Ferdinand Smit Papers

Biographical / Historical Note

Born in Leiden, the Netherlands 1959; studied archeology and Arabic at the Universities of Amsterdam and Leiden; served during his study as an interpreter and information officer of the Dutch UNIFIL battalion, which was camped in the south of Lebanon as part of a United Nations interposition force after the Israeli invasion in 1982; witnessed the rise of the Hizbollah, which became the main opponent of the Israeli occupation; entered the Netherlands Foreign Service and was sent out to Cairo and Damascus; worked at the office of the UN Special Coordinator in Gaza, Palestine 1996-1999; tragically killed in March 2000 while on a tour with two friends in Mali; his thesis, The Battle for South Lebanon: The Radicalization of Lebanon's Shi' ites 1982-1985, on the radicalisation of Lebanon's shi'ites and the rise of the Hezbollah was published posthumously.


Schenking Els Smit, weduwe van Ferdinand Smit 2000


Collection of documents used for his thesis `The Battle for South Lebanon. The Radicalisation of Lebanon's Shi'ites 1982-1985' consisting of files on the Dutch foreign policy in the Lebanon and the Middle East and on the position of the Dutch UNIFIL battalion, including documents of its Military Information Section and copies of minutes of meetings at the UNIFIL Headquarters in Naqura 1979-1992; reports of the Foreign Broadcast Information Services (FBIS) 1980-1981; photocopies of scholarly publications 1971-1999 and press clippings from Lebanese, Israeli and other newspapers 1981-1998; some personal documents, including drafts of his thesis and correspondence on his doctorate 1996-2000.

The collection consists of two parts: a part with official documents produced by the Dutch UNIFIL Battalion and the Dutch Foreign Ministry, and a second part consisting of non-official, mostly academic material, gathered by Ferdinand Smit for the research of his dissertation. The first part consists, firstly, of sections of the files of the Middle East Section (DAM/MO)of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.These are mainly regular reports sent by the various diplomatic posts in the region, with special emphasis on the cables from the Dutch embassies in Tel Aviv, Beirut and Damascus. Secondly the collection consists of sections of the archive of the Military Information Section of the Dutch UNIFIL Detachment over the period 1979 to October 1985. This part contains mostly of the daily reports - ‘Summary of Incidents' - of Military Information Officers (MIO) attached to each UNIFIL battalion that were sent to the UNIFIL Headquarters in Naqura. This part also includes the regular updates on developments sent by the Dutch battalion to the Dutch General Staff in The Hague, in addition to the so-called Senior Military Information Officer (SMIO) Conferences which include political reports on the political and security situation in South Lebanon. The second part of the collection consists of newspaper clippings of the Lebanese, Israeli and international press about South Lebanon and the Foreign Broadcast Information Center series (FBIS) for the period 1981-1999. Secondly it consists of academic material photocopied by Ferdinand Smit for the research for his dissertation. The collection also includes original Amal and Hizbollah publications.

Processing Information

List made by Roel Meijer in 2001.