Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

October 1, 2012

From the Annals of the Strange: Hezbollahland

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Arnold Bogis on October 1, 2012

To be sure, Lebanon pulls far ahead of California when it comes to a history of bloody civil strife (not that the Golden State hasn’t had its moments). But where California definitely pulls ahead is in theme parks. California has Disneyland, Six Flags, Legoland, and countless others. We looked long and hard for a theme park in Lebanon but the only attraction that seemed to come close was Hezbollah’s new Tourist Landmark of the Resistance, in Mleeta, about 50 miles south of Beirut, near the Israeli border. It’s a multi-million-dollar complex that memorializes resistance to the Israeli occupation (1982–2000) with something of a Six Flags spin. To that segment of the Lebanese who refer to Hezbollah as “the Hez” the attraction is known as “Hezbollahland.” Israel—known to many locals as “the Zionist Entity”—refers to the same place as “a Disneyland for terrorists.”

This isn’t from the Onion, but rather a Vanity Fair article by Tom Freston, “Six Flags over Lebanon.”

His fellow travelers were interesting:

We also took a friend of a friend, a smart, funny Lebanese-American named Jihad. Kind of like heading for the Magic Kingdom with a guy named Mickey.

Though it seems like it might be best to wait a few years before planning your own trip:

The facility was impressive: modern buildings in every direction, open plazas, signs and markers in Arabic and English. Our guide, a proud, friendly, soft-spoken man, was happy to see some foreign visitors. It was Ramadan and business was slow. He said that what we would see was just “phase one”—only 15 acres. Hotels, a spa, swimming pools, a sports club, campgrounds, and a paintball battlefield were still to come. Hezbollahland was just getting started.

Mr. Preston points out that the impact of this effort isn’t trivial:

We left the Resistance Tourist Landmark with a mix of reactions. Hezbollah has long supported terrorism—this is the organization that blew up our embassy and the Marine Corps barracks in Beirut in the early 80s, with enormous loss of life. Full stop. Even so, it’s hard not to have some understanding for why Hezbollah has gained respect among the local population for its role in ending the 18-year occupation. Now Hezbollah has built an effective attraction to communicate its narrative to the young.

Oh, about his traveling companion:

A couple of days later I saw my new friend Jihad bartending at a club called Radio Beirut. His T-shirt read, “MR. JIHAD,” in huge letters. Such is Lebanon. The drinks were on him.

The entire article is interesting, entertaining and worth your time:

http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/on-the-road/2012/09/freston-hezbollahland-lebanon-tourist-landmark

(h/t Andrew Sullivan)

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3 Comments »

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 1, 2012 @ 7:26 pm

And the tie to Homeland Security? By the way do you think the President’s CIFIUS decision (apparently to be litigated)preventing the Chinese from investing in a US Wind Turbine Field in Oregon is Homeland Security or something else?

CIFIUS became law in 1988 under the Defense Production Act of 1950, as amended.

Comment by Arnold Bogis

October 2, 2012 @ 1:37 pm

The tie is terrorism. Hezbollah poses a terrorist threat to the U.S. They have struck U.S. targets overseas and are perceived to be a threat to CONUS, especially if we enter into hostilities with Iran.

The piece I noted, besides being entertaining, also points to the fact that they are different from Al Qaeda in that they have interests and social integration into the fabric of Lebanese life. Security types that concentrate on “homeland security” often see things in black and white. Hezbollah is a terrorist group, hence black. But as this piece hints at, sometimes things are more complicated. This particular group is a threat to commit terrorist acts, but it also has concrete and complicated interests in an existing foreign state.

CIFUS decisions could possibly be homeland security issues, but I don’t know enough about the one you cite to have an opinion either way.

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 2, 2012 @ 4:14 pm

Is not Hezbollah also a political party in Lebanon that has won votes in democratic elections?

As to CIFIUS see: The Exon-Florio National Security Test for Foreign Investment, updated October 1, 2012
by CRS

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