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Hussein Ibish

Attacks on dissenting journalists show how scared Hezbollah really is

The vicious lies about NOW editor Hanin Ghaddar are a symptom of Hezbollah's panic

Shiite Muslim clerics pray over the coffin of Al-Manar cameraman Mohammad Mantash, who was killed in Syria, during his funeral in the southern Lebanese village of Kfar Sir on April 15, 2014

I suppose it's completely pointless to expect gangsters to have any regard for free speech, or, for that matter, the truth. After all, their stock in trade is brute force. It's always set up on a sliding scale: first comes "friendly advice," then a "word to the wise" warning. Then the bullying. Then blatant threats. And the logical culmination is some sort of physical attack. Nowhere has this progressive logic of the political hoodlum been in greater evidence than in Lebanon in recent decades.

So when a nationally- and internationally-noted Lebanese journalist has clearly been dragged into the bullying and borderline blatant threat stage of attack by thugs and their henchmen in the public press, it's essential to raise the loudest possible outcry. The only reasonable collective response is: back off and don't you dare think about going a step further.

As it happens, Hanin Ghaddar, managing editor of this website, is facing precisely such a campaign of threats and intimidation by Hezbollah, its Lebanese allies, and the hacks and propagandists they employ. Hezbollah front or fellow traveler publications like Al-Akhbar, Al-Manar, and Tayyar all piled onto the lies that she had broken Lebanese law by appearing with Israeli officials at a conference in Washington.

The record is clear: she did no such thing. On the contrary, she stipulated that the conference she attended was structured to enable her to scrupulously abide by Lebanese law. This is confirmed by the hosting organization, all attendees, and the published schedule.

So Hanin is completely innocent of the charges leveled against her. But let's imagine, counter-factually, that she had actually shared a stage with an Israeli. That might've been a violation of Lebanese law. But how would it have compared to the grossly unlawful conduct, on the daily basis, by Hezbollah and its allies?

What would that have been compared to blowing up former prime ministers in the middle of crowded streets? Assassinating journalists or rival politicians on a routine basis? Maintaining a large, well-supplied, and foreign-funded and -dominated private army? Dragging Lebanon into a devastating and pointless war with Israel in 2006?

Or how about Hezbollah's unilateral intervention in the Syrian conflict, in direct contravention of the Baabda Declaration? And what have they done in Syria except, in effect, help 'Amo Bashar wipe out scores of thousands of his own people, and drop sarin gas, barrel bombs, and, most recently, chlorine weapons on innocent Syrians?

The idea of such people and their propagandists concocting a campaign of vitriol and hatred against someone based on false accusations of having spoken on a stage with an Israeli, given their own conduct, is the height of effrontery. They even sank to the level of having some of her relatives issue public "denunciations" of her, a familiar tactic Hezbollah has used in the past to try to intimidate Lebanese Shiites who don't toe the party line.

There's no doubt why Ghaddar is being targeted so viciously. Hezbollah is sinking into a profound crisis in Lebanon generally, and within the Shiite community in particular, because of its disastrous intervention in Syria. The organization is finding it very difficult to explain to ordinary Lebanese Shiites why their sons should be dying for towns they've never heard of, and for a vicious dictator who has nothing to do with their daily lives.

Everything Hezbollah ever claimed about why other Lebanese, including Shiites, should find it somehow acceptable that the organization maintains a huge private army and a foreign policy that has allowed them to drag the country into calamitous conflicts with both of its immediate neighbors has been totally exposed in recent years for the lies they are. Ostensibly Hezbollah's state-within-a-state is for "resistance" and to protect Lebanon from Israel. In reality, of course, its weapons are used mainly to enforce its domestic political agenda on other Lebanese, and in the service of its Iranian and Syrian patrons, most notably through the intervention in the Syrian conflict.

This is becoming increasingly obvious to even the most credulous of Lebanese. Hezbollah therefore feels particularly vulnerable. Cue the attack on Ghaddar, along with other vicious efforts to fend off its critics, particularly within the Shiite community. There has been a significant push-back in Lebanon against the attacks on her, but so far it's insufficient.

And what of the media organizations that have led the charge against her? Well, the odious Ibrahim al-Amin, editor-in-chief of Al-Akhbar, has been accused of obstruction of justice for refusing to appear at a hearing of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon investigating the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. Amin is the same charmer who recently opined that the suffering of the Palestinian refugees in the Yarmouk refugee camp outside Damascus was entirely the fault of the refugees themselves.

Al-Akhbar also regularly features the gurglings of one Assad AbuKhalil, who "teaches" unfortunate students at a school called California State University, Stanislaus (no, I've never heard of it either). AbuKhalil is quick to condemn anyone and everyone of being a traitor, Zionist, imperialist stooge, or lackey, and every other epithet imaginable.

 

Yet it was recently revealed that, some years ago, the US Central Intelligence Agency may have paid him to do something. He issued a denial, in which he asserted that he had never been an employee of the CIA. One plausible explanation, given what's known and what can be inferred from his own statements, is that some while back the CIA may have paid him to give one or two unclassified briefings. There is no reason to be embarrassed about that, except given what he and his newspaper would have said about anybody else who had done that makes admitting a simple and otherwise banal and straightforward truth quite impossible.

AbuKhalil threatened to sue everyone in sight, but of course he didn't. And he won't. Because he would have to submit to discovery and there may be something there, even though no one thinks he was a staff employee of the CIA. But given the attitudes he and Al-Akhbar peddle, is this not the very height of hypocrisy? These are the people who put themselves in the vanguard of the attack on Hanin Ghaddar for giving a public talk at an established Washington think tank on a serious topic, and carefully arranging things to remain within the confines of Lebanese law?

So everybody involved in this campaign of bullying and intimidation against Ghaddar should be on notice. First, she has an extensive national and international base of support. The world is watching. Second, she has bravely vowed to continue her journalism and commentary undaunted by these outrageous scare tactics and abuses. Third, those who are attacking Ghaddar – who did not in fact violate any laws or norms – are shills for mobsters and murderers of the first order, who are guilty of some of the worst crimes imaginable.

And fourth, and most importantly, it's obvious that this entire outrageous attack on Ghaddar is prompted by a sense of desperation  on the part of Hezbollah and its lackeys, and an intensified impulse to try to squash any dissent within the Shiite community. That's because such dissent is growing, and the reputation of the organization, even in its main constituency, is rocked to the core for dragging the Lebanese Shiites, and the rest of the country, into its reckless intervention in Syria.

Hezbollah is clearly scared, and with good reason. The cowardly bullying of an independent-minded and serious journalist – who, thankfully, refuses to be intimidated – could not provide a clearer sign of incipient panic in the self-appointed "Party of God." So, back off and don't you dare think about going a step further.

Worth it? (AFP Photo/Mahmoud Zayyat)

"The idea of such people and their propagandists concocting a campaign of vitriol and hatred against someone based on false accusations of having spoken on a stage with an Israeli, given their own conduct, is the height of effrontery."

  • keti.raicheva

    Direction of Terrorists Criminals Hezbollah must going in Prison! Direction of Hezbollah kidnapped and maked Torture to my Bulgarian Husband Talal Mohamed Khalil on period 25.11.2012- 28.01.2013y. Terrorists Hezbollah forced Talal to sign FALSE CONFESSIONS! On time of Torture Talal get three Heart attacks and two Brain Hits!! After Torture Hezbollah gived my husband to Prison Roumieh in Beirut. Talal stay one year and six Months INNOCENT, VERY ILL IN PRISON. On the 02.06.2014y. Talal will be on the front Military Lebanese Court in Beirut. Terrorists Criminals Hezbollah killed Bulgarian Citizens in Bulgaria, Burgas on 18.07.2012y. We Bulgarian Citizens want JUST COURT PROCESS FOR TALAL MOHAMED KHALIL! Talal is 63 years old, very ill in Prison! Lebanese State Institutions MUST SAVE HUMAN RIGHTS TO ALL PRISONERS IN LEBANON! DIRECTION OF HEZBOLLAH TO THE PRISON !!! FREEDOM FOR TALAL MOHAMED KHALIL ! WE CONTINUE MAKE PROTESTS ON THE FRONT LEBANESE EMBASSY IN BULGARIA AND GERMANY!!! GROUP OF EUROPEAN CITIZENS May 10, 2014 Delete

    May 22, 2014

  • keti.raicheva

    Our European Bulgarian Citizen, INNOCENT, 63 YEARS OLD, VERY ILL TALAL MOHAMED KHALIL STAY WITHOUT EVIDENCE OF CRIME ONE YEAR AND SIX MONTHS IN PRISON ROUMIEH IN BEIRUT!!! WE WANT JUST COURT PROCESS FOR TALAL KHALIL !!! Talal Khalil will be on the front Lebanese Military Court on 2.06.2014y. We want INDEPENDENT FROM CRIMINALS TERRORIST HEZBOLLAH JUST COURT PROCESS FOR TALAL KHALIL!!! TERRORISTS CRIMINALS DIRECTION OF Hezbollah MUST GOING TO THE PRISON!!! FREEDOM FOR TALAL KHALIL !!! WE CONTINUE MAKE PROTESTS ON THE FRONT LEBANESE EMBASSY IN BULGARIA AND GERMANY!!! May 17, 2014 Delete

    May 22, 2014

  • Jacob the aggressive watcher

    1001 nights fantasies are nothing against these talk backs

    May 22, 2014

  • keti.raicheva

    TERRORIST CRIMINAL MEMBER OF HEZBOLLAH- HUSSEIN HAIDAR MAKED TORTURE TO MY HUSBAND ON 25.11.2012-28.01.2013y. Hussein Haidar- 50 years old and Abu Fadel maked TORTURE TO MY HUSBAND !!! Hussein Haidar and ABU FADEL ARE TERRORISTS CRIMINALS! Lebanese Prosecutor Saqr Saqr must put tham in Prison! Have another five criminals terrorists from Hezbollah that maked Torture to my husband and to so much Lebanese Peoples! Why Lebanese State Institutions allow to Terrorists Criminals Hezbollah make KIDNAPPING, TORTURE AND MURDERES ? Mr. Hasan Nasrallah and all leaders of Hezbollah must going in PRISON!!! May 20, 2014 Delete

    May 20, 2014

  • kenaviba

    Maronite domination of a greater Lebanon was much more in the interest of the colonial master France, than was Jewish settlement of British Palestine, which was propelled over many years by exogenous forces (Dreyfus affair, Russian pograms, the Holocaust).

    May 20, 2014

  • Hanibaal-Atheos

    This is a misconception. Mandatory France was very reluctant to create a Christian homeland. It wanted at best the continuation of the autonomous sanjak (Mutassarifiyah) of Mount Lebanon as existed since 1860, but within a Syrian federation itself under French control. France did not want an independent Lebanon as exists today. However, two factors forced the hand of France into acquiescing to the Maronite Church's greed for annexing the large Muslim swaths of Beirut, Tripoli, Akkar, the Beqaa etc.and creating an independent Greater Lebanon: 1- The active lobbying in Paris by Maronite Patriarchs Huwayyik, then Arida, with French conservative Catholic political circles, plus 2- King Faysal's Arab government in Damascus refusing to recognize French interests in the region and Faysal's threat of playing the British card against the French. The French were willing to maintain the autonomy of the Mount Lebanon sanjak (with its 80% Christian majority and 20% Druze minority) but only WITHIN a Syrian federation ruled from Damascus by King Faysal UNDER French mandate. The French could not care less for the Maronites. They were using them to secure French security and economic interests. Once they were faced with the threat of Faysal going with the British, the French had to back down and agree to the Maronite demands for a Greater Lebanon with a 55% Christian majority. This is the mistake that many groups make when short term greed overrides long term interests. The British were smarter: They played both the Zionists and the Arab nationalists, promising both sides the same thing. Ultimately both the French (in Lebanon) and the British (in Palestine) models failed. In Lebanon it failed primarily because of the Muslim demographic advantage (since both Christians and Muslims were native). In Israel, it failed because the Jewish component was exogenous and imported, the chasm between Muslims and Jews was much deeper than the chasm between Christians and Muslims in Lebanon, and t

    May 21, 2014

  • Hanibaal-Atheos

    .... between Christians and Muslims in Lebanon, and the eventual Muslim demographic advantage that is bound with time to overrun any "Jewish" identity that the Israelis are desperately clinging to in their delusional half-baked revival of barbaric biblical Stone Age notions.

    May 21, 2014

  • Hanibaal-Atheos

    ... the hand of the British to create the equally artificial country of Israel. Lebanon was supposed to be a "Christian homeland" just as Israel was supposed to be a "Jewish homeland" in a sea of Muslims. The Christians of Lebanon lost their wager and have become Dhimmis, lapping at the feet of the Sunnis and Shiites to remain relevant, while the Israelis too have lost their wager and survive only as a hyper-militarized stronghold of hatred, segregation, and apartheid bent on annihilating the native Palestinians. Shouldn't the leaders of the Maronite Church be held responsible and accountable for their crime, just as the Zionists are responsible for the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people? Not only did this "Greater Lebanon" fail as a Christian homeland, it has become an ungovernable, divided, and utterly dysfunctional wasteland of religious and sectarian backwardness and corruption.

    May 20, 2014

  • Hanibaal-Atheos

    Remember when Hariri, Berri, Adnan Addoum, the Syrian regime, the Sunni establishment, Jumblatt, Karami, Lahoud, Suleiman, and every (..)that ruled Lebanon or served as a puppet collaborator under the Syrian occupation before the latter killed its top puppet Rafik Hariri? Remember how they used to slander anyone who dared stand up to Syria - Bashir Gemayel, Etienne Sacre (Abu Arz), and even Amin Gemayel and Michel Aoun (who today tow the official line like the traitors they are) - and accuse them of "dealing with the Zionist enemy" simply because they stood up to Syria and its dogs in Lebanon? Remember how Miss Lebanon was once arrested at Beirut Airport - under the Rafik Hariri government - because alphabetical order placed her next to Miss Israel in the Miss Universe contest? Remember those days? Funny how things have turned around; how yesterday's heroes of Arabism and Baathism freely slandered Lebanese patriots for defending their country against Assad and his killers, yet today have become liberals rooting for Ms. Hanin Ghaddar who shared a conference platform alongside Israeli officials, exchanging embassies and trade offices with the "Israeli enemy", and attacking the very Assad regime, the pulsating heart of Arabism and defender against the "Zionist aggression", that used them as lackeys and traitors and collaborators...No one should forget this mercantile reversal of political principles, even if it seems "patriotic" and "liberal" today, because like any unprincipled position driven by interests and higher paychecks, it could revert back to treason and treachery in the blink of an eye. About 100 years ago, the Maronite Church committed the gravest mistake in its history by forcing the French to create the artificial country of Lebanon by annexing to Mount Lebanon large Muslim areas (Tripoli, Beirut, Sidon, Akkar, the Beqaa) that were never part of historic Lebanon. The Maronite clergy was working hand in hand with the Zionists who were forcing the hand

    May 20, 2014