Thursday, January 24, 2008

Hizballah, Organic and Cosmopolitan

According to Y. -- an Arab woman from a Sunni Muslim family, who has a European passport and many Israeli friends -- interviewed by Meron Rapoport, Hizballah is "the only real political party in Lebanon."
Hezbollah's base is very solid. Not just among the Shi'ites. The middle-class Christians, supporters of the former general Michel Ayoun, believe Prime Minister Fouad Siniora's government represents the interests of the large, old families. They want social mobility, and this they find with Hezbollah. The movement represents a possibility for change.

In addition, says Y., Hezbollah is the only real political party in Lebanon. The state does not exist: The public schools are terrible, and anyone who wants a decent education goes to private schools. There is zero health insurance. The other political parties exist on paper. In fact, these are one-family parties. Hezbollah, however, is everywhere; it provides education and welfare. Non-religious people also enjoy its services.

Hassan Nasrallah also knows how to adapt and be flexible. A while ago, relates Y., a market for organic food opened in one of Beirut's prestigious Christian neighborhoods. A small market, sky-high prices. Just a few weeks went by, she says, and Hezbollah opened a competing organic market. Ten times larger and rock-bottom prices. Everyone was happy. Both the Shi'ite farmers from the south who can sell their produce, and the Beirut residents, who can buy good merchandise at good prices.

Nasrallah also claimed he is in favor of environmental quality and recycling. He has put new meaning into the term "green revolution."

From time to time Y. herself is in contact with Hezbollah members. They are always efficient and organized and they have spokesmen in every possible language -- French, English, German. (Meron Rapoport, "Hezbollah, the Only Party in Lebanon," Ha'aretz, 24 January 2008)
I cannot but love this anecdote of Hizballah opening an organic market "ten times larger" than its posh Christian competitor, selling goods at "rock-bottom prices," making both farmers and customers happy.

A real political party that is at once cosmopolitan and organic (rooted in popular classes1 and in favor of environmentalism), whose competence inspires confidence in the minds of people. That is not exactly the definition of socialism of the 21st century, but secular leftists of many nations have yet to rise to the high standard of organizing set by Islamo-Leninists, the new masters of centralisme démocratique in the Middle East.

1 Note the overlap in support for Hizballah and support for the transport strike:
In areas where support for Hezbollah is strong, such as in south Beirut, southern Lebanon and the northeastern parts of the impoverished, mostly farming Bekaa Valley inland, union activists closed roads and some set car tires ablaze to block roads before security forces moved in.

But in coastal cities like Sidon and Tripoli, with strong pro-government backing, life seemed normal. In Tripoli in the north, dozens of protesters gathered at the central Tal Square, only to disperse peacefully half an hour later. Traffic on highway entrances to Beirut also flowed normally. (Bassem Mroue, "Lebanon Transport Unions on Strike," Associated Press, 24 January 2008)

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