Across the Bay

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The Adventures of Lee Smith

The second part of Lee's travel piece is up. In this part, Lee shows that he's not really impressed with Hizbullah:

[S]ince Israel is no longer in South Lebanon, and Hezbollah seems of late to have instigated many of its confrontations with the "Zionist enemy," it is not exactly clear what they are "defending," except their desire to remain armed. Maybe they want to make sure Western journalists stay interested. Here's a tip for budding Arab-world political figures: If you don't talk about imperialism and Zionist agents, the Western media will think you are too Westernized and ignore you; if you want attention, wave an automatic weapon in a reporter's face, and he will write about the social services and educational programs your nice organization offers to the community. (I wonder what our journalists think the textbooks in a Hezbollah-funded curriculum might look like: Zeinab Has Two Mommies? The Middle East: A Wonderful Mosaic?) Yes, Hezbollah provides some social services, but, as George points out, so do many of the country's other sectarian communities, including the Maronite church, which is not armed.

He almost burst into tears at the pitiful sight of the Syrian soldiers who were there supposedly to defend the Lebanese from "the Zionist enemy":

Most Lebanese were angered by Syria's presence long before the Hariri assassination brought that rage to a boil. Ordinary Syrians don't profit much from the deal that has allowed the Assad regime to rape Lebanon's economy since the civil war ended 15 years ago. These young troops don't know why they're here, ostensibly defending another country from "the Zionist entity," and I don't know why anyone thinks they're capable of it. Some of the soldiers seem to have been given only parts of a uniform, and as a soft snow begins to fall, I feel bad for these teenagers, many in cheap sneakers or plastic sandals. A volunteer fire department from Long Island could probably overrun them in forceā€”if it weren't for Hezbollah.

But he really digs Lebanese wine, and that whole hip drunken orgy scene at the temple of Bacchus in the Bekaa. What man in his right mind wouldn't?