Hezbollah Portrayed as Victor in Lebanon Conflict Hezbollah is being portrayed by Arab TV as the winner in its conflict with Israel. The Lebanese Shiite group, quietly backed by Iran, is seen as the first Middle Eastern group to stand up to Israel and win.
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Hezbollah Portrayed as Victor in Lebanon Conflict

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Hezbollah Portrayed as Victor in Lebanon Conflict

Hezbollah Portrayed as Victor in Lebanon Conflict

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

A cease-fire may have taken effect in Israel's war with Hezbollah, but a media war goes on. To find out what the Arab media say, we've called Ramez Maalouf. In the past he's given us a sampling of Arab opinion about Iraq and about earlier stages in this conflict.

Ramez Maalouf teaches journalism at the Lebanese American University, which is in Beirut. Professor, welcome to the program.

Professor RAMEZ MAALOUF (Professor of Journalism, Lebanese American University, Beirut): My pleasure.

INSKEEP: I have to ask first if life is any different in Beirut today?

Prof. MAALOUF: Things are picking up again, but obviously people are still anxious. Parts of Beirut were not effected by the war, others were devastated. The description on television is that it's similar to Hiroshima or Berlin after the war.

I haven't personally been to these areas, but what I'm seeing on television is massive destruction.

INSKEEP: How are the Lebanese media treating the cease-fire?

Prof. MAALOUF: Everybody is happy that the cease-fire is on. People regard what happened as a victory for Hezbollah. This is how al-Manar, the Hezbollah station, is treating it; they're calling it the first Arab victory against the Israelis. The mood is very positive on that TV, and most other TVs are treating it as such as well.

INSKEEP: Now there were forecasts that Hezbollah would be seen as the victor, in the Arab world at least, if it simply survived the war. You're saying that is the case; they are seen as the victor in the Arab media at the moment. The next step, I suppose, is whether they become an even more powerful force in Lebanon. Are there signs of that in the media?

Prof. MAALOUF: Well, Hasan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, spoke yesterday on al-Manar television. His tone was one of victor. He clearly sees himself and Hezbollah has having stood up to the Israelis, but, of course, there's also a lot of concern about what happens next. In particular, as to how Hezbollah is going to treat this so-called victory, whether this means that they're going to be harder to control or whether they will accept to be part of the Lebanese government.

I don't need to tell you that Lebanon is very divided about this. A lot of people want to see an end to the violence, an end to the confrontation with Israel, and, therefore, they worry about how Hezbollah is going to treat this so-called success.

INSKEEP: Do you see signs in the Lebanese media or in the wider Arab media that people are still critical of Hezbollah in the way that some people were at the beginning of the war?

Prof. MAALOUF: Well, I saw today a report on al-Arabia(ph), which is based on a reading of the Arab press, and sentiments seem to be mixed. People reported from Kuwait that the newspapers in Kuwait were treating it with a lot of trepidation. They feared that this was going to ignite a wider war, and a lot of people are also very happy that, you know, finally somebody did stand up to Israel.

But I think there's a lot of concern about what is going to happen next. I want to point out to you that because of the blockade by the Israelis, we're not, in Lebanon, getting Arab newspapers. So I have to rely on television mostly, and the reports on television have been mixed.

INSKEEP: Hmm. Ramez Maalouf teaches journalism at the Lebanese American University. He's in Beirut. Thanks very much.

Prof. MAALOUF: Sure. My pleasure.

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