Western Journalists’ and Experts’ Obsession with Hezbollah

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    Today, Orientalists of all backgrounds are obsessed with the Lebanese resistance movement and political party Hezbollah. There are plenty of reasons for this. Writing about Hezbollah for Western media outlets does not require any knowledge or research about Hezbollah or Lebanon, yet it can provide a spontaneous and easy source of attention and financial income. Factual reporting is not only unnecessary when it comes to Hezbollah. It is consciously avoided . Lebanon is a journalistic market and Lebanese are dehumanized into figures that can be exploited by the Westerner to earn some dollars and/or potentially make a name for themselves. 

    No matter what happens in Lebanon, all eyes are directed first and foremost at Hezbollah. The public discourse in the West locates the movement somewhere in a parallel universe and portrays it as an unpredictable threat and, at times, as a “terrorist organization.” The protests were, of course, no exception. And with the unfolding of the slightest newsworthy event, any journalist can suddenly transform into a Hezbollah expert, read the mind of every Hezbollah supporter and predict every step they will take.

    The act of lazy Copy/Pasting from Orientalist archives is the preferred journalistic practice. Any writing about Hezbollah in Western media will, most likely, include the terms “Iranian-funded,” “proxy,” “Shiite militant group,” “Southern Suburbs,” and “Hezbollah stronghold.” In Western imageries, Hezbollah, and the people it represents, are dehumanized to an extent that anyone can easily feel entitled to talk about and on behalf of Hezbollah without having to face any consequences.

    The party and its supporters are deprived of any agency and presented as executers of Iranian wishes. Not only do such words collectively insult everyone associated with Hezbollah. In obscuring Hezbollah’s raison d’etre, this rhetoric whitewashes the threats and violence, such as those emanating from Israel, that Lebanese have to deal with and, consequently, it also rationalizes violence against Shia and non-Shia Lebanese.