by Michael Schmidt - reporting for Anarkismo
I’m an anarchist communist journalist and wrote this piece specifically for anarkismo.net. I entered Lebanon via Syria, from the north during the second half of the war, on the last access road not yet bombed by the Israelis (yet a plantation I travelled through was flattened an hour after I passed). I travelled mainly in Beirut and in its bombed southern suburbs, and in Sidon in the south as far sout-east as the target of Ghazieh, leaving on the first military transport flight out after the ceasefire came into effect...
...Most commentators note that Hezbollah sprang up in 1985 among Shi’ites in the Palestinian refugee camps of southern Lebanon - three years after the last major Israeli invasion - as a new generation of radicals tired of the compromises struck by the Palestinian Liberation Organisation under the late Yassir Arafat and Fatah. The right unsurprisingly sees Hezbollah as an outright terrorist organisation publicly dedicated to the obliteration of Israel. The left, however, is not at all sure how to deal with Hezbollah, especially given the fact that it appeared to be the only force that resisted the Israeli invasion. Marxist-Leninist journalists such as Michael Karadjis of Australia’s Green Left Weekly (8) claim it as a “a national liberation movement, rather than an ‘Islamist’ or ‘terrorist’ organisation” that has managed remain non-sectarian and avoid the pitfalls of both Islamic fundamentalism (being hostile to a marginal Al Qaeda presence in Lebanon) and of opposing Jews for their faith instead of Zionism for its imperialism. But however “non-sectarian” it is, it is hardly in favour of free thought - as the martial tone of its propaganda videos on al-Manar TV show (9).
Is Hezbollah “Islamo-fascist” as the European, American and Israeli right claims? The Lebanese people should be able to tell, having direct experience of home-grown fascism thanks to the Khataeb (Falangist) party, founded along Spanish Falangist lines in 1936 and responsible for the Israeli-sanctioned Sabra and Shatilla massacre of Palestinian refugees in southern Beirut in 1982. Certainly Hezbollah is a theocratic right-wing organisation built on conservative social grounds and an obscene leadership cult - and I suspect its adoption of the goose-step and the Nazi salute is far from accidental. The most visible faction of the Lebanese anarchist movement (10) characterizes Hezbollah as “reactionary”. I’d prefer the term clerico-populist.