Ecce Homo …

Some on this blog have a fascination with Hizbullah leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. It’s hard not to, regardless of your opinion of the group. I, myself, have written:

(Although I would add at the risk of being criticized that Nasrallah is the very image of Lebanese patience, sophistication, and cunning and I imagine it would be quite fun to hear his stories of dealing with some of the stone-age cretins he must come across when travelling to Iran and across the clerical world and hearing about his dealing with the cold-war, cold-brain miscreants within the Syrian Leviathan.)

Leaving aside the young women who wrote him love letters (bech, do you have something to confess?) during last summer’s war with Israel, it seems Nasrallah is also the most popular leader throughout the Arab world, according to a recent study. A summer poll also found that Israelis found him much more trustworthy and in possession of leadership qualities absent from Israel’s political elite.

To my mind, he is no “angel,” but he is a master politician, endowed with the intellect and psychological insights such status requires. To be sure, the demogoguery is there, but he is able to project an authenticity and sensitivity that is rare to say the least.

Love him, hate him, whatever, but he is something to behold.


11 Replies to “Ecce Homo …”

  1. apokraphyte, are you reading my mind? i’ve been visiting here since july, and i was about to leave a comment inquiring you guys on your actual opinion on nasrallah, since it’s been inferred but never directly addressed. but your post pretty much mirrored my opinions on him. thx.

  2. Yeah, Nasrallah the Main Man: He obviously was not aware of the July operation, did not think the Israeli response would last more than 3 days and he has been hiding 300 feet underground since.

    How about a profile of the real boss Hajj Imad Mugniyah instead?

  3. Aaron,

    Always happy to have brooklyn in the house (reminds me of my youth … ;)).

    Ms. Levantine,

    Nasrallah is a politician and thus well-schooled in the art of the fudge (the post was more about the technical, not the substantive), but your “facts” suggest wild inaccuracies and reflect a misunderstanding about how HA is organized and operates, as well as some basic facts from this summer. If you want to see HA defeated (which is a fine position to take), I recommend first becoming at least remotely familiar with your “enemy.” It is a good first step to victory, or so I would think.

    That being said, you are right that he played it both ways on one subject (did not expect the Israeli response AND expected the Israeli response). This confusion, however, was right on the mark, if you have been following the Israeli press and its account of Israeli military decision-making this summer. Some Israeli brass clearly saw the capture as an opportunity to launch a large-scale attack which they had been planning, while others recognized no good options other than registering their displeasure with loud booms for two or three days.

  4. Apokraphyte,

    You are jumping to conclusions here. I don’t hold any particular grudges against HA. But you are right, I would like to see them defeated but as much as the LF, Tayyar, Hariri Inc…. and the rest of the gangs Nevertheless, my dislike for Lebanese parties pales in comparison to my feelings towards the great state of Israel.

    I totally agree with you, the analysis should be refined, and this is what I invite you to do. May I suggest you read “Dawlat HA” by Waddah Sharara. I am sure he is biased, but at least he tells an interesting story.

    His point is that when HA eliminated the National Resistance (which had driven Israel out of most of the country), it found it very easy to do as the leaders of the mvt where well known and not hiding. They just went to their homes and shot them.

    HA decided to adopt a different structure where the decision making leadership would be shrouded in secrecy. You don’t know who makes the decisions at HA, and neither do I. I would argue that Nasrallah is nothing more than a competent spokesman for the organization.

    You have every right to be infatuated with him, but pls don’t jump to any conclusions regarding my views.

  5. ms levantine,

    Wadah Sharara’s book is very interesting in some of its sociological analysis, but most of it is devoted to demonize Hizbullah. Hizbullah is an Iranian import, etc.

    the problem with this kind of analysis is that it has enough common sense to mean something useful for the social sciences, but have enough oversimplistic and erroneous arguments to create destructive effects.

    “we don’t know who takes the decisions in Hizbullah”. This is a ‘demonization’ statement. Hizbullah is like any other group/org that existed throughout human history and functions pretty much the same way. Nasrallah plays a part, the Shura Council too, and various other figures from the clerical establishment. As for Iran, the latter has so many political divisions back in Tehran that it is hardly able to reach a unanimous course of action over Hizbullah. There are alignment of interests though, trade offs, factions favoring certain agendas, etc.

    Re the resistance in the south, I don’t know how much the “they shot them in their houses” story is true, but yes Hizbullah emerged as a very closed and secret organization in order to effectively achieve guerrilla warfare. allying with the ‘national resistance’ meant sharing intelligence, which also meant being porous to Israeli agent infiltrations. totally classical historical mode of behavior. Also, the national resistance wasn’t at all on the verge of throwing the Israelis out. Or if they were please provide evidence.

    This is the classical argument that dellusioned leftist, especially those that joined the Hariri camp ended up espousing (I don’t mean you’re one of them, i’m just pointing out a specific evolution of idea and how they’re embedded in concrete power shifts).

    Anyway, the story is long, and I am just pointing out a few things. But it is true that this blog should clarify that it has no position whatsoever of partisanship, although I really love showing the contrary just to enrage certain uptight readers.

  6. Again, my apologies. First of all, biology prevents me from being infatuated with any man, much less a politician. Second, I take no sides in Lebanese politics, although it is true that I find some more reprehensible than others. Three, readers of this blog know that its authors are more interested in HA as a historical phenomenon than a political cause. Four, I seriously disagree with the notion that the National Resistance, and not HA, drove the Israelis from southern Lebanon. HA is very much a creature of that occupation, and I dont mean that in the facile, pendantic way. Its monopolization of the resistance was very much a necessary historical consequence of the occupation. Five, few know the inner-workings of HA, but they have clearly adopted an organizational structure that resembles nearly every other national security apparatus in the world. So I agree that Nasrallah is mostly a spokesperson (point of the post was that they chose well).

  7. i add to the portraying of nasrallah that he is an intelligent, wise, and cultured man. also very attached to lebanon. what more could we hope from a leader of a huge mass which has been, for almost 40 years, deprived of decent and secure livinf ?

  8. Apokraphyte and Bech,

    I guess we agree on the fundamentals. And Apok. no need to apologize for anything.

    I am all for annoying the upright crowd, but HA should not become a sacred cow. BTW, I am neither a leftist nor a Haririst. Pls don’t ask me what I am as I have not figured it out yet.

    Bech, HA obviously has a social arm and a military one. If I question who is taking the big military strategic decision I am not demonizing anyone. It is equivalent to say that when Apok. is stating that he is not attracted to men he is just partaking in primitive gay bashing.

    Regarding the National Resistance, I doubt they would have driven Israel from all of the country, but their contribution should not be ignored. Having living through this era I can attest to that.

    As for the Iranian influence, I never mentioned it. The difference bet. Iran, KSU, US, France and Syria is not intuitively clear to me.

    At the end of the day there seems to be a great revisionist mvt in Lebanon where you try to re-frame the past in a way that makes your side look good (for eg the Ouwet blog). It is useless to come up with HA as the best thing since sliced bread.

    As for myself I always believed in questioning authority. Even if the party reports to a much higher one.

  9. Primitive gay bashing?!? Yikes … In truth, I was just having fun with the word “infatuation” (this blog is not the best place for the literal-minded) and the story about the love letters. I will take your point as a rhetorical one, and thus I will not address the substance, although it is interesting to learn that suggesting biology plays some role in sexual orientation constitutes “primitive gay-bashing.” To the cave, I guess …

    As for the grand strategic decision, has it not been HA’s policy for sometime to capture Israeli soldiers, has this not been extremely public, has this not been endorsed by successive Lebanese governments either directly or indirectly? Was this not out in the open for people to argue about or complain about or condemn?

    I may be misreading you, so I may need to apologize again, but your line of reasoning is not clear to me. What was the strategic decision that your comments seem directed toward? Liberation of the Shebaa, prisoner exchange, the weapons, Iranian assistance? It is true I dont have the minutes of the Shura on my laptop, but HA’s position on all of this has been extremely clear. Thus while the decision-making process remains shrouded in some mystery, the group has been extremely upfront about the result of that process (and fairly consistent, I might add). If HA is willing to take domestic and international responsibility for its positions, who cares?

    In addition, I would agree that the story of the natl resistance is one that deserves to be told and known, and that is current politics that distorts and prevents any honest discussion of the subject.

    Also, I appreciate your comments, but the blog authors are on record saying:

    “We, authors, are not without our ideological precommittments or intellectual impediments, but our support for Hizbullah does not spring from our long admiration of the group or our synchronicity with its different political objectives … no, Hizbullah does not deserve some super-status within Lebanese politics that puts it above reproach as truly the party of god …”

    Again I will let Bech, speak for himself.

  10. mrs levantine,
    10 years ago, we were all suspiscious about hezbollah which was only a fighting and religious group. but you surely know that since 2000, when the israelian army left south of lebanon, the hezb turned slowly but surely into a real and well organized political party. so what does waddah shrara think now ?

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