de la Guerre du Liban" (Albin Michel 2004), in which he claims that soldiers of the elite unit Sayeret Mat'Kal quietly carried out a series of targeted assassinations of 63 Palestinian intellectual cadres (lawers, doctors, teachers etc.) after the Israeli army had surrounded the camps, but before the Lebanese militiamen were told to enter. It is clear that the last word about this massacre has not been said or written, even now when some of those carrying prime responsibility (Ariel Sharon and Elie Hobeika) are no longer alive.

But why pay so much attention to a massacre that happened 32 years ago, one would ask? If one looks at the atrocities being carried out in Syria and Iraq, that question is legitimate.
In my own personal opinion "Sabra and Shatila" was not just a massacre, but one which aimed to achieve a political goal. It was Sharon's design to terrorise and uproot the Palestinian refugees from Lebanon and drive them out, to Syria and from there to Jordan, which in Sharon's view was the Palestinian state to be. Sharon no doubt was aware of the effect the massacre of Deir Yasin had on the Palestinians in 1948. This was carried out by Irgun, commanded by Sharon's fellow Likudnik prime minister Begin. Begin proudly claimed that "Deir Yasin" had been a decisive factor in the creation of the State of Israel

But Bayan al-Hout does not talk about the wider political implications of the massacre of Sabra and Shatila. Her responsility as an academic is to achieve the objectives as laid out above. She states herself: "This is not a definitive piece of research about Sabra and Shatila; everything so far released about the massacre, this book included, remains deficient. The full horrifying picture of the massacre will not be supplied till the diaries of victims' families witnessing the events are published, including the diaries of people who were still adolescents during those three bloody days.
By the same token the picture will not be complete until the witnessing Israeli soldiers and officers, along with the attackers themselves, have matured appreciably. Those large numbers of people who watched or took part in the massacre were mostly in their twenties or thirties then. Some of these, inevitably, will recount their memories after they retire.
Research into massacres can only be said to end, finally, with the death of all the witnesses and killers. This implies the passage of two, even three generations."
So while this is not a definitive account, it is certainly the best one available so far.

Biographical details about Bayan Nuwayhed al-Hout. Born in Jerusalem to Lebanese parents, who moved back to Lebanon in the late 1950s. She gained a Ph.D. in political science from the Lebanese University in Beirut, where she has been teaching from 1979 onwards. She is the widow of Shafiq al-Hout, former PLO representative in Lebananon and outspoken politician and writer, who hailed from Jaffa.
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Sabra and Shatila: September 1982
Sabra and Shatila: September 1982 by Bayan Nuwayhed Al-Hout (Paperback - 20 Aug. 2004)
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