Another thing that’s been bothering me is the fact that Mostaqbal’s media outlets were shut down. I won’t pretend that part of me doesn’t feel a little tinge of delight at the idea of the Mostaqbal thugs getting some comeuppance. But punishing neighborhood thugs who fancy themselves militiamen is one thing, while shutting down media outlets is another. During the 2006 war, Hezbollah was (rightfully, to my mind) outraged by Israel’s targeting of their television station, al-Manar. So why is it acceptable to have shut down Future TV?
I’m watching Kalam an-Nass right now, while the head of Future TV is being interviewed. According to him, a Lebanese soldier, in uniform, told them that they had to open the gates or else they’d be killed by Hezbollah militiamen. This is, of course, disconcerting on several levels. First of all, this would mean that a member of the ostensibly neutral Lebanese Army would have helped Hezbollah shut down the media outlet of a competing political party. But regardless of whether or not a soldier helped Hezbollah shut the station down, the latter certainly did disconnect Future TV. This is scandalous, and Hezbollah should be ashamed of itself.
A woman presenter, whose name I can’t recall, just came on and gave Hezbollah a piece of her mind. She said that she’s spent the last year and a half doing reports on the lot of the people of the south and how they’ve suffered during the war of 2006 and after. Then she explained how al-Manar reported that the staff of Future TV “fled” the premises, like thieves or criminals, when in fact they were told to leave if they didn’t want to die. She said that forgetting the parties and forgetting politics, this kind of treatment and the occupation of Beirut has made regular people, people like her, hate Hezbollah. She said that after people like her who did their best to take in refugees after the war in 2006 are treated like this and accused of being traitors, Hezbollah should be ashamed of itself. Of course a presenter on Future TV isn’t exactly representative of the man on the street, but her point is well taken.
I can say, however, that the opposition has lost the sympathy of people who have supported the principles of the resistance, even if they had really ambivalent feelings about the religious and authoritarian form it’s taken. And the traitor rhetoric is really hurtful and disgusting to people who support resistance against Israel but don’t want to live in a country where the interests of the resistance trump those of the state. Calling people traitors like this smacks of Bush’s rhetoric in the “war on terror,” where you’re either “with us or against us,” and doesn’t sit well with many Lebanese.