The Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies has published two new books: Dr. Wajih Kawtharani’s The Problematics of State and Community and Issues of Methodology in Lebanese Historical Writing: From Communal Refuge to Confessional Infestation (102 pages) and Salih Saib al-Jabbouri’s Palestine’s Plight: Political and Military Secrets (654 pages).
In his book, Kawtharani discusses the range of perceptions found among Lebanese historians, with their varying sectarian or communal affiliations, regarding the emergence of a modern Lebanese state, and their theoretical and ideological sources for writing history. He addresses a set of hypotheses common among Maronite historians, such as the notion of Lebanon as a refuge, as expounded by Henri Lammens and adopted by Jawad Boulos, and the need to “clean out the cobwebs,” in Kamal Salibi’s writings, which Kawtharani applies in developing his thought on Amir Fakhreddine al-Mani. He also reviews the works of Ibrahim Awwad and Tawfiq Touma concerning the cadastral system and private ownership in Mount Lebanon. The book considers Druze history from the perspectives of Abbas Abu Salih and Sami Makarem; Sunni history through Mohammad Jamil Bayhum’s works; and Shiite history through the writings of Ali Zain and Mohammad Jabir al-Safa. Kawtharani concludes his study with a critical perspective on historical methodology as reflected in the work of these historians. He observes that the historical pyramid in Lebanon is inverted: what should be demanded is not a clearing of the confessional cobwebs to help consolidate the state, but the cleansing of Lebanese policies in order to first construct the nation-state; this cannot be achieved without an effort to secularize policy-making as the basis for citizenship.
Al-Jabbouri, who was the chief of staff of the Iraqi Army at the time of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, provides a detailed account of the key events of the war in his book, making it an important landmark in the writing of Arab military history, specifically Iraq’s military, and a major contribution to the history of contemporary Palestine. The book corrects many inaccurate but widespread accounts found in Arabic writing about the role of the Arab armies in the war, including the falsehood that “there were no orders”. Al-Jabbouri illuminates a historical truth, a step toward informing a vital awareness of this major milestone in Arab history. The book includes a historical presentation on the cause of Palestine, as well as Zionism and the British Mandate period. It explores the political developments leading up to the outbreak of fighting in Palestine in the aftermath of the 1947 Partition decision, and details the military movements of the Iraqi Army and the battles it fought up until the signing of the armistice agreements and the delivery of the Palestinian territories to the Jordanian Army. Lastly, the book offers insight into the tri-partite Suez attack against Egypt in 1956 and the 1967 War, accompanied by reports, appendices, charts, and maps.
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