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  You are in: Home > Jewish Studies > The Jews of Lebanon  

The Jews of Lebanon
Between Coexistence and Conflict

Kirsten E. Schulze

Author text to follow


This is the first book to tell the story of the Jews of Lebanon in the twentieth century. It challenges the prevailing view that Jews everywhere in the Middle East were second-class citizens, and were persecuted after the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. The Jews of Lebanon were just one of Lebanon’s 23 minorities with the same rights and privileges, and subject to the same political tensions. The author discusses the Jewish presence in Lebanon under Ottoman Rule; Lebanese Jews under the French mandate; Lebanese Jewish identity after the establishment of the State of Israel; the increase of the community through Syrian refugees; the Jews' position in the first civil war; the beginning of their exodus; the virtual extinction of the Jewish community as a result of the prolonged second civil war and the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon; and finally the community's memory of their Lebanese past.

List of Illustrations
Foreword by Avi Shlaim
List of Abbreviations
Note on Transliteration

Jewish life in the Arab Middle East
Jewish life in Lebanon
A literary survey

Chapter One: A Voyage through History
The historical legacy
Lebanon under Ottoman Rule
The Lebanese Jewish community
Culture, education and religion

Chapter Two: Lebanese Jews under the French Mandate: Liberty, Fraternity and Equality
Grand Liban and the mandate
Merchants and financiers
Inter-communal relations and community life
The Lebanese Zionist project and contacts with the Yishuv
The Palestine question
The Second World War and the Vichy regime

Chapter Three: Lebanese and Israeli Independence: Questions of Identity
Lebanese independence and the National Pact
The Jewish community and the political situation, 1943–1948
Two women remember: a privileged life in Lebanon
The establishment of the State of Israel
Jewish refugees and unavoidable changes
Syrian refugees

Chapter Four: The First Civil War: Conflict of Identities
Dual loyalties
The Jewish community and the political situation, 1949–1957
Community life, 1943–1958
The first Lebanese civil war
Political and cultural identification

Chapter Five: The Beginning of the Exodus
The Chehabist “miracle”
Syrian Jewish emigration and immigration
The departure of Rabbi Lichtman
The new Chief Rabbi
Jewish Loyalty, Allegiance and Spies
Inter-communal relations and community life between the 1958 civil war and the 1967 June War

Chapter Six: The Road to the Second Lebanese Civil War
From the June War to the Cairo Agreement: the arrival of the fedayeen and the first departure of Lebanese Jews
Years of decline: Lebanon and the Jewish community, 1970–1975
Stepping up Syrian Jewish exfiltration
Syrian revenge
Threats to the exfiltration operation
The second civil war
A community in liquidation

Chapter Seven: The Israeli Invasion and Beyond: Renaissance or Decline?
Operation Peace for Galilee
The last family in Saida
Renaissance in Beirut
A failed peace
The war continues, 1985–1989
The end of the civil war

Chapter Eight: Conjectures, Considerations, and Conclusions: A Sentimental Journey
The community in history
The Arab–Israeli conflict
A history of Lebanon

1 Jewish Community Presidents, 1910–1999
2 Chief Rabbis, 1908–1978



Second revised and expanded edition

“An outstanding sociopolitical history of the Jewish community of Lebanon. Highly recommended.” Choice

“Dr Schulze uses a rich panoply of sources to provide a comprehensive discourse on the social, economic, political, cultural and religious aspects of the life of the Jews of Lebanon. She succeeds in placing the Jewish community in the broader context of Lebanese and Middle Eastern politics, and makes a highly significant and substantive contribution to the study on minorities in the Middle East.” From the foreword by Professor Avi Shlaim, St Antony’s College, Oxford

“In this update of the 2001 edition, Schulze (international history, London School of Economics; Israel’s Covert Diplomacy in Lebanon, 1998) counters conventional thinking about the status of Jews in Lebanon. Without denying that there has been some discrimination against Lebanese Jews historically, she argues that they have been treated much like the rest of the country’s many minority groups. Furthermore, she maintains that recent mass emigration of the community is due more to the 1982 Israeli invasion rather than to national policies or civil wars. The book includes maps, photos, and listings of the country’s Jewish community presidents and chief rabbis.” Reference & Research Book News


Publication Details

Paperback ISBN:
Page Extent / Format:
224 pp. / 229 x 152 mm
Release Date:
November 2008
  Illustrated:   Pictures of Jewish Lebanese Life
Paperback Price:
£22.50 / $42.50

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