From Pop to Politics

The Dirty South | Vintage Videocrat

In Vintage Videocrat on June 10, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Published on GNN- Sat, 30 Sep 2006 15:40:48

Location: South Lebanon.

Southern Lebanon is: Dirt and dust, unexploded minefields, lush banana plantations lining the coast, UN convoys, ubiquitous martyr placards and green and yellow Hezbollah banners that declare: “This is your democracy”. Add to that some more dirt and dust and a tons of rubble in villages all over. Last but not least, if Hassan Nasrallah’s face isn’t smiling down on you from billboards and posters, his voice echoes through loud speakers from one destroyed village to the next. But mostly Nasrallah’s sermons were blaring from the CD player of our fixer’s car.

Video Still: A portrait of Hassan Nasrallah eerily stands out in the middle of a minefield in the south.

The population here is primarily Shiite and it surrounds pockets of mostly unscathed Christian towns. The South is also where Hezbollah communities are concentrated- and they are communities, not some covert groups of ninja-styled militiamen as the Western media likes to portray them. Hezbollah members are teachers, mothers, doctors, town mayors, taxi drivers and so on. I traveled all over the south in about 10 days, witnessing the extent of the destruction on the infrastructure and the effect on the community and it was clear the Israelis were trying to wipe out every Shiite village on the Lebanese map. Like I said, Hezbollah members / followers are also civilians, so all this talk from the Israeli side about the party using civilians as shields is, to me and a heck of a lot of people, bullshit. Seeing how this war helped Hezbollah’s popularity soar, if the Israeli government tries to annihilate them again, it would mean nuking most of Lebanon off the face of the Earth.

Video Still: A bombed out mosque in Bint Jbeil.

Bint Jbeil, one of the most battered towns, also with a heavy Hezbollah presence, was a heartbreaking experience to say the least…. Buildings and homes are crumbling and those left standing have been riddled with bullet holes from fierce ground battles between the Israelis and Hezbollah fighters. The Mayor took us on a walking tour with an EU delegation sent to assess the damage and the scenery was surreal. As we ventured onto a winding road, clumsily trying to make our way across the rubble, we passed a crumbling mosque, a flattened shoe factory and homes and shops reduced to mounds of concrete chunks. The Mayor and residents lambasted the government and its neglect of the area. Even the Ambassador of the EU delegation admitted that they were going ahead with reconstruction plans without the cooperation of the government because ‘it would be less complicated’.

Another home destroyed. The banner, part of Hezbollah's campaign, was strategically placed to get their message across in the foreign press.

And more disapproval about the foreign troops: Locals I’ve talked to during the daily treks across the South have their obvious reservations about the UNIFIL troops UNIfiling in. The Lebanese army couldn’t even fight back when the IDF attacked so in their minds, only Hezbollah can protect them. I don’t need to tell you how they feel about Israel nowadays. The anger is more than palpable.

Video Still: A residential building damaged from clashes with Israeli soldiers.

When I talked to our fixer about Israelis who protested against the war, the Refusenik movement and countless other Jews around the world who are against the occupation of Palestine, he looked at me as though I had told him the Qur’an was written by a woman. He and so many others in the Arab world can’t wrap their heads around the concept of a non-Zionist Jew. Decades of aggression perpetrated by the Jewish State, (Arabs do not see Israeli military maneuvers as virtuous acts of ‘self-defense’) coupled with Islamist propaganda, has put “anti-semitism” in the Arab World at an all time high. Is this what the Israeli government wanted all along?

I’ve never been more worried about what’s happening in the Middle East than now. Lebanon’s government and autonomy is falling apart… Dozens of dismembered bodies have been found in Baghdad over the past weeks, with Iraq diving into an even deeper bottomless well of despair… And the Palestinian problem looks farther away from a solution than ever before. And Bush still has the audacity to make like America’s invasion campaigns are successfully spreading democracy in the Middle East at his address during the UN’s General Assembly. “The Birth of the New Middle East” looks more like “The Murder of Arab Self-Determination”… We are so screwed. Not only by the US but also by our own deluded self-serving heads of states.

Forget about perceived divine victories. What we need now is divine intervention.

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