Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Hezbollah's ancestors?

I'm currently revising my book for the U.S. edition which will be published by WW Norton during next year.

I'm at the stage where Lawrence sets out on a long, behind-the-lines trek into Syria and Lebanon in June 1917. During this mission, he stopped in the Bekaa valley in what is now Lebanon to dynamite a railway bridge. ‘The noise of dynamite explosions we find everywhere the most effective propagandist measure possible’, he wrote afterwards., for the demolitions apparently triggered a revolt by the local Metawala tribesmen. Whether Lawrence did what he claimed has been disputed since: intelligence reports from both the British and the French of an uprising in the area are the strongest evidence there is that he was telling the truth.

The Shiite Metawala were concentrated in southern Lebanon. They were, according to Gertrude Bell ‘an unorthodox sect of Islam’ which had ‘a very special reputation for fanaticism and ignorance’ (The Desert and the Sown, New York 1907, p.160.) I can find little evidence of them today, save for the fact that a village in northern Israel, which was at the centre of the war earlier this summer, is named Metulla. Is there a connection, I wonder. And are the Metawala the ancestors of the modern Hezbollah?

1 comment:

El Despiole said...

I'm finding this very interesting so please keep it up.