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Times Celebrates "Disney Touch" of Terrorist Leader

"The success or failure of any cease-fire in Lebanon will largely hinge on the opinion of one figure: Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of Hezbollah, who has seen his own aura and that of his party enhanced immeasurably by battling the Israeli Army for nearly four weeks."

Middle East-based reporter Neil MacFarquhar files "Arab World Finds Icon in Leader of Hezbollah" from Damascus on Monday (with Hassan Fattah contributing reporting from Beirut). Again, MacFarquhar sees things from the pro-Arab, anti-Israel perspective.



(Last week, MacFarquhar lamented on Charlie Rose's talk show how "in 40 years, we have gone from Kennedy milk to the Bush administration rushing bombs to this part of the world. And it just erodes and erodes and erodes America's reputation.")



Today he writes: "The success or failure of any cease-fire in Lebanon will largely hinge on the opinion of one figure: Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of Hezbollah, who has seen his own aura and that of his party enhanced immeasurably by battling the Israeli Army for nearly four weeks."


MacFarquhar compares Nasrallah's killing achievements favorably to those of impotent Arab tyrants of the past: "Gone are the empty threats made by President Gamal Abdel Nasser's official radio station during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war to push the Jews into the sea even as Israel seized Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula.


"Gone is Saddam Hussein's idle vow to 'burn half of Israel,' only to launch limited volleys of sputtering Scuds. Gone too are the unfulfilled promises of Yasir Arafat to lead the Palestinians back into Jerusalem.


"Now there is Sheik Nasrallah, a 46-year-old Lebanese militia chieftain hiding in a bunker, combining the scripted logic of a clergyman with the steely resolve of a general to completely rewrite the rules of the Arab-Israeli land feud."


"When he says to the people: I am your voice, I am your will, I am your conscience, I am your resistance, he combines both a sense of humility and of being anointed for the task," said Waddah Sharara, a Lebanese sociology professor and a descendant of Shiite clerics. 'He's like the circus magician who pulls the rabbit out of his hat and always knows exactly who is his audience.'"


"Some call it his 'Disney touch.'"


Now that's just Goofy.


"In his broadcasts he appears tranquil, assured, sincere and well informed, in command of both the facts and the situation, utterly dedicated to his cause and to his men. He is aloof yet tries to lend his secretive, heavily armed organization an air of transparency by sharing battlefield details."


More praise for Nasrallah: "In a world where fathers are known by the name of their eldest son, Sheik Nasrallah is known as Abu Hadi or father of Hadi, after his eldest son, who died in September 1997, age 18, in a firefight with the Israelis. The name instantly reminds everyone of his personal credibility and commitment to the fight."


And it wouldn't be an article on an Israeli-killing terror group without a nod to its charity works (otherwise known as propaganda): "He is believed to live modestly and rarely socializes outside Hezbollah's ruling circles. He avoids the telephone for safety reasons, but has met thousands of constituents and dispatches personal messengers to congratulate them for weddings and births.


"Aside from Hezbollah's secretive military operations, the state within a state that he helped build with Iranian and expatriate financing includes hospitals, schools and other social services."