Everyday Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam Among Palestinians in Lebanon

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Everyday Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam Among Palestinians in Lebanon

By Bernard Rougier
Harvard University Press, 2007
360 pp. $28.95

Palestinian refugees comprise about 12 percent of Lebanon's population. Considered foreigners by law (only a handful have obtained Lebanese citizenship since 1948), they are subject to a number of onerous restrictions, and somewhat more than 60 percent live in 12 United Nations Relief and Works Agency camps that have become semisovereign small towns. Everyday Jihad builds on an in-depth case study of everyday politics in one such camp, Ain al-Helweh, to explain the larger role of the Palestinians in Lebanon. It is a complex and depressing story. The organizing theme, as the subtitle suggests, is that the Palestine Liberation Organization, once the preeminent force among Palestinians in Lebanon, is losing out to jihadists as nationalist ideology gives way to Islamism. An implicit theme is that of the Palestinians as an alien underclass in Lebanon and the region -- caught up in ongoing Lebanese politics while remaining outsiders, manipulated by Syria, and embracing political programs, once nationalist and now increasingly Islamist, that hold out scant chance of being realized.

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