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Nasrallah Superman: War in Lebanon from the Palestinian perspective

Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook, Palestinian Media Watch, August 31, 2006.

"The Zionists are in horror, fear, confusion... [hiding] like mice and rabbits"
- Palestinian Authority TV


During the Israel -Hezbollah war in Lebanon, Palestinian society expressed three recurring reactions to the war:

A. Profound identification with Hezbollah
B. Celebration of both the perceived Hezbollah victory and the humiliation of Israel
C. Seeing Hezbollah tactics as a role model for the Palestinians

This in-depth report documents this phenomenon, and includes a representative sample of the statements of Palestinian officials and the Palestinian media that reflect the atmosphere in the Palestinian society regarding Israel?s war with Hezbollah.

Nasrallah as Superman

A. Nasrallah Superman: Profound identification with Hezbollah

From the beginning of the war, the Palestinians expressed complete identification, not only with the Lebanese people but with Hezbollah in particular. Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader, was seen as a hero who restored the honor to the Arab nation and the Islamic religion. A cartoon in the Palestinian Authority daily newspaper Al Ayyam showed Nasrallah taking off his religious cloak, in Clark Kent fashion, revealing his "Superman" costume underneath.

Another striking item indicated the degree of Palestinians' veneration of Hezbollah: 66.3% of the Palestinians wanted "Hezbollah alone to handle the negotiations over the [three Israeli] soldiers," even though one was kidnapped by Palestinians and is being held in Gaza. The Palestinians put more trust in Nasrallah to succeed in negotiations on their behalf than their own leaders.

B. Celebration of perceived Hezbollah victory and humiliation of Israel

From the Palestinian perspective, the war was a glorious victory for Hezbollah, and a humiliating defeat for Israel. "I am telling you that the Zionists are in horror, fear, confusion, and that their political and military leaders are in disagreement... They are living in shelters in fear. They are living like mice and rabbits [in shelters], unable to go out. Their people screamed and yelled, by the thousands, [they are] interested in leaving, interested in going to America, to Europe and Britain..." celebrated a religious leader on official Palestinian TV [August 4, 2006]. Palestinians see the war as a turning point in which the "resistance" to Israel ? their term for terror organizations such as Hezbollah -- proved its ability to defeat Israel, from which the Palestinians will now learn.

C. Hezbollah tactics as a role model for the Palestinians

There has been much detailed discussion in the Palestinian media about tactics and strategies that the Palestinians must implement as a result of the Hezbollah successes, including analyses of Hezbollah's fighting methods.

In Depth Report:

A. Nasrallah Superman: Profound identification with Hezbollah
B. Celebration of perceived Hezbollah victory and humiliation of Israel
C. Hezbollah tactics as a role model for the Palestinians

A. Identification with Hezbollah

All segments of Palestinian society, from senior officials to children in street demonstrations, expressed empathy and unqualified admiration for Hezbollah during the war, viewing them as brothers-in-arms in their war against Israel. Though the Palestinians themselves are experiencing a severe economic crisis, they organized a "National campaign for support for the Lebanese People," under the patronage of President Mahmud Abbas, to raise money for Lebanon [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 31, 2006].

Opinion polls showed that 96% of the Palestinians had a "good appreciation" for Hezbollah, and 91% supported Hezbollah's demand for a prisoner exchange deal. A striking 66.3% of Palestinians preferred "that Hezbollah alone will handle the negotiation over the fate of the [three kidnapped Israeli] soldiers," which shows that the Palestinians trust Nasrallah to succeed more than their own leaders.
[Al-Najah poll, Al-Ayyam, July 27, 2006].

During the war, the official Palestinian media repeated and reinforced this support for Hezbollah. Palestinian TV aired hours of video clips that declared the unity between the fates of the Palestinians and the Lebanese. These included special broadcasts of support and fundraising appeals for the Lebanese, and a clip called "Your wound is our wound," which aired repeatedly ? including three times during a period of less than two hours -- on August 2, 2006.

The PA media were actively raising awareness and support for Hezbollah through continuous declarations of solidarity and publicity of rallies for the Lebanese and Hezbollah. A cartoon in the PA daily Al Ayyam showed Nasrallah taking off his religious cloak, in Clark Kent fashion, revealing his "Superman" costume underneath. This reflects an accurate appraisal of the total admiration that PA society had for Nasrallah ? to the point of seeing him as a super hero -- during and immediately after the war.

The following are representative examples from the media. Note that throughout these texts the PA uses the same term "resistance" to refer to the Hezbollah attacks on civilians and soldiers, as they use it to define Palestinian Authority terror against civilians and soldiers.

"Yesterday dozens of residents participated in a procession in the streets of Ramallah, in order to show solidarity with the Lebanese people? The participants praised the heroism of the Lebanese Hezbollah fighters, who took two Israeli soldiers captive, and expressed their joy over the continuing falling of resistance missiles on the Israeli cities and settlements."
[Al-Ayyam, July 17, 2006]

"Imad Abu-Hamad, commander of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades: ?'Regarding our ties with Hezbollah, we are proud and boastful of our good relationship with them? Whether the victory will be achieved here or there, it is a victory of both peoples against the common enemy? To Mr. Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the resistance we say?: And you, Oh master of the resistance! Oh Abu-Hadi [Nasrallah nickname], we tell you that we in the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades are all your brothers and your sons, we are all soldiers in the same battle you direct....'"
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, August 14, 2006]

"Poet and journalist Ahmad Dahbor said: 'Palestine shows solidarity with itself, while showing solidarity with Lebanon, since the Lebanese resistance stands tall to protect the Arab Nation?'".
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, August 11, 2006]

"During a Gaza convention organized by the Ministry of Culture under the name 'No to Israeli terror in Lebanon and in Palestine,' Abbas Zaki, member of the Fatah movement Central Committee and Palestinian Ambassador in Lebanon, said: '?It is an honor for the Palestinians that sister Lebanon will win, because she [Lebanon] always supports Palestine.?'"
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, August 11, 2006]

"The National and Islamic Forces organized a mass rally yesterday in the Jenin district to condemn Israeli aggression against the Gaza strip and Lebanon and in support of Palestinian and Lebanese resistance? the children carried many placards with slogans written on them, such as: 'Yes to resistance, no to submission'? Shiek Mahmmod Al-Saa'di, the political leader of the Islamic Jihad movement in the Jenin district, said? that the resistance is a legitimate right of the Palestinian and Lebanese peoples. He called all the military wings of the resistance factions to announce a general mobilization?"
[Al-Ayyam, July 17, 2006]

On July 10, 2006, Palestinian TV aired a new clip called 'From the land of Palestine to Lebanon,' portraying solidarity between the two regions that "suffer from the Israeli cruelty" and a message of the unity of blood. The clip included pictures from demonstrations in the Palestinian Authority in support of Lebanon.

During the same week a clip expressing solidarity with the Lebanese, called "One Wound," was aired many times. In its beginning, the clip tells a "story" about Israel bombing little children in Lebanon and Palestine. The clip also included a photo hinting that Israeli children wrote messages to children on shells destined to kill Palestinian and Lebanese children who wanted only to celebrate a birthday and be happy. The song has English subtitles.

Hamas demonstrations in Gaza and Nablus for solidarity with Hezbollah, received wide coverage. The Al-Manar TV broadcasts from August 13, 2006, aired demonstrations by Palestinian children. A boy, about eight years old, was seen talking about the children of Palestine identifying with the children of Lebanon. Afterwards pictures were included of many people in Gaza flying flags of Hamas and Hezbollah, and Palestinian children stomping on burning flags of Israel, the United States and Britain. Afterwards, the Al-Manar reporter in "Occupied Palestine" reported from a summer-camp in Ramallah. A girl who was interviewed advised the children of Lebanon to hold strong, as did the Palestinian children who endured the same actions. Another youth said [to the children of Lebanon]: "We are all with you, and if we have to give our blood, our kids, our families, and our homes for your sake ? we are ready to do so".

B. Victory of Hezbollah in contrast to humiliation of Israel

For the Palestinian society, the war was a complete and admirable victory of Hezbollah, and a crushing and humiliating defeat for Israel. The following are a few examples from the media:

Nasser Al-Laham, chairman of the independent news agency "Ma'an": "Hezbollah has killed 120 Israelis, while during the Intifada the Palestinians killed over one-thousand Israelis, but what makes the difference is that against Hezbollah, Israel felt the defeat."
[Palestinian TV open-wave broadcasts 'Good Morning Palestine', August 17, 2006]

"Secretary General of the [Palestinian Liberation] Front? demanded from the masses of our people? to strengthen national unity?following the complete failure and the disgraceful defeat which the occupation army took at the hands of the resistance in Lebanon?"
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, August 22, 2006]

"The Ministry for Prisoner Affairs... said that the abduction [by Israel of Nasser Al-Din Al-Sha'er, Palestinian deputy Prime-Minister] is a failed attempt on behalf of the occupation government?. to improve its image in local public opinion, after the Lebanese resistance humiliated them? and caused them a very sound defeat?."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, August 20, 2006]

"If Israel succeeded during the cursed Six-Day War to defeat three Arab armies? and to end the war within six days, well now starts the fourth week [of the war in Lebanon], and they are not capable of finishing the war?The Jews have experienced five wars. We have never seen such disgrace, shame, and fear among their ranks, as in this war."
[From a religious sermon by Shiek Dr. Ahmad Bahar, a Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council ? Palestinian TV, August 4, 2006]

"Head of the 'Palestinian Religious Teachers Society' in the Gaza strip said in a press release: 'Following a whole month of wild and barbaric aggression against our people in sister Lebanon, Israel walks out defeated in the face of relentless Jihad fighters, which shattered the myth of 'the unbeatable army' and taught the leaders of the occupation lessons in the arts of warfare and conflict.'"
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, August 20, 2006]

"Yesterday in the town of Salfit, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine held its third party convention? The participants congratulated the heroes of resistance in Lebanon and Palestine, and sent messages of solidarity and support for the resistance and the Lebanese people for their great victory and the strong stance of Hezbollah fighters against the Israeli military demolition machine?"
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, August 20, 2006]

"Israel is capable of destroying everything, but she will not be able to get a victory and defeat the resistance? because the resistance? is a cultural, mental, and ideological stat among the peoples of the region?and here we witness, after more than a month, the defeat of the Israeli occupation army?"
[Dr. Hasan Abu-Hashish, aid to the deputy of the information minister, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, August 20, 2006].

During the Palestinian TV news broadcast on August 10, 2006, a false Hezbollah report was quoted according to which "today the 'resistance' destroyed over eight tanks." Israeli soldiers were shown wounded and taking cover. Nasrallah was quoted regarding the shelling of Israeli "colonies" such as Nahariya.

"Oh dear brothers, we are under a vicious attack by the enemies of humanity and religion, by the Zionist criminals? We emphasize that the Zionist military structure has been defeated! They are not able to win the military battle, not in Palestine, nor in Lebanon. They are however interested in justifying their defeat by killing children, wrecking homes, cutting off electricity, wrecking hospitals and institutions, but this is indeed a defeat in itself? They are the defeated, they are the ones who lost, and we ? in God's will ? are winning because the flag of Islam will continue to fly in Palestine and in Lebanon despite their anger and wrath?"
[Friday sermon Palestinian TV, August 4, 2006, Shiek Dr. Ahmad Bahar, Hamas member of Palestinian Legislative Council]

C. Hezbollah tactics as a role model for the Palestinians

The Palestinian media are actively reviewing the lessons of the Hezbollah war in Lebanon, and the ways in which the Palestinians should learn from Hezbollah. This message is repeated often in the words of official and unofficial spokespeople, and columnists increasingly analyze the successes of Hezbollah. Additionally, there are some who view the victory as a precedent that proves that if only they persist, Israel will be defeated and eventually disappear.

"I call the Palestinians to make maximum use of the Lebanese model for handling a crisis and for the united and non-compromising stand ? I warn against the policy of weakening the aims that any move towards normalization... is attempting to spread."
[Dr. Hasan Abu-Hashish, aid to the deputy of the information minister, AL-Hayat Al-Jadida, August 20, 2006].

"Imad Abu-Hamad, commander of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Gaza: '?We increased the shelling of the colonies surrounding the Gaza Strip, and we also escalated the military activity in the [West] Bank, in coordination with Hezbollah's brave resistance, so that the enemy will be between two jaws of resistance in the south and the north. Yesterday the occupation retreated from southern Lebanon and afterwards from the Gaza Strip. And tomorrow, by Allah's will, they will retreat from the [West] bank and hence become prisoners of their own racist fence?'"
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, August 14, 2006]

"Dr. Attallah Abu-Al-Soboh, Minister of Culture, said: 'The Lebanese and Palestinian experience should be studied and benefited from. This proved that the Israeli army is defeated in the face of desire and good planning. Especially note the Israeli [civilian] evacuation and flight from the North [of Israel due to Hezbollah shelling of cities] proves that these are Palestinian cities and not Israeli ...' "
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, August 11, 2006]

"Marwan Abu-Al-Ras, head of the Palestinian Religious Teachers Society in the Gaza Strip? saw the heavy defeat of the occupation army [in Lebanon]? as the first step towards the disappearance of the thieving occupation from our occupied land... he emphasized that the path of resistance should be continued until the Israeli occupation will be driven out of the entire Palestinian territory?" [Note: "thieving occupation" is a term the PA uses to refer to all of Israel.]
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, August 20, 2006]

PA analyst Hani Al-Masri took pride on PA TV in Hezbollah's achievements, and specified:
"Brave battles of Hezbollah against the elite [Israeli] unit 51 of Golani? Breaking Israel's war conception of quick resolution, talking initiative ?. A small organization [Hezbollah] succeeded in beating Israel? If Hezbollah was a state, their achievements regarding Israel would have been great? Because they [Hezbollah] are like a lightweight boxer competing against a heavyweight boxer, and managing to reach the 15th round..."
Palestinian TV on August 2, 2006]

TV program "Religion and Society" --

Sheik Hian Idrisi: "The Zionist project is currently in retreat due to the reality in which we live . They hoped for a completely Jewish state, but now, we are a thorn in their throats. They hoped, following their unilateral retreat from Gaza, that the [PA] missile [attacks] would cease and that the attacks against them would stop, and they would be satisfied with the West Bank. But the brothers in Gaza, who were under siege after this withdrawal, finding themselves in an enclave, did not stand arms folded, but continued [to fight].

Host Sheik Jamal Bawatna says that if this is about Jihad and resistance, one should note the origins. He mentions an episode from Muslim tradition, when Fatima was attacked and Mohammad was patient and didn't react with Jihad, until gathering a large army... 'This proves that the resistance against the enemies must be done with wisdom. Before we open a front, we must study the situation carefully...'

Sheik Idrisi: "The fighting creates many worries for the enemy. Many regions [in Israel] which are near Lebanon and Gaza have been paralyzed, and the people disappeared. We pray to Allah that they will not return ... Eventually Allah, may he be praised and glorified, will bring the Muslims the victory, and bring defeat to the infidels? The enemy stole our land, stole the historic land of Palestine."
Palestinian TV, July 23, 2006:

Sermon of Sheik Dr. Ahmad Bahar, Hamas member of Palestinian Legislative Council:

"The fighting brothers? we tell the monster entity state that by Allah's will, they will not be able to accomplish their goals... I tell you that the Zionist people are in horror, fear, confusion, their political and military leaders are in disagreement. I tell you that they are horrified. More than two million Zionists are not able to leave their shelters. They live in fear inside the shelters. They live like mice and rabbits, they can not leave. Their people screamed and yelled, by the thousands. They are interested in leaving [Israel]. One is interested in going over there, to America, to Europe and Britain. Negative migration has started? We have not witnessed the destruction of Jaffa, Haifa, and in Allah's will [soon], Tel-Aviv ? except during this fifth war, this war, in which the noble, the believers, and the loyal fight in Palestine and in Lebanon."
Palestinian TV on August 4, 2006:

"Parliament member Bassam Al-Salhi, general secretary of Al-Shaa'b ['the people's] party... called to carry on the struggle and the resistance. He [also] called the people in power to [show] unity and learn from the Hezbollah experience in Lebanon in order to face the challenges?"
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, August 13, 2006]

"Parliament member Dr. Marwan Abu-Al-Ras, head of the Palestinian Religious Teachers Society in the Gaza strip, emphasized that the way of resistance should be continued until the expulsion of the Israeli occupation from the entire Palestinian territory. He also said: 'Despite the military arsenal that the forces of occupation hold, and despite the USA support and the international silence, they did not mange to achieve their goals and their aspirations, due to the strong-standing of our people in sister Lebanon, and due to the brave Islamic resistance'. He called to learn from the lessons of the confrontation between Hezbollah and Israel, in a way that will strengthen the Palestinian capability to inflict casualties among the forces of the occupation."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, August 20, 2006]06]