Seeing Aoun and Nasrallah on Otv

I just have a couple of points to make on (before) yesterday’s interview between Hizbullah’s SG and Tayyar’s leader. These are open questions more than anything else. My sentences sometimes are brief and I don’t develop every idea very much. So there is a lot to be said on each.

Of course, the purpose of the interview was to make sure people do not forget that the Hizbullah-Tayyar alliance, understanding, rapprochement, whatever you want to call it is alive and kicking. To this effect their interviewer Jean Aziz (a journalist at Al Akhbar who was clearly overwhelmed by the stature of the interviewees) had many pertinent questions that addressed most of people’s ‘common fears’. TV in the Middle East has long become an outlet for accountability when other social and political institutions fail to deliver. Of course, in this case accountability is mere persuasion: People make whatever they make out of what the political actor argues (believing or not, making sense etc). But the political actor struggles hard in order to explain and justify himself. That’s the most fascinating part. The first impression of the interview is that Aoun and Nasrallah know and respect each other regardless of any agreement or entente. I’m talking at the individual level, and you don’t need a psychoanalyst to dig that out, you can just read faces. How come this is so I don’t know. At the level of Aoun, I think it is a very recent discovery dating from after his return and the Syrian withdrawal; when talks started between both groups. And talking about talks, that’s something that was never covered or investigated further: What happened during these joint parliamentary committees that set the stage for their Paper of Common Understanding? What ideas, notions, arguments, were discussed that led to dividing the paper in its final points? How did the various parliamentary members interact with each other?

The most important idea that comes out of this interview is the turbulent reconciliation of Islamic and Secularist visions into a Nationalist one. And when I say ‘reconciliation’ I don’t think at all that there is really a fixed ‘Islamic’ worldview or another rigid ‘secular’ one, even if the actors being interviewed do think so. There is a discursive effort to promote a clear vision of belonging or being that evolves with changing political opportunities and through other contingencies such as specific insitutional influence (the presence of the modern state and its formidable capacity to mobilize and name for example).

Aoun differentiates between an Islamic worldview and a secular one and he explains it: An Islamic system involves God as the source of authority and a secular one comes as a result of a social contract between citizens. Notwithstanding the many simplifications and contradictions Aoun steps into when talking about these conceptualizations, he says something else that caught my attention which is that “no matter if one is a secular or an Islamist, at the end of the day we agree on the fact that we are all mowatinin”. Now I have thought a bit about this and there is not really a good way of translating what mowatinin means but I would say that it is half way between a citizens and kind of a national (al mowataneh).

This helps us understand how two radically different stances towards the Syrian presence could have been merged together through the ultimate banner of nationalism. In the very beginning Aziz asks Nasrallah what does he think of Aoun given that both of them come from such a different political background. Nasrallah answers quite simply that what he admires in Aoun is the integrity of his nationalistic stance. For Hizbullah, the liberation of the land comes with the help of the Syrians (securing channels for weapons, covering here and there etc.), for Tayyar, Syrian presence symbolized the failure to reconcile the ‘national’ consitutency(ies).

How did we come to this? Why do we have an Islamic revolutionary initially driven by ethical/moral etc. Goals of fighting the oppressors, erecting narrow banners such as nationalism? Simply because it pays to be a nationalist today. Because the Lebanese state is once more a useful tool for reaching political goals. The Palestinian question (camps and weaopns), the water problem (wazani river), and the territorial issue are much more easily addressed through the nationalist banner or frame (all points discussed in the Paper of Common Understanding). Through the instrumentalization (the use) of the Lebanese state, these crucial issues can be better resolved. When Hizbullah approaches the State in this struggle of power, it becomes gradually immersed in all these problems of definitions.

Here we open a little parenthesis with what goes on in Turkey in terms of clash between ‘secularists’ and ‘islamist’ each one of them claiming to work through the ‘democratic’ path. In this case, the point of contention is the very nature of Turkish nationalism, Turkish raison d’être and the mutliple stories that feeds it. I will write more on Turkey especially in the light of the headscarf issue.

The questions left open (one of the subjects of my research), is how does Hizbullah reconcile all these discursive caveats (Islamic, religious, nationalist, revolutionary, geographic, ethnic, pragmatic etc) in the face of this approaching “Lebanese” State and everything it defines (territory, population, etc). The more Hizbullah’s elite feels it can grab the State and its formidable mobilization power (of course Hizbullah has been archiving way before approaching the State) the more it will sucumb to the grip of its history, narrative, etc. One symptom of that is that its alliance with one of the most virulently nationalist movement that is Tayyar propels it into new discursive territories.

Now of course it does not really matter if Hizbullah is a ‘nationalist’ organization. Nobody becomes or stops being a nationalist, but engages or disengages in practices that have ‘nationalist’ dimensions. Just to give one example, for Hizbullah one story says that the party was never involved in the civil war the movement aiming only to liberate the territory under Israeli occupation. Hizbullah has always been adamant to push for this version of the history of the war. During the interview, Nasrallah not only reminded this claim but also used it in order to say that ‘we are ready to forgive and forget about those who participated in the civil war” making an obvious hint at Jumblatt’s and Geagea’s ( ex warlords and m14 prominent political figures) practices. The funny thing here is that during the breaks, Al Manar TV who was retransmitting the interview from Otv, had this ad showing films of Jumblatt and Gemayel (and a little passage with Siniora kissing Rice) making contradictory declarations across time (they had images of speeches made during the civil war up until today, with a voice-off saying how murderous they were, without naming them, and ending the clip with the word “Enough…”).

But to go back to the main line of thought here, nationalisms can take varied forms. The most virulent type I can think of is the French. Of course, French have a multitude of history books trying to invent and articulate logical continuities with past events and experiences etc. But at the end of the day you are French because you’re French, you speak the (authorized) language and you come from a territory where a specific State has control over it. The pervasiveness of French nationalism comes from the very dynamics of its language. In the Middle East (just like in Latin America with Spanish) where Arabic is present across newly created boundaries, we see new forms of nationalisms emerging, one that blends other imaginaries than the western secular one (the Islamic one for example), the exact versions of it that emerges are dependent on the cases (under the jurisdiction of this or that State). This does not mean that secularism is completely rejected. Quite the contrary actually because secularism is so instrumental to the functioning of the State, that new artefact brought to us by the colonizers. The end outcome of these dynamics are still quite vague until we see proper exercise of power.

This type of nationalism is one that is divorced from any other narrative, in the case of the Lebanese, the Phoenician narrative, the Christians-need-a-state narrative, the refuge-of-persecuted-communities narrative; all these being Christian narratives in the first place. Since Hariri’s death, the we-hate-syria has been melting into several other ‘western’ narratives (i.e. We want a state of law, we want order, we’re tired of ‘occupation’ and ‘authoritarian regimes’, we’re a democracy after all etc). The last and probably most important narrative is the Israel-is-the-enemy narrative which cut across most stories of belonging. Most important of all, it is only political actors that feed new or reformulated narratives. One thing to keep in mind is that there is no one narrative no one story, although sometimes political parties or influential actors emphasize one story or one version of a story.

It can be fairly said that Hizbullah has no elaborate “Lebanese narrative”. On the contrary, if you open the history books published by Hizbullah ideologues or sympathizer or even if you read the speeches of the party members themselves, one stumbles around pan-Arabist claims denouncing colonialist partitioning of the region, Christian creation of the Lebanese state and discrimination against other communities and so forth. But you have ‘localized’ history being written, the history of Jabal Amel, the history of the Bekaa, of Baalbeck, etc. At the end of the day, who are Hizbullah larger party members and militants if not ex-communists, leftists, Syrian nationalists, and so forth, that happen to be Shi’a. Tayyar dynamics is a bit different. Its constituency in general endorsed (even if with reservation) maronite historiography. Most have a phalangist past. Where do both meet apart from wanting to reach power? Both share concern around the fate of Palestinian camps and weapons and about the mounting ‘Sunni extremist’ wave.

A very interesting moment in the interview was when Nasrallah gave his classical answer on whether Hizbullah wants an Islamic State in Lebanon. So Nasrallah starts off making his usual argument that he as an “Islamist” cannot but want an Islamic State as a form of governance, but only if this emerges as the result of the overwhelming desire of the population. A lot of people, who take everything Nasrallah says to the letter, say that this means that Hizbullah is patiently waiting until the population is all Shi’a in order to have the Islamic State (because naturally, Shi’a are born with this predisposition to want an Islamic State). But anyway, what I found very interesting was when he said that another reason why an Islamic State was not desirable was because of the attractive nature of Lebanese diversity, that if threatened, “we could become like other Arab States”. Now that was a double edged boutade. But is this Lebanese Christian political speaking or what? And there you see a little hesitation in the voice of Nasrallah, he does not know if he should stress too much on these principles of ‘pluralism’ etc. Or go back to the fact that he is an ‘Islamist’ all this while staying a patriot, etc. Basically he got caught up in a traditionally ‘Christian discourse’. To be fair Nasrallah did not use the word pluralism (ta3adoudiyeh) but agreement, accord (tawafouqiyeh) that he picked up from Aoun. This was by the way the most repeated word during the interview whether by Aoun or Nasrallah. For Aoun tawafouqiyeh is used in order not to be scared of the other, obviously addressing himself to the Christian constituency. To build ‘trust’ (thiqa).

By the way Manar TV and most of the Hizbullah marketing and advertizing crew are really good finders of slogans. Well “Lebanese” are really good at that it seems. Check this one out: a video shots of Aoun and Nasrallah meeting in the Mar Mikhael Church and holding hands with on top of the video frame, loubnan al sayyed al 7or

LF pearls of Wisdom

Former Parliamentary Member Fares Soueid (who I consider to be somewhat of a bourgeois version of the Lebanese Forces nonetheless completely aligned with them) says:

Hizbullah falls into the same trap Bashir Gemayel fell in 1977 when he started weakening military institutions and put them under his wing, and then came the invasion in 1982 which gave Gemayel an opportunity to better dominate.

Now the best part is when he starts talking of “hizbullah agenda” which is one of:

building little states and not one State as the plan of the Lebanese State [whatever that means] is a Christian plan in Lebanon and the latter still want to play a part in it.

Is this actually a sentence? How does the first claim leads to the other? Can someone explain to me please? There is more in the article about other LF claims that the party tries as hard as possible to preserve civil peace. Yeah whatever. Sniping, that’s the way you preserve civil peace.

Hizbullah’s momentum

Hizbullah has not been very verbal about the Israeli killing of two Lebanese in Ghajar near the Wazani river in the South. Now that’s a very unusual stance. Yesterday, when Parliamentary member and leader of the Hizbullah denominated parliamentary committee Mohammad Raad was interviewed on Al Manar TV, there was nothing said about this event. All the discussion revolved around Black Sunday (when 7 protesters died during demonstrations against electricity cuts) and Hizbullah’s position vis-a-vis the army and the ruling coalition. The interviewer asked questions in such a way to push Raad to justify and defend their position of why they are not after the Lebanese Army as an institution, and why they are hell-bent on knowing who were the detractors ‘infiltrated into’ the ranks of the army or shooting on the rooftops from out of it.

From this I gather one important conclusion. This time Hizbullah won’t let it pass. Since the Syrian withdrawal and the first direct political confrontations with the party, Hizbullah has slowly learned the rules of the game if it wants to get a share of the political pie (without Syria around). They moved from total quiescence to daily publishing of information that shows how corrupt and ‘illegitimate’ are the ruling coalition. What they want to know this time, is who exactly shot among the Lebanese army and how are they related to the ruling coalition (or to the snipers on the roof tops). It is an excellent opportunity (becoming fewer and fewer) to weaken the ruling coalition.

Hizbullah is focusing so much on this that it practically ignored Israeli disturbances in the south. To my knowledge there was only one official statement by Parliamentary member El Hajj Hassan condemning the attack and saying that Hizbullah reserves itself the right to retaliate. See normally in this case you would have Al Manar TV flooding you with information on what will happen next of how Israeli committed a huge mistake etc. Something really big is being played here, much bigger than Israeli skirmishes alongside the border.

Hizbullah affiliated website wa3ad does have a very detailed account of what happened though.

Annahar on electricity in Dahyeh

Check this article in Annahar that starts up with a horribly suspicious title: “electricity in the southern suburbs: a cause with valid demands, or a facade for undisclosed political goals?”, and then ends up re-iterating the obvious that in effect these guys do get way less electricity from other regions, some of individuals do steal by hanging cables (just like everywhere else in Lebanon).
So the author doing ‘a policing round’ of a neighborhood in the suburbs (Hay Selloum)and ask if people are paying electricity. He ends up getting some yeses and some noes. Great what a discovery. Nothing is said of hidden political agendas. And then he concludes that in any case, one should not have shot at these protesters, cause basically it is not cool to shoot at human beings protesting about standards of living.
So let’s summarize, this guy, arouse suspicion with a stupid title, then ends up playing cops and bandits in an area of the city trying to get some ‘juicy’ statements, then goes back to a general ethical claim, realizing that at the end of the day hanging a wire here or there, people do pay bills, don’t get much electricity, and are smashed by the increases in prices so they protest. In the process, he crystallizes the idea that the southern suburbs has “something fishy going on” by the mere fact of posing the problem of non-payment of bills as worthy of being investigated there. Long live investigative journalism. (Thanks Moussa)

Why?


Yes why out of all instruments the Scottish bagpipe? This is at a Palestinian camp during demonstrations against the murderous encircling of Gaza. But there is a Hizbullah song that has it too, and in its video clip, there is a guy filmed dressed like a soldier, playing bagpipe on the top of a hill or something. Anyone who has an answer to this question will be more than welcome to comment.

Update: the comment section has mo explaining clarifying things..

Hizbullah and resistance by print

Timur Goksel has a chapter on the “Implications of the July 2006 war on the future Israeli wars” in a book published by a think-tank that is affiliated in some way to Hizbullah (al markaz al Islami lil dirasat al fekriyah). Goksel, for those who don’t know, was the former official spokesman of the UNIFIL forces stationed in South Lebanon, and now teaches international relations at the American University of Beirut. The book is called “Al intisar al Moqawim” which is kind of hard to translate in English not the least because initially in Arabic it does not make much sense, but here we go: “the Resistant victory” (The aim was probably to try to get the word “victory” and “resitance” in one flashy title).

I find this book fascinating. It is an excellent sign that Hizbullah and the intellectual/ideological sphere around it reads quickly power dynamics in the West: producing papers, putting views about future policy course, political visions, etc. on print. The book exceeds 500 pages of good quality paper, with a hard cover, has a nice abstract design, and has contributors ranging from Ayatollah Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah, to party member like Naim Qassem, to ad hoc intellectuals from several social (confessional spaces), to American leftists journalists like Frank Lamb, etc.

But I don’t want to comment on everything in this book as there is so much to note. Goksel chapter struck my attention in the sense that it has a detailed analysis of how Israel fared on the ground, and how it is probably learning from its mistakes, and what will it potentially do differently in a new incursion. And this is coming from an ex-UN military man, turned academic in an American institution based in Lebanon. That’s the most beautiful gift Hizbullah could get. And beyond this symbolic asset in the economy of knowledge, for once, it is somebody trying to learn from Israeli military tactics rather than trying to unearth Hizbullah’s strategies. Most of the time, studies are focused on how “the terrorist” think, how the “insurgent” (nicer term for terrorist) acts. The academic department I am affiliated with in London has “Counter-insurgency reading groups” and “counter-insurgency students”. Hizbullah is trying to lead the way in the institutionalization of what one would call “American and Israeli imperialist” studies. Here I use the term “imperialism” with some reserves, could not find a better one for the time being.

a final note on caring

I take the liberty to update my fellow readers on what Al Manar is airing, as I am sure few of you (and you are already quite a few) watch the channel. From today onwards there will be on Al Manar TV a daily film (at 2h30pm) on the life of Al Sayida Mariam (the mother of Jesus), and in the previews I am sure I heard people talking about… the messiah.

More caring and some pedagogy

Manar TV (Hizbullah related) ran today a series of interviews with priests and Christian activists from and in Bethlehem (it was a live show), interpreting the birth of Jesus (that is commonly confused with the capitalist commercialized Christmas) as a communal celebration with the current state of affairs in Palestinian. It seems that this particular Christian celebration in Bethlehem takes a little militant turn and is used as a platform to denounce the racist and apartheid-like policies of the Zionist state.

There was an interesting priest talking from Al Manar’s studio with the host of the show. I could not get his name and whether he was Lebanese or Palestinian but he sure knew how to speak. Ironically, a socially militant Christian should turn to al Manar as a source of inspiration. I mean what can he get out of these wanna-be aristocrat Lebanese Maronite (and other) bishops for example? When did we ever see any of these conservatives talk about Palestine and other oppressive environments on a day like Christmas? Their Church sermons that are all over the Christian related TV channels are all about either some vague interpretation of the birth of Jesus as a source of peace, of God’s message of love. The only political undertones in Church’s sermons revolve around nationalistic self-preservation and elitist discursive articulations.

It starts somewhere between Chile and El Salvador

On March 24, 1980, Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador, El Salador, was gunned down before his congregation while celebrating mass, by a right-wing militant (allegedly a member of a group called the White Warrior Union). Two weeks before he told a journalist the following:

I have often been threatened with death. Nevertheless, as a Christian, I do not believe in death without resurrection. If they kill me, I shall arise in the Salvadoran people. Martyrdom is a grace of God that I do not believe I deserve. But if God accepts the sacrifice of my life, let my blood be a seed of freedom. Let my death be for the liberation of my people.

Some twenty years before that a Columbian priest Camilo Torres organized a United Front to link together peasants, slum dwellers, workers, and professionals to work for social change and joined the guerrilla Army of National Liberation. After meeting fierce opposition from Church instances, Torres finally renounced his priesthood and was quoted saying:

I took off my cassock to be more truly a piest, (…) the duty of every Catholic is to be a revolutionary, the duty of every revolutionary is to make the revolution, (…) the catholic who is not a revolutionary is living in mortal sin.

On February 16, 1966, in an army ambush and counterattack, Torres was shot and killed.

I have been working on what was called Liberation Theologians for some time now and refrained from writing anything on the subject. I don’t want to bore you with all the theoretical considerations this entails when comparing with a movement like Hizbullah, but I wish to make two remarks here:

1- What I find amazing is how an age old considered-conservative establishment such as the Christian Catholic Church was turned and lived for a couple of years as a socially revolutionary institution. Interesting theoretical debates were taking place from the Vatican to Latin America. From its initial organizational spread, ‘red bishops’ as they were called were collecting victory after victory and although the conservative turn taken by Jean Paul two (we-love-you) has severely undermined the clerical foundation of the movement, they still are a powerful force to consider. In the case of Hizbullah, the various schools in Iraq and Iran have hosted the dialectical elaboration of a new class of clerics, and then the backing that emerged from the Iranian revolution has all contributed to this explosion of socially-oriented activism.

2- The State institutional setting in Latin America differ greatly from the one present in the Middle East. In the former, nationalist movements bear more on the construction of imagined communities, whereas in the Middle East, Islamic idioms are much more salient. And in parallel Latin America has a legal system directly installed by the secular tradition whereas in the Middle East, the secular tradition had to navigate its way through an age-old legal Islamic tradition that was sometimes badly integrated and sometimes totally compromised. This means then that Liberation Theologians and Islamic movements work in completely different institutional environment and have totally different agendas in their relation with the State, their conceptualization of secularism, nationalism, the role of religion (a word that needs to be defined).

2- Cultural idioms follow paths set by their institutional background when expressing a social reality. See for example how the idea of resurrection in the first citation is linked to a victorious act in turn assumed by the people at large. This articulation of victory through self-annihilation for a social purpose is dictated by a particular ethical stand though framed through institutional age-old elaboration: In his case the person is “being Christian”, in the other he is “being Muslim”. The term Christian or Muslim is void of signification except through the particular historical reality that empowers these terms in the militant Act, action (الفعل), that is political par excellence. Being then is a social process.

But more on this later.

Russians in Nabatieh and Lebanese public culture

There was an interesting article in Al Akhbar two days ago about an estimated 1100 Russian women living in Nabatieh, married with locals, and engaged in all sorts of social activities from working in hospitals to teaching music. There is an important point worth mentioning here and that is the interesting cultural mix that results from Russian-(south of)Lebanon exposure. Lebanese that flew to Russia have I would speculate a ‘leftist’ past, and still are pretty much immersed in these ideas even if sometimes through a Shi’ite narrative. Here, I am not trying to say that behind ‘Shi’ism’ lies Leftism far from it as Leftism itself is a historical construct, but just that similar social concerns and perspective of reality and social life are serving as basis for action. And this is probably why Russian women can get along with them.

Last summer, I met a former Communist fighter who was married to a Russian woman of whom he had two kids. When I asked him about his political views and history of activism, he told me how he was attracted by the social ideals of the communist party (that had an influential institutional presence in the south) in the 60s and 70s and how he still abides by them while having a total respect for Hizbullah. He told me about how he used to carry out operations against the Israelis alongside Hizbullah although without directly coordinating with the latter. His wife is an ex gymnast champion, and his daughter who was probably 10 years old was set to become one. She exemplifies the former soviet culture of ‘State achievement’ that many Soviet went through. Her husband was very much versed into this public-state organic relation.

But beyond this, if you are looking for a public culture in Lebanon, this is where you should search primarily. Most of these people have studied in the mostly abandoned state-owned public schools, and later on universities. As an example, the vice-secretary general of Hizbullah Naim Qassem is a chemistry graduate of the Lebanese university. People who have actually used the little amount of public services offered by the Lebanese state are mostly Shi’a from the south, the Bekaa and the suburbs of the capital. It is ironic today that people accusing Hizbullah of having no ‘culture of the Lebanese state’, as it installs ‘a state within a state’ do not realize that paradoxically it is quite the reverse: Most of these people have a much more attuned sense of what the Lebanese State can potentially offer because they experienced it in their everyday life and had to make their choices of work, carrier, etc. based on that. Unfortunately today, Hizbullah risk slowly becoming like the rest of the Lebanese that is to use the State for opportunistic reason, as a front for more effectively fulfilled confessional-clientelist interests.

There are also other portions of the population whether Christians, Sunnis, Druze or what have you that also have been around these genuinely public institutions. Unfortunately, they are still locked in confessional political constraints and forced to be represented by their parochial elites. On another note, most of the richer classes of people across confessions, or let say those who managed to pay for their kids not to go in these schools and put them (gladly for most of them) in specifically confessional schools (which is the majority of schools that are privately held) have zero ‘public culture’ as in Lebanese in a comprehensive way. So here you go, do the math (it is my new favorite expression by the way).

For the record


There is something sad in this picture. See the guy behind Lahoud to the right? I know this guy. I don’t know his name, but I remember a couple of years ago, when Lahoud came often to this club (if not daily) to take a swim, I used to see him next to the swimming pool roaming around him, and from time to time divert his trajectory and pass through the various women that were sun bathing. Usually he would sit next to Lahoud and whisper in his ear some (I would guess) casual story of the day, and Lahoud, a hand holding his chin, would gently nod with a little smile. Who is this guy? I think he is the guy who kept a link between the highly misanthropic Lahoud and segments of the Christian influentials. I say segments because there was always one part of the Christian constituency, Lahoud would not be able to win over as he was aligned with the Syrians. But Lahoud’s character made it even worse as even those who weren’t die-hard anti-syrians or fiery right-wingers became so ‘anti-Lahoud’ that there was no possibilities for bridging. In a sense Christian elites have historically known a very sad legacy that ended up drawing them more and more towards the cheap petty mercantile interests of the Gulf.

But I am going too far, and I’ll go back to my initial point. For a lot, Lahoud was not a lovable creature. Nobody used to see him, he would rarely talk, and if he talked, it usually was to make these automated quasi-military speeches, where you would think he is exercising his facial muscles more than anything else. His first arrival to power was really greeted ‘with hope’. “He’s going to lift our head up”, people used to say, at least in Christian neighborhood. Plus he has a nice face, a good stature, people just loved him. And then nothing. Swimming and swimming and occasionally acting very pompous. People like glamor and sensational actions, at the very least, the business type. Energetic, successful, rich etc. the Hariri type. In direct opposition to that, Lahoud stays in his presidential palace, looks somber, does not make any public appearance. But Lahoud works like an ant. And that nobody knows it. Lahoud swims everyday, but Lahoud’s day starts at 5h00 in the morning. More importantly, this guy reinforced the very shattered links between the Lebanese groups that were totally alienated by Christian rule and the latter, such as Hizbullah. Indeed, one of the reasons why Hizbullah got more ‘moderate’ or less ‘paranoid’ was because of dudes like Lahoud. Or take the evolution of the army (not its strength in battle of course but its relation with other security institutions, and Hizbullah for example.

Of course I’m not saying it is thanks to him as a person, but it is thanks to his placement in this institutional position, and how this made a lot of people coalesce to work in this direction. There is a lot to be said about both of his mandate but my point is that Lahoud never blocked or initiated something that ended being detrimental to the stability of this country. Now that is already quite an achievement judging from the political pedigree of other political actors that are unfortunately staying for some time to come, and judging from the quasi-doomed institutional partitioned and confessional system in which this state continues to swim.

We think that ‘peace’, ‘stability’, is the natural order of things, and that hard serious political work starts really when there is a conflict or a war. This thinking derives from the fact that there is some kind of right to it, and so we should get it ‘naturally’, we take it for granted. Also, because nobody writes about the daily life of peaceful times people focus on moments of tensions. Nobody writes about the infinite numbers of social/political interaction constantly taking place that keeps people close to each other, or the policies and procedures carried on to that effect. But people should know better that peace and stability are hard won, they are the fruit of difficult processes of coordination and cooperation, of bridging gaps and sensitivities, of making both ends meet while preserving dignity for everyone. You will never hear of the people who really work in this direction in Lebanon. In general, they don’t appear much and when they do, they don’t ‘flash their badges’. But this work is a full time job in Lebanon. And there are few candidates!

"the other" is like me!

Check this Jewish guy discovering that “Hizbullah people” did not feel like barbecuing him when they discovered he’s “a Cohen” (thanks Emily). Notice how simplistic and naive his existential questions are. It is always with great childishness and innocence that we discover that most of what we believe are creations of the authority that ‘raised us’, because the internalization of these views are done in such an infantile way, that their demystification requires a jump in past processes. Freud called this ‘regressive states’.

from the anecdote file

where we find the joys of being a researcher on Hizbullah

Buy one of the many cds of Hizbullah ‘chants’ (anashid). For example, the volume 12 of Firkat el Asra’,, Al Moqawama wal Tahrir. Open it, and rip the cd on Windows media player. The software checks for titles through its search engine. When you get back to your computer you find copied to your hard drive:

Artist: Snoop Doggy Dog
Album title: Doggy Style
Example of song name: Shitznit, for all my Niggaz & Bitchiz, etc.

I changed the name of the songs so as to at least remember what I am listening to. But I cannot erase the “Doggy Style”. So I get: “Hamdan lil Lah atah al Zafar” with “Doggy Style”, right under it.

Please keep in mind that at the bottom of the cd back cover there is a mention of protected copyrights.

La vérité de la palice

When the usually Israeli-apologist Human right Watch actually makes the point that Hizbullah did not use civilians as human shields in the latest war and that Israel unjustifiably bombed civilian areas, one must pause and give credit. The distinction is all the more clear in HRW declarations where they say that Hizbullah officials and fighter quickly pulled back to remote valleys and hills where most of their ammunitions where found and ready (planned) to be used. That would explain better that Hizbullah was actually prepared for the war and that Israeli were caught off guard.

In Aynata

when I asked a former Communist fighter from this bordering village with Israel about the now mainstream idea that Palestinian fighters were with time despised by the local population, he answered me that it is Palestinian changing environment that can account for that.

According to him, Palestinians were once the fida’yin hiding and fighting in and from the remote fields of olive trees. They slept under the trees had nomadic ‘revolutionary’ patterns of life, until increasingly efficient Israeli raids pushed them to city locations like Saida and Sour. From there, their whole modes of life changed. They settled in houses even if very poor, started having cars, lived city life, etc. Their social surroundings changed and with it their priorities and the meanings they assigned to specific forms of collective actions.

And with the increasingly institutionalized influence these groups started having in the region, they deployed more efforts at keeping political leverage, at showing who has the weapons and at sinking into intra-fighting between the various groups on the ground, than at a concerted effort to attack Israelis.

In a way this particular reading of ‘what the Palestinians became’ may hint at the fact that what really bothered ‘the Shi’as’ was not so much that the Palestinians were fighting the Israelis from their lands, but all the other practices the Palestinians were engaged in that actually obstructed an efficient strategy of fighting Israel from materializing. It does not mean that all “the Shi’as” held violently antagonistic feelings towards Israel in the abstract sense. But there was clearly, and due to the social niche (and here we can say class to some extent) to which the Shi’as belong to, some type of admiration towards whoever show modesty in behavior and commitment to resistance activities (probably the case for early fida’yin activities).

This can help explain even better what became so attractive in the more ‘just’ ways Hizbullah practiced resistance work. It ultimately explains how such a more ‘purist’ form of mobilization eventually emerged and was prevailing in the available interpretations of what is Hizbullah about (in the language, in discursive terms).

Of course all of this is just one reading, that mostly belong to this particular group of “socially aware” class (like this communist fighter). I assume here that most people of his generation were exposed to similar social activities (also according to his testimony), as the communist party was very active in the area (through public events, workshops, schools, etc.) especially prior to the first Israeli incursion of 1978.

For the record

We do not want to clash with the regime, with those who neglect us. Today, we shout out loud the wrongs against us, that cloud of injustice that has followed us since the beginning of our history. Starting from today we will no longer complain nor cry. Our name is not mitwali [a name for the Shi’a that has taken on a derogatory connotation]; our name is “men of refusal” (rafidun), “men of vengeance,” “men who revolt against all tyranny” (kharijun), even though this costs us our blood and our lives. Husain faced the enemy with 70 men; the enemy was very numerous. Today we are more than 70; and our enemy is not the quarter of the whole world….
We do not want sentiments, but action. We are tired of words, feelings, speeches… I have made more speeches than anyone else. And I am the one who most often called for calm… From today on I will not keep silent. If you keep quiet, I will not… We want our full rights completely. not only our posts, but the twenty demands… in the petition, and we will accept nothing else in exchange.

You would think this is taken from a speech made by SG of Hizbullah Nasrallah. Actually it was given in February 1974 by Imam Musa Sadr founder of AMAL (Cited in Norton, AR. 1997. Amal and the Shi’a. Austin: Texas University Press). In a way, Lebanese history can be read as a lesson of political conduct in life. At the end of the day, unequal structures once politicized must be corrected, no demands just disappear (here my emphasis come from the assumption that things must become demands, they must be made socially conscious). And where AMAL failed to address certain of these demands (the half successful piece meal clientelistic recipes of Nabih Berri), another organization arose (Hizbullah), and is hell bent on having a share in the decision making process. What Sadr was asking for, Hizbullah will eventually get.

The particular ways in which this formation of social consciousness is inscribed in specific symbols and language idioms, are what I am after.

Best ad of the year

This is taken from Hizbullah’s campaign “a victory from God” marking the anniversary of last year’s humiliating Israeli defeat, of which many highly creative billboards have been made. Check out the improvement in artistry, and the power of ideas. It shows Israeli soldiers disturbingly crying with this written in the middle: Lebanon, you fools (literal translation), or “What did you expect you morons? A walk in the park?” (Bech’s translation). Oh and by the way, this billboard was in a Christian area (near Batrun, care of Tayyar). Most of those billboards though were vandalized especially near Nahr el Kalb (where the Kataeb sign hangs above the tunnel).

And this is me parading in front of the billboard… Youhou!

Why Hizbullah does not want an Islamic state

The answer is easy: Because they don’t need it. Because thanks to the confessional system in place in Lebanon, they found everything they could want without having to establish an Islamic state. The skeptic would retort: “But why did they vehemently proclaim all throughout the eighties that they wanted an Islamic state?” Well because at the time they did not know that they could get all their interests preserved thanks to the confessional system without having to go through the painful process of imposing the idea of an Islamic state (of course here ‘interest’ is a term that is at best elusive and must be understood as historically determined, changing according to available opportunities and conceptualizations, so that we avoid making retroactive arguments).

So here I want to first object to the idea that it is out of a process of vague “Lebanonization” of Hizbullah that they decided to drop the idea of an Islamic state. I want to object of course to the idea that they secretly (in a demonizing way for the scared Lebanese) entertain this dream. Actually to clarify what I meant, I would like to accept the “Lebanonization” thesis only by clarifying what Lebanonization mean in the institutional political and social sense by dropping the essentialist bias inherent in the argument. Yaaneh, Hizbullah was never “not Lebanese” and suddenly became “Lebanese”. Hizbulllah starting from an ad hoc group of zealous and enthusiastic few, with sufficient backing, discpline, and favorable local and regional circumstances developed into a fully fledged organization with institutional over-reach. This ‘developmental’ change is key here and nobody (to my knowledge) worked on the intricacies and implications of this change, except from a broad ‘elitist’ and ‘essentialist’ perspective. Yaaneh, scholars focused on the broad political agenda of Hizbullah as a monolithic formation with a leadership making rational decision in the face of changing opportunities. Example: When Nasrallah became secretary general (but already at the time of Moussawi) he saw an opportunity to play by the rules. What does that mean exactly? It means first a conscious decision of the party to get involved in the Lebanese political life indeed, but most importantly it inscribes itself in a process of long-term change that slowly crystallized the idea that ‘we’re much worth it like this’. This last phenomenon was never carefully understood because to do so one needs to understand how Hizbullah slowly became very much dependent on the confessional system.

This requires in turn an understanding of the evolution of not only the institutions and organizations of Hizbullah but in what way the new political class of Hizbullah became very much part of the political system in Lebanon. Actually both these process are intermingled. I don’t have a detailed answer to that, and actually this should be a research project on its own, but I would like to point out on an intuitive basis why this looks like a strong argument.

To name but a few, electoral processes, municipalities, social welfare (organizations, etc.), schools, hospitals, all work according to confessional categorizations in Lebanon, meaning that it is most of the case a particular religious group that holds decision making in these collective activities. Hizbullah found in this case a haven for his own activities. One can study how this affects identity formation through the daily practices of people in these institutions and fosters even more the marks of confessional ideas meanings and beliefs into the consciousness of individuals. Here I want to stress the “culture” of the confessional system is highly alien to the one of an Islamic state at the very least because of the completely different institutional structures in place.

It is important to point out here that Hizbullah is only imitating what other sectarian groups did before them and first and foremost the Christians. Christian schools hospitals etc. are the oldest, and the political system of confessional piecemeal rule was a Christian innovation. The only difference here is that by controlling key institutions in the State, Christian elites were able to export the idea that they were a ‘secularizing’ force as their management of State affairs was resemblant to what goes on in say European states. But in effect, all the institutions of the State, and the institutions of social life in general were heavily divided along confessional criteria. Slowly but surely, Amal then Hizbullah learned to play by these rules. What’s interesting in the Shi’a example is that because they are new comers you can basically see how the confessional system, first makes it virtually impossible and highly costly to organize collective action outside of it, and second, sucks in new comers to build on the available institutional confessional processes and mechanisms.

Activists who later became Hizbullah starts off from various discursive background (communist, Lebanese public schools, religious, clerical, etc) find a voice in sectarian groups like Amal and then decide that through Amal things are not going to work for them (in terms of conflict with the Israelis, utter marginalization of South and Bekaa etc.). The Iranians say we give you a hand and you can export the revolution. That seemed like enough of a mobilizing element for these few radicals. Then organizational capacity develops, these people starts achieving political and socially on the ground, their affinities with their allies have concrete instrumental implications, but are coupled with their grasp of new ways to preserve their interests or the interests of a broad movement inscribed in newly developed and virulently efficient religious (confessional) institutions (just like any other similar institutions whether Christian or Sunni, just take the Jesuit school Jamhour and university Saint Joseph for a comparison).

Basically Hizbullah learned the correct way to get things done in Lebanon. An Islamic state would probably destroy most of what they built until now. It would transform a situation of mutual interest built on solid institutional ground into a big mess where they will have to start afresh and create such gigantic structures in order to reap the same political economic and social benefit.

كلنا للوطن للعلا للعلم


Both these pictures are taken in Bint Jbeil. This one is just too much with the cedar in the middle…

Ayta Shaab: First impressions

As soon as you start moving away from Sour the last large coastal city of the south before the Israeli border, advertising billboards slowly disappear, and along with it, the English language. The only visuals displayed are those of Hizbullah fighters, flags, and texts related to Shi’ite symbolism according to the various politicized subjects. Amal (the other Shi’ite party present in the south) tends to rally behind Hizbullah with a couple of flags here and there and the pictures of some their martyrs probably killed in the early period of resistance work. But all in all these displays of political meaning are still less present in these rural areas than in cities (like Sour), or the main highway that links these cities to Beirut and the north. It is as if in these more remote areas, rallying practices are not really that needed, at least because there is no competition over political affiliation (which is not the case in larger cities).

Then you start going through the various villages destroyed during the war. Here international institutions, foreign states, and NGOs of all sorts try to reap the benefits of their aid by advertising their presence. From reconstruction donors (basically Qatar, and Iran) to anti-mines missions (UN various missions, Sweden, Switzerland I think, Norway, etc.), to the rehabilitation of god knows what.

The Iranians make themselves visible all right from billboards in villages they financed reconstruction efforts, to stickers on trucks and any piece of machinery used to that effect. Qatar has a different way of doing things: Only one or two huge billboards in the entire south with the ruling prince on it and an “I love you” type of note from Qatar. The process of naming here is crucial it creates political clout by referencing help. It is not just aid, it is aid from this or that party. Of course in can border the ridicule: The European Union for example has a sticker on each trash bin you can find in the south. But Winston Smith can tell you more about all that.

From time to time you run across a UN military vehicle moving at full speed. Or you can see a couple of UN guys with flashy sunglasses taking poses on the road in front of their vehicles and showing off their equipments. UN people brought their food with them; they don’t buy anything from Lebanese shops. The previous UN mission was getting fed and dressed in Israel for example. Moreover, they throw their trash on the street or on the shores of the sea. They don’t even use the EU sponsored trash bins for this reason. V. has a couple of pictures of this. If you read this V. send me the pictures! I definitely need a camera next time around.

But I digress. I want to talk about Ayta. Ayta has been mostly destroyed during the war. It is one of the villages that gave the hardest time to Israeli troops and tanks. Most of the houses there have portraits of dead fighters hanged on their walls or on tables. A cloud of dust welcomes you as soon as you arrive signaling the massive reconstruction initiatives taking place. Ayta is being rebuilt because it is Qatar who is financing. And Qatar bypassed the government in order to make sure the money would go to actual reconstruction efforts. And in effect, the village right before Ayta is still in a pitiful state because its rehabilitation awaits government decision to proceed including unblocking the foreign donations given to that effect. Qatar chose its village strategically: Again, Ayta is one of the most famous in terms of heroic guerrilla practices.

Ayta’s main source of income comes from its agricultural output. During this month of the year it is tobacco. Laurel grows wildly and women traditionally make soap out of it (Saboun Ghar). But this production is restricted to local consumption. Friends have tried to work on promoting this rural activity by building awareness and giving them a chance to circulate these products. The idea behind it was to empower women by giving them decision leverage on some local production. The first people in Ayta I saw were those we asked for directions to find the president of the municipality: A woman and two men sitting on the floor in the shade above a tobacco field, choosing tobacco leaves for drying (most entrance of houses in the village have tobacco leaves hanged upside down). The woman was bear foot, legs outstretched, the leaves deposited in front of her, picking one leaf at a time. She looked at us while one of the men was giving us directions with the most beautifully sincere smile.

Texts displayed are written directly on the walls and are painted in bright colors with a nice Arabic calligraphy signaling shops or some craft center. Occasionally a Hizbullah flag is hanging down, or the picture of a martyr. Ayta has several ‘famous’ martyrs whose face are represented on a single poster as the “Ayta martyrs. Aynata has the exact same thing, and I’m sure other villages have that too.

Some of the people I met here are critical of Hizbullah. There are debates raging in many houses. Hizbullah is an open field there. From partisans to dissenters, people make their choices according to what makes the most sense to their personal stories. While Hizbullah tries to control the terms of speech, people are constrained by the given discourse and refashion a discourse of their own using the prevailing conceptualizations of reality available. But through Hizbullah there is a whole set of “modern” concepts and utterances that make their way, re-framed through the party’s speech. Talking to the Hizbullah president of the municipality I could get a lot of this discourse, but most importantly it was interesting to see what made sense to him, how he reworked it to craft his own consciousness according to his social position and past.

Ayta had a vibrant leftist resistance before Israel occupied the region. Most of Ayta’s population had to escape, some of it going to expand the suburbs of Beirut. Some people stayed and were forced to work with the Israeli. To collaborate. They are referred to as “the collaborators”. It is said that most of these collaborators have integrated Hizbullah ranks or at least have sympathized with Hizbullah. As for the early combatants some continued to feel that they belonged to leftist groups and did not work with Hizbullah, most of the time accusing Hizbullah of stealing their agendas, while others just joined Hizbullah. This process is truly interesting because it has mostly to do with the complex circumstances these people found themselves in at a particular social political and historical juncture.

During the last war, people left Ayta and found refuge in the nearby Christian village Rmeish. Rmeish is exactly the same as Ayta (economy, architecture etc.) except that it is Christian. From an outsider’s perspective, three things make you guess that it is a Christian village: the crosses, the non-veiled women, and no destroyed houses. Both villages are very connected because they deal with the same type of agriculture (tobacco that is). Most of the people of Ayta stayed in schools and churches if not at friend’s place in Rmeish during the war. Rarely, you can see a little LF flag (Christian right-wing group more present in the north, who worked with Israelis) and some 10452 graffiti with LF tagged crosses here and there. I don’t know much of the history of this party in Rmeish but I would tend to think that it is not very widespread. I need to check though.

It is interesting to notice that the few leftist in Ayta I met come from very pious background. Actually, most if not all of Ayta engage in strict religious practices. When I was in the house of N. (who’s a leftist, does not sympathize with Hizbullah, and mostly hang out in Rmeish it seems) his mom and his dad were praying with their masba7a as they sat with us. The mom was sad because they had just finished rebuilding their destroyed house and they were not that happy with it. She was happier with the old house because she could “see the mosque of the village from the window”. They looked a bit disarrayed, disturbed by the wave of destruction that fell on the village. The sister of N. came to say hello and before we left as we said goodbye she asked me why I looked “fa’ir metlel folostineh” (humble or simple like a Palestinian)… I was just shy I guess!

In another house, one father asked me if I was Christian (after I told him I was from Beirut), and at the sight of my decomposed face (I never know how to answer this question) he started to laugh saying that he just wanted to show me a Christian masba7a. And indeed it was one, and he started reciting Christian prayers with it, and explained the difference of its working for Christians and Muslims. When I said to him that I was doing a PhD thesis and that I was going to work in the south and probably with the volunteers in the village for some time, he said that I should come and work with him in the land that I should work in the mud. He repeated the word mud several times. He said it was a delicious sensation. I answered that I completely agreed.

I just gave a very succinct picture of the language present in Ayta. It is said that people are pious way before Hizbullah came. It is said that people there have no religious lessons to take from Hizbullah. Hizbullah used this system and tried to present an economistic version for political ends. There are no new institutions created by the party in Ayta like those you find in the suburbs. The rural setting has remained untouched. No additional mosques, no associations, etc. Only the head of the municipality represents Hizbullah, and there is one “rabit” (literally, “link”) an elusive position to my knowledge from explanations given by inhabitants. The rabit serves as some kind of link then between the party and those who want to train and join the organization. From there, any individual can just present himself and follow the procedures to fight or be active in the party. First he has to follow the “ta3bi’a” (literally “charging” or “filling”), making Hizbullah party members to see if the guy is “ethically” ready to join. Once he joins he commits (yaltazim), which is a specific stage viewed as full of disciplinary rules of conduct.

In the case of Ayta at least, Hizbullah worked on an already prevalent social disciplinary setting in order to mobilize constituency. People may have joined other political groups in the past, but their narratives must not have needed significant modification. If a leftist is familiar with Marx and other leftist narratives it still resonated with his “shi’ism” (the latter being a constantly redefined narrative according to the social, economic and political milieu). Ideas and signifying utterances traveled easily from one particular movement to the other as long as the practices initiated and initiating these signifying structures were basically the same: For example, getting out of a state of marginalization and fight oppression (in this case occupation). The more fighting gave effective results the more identity as a Shi’ite of the south fighting and all the narrative this meant (of course in relation to each and every different individual) reinforced itself.

But in effect, one must look at the myriad activities the people of Ayta engage in, in order to understand the various discourses made conscious in a social setting, and ultimately to understand the evolution of “piousness” for example. These activities from cultivating the land to serving tea between friends, to the architecture of their houses and how they live in them, these activities that are daily impregnated by the text they read or hear, the discussions they have, reflecting the relative positions each one has at the level of the modes of production are those who I have to elaborate on those first impressions I had.

The politics of naming

One of the first political phenomenon I am concerned with is the time (and resources etc.) dominant actors spend on finding suitable categories to define (or give meaning to) their various political actions. In addition to the fact that naming gives significance or the illusion of substance in perceiving the enemy, the symbolic act of naming Hizbullah a “terrorist” organization opens the door for so many different legal as well as diplomatic dispositions that has concrete material effect (in the same way the beefing up of an army has material significance):

United States lawmakers are stepping up pressure on the European Union to declare the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah a terrorist organization.

A House of Representatives’ panel is to highlight Wednesday the importance of Europe as a fundraising base for the group, long held responsible by the United States for anti-U.S. and anti-Israel attacks.

Some European countries have resisted an EU designation of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, arguing that it is better to engage the group given its large role in Lebanese politics.

What is important here is to notice how, generally, legal appellations and social norms are all based on this categorization principle. In this case, the creation of significance is a political process embedded in institutions in place (governments, parliaments, courts, etc.) that serves to create disciplined subjects and the ‘other’.

Jawad Nasrallah

My joy was tremendous this morning when I picked up from the floor an envelope with Lebanese stamps on addressed to me, and that I guessed came from my fellow blogger, and friend Moussa. I knew what was in it: the collection of poems by Jawad Nasrallah son of the secretary general of Hizbullah Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.

As I said before my joy was tremendous, so I hurried to open the envelope after sitting on my prison table (where I spend most of my time), and I read the title: 7urufon muqawima (resisting letters, to translate literally). Nice. So I started reading the dedication for his family and all those who encouraged him to write this book, and then I went to the first poem: a special thanks (it is titled ‘thank you’) to his father. “Thanks to the heart of the most beautiful dad”.

But the more I read the more my disappointment grew. I think my dilettante bourgeois background and shaper of taste has made me seek for the contradictory states of mind, personal confessions/reflexions on the life of the poet. There was none of that, every line was subordinated to ‘the greatest good’ of the resistance. Poems are to the ‘martyrs’, to the ‘prisoners’, to those who are still fighting, to the SG of Hizbullah (the first poem addressed him as a dad but others as a political figure), then towards the end, there is a return to the family where the author writes for his mom and his brother (for the latter he writes on him as a brother but also as the one who died in the battle).

Sublimated poems, disciplined verses, chants for the songs of the resistance, Nasrallah has played by the rules. So he may still be called the poet of the resistance. The poet of this new party/movement. And I’m not judging his verses that are very often enough a bit too pompous to my taste, and poor in the richness of the images they convey. But indeed, his style mirrors what he is writing for: A constituency the party wishes to win over. To create grand ideological frames that are thought to stick effectively to people’s mind, that is the task Nasrallah seems to has set to himself.

But first, it does not mean he has consciously done that, as he may write for so many other personal reasons (as i am not his psychoanalyst I’m just speculating here: like winning over his dad’s pride in him, as it’s the elder son Hadi who took most of the respect through his sanctified martyrdom). Despite this fact, as a social outcome Nasrallah plays the role trying to create a general discursive field that would group the constituency. And so second, it does not mean that people automatically incorporate these frames, there is a much more complex process at stake at the reception level, but that is another story.

In any case, even perceived through this narrow function, I could not find parts of what he wrote that really resonated in my mind. Again, this is because I am the personification of the hiqd that al haqid theorizes about. I could recognize in some of the poems the texts of some of Hizbullah’s songs but am not sure. Maybe it’s just the same vocabulary and expressions used. Suffice it to say, that these symbolic discursive efforts deployed by the party are crucial to understand the making of the history of a social movement and the political organizations that emerges from it. With time, discursive practices get more and more complex as more and more people are involved in it, and as different social structures emerge from the initial movement. Just watch the history of nationalism and its progressive discursive internalization in Europe during the past centuries and you will be able to draw interesting parallels.

The Sayyed (revisited)

“Let us overcome all this and calm the situation and form a national emergency government where there will be genuine partnership to save our country. Congratulations and may God’s peace and blessings be upon you. I beseech the young men not to fire shots in the air. This is a very bad custom. Those who want to get rid of the bullets they have in their houses let them send them to me and I will take them and thank them for this.”

The Sayyed …

“You know, they used to bring billions of dollars and to distribute them among themselves. We were even accused by some analysts, politicians, and observers of naivety and lack of political experience. They said that Hezbollah knows how to fight, but it does not know how to work in politics. This is because we did not know how to steal, and we still do not know how to steal.”

Jawad Nasrallah

Hizbullah SG Hassan Nasrallah’s son has just edited his first poetry book. Can somebody go to the signing, get the book, and post some passages?

Idiotic, Brain-dead, Nonsensical Propaganda: The Short Course …

OH MY …!!! Hizbullah also beats up old ladies, pollutes rives, clubs gay baby seals, rapes blind nuns, harvests the organs of healthy orphans, sodomizes senile grandfathers, and can be seen tearing the wings off butterflies across the globe … I am forgeting something? Write in with your own personal favorite and I will get in published in NYTimes. Is it a deal?

More analysis to follow …

More on Israel’s Heartthrob …

(Hezbollah leader) Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah drives everybody crazy in Israel. He sits there with this very calm voice. He is never angry, he doesn’t curse, in a way he even looks gentle. For that, our political leaders and the military wanted to take revenge.

The "legal" manipulation

Please don’t even go there, don’t even pull the argument that as Israel showed it could criticize its actions as a warmongering state, then Lebanon should do the same and uphold Hizbullah responsible for alleged constitutional violations. Because, if it really was a ‘constitutional’ problem then Hizbullah has played by the rules from beginning to end. It has been talking of its defense strategy which included capturing soldiers, and all the political players seemed to agree. Go back to your newspapers of last year and the year before. Hizbullah has been at great pains and spent a lot of useless time playing by the rules so that no one comes to pull out stuff like that. Why? Because it pays for Hizbullah to play by the rule because this way it can reach the state and create an image of legitimacy in a much more effective way.
Why? Because Hizbullah is a popular movement and popular movements build credibility incrementally.

And one important detail: It is Israel who attacked and destroyed the shit out of the country damn it, and it was planning to do so anyways!

Check this pitiful call for ‘accountability’ by leader of the infamous democratic left Elias Atallah (thanks Hilal). See him beg for the international tribunal. Shame Shame Shame. Maybe we should apply some accountability on him and see where he gets his paycheck at the end of the day. I can’t believe people like him do not just keep a low-profile and shut the hell up. Do you realize that this guy was with a party that fought in the ‘resistance’? I don’t think that at the time he was waiting for constitutional decrees to answer to Israeli aggression. But with time things have changed, one starts living the good life of the bourgeois and starts courting the rich magnates, then one discovers that ‘state’ ‘legality’ etc. are useful tool when it comes to impose a specific view that can get him closer to power.

فعلاً يأتي النصر من الله، فمفهوم الله كناية عن فكرة الوطن إذا صحّ التعبير

Ok everybody got the adrenaline rush of these eloquent statements:

In an unprecedented move, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah yesterday praised the Winograd Committee’s report on the Second Lebanon War.
Nasrallah said he respected Israel’s “verdict of failure.” During an appearence in Beirut, Nasrallah said: “I will not gloat. It is worthy of respect that an investigative commission appointed by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert condemns him,” Nasrallah said. “When the enemy acts honestly and sincerely, you cannot but respect it.

But I would argue that this is the most interesting part quoted from Nasrallah’s speech:

“Even though they’re our enemies, it is worthy of respect that the political forces and the Israeli public act quickly to save their state, entity, army and their existence in the crisis,” Nasrallah added. “When it comes to survival, the Zionists are prepared to sacrifice Olmert and a thousand more like him.”

Ambivalent admiration? All this smells fishy at best… So I guess you were right Apo, there are more similarities to be found between the Zionist movement and Hizbullah than I was ready to concede at first.