Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Resisting What In Lebanon?

by Eamonn McDonagh

I don’t think many will contradict me if I say that the verb “resist” is usually transitive. That means, for example, that it doesn’t make sense for me to praise “Mike’s resistance” unless I am sure that my interlocutor knows about Mike’s attempts to stop his landlord from evicting him.

I make this statement of the obvious in the context of Ana Carbajosa’s report of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to south Lebanon in El País of Madrid. The story’s subheading reads,

Ahmadinejad praises Hezbollah’s resistance four kilometers from Israeli soil.

In the body of the text Carbajaosa herself speaks of,

Bint Jbeil, the epicenter of Lebanese Shiite resistance.

Nowhere in the text is direct mention made of what Hezbollah is supposed to be resisting so it seems reasonable to assume that the journalist and her newspaper believe that the object of Hezbollah’s resistance is obvious and doesn’t need to be spelled out.

A possible clue lies in Iran’s president being quoted as condemning “the occupier”. There are those who would interpret that as referring to the Shebaa Farms. There is, however, no mention made of the disputed territory anywhere in the text. Perhaps El País credits its readers with being unusually well informed about the politics of the region and didn’t want to appear insensitive to their learning by pointing this out to them.

There’s another possibility. Perhaps El País and Carbajosa understand resistance to refer to the struggle of Lebanon’s Shiites against the discrimination from which they long suffered in their country. But how credible is that? Hezbollah now forms part of the government of Lebanon, it is the biggest armed force in the country, has thoroughly cowed its internal rivals and the president of its foreign patron has just been welcomed by Lebanon’s head of state and even awarded a doctorate honoris causa by the state run Lebanese University.

So, resistance to what? Given the reference to the short distance from Bin Jbeil to Israel in the subheading, combined with Ahmadinejad’s well known attitude to Jewish national rights, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that it means resistance to the existence of Israel. It also seems clear that a respectable European newspaper finds nothing remarkable about the president of a faith based dictatorship praising his Lebanese allies for their determination to put an end to the existence of a UN member state and takes it for granted that its readers will understand this without it actually having to be spelled out for them.

Eamonn McDonagh

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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