News Release



Israel has bombed homes of Hezbollah leaders and the group’s Al Manar TV station while likening the group to al-Qaeda. But a Washington Post reporter wrote yesterday that “[Hezbollah leader Hassan] Nasrallah has only disdain for bin Laden and the Taliban. In April, an al-Qaeda cell in Lebanon tried to assassinate him.”

AbuKhalil is author of several books on the Mideast including Historical Dictionary of Lebanon. He has just returned from several weeks in Lebanon, where he met with Hezbollah leader Nasrallah among others. AbuKhalil is a professor in the department of politics at California State University, Stanislaus, and a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley.
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Barsamian is host of the program “Alternative Radio” and was recently in Lebanon. He said today: “There is a context of the current round of bombings and reprisals. It’s clear that Iran has influence and has armed and trained Hezbollah, but Hezbollah is an authentic indigenous Lebanese group. And we can talk about Iranian-made missiles, but Israel is using U.S.-made missiles. Some people are ascribing every conceivable atrocity to Hezbollah without serious evidence. It’s crucial to understand why Hezbollah has such an important role in Lebanon. There are many devoted to the group — and even Lebanese who hate Hezbollah admire them for their incorruptibility and the fact that they are responsible for having driven Israel out of Lebanon.

“Also, Hezbollah provides services — day care centers, hospitals, clinics, schools, vocational training to people, particularly the Shia who are typically looked down at by the upper classes in Lebanon. The Shia are underrepresented in the parliament — they probably constitute about 45 percent of the population — but don’t get adequate representation in Lebanon’s system, particularly since Lebanon hasn’t had a census since 1932.”
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Makdisi holds the Arab-American Educational Foundation Chair of Arab Studies at Rice University. He is author of the paper “Anti-Americanism in the Arab World: An Interpretation of a Brief History.” Makdisi said today: “What the U.S. government is doing now — basically giving Israel a blank check for bombing Lebanon, including the civilian infrastructure — is exactly the type of policy that causes resentment against the U.S. in the region.”

Makdisi is the author of the book The Culture of Sectarianism about Lebanon. He added: “Even people who are opposed to Hezbollah in Lebanon are not going to say anything because the Israeli assault is so egregious. … Israel has created its worst enemies — they helped create Hamas as a counterweight to Fatah and their occupation of Lebanon created Hezbollah. … Hezbollah has substantial respect in the region because, unlike the regimes, it has actually done what it says it will do.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167