Spotted an interesting story in the New York Times, which offers a glowing review of Hezbullah's history.
Contrary to the conventional wisdom, Hezbollah is principally neither a political party nor an Islamist militia. It is a broad movement that evolved in reaction to Israelâs invasion of Lebanon in June 1982. At first it consisted of a small number of Shiites supported by Iran. But as more and more Lebanese came to resent Israelâs occupation, Hezbollah â never tight-knit â expanded into an umbrella organization that tacitly coordinated the resistance operations of a loose collection of groups with a variety of religious and secular aims.
In terms of structure and hierarchy, it is less comparable to, say, a religious cult like the Taliban than to the multidimensional American civil-rights movement of the 1960âs. What made its rise so rapid, and will make it impossible to defeat militarily, was not its international support but the fact that it evolved from a reorientation of pre-existing Lebanese social groups.
In writing my book on suicide attackers, I had researchers scour Lebanese sources to collect martyr videos, pictures and testimonials and the biographies of the Hezbollah bombers. Of the 41, we identified the names, birth places and other personal data for 38. Shockingly, only eight were Islamic fundamentalists. Twenty-seven were from leftist political groups like the Lebanese Communist Party and the Arab Socialist Union. Three were Christians, including a female high-school teacher with a college degree. All were born in Lebanon.
What these suicide attackers â and their heirs today â shared was not a religious or political ideology but simply a commitment to resisting a foreign occupation. Nearly two decades of Israeli military presence did not root out Hezbollah. The only thing that has proven to end suicide attacks, in Lebanon and elsewhere, is withdrawal by the occupying force.