Hezbollah: A History of the "Party of God"

Dominique Avon
Anaïs-Trissa Khatchadourian
Translated by Jane Marie Todd
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Harvard University Press
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Hezbollah’s revolutionary role in global politics has invited lionization and vilification, rather than a clear-eyed view of its place in history. Now that the party is in power, how will Hezbollah reconcile its regional obligations with its religious beliefs? This nonpartisan account offers insights that Western media have missed or misunderstood.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-06752-3
    Subjects: Political Science, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xii)
    (pp. 1-8)

    Our working conditions in writing this book—nations at war, keen international tensions, and two opposing Lebanese spheres of influence—have not been the most serene, and we have little control over the context within which it will be received. Then there is an even more difficult matter. The Hezbollah is a politico-religious entity whose frame of reference will be somewhat foreign to those unfamiliar with Arabic and Persian culture, which is profoundly Islamic. Readers are therefore invited to grapple with that reality. They would do well to heed the French intellectual Michel Foucault. Responding to those who interpreted every...

  6. PART I: The “party of God”:: An Itinerary (1982–2009)
    • CHAPTER ONE 1982/1985–1991 A Militia of Professional Revolutionaries for the Disinherited Fringe
      (pp. 11-38)

      The Hezbollah came into being in the midst of the Lebanon Civil War (1975–1990). Lebanese society is more fractured than most, divided by religion, standard of living, and region (the very urbanized coast, the mountain villages and cities, the Bekaa Plain). Over the centuries, the various groups have continually appealed to foreign powers to gain an advantage over their internal adversaries. A given group will characterize one power as a “conqueror,” another as a “liberation force,” while the opposing camp will reverse the terms. There has been progress toward developing a single history textbook for all Lebanese, but in...

    • CHAPTER TWO 1992–2000 A State within the State, the Vietcong in the Heart of Singapore
      (pp. 39-68)

      The end of the war made it possible to resume public administration operations and the reconstruction of Lebanon. The country had been bled dry: according to the estimate most often given, 150,000 had died (5 percent of the population), and tens of thousands of families had fled the country. The Pax syriana was ratified by the Treaty of Brotherhood, Cooperation, and Coordination (May 1991), which placed all questions of security and defense under the control of Damascus and established most-favored nation status for Syria in economic matters. That armed peace led to the marginalization or exile of some of the...

    • CHAPTER THREE 2000–2009 A Model of Recovered Pride, a Contested National Party
      (pp. 69-100)

      When the fervor associated with the liberation of the South subsided, the situation became more strained. In September 2000, in an action that elicited hopes in some quarters and indignation in others, the Assembly of Maronite Bishops publicly raised the question of the Syrian presence in Lebanon. For the Hezbollah, that was intolerable. On one hand, Israel continued to occupy the Shebaa farms as well as the Kfarshouba Hills; on the other, Syria did not maintain an occupation force in Lebanon but was a friendly power that had placed thirty thousand soldiers at the country’s disposal to avert any risk...

  7. PART II: Documents of the Hezbollah
    • OPEN LETTER February 16, 1985
      (pp. 103-129)

      This document was presented at a press conference on February 16, 1985, in the husaniyya of the Shiyāh neighborhood. It was published in the weekly newspaper al-ʿAhd, founded eight months earlier. We present an original and, for the first time, complete [French] translation. According to Régis Blachère—whose translation of the Koranic passages is used here¹— the term “Hezbollah” ought to be rendered literally as “Faction of God.” In the rest of the work, we have preferred to leave it as is or to render it as “Party of God,” now in common use. The same is true for terms...

    • POLITICAL CHARTER November 30, 2009
      (pp. 130-162)

      In the name of God the Beneficent, the Merciful. Praise be to God, Lord of Worlds, prayer and peace on the seal of the prophets, our lord Muhammad, and on his holy family and his noble companions, and on all the prophets and messengers.

      God All-Powerful says in his glorious Book: “Those that fight for Our cause We will surely guide to Our own paths. Surely God is with the righteous” (26:69).

      And the All-Powerful says: “Believers, be devout toward God and seek the right path to Him. Fight valiantly for His cause, so that you may triumph.” (5:35)¹


    (pp. 163-174)

    The Hezbollah is a communitarian group¹ and a security organization based on the explicit principle of fighting an enemy that dates back centuries. Supported by popular Lebanese and Arab constituencies, it promotes the cult of a charismatic leader, defends the homogeneity of its doctrine, sanctifies its military function in the name of the fourteen hundred “martyrs” who have fallen over a quarter century, and retains its allegiance to a non-Lebanese power vested with a transcendent authority. When the battles are few, the gap grows between the daily practice of its sympathizers and its discourse. That presents a Cornelian dilemma: the...

  9. Appendixes
  10. Maps
    (pp. 217-219)
    (pp. 220-222)
    (pp. 223-226)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 227-244)