Hezbollah’s “New” Manifesto in Context
Translations of this item:
“Al-Qaeda’s Zawahiri Accuses Obama of Trying to ‘Enslave’ Arab World.” So reads the headline of a recentFox News report, which goes on to quote Zawahiri saying things such as “Obama’s policy is nothing but another cycle in the Crusader and Zionist campaign to enslave and humiliate us, and to occupy our land and steal our wealth.”
Two years earlier, Zawahiri was even more dramatic. Then he implored “blacks in America, people of color, American Indians, Hispanics, and all the weak and oppressed in North and South America, in Africa and Asia, and all over the world, to know that when we wage jihad in Allah’s path, we aren’t waging jihad to lift oppression from Muslims only; we are waging jihad … to lift oppression from all mankind. … This is why I want every oppressed one on the face of the earth to know that our victory over America and the Crusading West — with Allah’s permission — is a victory for them, because they shall be freed from the most powerful tyrannical force in the history of mankind.”
Unfortunately for al-Qaeda, its very own words — the Arabic ones directed at fellow Muslims which Westerners rarely see or read — unequivocally contradict its repeated attempts to portray itself as an organization out to spread Robin Hood-style justice and equanimity vis-à-vis a tyrannical U.S. For in theseArabic treatises, al-Qaeda makes it perfectly clear that, short of submitting to Islamic hegemony, the non-Muslim world is the enemy, ipso facto.
Yet doublespeak is definitely not the sole province of al-Qaeda; the decades-long Arab-Israeli conflict has furnished the world with some of the most flagrant examples of Islamist doublespeak — emanating from such players as Arafat, the PLO, and Hamas. Hezbollah offers a recent example:
According to Reuters, the terrorist organization’s newly revised manifesto “tones down Islamist rhetoric but maintains a tough line against Israel and the United States. The new manifesto drops reference to an Islamic republic in Lebanon, which has a substantial Christian population, confirming changes to Hezbollah thinking about the need to respect Lebanon’s diversity.”
In fact, this “new” manifesto has been hailed as a progressive step forward for the terrorist organization: anAFP headline tells us that “Hezbollah strikes softer tone in second manifesto: [according to] analysts,” such as one Paul Salem, head of the Beirut-based Carnegie Middle East Center, who asserts that the “manifesto is reassuring as it shows Hezbollah’s integration with Lebanese political life.”
Meanwhile, back on earth, a Jerusalem Post report reveals that this “toning down” exists solely in the “for-infidels-only” English version of the manifesto: “It is correct that the new manifesto does not include the previous document’s call for the establishment of an ‘Islamic republic’ in Lebanon. But here an interesting discrepancy emerges. The longer, Arabic version of the manifesto is steeped in religious rhetoric and Islamist terminology.”
In fact, words and phrases that do not appear in the English version — “resistance in the way of jihad,” the “jihadi way,” “mujahidin” and “martyrs,” even oblique praise for Sharia rule — appear in the Arabic version, demonstrating that Hezbollah does not “respect Lebanon’s diversity” and is not “integrat[ing] with Lebanese [i.e., half-Christian] political life.”
As the Jerusalem Post concludes, Hezbollah “considers it in its interest to tone down or remove the pro-Iranian and jihadi parts of its identity when presenting itself to the outside world. But the full document in its original form suggests that the movement has not strayed far from its original path.”
(Ironic, too, that Hezbollah ignored the fact that the Arabic and English versions would inevitably be compared and exposed. Perhaps its Shia proclivities, including an instinctual reliance on taqiyya, that is, doctrinal deceit, blinded it to this fact — that and perhaps its more plausible expectations that, even if they were to find out, few Westerners would care anyway.)
Aside from the fact that Hezbollah perfectly mirrors al-Qaeda by saying one thing in English to infidels and another in Arabic to Muslims, so too does it employ the grievance-against-the-West paradigm. A CNNheadline concerning this new manifesto summarizes by saying, “Hezbollah blames U.S. for all terrorism.” In fact, the manifesto’s first section, entitled “Domination and Hegemony,” is dedicated to portraying the U.S. as the “root of all terror” and a “danger that threatens the whole world,” including by trying to dominate the Muslim world “politically, culturally, economically, and through all aspects.”
There is one final irony worth noting: Though duping infidels has a long pedigree, that the current deception revolves around Muslims portraying themselves as weak victims who need to rely on the goodwill of the despised infidels; that the lie reduces Muslims to evoking, of all things, “humanitarianism” — otherwise a maudlin Western abomination that directly contravenes Islamic law — surely this must sting Muslim pride. For it is incongruous to believe, as Islamists certainly do, that might not only makes right, but is a sign of divine approval; that Islam must proudly spread its hegemony, including by the sword, brooking no infidel nonsense, no talk of “equality,” “freedom,” “tolerance,” etc. — I say, it is incongruous to believe all this and then turn around and play the role of poor victim, evoke lofty, liberal standards, implore the international (that is, infidel) community for aid, and whine about that big meanie, the U.S. and its supposed quest for “domination and hegemony” — precisely what all Islamists most desire.
Yet so long as (naive or arrogant) Westerners continue believing their ideals are universally shared, irrespective of all evidence otherwise — from the antithetic dictates of Islamic law to al-Qaeda’s, Fatah’s, Hamas’, and Hezbollah’s open advocacy for it (in Arabic at least) — the indignity of assuming an effete and, from an Arab point of view, emasculated role is a small and, quite possibly, temporary price to pay.
Originally published at: http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/shameless-islamist-doublespeak-rages-on/
Raymond Ibrahim is the associate director of the Middle East Forum and the author of the Al Qaeda Reader, translations of religious texts and propaganda.