FROM THE WEB
Net Briefs - 05/11
Caustic Political Speech
STOP THE DAM
8 Years of Occupation
Hezbollah in Lebanon
The Master's Plan
Kristen L. Buras
30th Years of FNB
War, Prisons, Torture
Angola 3 News
What Happened in Wisconsin
A Serious Fight
The Libya Intervention Debate
Stop Bombing Libya
On Libya & Crises
Stephen Shalom and Michael Albert
A Q&A on Libya
Stephen Shalom and Michael Albert
Civil Wars U.S. Labor
Guide to Green Politics
Toward Climate Justice
Zaps - 05/11
NOTE: Z Magazine subscribers and sustainers have access to all Z Magazine articles here and in the archive. The latest Z Magazine articles available to everyone are listed in the Free Articles box at the top of the table of contents, and are starred in the list below. Questions? e-mail Z Magazine Online.
Freedom, Democracy, and Hezbollah in Lebanon
This Spring, the Arab streets erupted with calls for systemic change. From Tahrir Square in Egypt to Benghazi in Libya to Pearl Square in Bahrain, uprisings have brought uncertainty and instability. So far, this cry for freedom and democracy has been hailed by the U.S. as a positive step forward, but to what extent they will try to manage the outcomes remains to be seen. The U.S. is treading very carefully, as the last thing the global North wants is another Iran, another Hamas government, or another Lebanese Hezbollah.
Captured Israeli tank
Islamic Health Society Clinic
School mural in Nabatieh
Hezbollah was formed after Israel invaded and occupied Lebanese territory in 1982, placing local communities under economic blockade and military curfew. One of their prime functions has been to engage in armed struggle to fight the system of occupation and prevent its return.
Like many dual-role movements born in the 20th century, Hezbollah, designated by the U.S. as a terrorist organization, became known locally for its social service network, filling a gap in government services while also engaging in armed struggle. Hezbollah is a disciplined entity with a detailed command structure, including a political, military, and social service arm. Hezbollah operates like an umbrella with several organizations under its framework, including Qard al Hassan (The Good Loan), Jihad al Binna (Struggle of Reconstruction), and the Islamic Health Society. For the purpose of this article, representatives of each were interviewed, though their identities are confidential.
Hezbollah's social service network has grown to encompass a broad range of areas including reconstruction, the provision of community development consulting services, vocational training, interest-free loans, agricultural development, farmers' markets, health care, education, environmental protection, and anti-smoking campaigns. Using a wide range of tactics, Hezbollah also has a history of fighting the system that lies at the root of their marginalization. Their arsenal has included political participation, waging guerilla warfare to bring an end to Israeli occupation, and engaging in non-violent acts of mass defiance.
Hezbollah's parliamentary involvement began in 1992 when they captured 7 seats. As of 2009, they held 13 in a system where many small parties form coalitions. They use this platform to highlight issues of Shia poverty, address government corruption, and maintain national recognition of their right to engage in armed struggle.
According to the Islamic Health Society, armed struggle creates a balance of power with Israel: "If the IDF bombs us, they know we will respond similarly, which creates stability and security for us…. [I]f we disarm, they could re-occupy and prevent us from an education, life, development, etc."
Describing life prior to the Israeli withdrawal in 2000, the Islamic Health Society explains, "It was hell for people just to get to the hospital and it was also very dangerous to travel outside your community, to Beirut for instance to access medical facilities. After 2000, accessibility has increased greatly."
According to Jihad al Binaa's agricultural unit, by removing the system of occupation, the community experienced greater access to services and more opportunities to pursue livelihoods of their choice. "Before liberation, many villagers in the occupied belt could not work their lands and there was no investment going into communities...people fled their land and moved to Dahiyeh [Beirut's southern suburbs] due to insecurity and became wage labourers…. [A]fter liberation, they can go freely to their land." After 2000, the community regained access to natural resources including traditional water sources. Community members continue to benefit from a steady increase in institution building in liberated areas such as banks, hospitals, and schools.
In Iraq, we saw a model of regime change imposed by the U.S. In contrast, the protests raging through the Arab world have resulted in world leaders being brought down by the people, on their own terms. Likewise, Hezbollah faced off against the world's fourth largest military and brought to an end a system that long prevented their community's development. As with today's uprisings, this was done by everyday people, many with full-time jobs, who became trained in the art of guerilla warfare. Also, like the masses taking to the streets in the Arab world to challenge the system and to resist undemocratic ideas being imposed on them, Hezbollah has challenged systemic governmental discrimination on several occasions using non-violent tactics.
In December 1991, Hezbollah encouraged the formation of residential and professional groups in each quarter of the southern suburbs to press the government for action on the water problem. In December 2006, there was a massive protest in Beirut when half a million Shia and Christians took to the street and camped out until the government agreed to call elections. In A.R. Norton's 2007 book Hezbollah, he wrote, "Perhaps the most profound importance of the December protest…will be as a model for collective action in other Arab locales." Through the December protests, the community successfully altered traditional power structures and attained sufficient power to ensure they are no longer ignored by the government.
Responding to decades of state neglect, Hezbollah works within the system to lobby the government to play a greater role in social service delivery. The Islamic Health Society explained, "We do our own research and gather our own statistics based on our own indicators and get results and lobby the government to carry out its responsibility. But they don't and then we have to fill the gap, while we continue to lobby them…. If the government provides a service that is enough for the people, then we don't provide this service."
Jihad al Binaa adds, "In the 1980s, the government was totally absent so we supplied electricity and water. At the end of the civil war, the government began to do this, so we gave up working in electricity so the government can assume responsibility."
In addition to challenging a neglectful state system, Hezbollah also challenged the hegemonic imposition of external interests on their community. Hezbollah opposed a realtors' development plan to uproot 50,000 people from the Ouzai river basin, successfully opposed plans to open a wholesale supermarket, which would undercut local producers, and advocated for teachers and laborers.
For the Global North, the question remains, does Hezbollah seek radical change? Do they want to overthrow the system and will they bring about an Islamic government in Lebanon? According to Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, author of Hizbullah: Politics and Religion (2002), Hezbollah rejects the "values, beliefs, institutions and social structures of Western society." Ghorayeb explains this is because Hezbollah is against their colonial, imperial, and hegemonic practices. Yet, Hezbollah does not seek to replace the system through radical change and violence on the domestic front because the chaos that may ensue is considered more oppressive than the oppressive state being replaced.
Ghorayeb says that radical change in internal affairs would create a weakened environment that would invite external aggression from Israel and would also detract attention from Hezbollah's "liberation priority," to resist occupation. As a result, they seek to maintain public order and avoid any actions that could result in instability.
The leader of Hezbollah's bloc in Parliament, Hajj Muhammed Raad, explained in an interview with Ghorayeb at the time of its inception, that Hezbollah was a revolutionary movement that opposed the Lebanese system and sought to change it. However, the Taif Agreement's redistribution of power within the state's structure (ending the country's civil war in 1989-90) made it possible to work for structural change from "within the system." A Hezbollah-led revolution in Lebanon seems far from likely as the focus has been on reforming the existing system.
It also seems unlikely that Hezbollah will impose an Islamic State on the Lebanese people. In their 1985 Open Letter, Hezbollah declared its desire to establish an Islamic republic in Lebanon with the caveat, "We do not seek to impose Islam on anyone as we hate those who impose their beliefs and regimes on us and we do not want Islam to reign Lebanon by force," a sentiment also echoed by Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrullah.
According to Hala Jaber in her 1997 book Hezbollah: Born With a Vengeance, one year after the publication of the Open Letter, Hezbollah did impose their religious zeal on the local community, alienating many by prohibiting alcohol, loud music, parties, dancing, mixed beaches, and coffee shops, while popular beach resorts became "ghost towns." More recently, Hezbollah MP Mohammed Fneish insisted, despite having a well formulated view on personal conduct, "We try to convince others of our views, but we don't impose them on anybody…. You find women with hijabs and others without and we have no problem with that."
A recent visit to south Lebanon confirmed that the marketplace was equally welcoming to women in tank-tops as it was to chador-clad women. There was a choice of co-ed beaches or women's only beaches and the type of music being played in shops also ranged from top of the charts pop music to Hezbollah-inspired Islamic anthems, with no signs that one view was being imposed on others.
Nasrullah claims an Islamic state would not be imposed unless it was voted on by the overwhelming majority of Lebanon's population. Analysts say this would be unlikely. Although demographics have shifted dramatically in favor of the Shia in the last century—by the 1980s the Shia became the largest of Lebanon's 18 sects, numbering 1,400,000 people—the Maronite and Sunni communities are sizeable and are estimated at approximately 800,000 people each. At the same time, Lebanon is undeniably diverse and many of Lebanon's Shia remain loyal to secular political parties serving as alternatives to Hezbollah.
In Social Movements, Activism and Social Development in the Middle East, Asef Bayat argues the number one priority of Islamic movements is the imposition of an Islamic state. According to Bayat, Islamic movements feel nothing can be done to ameliorate the marginalization of the oppressed until they change the entire system and bring about an Islamic government. However, it seems Bayat is inaccurately universalizing the motivating principles of all Islamic movements. Although Hezbollah self-identifies as an Islamic movement, the data suggests they do not aspire for an Islamic state as a precursor to improving their community's standard of living. They also do not see it as a prerequisite to attaining their goals, such as fighting occupation, ensuring their community's voice is heard at the national level, and addressing unfair power relations.
Far from seeking radical change, it appears Hezbollah is merely trying to make the government more responsive to the community's needs. Rather than trying to bring down a state system perceived to be unfair, they are seeking to work from within the system. Hezbollah has presented an effective development strategy by providing social services and simultaneously addressing the underlying causes of their marginalization by removing occupation and vying for a greater voice for some of Lebanon's disenfranchised communities.
In the spring of 2011, television screens continue to be filled with scenes of Arab masses taking to the streets in protest, demanding greater freedom and democracy, a move hailed by much of the global North. At the same time, we find when democratically popular movements such as Hezbollah conflict with the global North's interests, then such movements are dealt with using a punitive hand. Hezbollah's military wing is banned in five countries while Hezbollah's social service wing is banned in three countries: Canada, the U.S., and Israel.
In Canada, the ban makes it illegal to support Hezbollah financially or to distribute any of its literature. But with Hezbollah so deeply entrenched in everyday life, the ban seems very difficult to enforce. Whether it be shopping at a Hezbollah-owned supermarket, eating ice cream at a Hezbollah-owned café, disseminating one of Hezbollah's stickers that encourage people to brush their teeth at night, sharing their brochure on the harmful effects of smoking, or posting one of Hezbollah's video clips on YouTube, one would be in violation of the ban on Hezbollah.
From the standpoint of the local community, Hezbollah is a resistance movement that has expanded the ability of historically marginalized communities to access social services. Hezbollah also pursues a political strategy that includes advocacy, participation in parliamentary and municipal politics, and protecting local communities from re-occupation. The result is a dual-role movement that lies at the crossroads of armed struggle and local community development.
Shaheen Sajan is an international consultant specializing in participatory methodologies. Her clients include human rights commissions and non-profit agencies. Shaheen has volunteered with the UNHCR and the Geneva-Based International Commission of Jurists. She took the photos for this article.
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: email@example.com; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; email@example.com; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; email@example.com; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; email@example.com http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; email@example.com; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; email@example.com; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: email@example.com; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; email@example.com; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; firstname.lastname@example.org.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; email@example.com; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; email@example.com; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.