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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Hezbollah wildly celebrates death

One of the themes of this blog is that it is a fatal mistake for Westerners to consider the Arab and Islamic mindset to be similar to ours. Both sides in this clash of civilizations will project their own attitudes onto the other, and as a result both sides will consistently overlook any attitudes that are utterly foreign to their mindsets as aberrations rather than mainstream.

This article describes how Hezbollah is celebrating the first anniversary of the war with Israel. Their museum contains items that would never appear in a Western museum, because while the West may have memorials to commemorate wars, it does not celebrate the deaths of enemies - and to Arabs, that is the entire point. This is not an aberration - this is mainstream Arab culture:

Nasrallah's speech last night was only the culminating moment in a summer marked by Hizbullah's celebration of its "divine victory" last year. The group even opened a museum last month in Dahia that commemorates its war efforts against the Israelis. Thousands of Lebanese have visited in recent weeks.

The museum's main exhibit - which is entitled "The Spider's Web" - is a macabre testament to Hizbullah's ongoing fascination with battling the Jewish state. At the entrance, children pose with badly-damaged Israeli armoured vehicles, adorned with placards giving the name of their model and the date of their destruction by the "resistance".

Moving past the tanks, one enters the main exhibit through an elaborately reconstructed Hizbullah bunker, where mannequins dressed in fatigues and holding Kalashnikovs stare ponderously at maps of the battlefield. In the "Living Post Model" inside the mock bunker, two would-be Hizbullah guerrillas recline on the floor watching television. An RPG leans against a bookshelf covered with Qurans, and Hizbullah flags and posters of Nasrallah dot the walls.

One emerges from the bunker into a large room filled with photographs from the war and weapons and ammunition captured from the Israeli military. Heart-wrenching pictures of Lebanese children wounded and killed in Israeli bombings are flanked by those of bloodied Israeli corpses. Airbrushed on one wall is a picture of an exploding Israeli warship that bears the caption, "Watch it burn, it will sink taking with it tens of Zionist [sic] Israeli soldiers"; adjacent to the warship, a wall-sized image of a contemplative, smug Nasrallah looks down upon droves of women and children lining up to snap pictures of Israeli rifles and rocket launchers with their camera phones. A replica of a dead Israeli soldier, outfitted in a captured IDF uniform and bearing an M16, lies in a shallow grave carved into the floor; ammunition, cans of Kosher food, and a smashed iPod lie to his sides.

The audio-visual presentations of the exhibit are its highlight. A television shows screen-shots of a Hizbullah computer game ("Special Force 2: Tale of the Truthful Pledge"), whose object is to shoot IDF soldiers and blow up Israeli tanks. At the end of the main hall, visitors enter a darkened room where an enormous projection screen stands over the remains of a damaged Merkava tank. Images come across the screen of Hizbullah fighters firing RPGs and launching rockets at Haifa, as coloured lights illuminate the faux corpses lying by the tank. After an explosive climax, where sounds of screaming and crying fill the small room, the 10-minute movie ends with footage of Nasrallah proclaiming victory in front of thousands waving the yellow Hizbullah flag. The lights come up, and militiamen-cum-curators guide the onlookers back outside, where busloads of young children unload and line up to see the sights.

The last stop in the exhibit is the "Martyrs' Oasis", an abstract installation on the museum's lawn consisting of a few large blocks covered in white sheets and a stairway leading up to an open door, presumably signifying the entrance to heaven. And, as if the guarantee of paradise were not sufficient, the museum also boasts a gift shop, where those so-inclined can purchase Hizbullah DVD's, key-chains, car-fresheners, and perfume.

Even a whiff of such an attitude in the West would have liberals - rightly - screaming. If it is evil over here, why is it not evil elsewhere?