Today a New York Times columnist, Thomas Friedman was posted in Beirut in 1979, covering the Lebanese civil war first for UPI and later for the Times. He then moved to Jerusalem, and his insights on both Lebanese and Israeli society are especially relevant today. Writing about the 1982 invasion, Friedman notes: “Each Israeli soldier entering Lebanon was given a red-and-white pamphlet entitled LEBANON, published by the Israeli army education corps. The entire 14-page pamphlet, a condensed history of Lebanon, contained only two passing references to the Shiites, Lebanon’s largest single religious community in the 1980s.”
As a Jew, Friedman struggles with the biggest story of his life, the massacre at the Palestinian camps Sabra and Shatila: “One part of me wanted to nail Begin and Sharon… Yet, another part of me was also looking for alibis — something that would prove Begin and Sharon innocent, something that would prove Begin and Sharon couldn’t have known what was happening.”
Friedman has repeatedly updated the original 1990 volume, adding chapters and notes based on current events.