Sunday, March 17, 2013

Setting the Herald Straight on Hezbollah

Linton Besser is a Walkley Award-winning investigative journalist at the Sydney Morning Herald. He also teaches a course called 'Investigative Research' at Sydney's University of Technology on "how to access information available on the public record, which is often missed by those who do not know how to look for it." (Course or Conference Information,

And yet, in the Herald of March 16, he wrote a piece called Two bags of money and a lot of trouble in Beirut: A covert currency exchange went wrong for businessman Tony Kazal which contained the following jarring paragraph:

"A militant group financed by Iran and Syria, Hezbollah is best known for high-profile attacks against Israeli interests abroad. But in 2008 it became part of the government of Lebanon. The US and Canada regard it as a foreign terrorist outfit."

Best known for what?

Reading a thoroughly biased profile like that you'd have no idea whatever that Hezbollah originated as a home-grown and funded Lebanese response to Israel's 1982 invasion and occupation of Lebanon; that it was instrumental in ejecting the Israelis from southern Lebanon in 2000 and fighting them to a standstill in a 34-day war in 2006; that it is as much a social service and public works provider as it is a political and military organization; and that, but for its strength and effectiveness as the spearhead of Lebanese resistance to Israeli aggression and expansion in Lebanon, we'd probably have Israeli colonies there  today.

There is also no conclusive evidence to date that Hezbollah has targeted Israeli interests abroad.

Finally, it should be pointed out that Hezbollah became part of the Lebanese government in 2011, not 2008.

Could I suggest that before Mr Besser puts pen to paper on the subject of Hezbollah again, he consult the relevant entry at the Britannica Online Encyclopedia, a far more objective summary than that at Wikipedia. Better still he could try reading American academic Augustus Richard Norton's Hezbollah: A Short History (2007).

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