18 09 2007

Lebanon is a weird country populated by weirder inhabitants. Even though there are pretty much every single colour, frequency and spectrum of every political ideology in this small country of under 4 million, it is still a country that does not tolerate extremists religion-wise.

In Lebanon, only moderation works. You can be an extreme right-wing, but you can’t be religious at the same time. Religion in Lebanon is like fashion – it is only exists by label and only pursued for show. I think that the only exception is the Hezbollah. A very religious organisation with its own set of ideology and morals to all other Islamist groups.

I think Hezbollah has survived as a religious group because of a couple of reasons. They are tolerated by the non-Shi’a because they do not disturb or involve themselves in their affairs – mainly due to the demographic placement of Hezbollah strongholds – they are totally separate from the other communities. Also, Hezbollah has been the only party to refrain from sectarian strife during the civil war.

I very much admire Hezbollah’s ideology. There was an interview with a fully armed and kitted Hezbollah fighter on Al-Jazeera by the much-respected reporter Ghassan Bin Jiddu just after the ceasefire by a day or two. The fighter had been walking around while being interviewed by Mr Ghassan. The militant showed Mr Ghassan around a village called Aita Al-Sha’b, which saw some of the heaviest fighting in the Summer Hezbollah-Israel war. After 33 days, the small village had rejected occupation, proved by the simple fact that a fully armed Hezbollah fighter with a journalist were free to wander through the small village a few days after the ceasefire – Israel withdrew from the territory it held a month after the cease-fire.

Anyway, back to the point. Mr Ghassan asked the Hezbollah fighter many questions concerning pretty much everything. One would marvel at this guys patience, politeness and high spirit. His son had died a couple of metres away from where he fought with the Israelis, and not once did he show any signs of grief. He portrayed signs of pride and hope instead. The most significant and surprising of all was when he was asked whether or not they could have captured any IDF soldiers. His answer was shocking to hear from an Islamist militant group. The Hezbollah fighter answered Bin Jiddu in amazement that such a question needed asking. He told Mr Bin Jiddu that there had been many countless occasions in which a kidnap would have been possible. At one time, he claimed, soldiers – alive, dead or wounded – would never leave the battle arena before 6 hours after the confrontation had ended. Hezbollah always besieged them, and at these stages it would have been possible to kidnap any soldier they wished. Air power seemed irrelevant in these stages because any attempt by the IAF to deter a militant from trying to take an IDF soldier prisoner may end up with the killing of their own men. The Hezbollah interviewee claimed that Hezbollah had its moral, teachings, school and ideology that was special in every sense. This ideology is based on the good treatment of prisoners when held captive. He claimed that Hezbollah men did not try to capture IDF soldiers simply because there would be a great deal of hassle in the sense that the prisoner would need to be escorted outside the battlefield to someplace where he/she is safe, hospitalised for any wounds or injuries and fed regularly. The Hezbollah militant also claimed that countless IDF soldiers wounded in combat could have been killed if it weren’t for the mercy of Hezbollah. Their ideology seems to also teach that the wounded should be spared.

Compare this ideology with that of the Al-Qaida – and then maybe not so many westerners would be baffled next time Hezbollah supporters show up in their millions to demonstrate against something.

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