The Shifting Tide of Arab Public Opinion
Posted by Shadi Hamid
As I discussed in a previous post, when the current Mideast conflict first began, many Arab intellectuals, liberals, and even some Islamists were critical of Hezbollah's provocation along the Israeli border. Well, so much for that. If there was ever a time to try to start convincing Arab (and particularly Lebanese) moderates to distance themselves from the self-destructive posturing of Hezbollah, this was it. For a brief moment, Hezbollah could and should have been revealed for what it was - an organization which had chosen to sacrifice Lebanese prosperity and propel Lebanon into war for its own warped, perhaps even messianic ends. But the opportunity was lost. Today, three weeks into the current conflict, such is the tide of Arab public opinion that no one dares criticize Hezbollah. This from the AP:
And where [Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad] Saniora initially was critical of Hezbollah, he is now praising the militant group and its leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, for helping to defend Lebanon.
That pretty much sums it up. And this is not just a "Muslim thing" anymore:
Egypt's Copts have hailed the Lebanese resistance movement Hizbullah and its chief Hassan Nasrallah as a source of pride to Muslims and the Arab world... "All Arabs must be proud of Hizbullah's gallantry," Bishop Rafiq Gris, the spokesman for the Egyptian Catholic Church, told IslamOnline.net.
And this from Youssef Chahine - Egypt's most famous film director, a liberal, and usually an outspoken opponent of Islamist radicalism:
Chahine said Nasrallah is a "source of pride to Islam." "Hizbullah is a symbol of Arab dignity," he told Reuters on Sunday, July 30.The Cannes-awarded director said he hoped to shake hands with Nasrallah in a visit to Beirut earlier this year. "Nasrallah welcomed my visit…I'm really proud of him," Chahine added.