memoir

Resistance: My Life for Lebanon - review by Laura Fokkena

In 1988, Soha Bechara bought some Jane Fonda workout tapes in preparation for her new job as personal aerobics instructor to the wife of Antoine Lahad, chief of militia in charge of Israeli-occupied southern Lebanon, a job Bechara took with the clandestine intention of assassinating her boss's husband. The image of this twenty-year-old Lebanese revolutionary, revolver in her purse, using a mixture of French and Arabic to talk about building the abdominal muscles while Hanoi Jane does jumping jacks in the background has to be one of the most compelling -- if bizarre -- representations of war, occupation, and the surrealism of postcolonialism to emerge in the last decade. Eventually Bechara would put two bullets in Lahad's chest. He lived, but her act earned her ten years in a Lebanese prison. Bechara's autobiography, Resistance: My Life For Lebanon (Soft Skull Press, 2003) works on many levels. It's an accessible introduction to the mess that was Lebanon during the civil war. It's an insider's guide to making revolution. It's an expose of Khiam, a prison in southern Lebanon created by the Israelis and then left to be managed by the South Lebanon Army (SLA), their proxy in the region. Mostly, though, it's an autobiography that explains how a girl born in 1967 goes from attending family weddings and watching television with her friends to becoming a would-be assassin.

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