Hezbollah's Propaganda War (Part 1/2)

Uploaded by vice on Aug 13, 2012


RYAN DUFFY: When you're walking around Beirut's luxury
shopping district, or enjoying its debaucherous nightlife,
you can almost forget that Lebanon
is the home of Hezbollah.

Hezbollah, aka the Party of God, is an Iranian-funded,
Shia Muslim militia, that is armed to the teeth.
Again, that's Iran, Muslim militia, big guns.
That's not good.
Their willingness to use their arsenal of tens of thousands
of rockets against their neighbor, Israel, means that
whenever politicians talk about an Israeli assault on
Iran's nukes, they had better be prepared to face off with a
very pissed off Hezbollah.
So how did a group that started as a ragtag militia in
the '80s transform itself into a military and political force
that actually holds veto power over the Lebanese government?
Well, in addition to all the guns and money from Iran, they
actually did it through PR--
specifically through skillful rhetoric, their own satellite
television station, and the invention of something they
like to call Resistance Tourism.

Hezbollah's latest PR offensive is a massive theme
park called Mleeta that's built on top of one of their
mountaintop strongholds.
The Party of God wanted the chance to take the Hezbollah
story straight to the people, without the government and
media outlets calling them terrorists along the way.
If it's not actually exploding around you, war
is pretty cool looking.
Mleeta seems to attract a wide range of resistance tourists,
ladies from Europe, loving couples, and, of course, kids.
It does, actually, have to be pretty rad as a little kid, to
be walking through the museum experience and not seeing like
replica dinosaurs, but seeing real rockets.
That would have stoked me out as a kid.
Kids also get the chance to learn about the greatest honor
for a Hezbollah fighter, killing themselves.
Now that wouldn't have made me as stoked as a kid.
That would have freaked me out.
They might want to leave that one off the children's part of
the this tour.
Resistance Tourism is a mix of really heavy vibes, and
finger-licking fun.
The indoctrination slash tour begins with a short film about
Hezbollah's exploits.
Americans may remember Hezbollah for their role in
blowing up the US embassy in Beirut in April of 1983, and
for blowing up the US Marine barracks a few months later,
attacks that were both designed to get Reagan to pull
American troops out of Lebanon, which he did.
PRESIDENT REAGAN: I am pleased to announce that the
multinational force will commence its withdrawal from
Beirut, Friday, September 10.
With the Americans out of the way, Hezbollah turned its
attention to the near enemy, Israel, an enemy they claim to
have defeated time and time again.
In fact, the biggest exhibit at Hezbollah's theme park is a
kind of art installation celebrating the destruction of
Israel's military.
You've got tombstones for the Israeli defense forces,
soldiers' boots and helmets strewn about, and as the
centerpiece, Israel's legendary Markova tank
rendered impotent.
We met up with a Hezbollah member named, Rami, who agreed
to give us a guided tour.
When I was reading about this place, I expected a lot of
either replica tanks or, actually, used tanks.
I didn't expect this much art direction.
There's a lot of creative tilts on this that I didn't
know would be here.
RAMI HASSAN: We got away from the traditional methods of
showing history.
You know, usually, you go to a museum, you get sick of it.
Here, no, it's a different thing.
It's a mixture of art, a mixture of history, a mixture
of politics, of landscapes, of everything, all mixed up
together to make a [INAUDIBLE]
RYAN DUFFY: I noticed in a number of placards around
here, when Israel is written, it's written in quotes.
RAMI HASSAN: Because we don't believe in
something called Israel.
If you steal something that's not yours, and you start using
it, it doesn't mean it's yours.
It's as if you have this desktop on your PC, you had a
folder that was called Palestine, you just deleted
this folder, throw it into the recycle bin, and created a new
folder called Israel.
It doesn't mean there was no occupied Palestine before.
That is a--
that's a very interesting way of putting it.
RAMI HASSAN: A part of this--
I'm a school teacher myself.
RYAN DUFFY: Oh, you are?
RAMI HASSAN: So I'm just used to giving out examples on all
that stuff.
RYAN DUFFY: I could tell you worked on that one for the
younger generation.
That's good.
RAMI HASSAN: I would say it's more like a media game now.
Whenever you are able to defeat the other team, or the
other propaganda, it's easy for everyone to have a look,
and see, and decide himself.
RAMI HASSAN: Because the main thing that's blocking all the
people from the truth is the black propaganda, or the black
media propaganda, being spread all through the world.
RYAN DUFFY: I was quickly understanding how important
good PR was to Hezbollah.
But in looking around, I couldn't help but wonder if
they were slightly over compensating for something.
The crisis in neighboring Syria, and the sanctions
against Hezbollah's biggest benefactor, Iran, have to be
making Hezbollah very nervous.
LOCHMAN SLIM: Let's not forget that Hezbollah is reinventing
its history, according to its political needs of the day.
I am almost sure, if I am given couple more years to
live, that I will see the end of Hezbollah.
It's not this kind of endless myth that I
cannot imagine the end.
RYAN DUFFY: But the end of Hezbollah would mean the end
of a variety of social services that are a huge part
of why they're so popular here.
Hezbollah has built schools, hospitals, and perhaps most
importantly, quickly rebuilt nearly everything destroyed in
the 2006 war with Israel.
We were driving down from Beirut earlier today, and as
we got closer and closer here, the Hezbollah flags are
everywhere, and the popularity is quite apparent.
It's largely because of that, right?
Hezbollah receives that credit for that liberation, and also
those social programs we talked about.
RAMI HASSAN: Exactly, exactly.
Now we're going to go inside.
Here's the living room.
RYAN DUFFY: Oh, wow.
RAMI HASSAN: It's simple, yet elegant.
RYAN DUFFY: All things considered, it's not bad for
subterranean mountain top living.

RYAN DUFFY: Oh, wow.

RYAN DUFFY: You can see exactly where there Israeli
outpost was, just straight down the barrel
of this gun, literally.
RAMI HASSAN: A question that usually the people ask, where
is the weapon that Hezbollah fighters used to destroy the
Merkava tank.
It's just over there.
Here it is, the [INAUDIBLE]
The [INAUDIBLE] led the resistance used in destroying
the Merkava tank and shattering it into pieces.
The Israelis never expected us to have such weapons.
RYAN DUFFY: So the question that everyone from Mossad to
the CIA, would like the answer to, is how does Hezbollah get
these weapons into the country?
And now, we just went through that original cave, obviously,
where you were showing me the early weapons being used, and
it was, essentially, AK 47s, and that was about
as good as it got.
How did we get here?
Where did this come from?
RAMI HASSAN: It comes from everywhere.
Although the Israelis knew they were facing a couple of
AK 47s, and simple mortar guns, they were using
important technologies like, the combat ships they have,
like the airplanes, the jet fighters, the Apache.
So the fighters had to develop on those terms, specifically,
to be able to compete with the Israeli fire power.
RYAN DUFFY: Sure And it's also, as Hezbollah emerged in
terms of profile, and footprint, and activity, it's
got to be allegiances as well, right, and
Syria, and whoever else.
RAMI HASSAN: Until now, of course, we hearing it a lot,
the Syrians, the Iranians are supporting.
The latest [INAUDIBLE] has said.
yeah, they are supporting the resistance.
But until now, there's actually, or literally, none
of the people knowing how Hezbollah gets its weapons, or
where does Hezbollah get its weapons from.
If any have known such information, we wouldn't have
reached this far.
There's a reason that people don't know where Hezbollah
gets its weapons.
RAMI HASSAN: Well, I guess we've been through the
different sections of what, usually, a visitor passes
through the movie, the abyss, the pathway
of liberation province.
Literally, that's what the people should see in here, and
that is what we have for the audience to hear.
RYAN DUFFY: Well, Rami, thank you very much, man.
RAMI HASSAN: It was a pleasure.
RYAN DUFFY: I really appreciate the tour.
Thank you for showing us around.
RAMI HASSAN: Of course.
RYAN DUFFY: It's a bit odd to see things that typically are
ingrained in our brains as violent and somewhat scary--
to put it quite simply--
kind of immortalized as something to celebrate and
reflect on.

So no theme park is complete without a gift shop requisite
right by the exit.
You can have one on the way out, after a nice
day with the family.
Got all sorts of stuff.
It's a hat I like to call, best friends.
Best friends.
Of course, there's all sorts of kind of framed pictures,
coffee mugs, key chains, the infamous Hezbollah logo, on
basically anything you want it put on.
Flags, of course, none of which I can buy, because I
believe that would legally get me in a lot of
trouble with the US.

LOCHMAN SLIM: Mleeta is really a kind of an essence of the
dehumanization of history.
You are in a kind of Superman land.
People can die, but they have no corpse.
People can fight, but they have no doubt.
It's totally inhumane.
There is no sufferance in Mleeta.
As if all of these years of occupation and resistance were
just a video game.