In This Review

My Enemy's Enemy: Lebanon in the Early Zionist Imagination, 1900-1948
My Enemy's Enemy: Lebanon in the Early Zionist Imagination, 1900-1948
By Laura Zittrain Eisenberg
Wayne State University Press, 1994, 219 pp

When General Ariel Sharon's troops slammed into Lebanon in the summer of 1982, their purpose was not only to drive out the PLO, but also to bring to power a friendly Maronite government led by Bashir Gemayel. The idea of an "alliance of minorities," based on the "enemy of my enemy" notion, had deep roots in Zionist thinking. Indeed, before Israeli statehood, as this excellent historical study shows, the relations between Zionists and some Maronite leaders were far-reaching. In 1946, a treaty of sorts was even signed with the Maronite religious establishment, but the peace proved as ephemeral as the 1983 agreement between Lebanon and Israel. Eisenberg sympathetically explains the motives and misperceptions that led to the belief that Christian Lebanon could be detached from the surrounding Arab region as an ally of Zionism, but she also shows the project had no realistic chance, and she implicitly warns against ignoring the lessons of history. This study drives home that ideas, once they take hold, are often resistant to reassessment, even when the evidence is overwhelmingly against them. A gracefully written, well-researched book that makes excellent use of Zionist archival materials, interviews, and documents in French archives.