In a report coming directly from southern Lebanon, (the stronghold of Hezbollahstan, and the epic center of the recent war between Lebanon and Israel) free lance journalist Michael Totten from the Middle East Journal, delivers not only an excellent story, but he also describes some interesting observations. Read here.
Contrary to the statements issued by both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, Totten records the accuracy of Israeli claims that there was indeed use of human shields (war crime) by the Hezbollah of not only their fellow Shiia supporters, but from the Christian community as well.
Also worth mentioning is Totten’s observation of “being observed” as he was being driven through southern Lebanon. According to Totten, it was not unlike being in a totalitarian state with plenty of watchful eyes observing all that moved, was said and done. He notes:
“Said said. “He is watching. This is the beginning of their territory. He reports on who is coming and what they are doing.”
“Dour-looking men stood on street corners and in the middle of intersections and carefully watched all the cars and people who entered the area. “You see the watchers?” Said said. “Yep,” I said. “They couldn’t be any more obvious. Can we get out and talk to people around here?”
“I do not recommend it,” Said said. “They cannot talk freely. These watchers will come up to us if we get out of the car, and they will make sure anyone who talks to us only tells us what they are supposed to say.”
“It looked – and felt – totalitarian in Bint Jbail. Everyone watched us. If Said was right that the locals weren’t allowed to speak freely (assuming they dissented from Nasrallah’s party line) it must feel totalitarian to people who live there as well.”
Now let’s take a look at an article written by a Finnish journalist working for the Helsingin Sanomat, Inka Kovanen, who was reporting from Lebanon in August 2006. Kovanen begins her article by lamenting her car failure somewhere in Hezbollahstan with little or no signal in her cell phone, as the deadline for her story draws near. She decides to “hoof it” when out of nowhere two guys “clean-cut, slightly serious-looking men both, and not particularly scary to look at”, in a car pull up to ask if she needs “help”.
“Following a brief roadside negotiation with our driver, the men turned the car around and waved at us to climb into the back seat”
What follows next can be taken straight out of any Hezbollah manuel for how one is to “chat up” foreign jounalists, especially if they are dependent upon your good graces. What resulted from the “happen chance meeting” was a puff piece article published by the HS, titled “Hitchhiking With Hezbollah”.
I seriously doubt a more seasoned journalist like Totten could have been so easily manipulated by two Hezbollah clowns who “magically come to the rescue” of the Finnish journalist. According to Kovanen:
This was not supposed to be happening. We were not supposed to encounter these guys. The military wing of Hezbollah is known for its discipline and for the veil of secrecy with which it surrounds its operations. Then again, Mussa, or whatever his real name might have been, did not divulge any military secrets.”
“As a souvenir of our hitch-hiking experience we got a hand-written receipt, signed, and with a short paragraph written in slightly wobbly longhand in French: Mussa loves everyone, Hezbollah loves everyone, Hezbollah is not a terrorist group.
As Forrest Gump would have said: “Naive is as naive does”. *L* KGS