New York Times reporters Vivian Yee and Hwaida Saad reported from Beirut for the Christmas Day edition. As a gift to the Lebanon-based Islamic anti-Israeli terrorist group Hezbollah, they helped whitewash the reputation of the murderous organization in “In This Arab Nation, ‘Jesus Isn’t Only for the Christians.’” Twitter scorn ensued.
Hezbollah’s objective is to obliterate the state of Israel. They have killed Americans as well. A suicide bomber attacked the American Embassy in Beirut in 1983, killing 63. Later that year, a Marine barracks was attacked in similar fashion, killing 241 Marines. The U.S. State Department has designated Hezbollah a foreign terrorist organization. But to the Times, it’s just a claim made by the U.S. government.
From Tuesday’s Christmas tour of Beirut:
The Iranian cultural attaché stepped up to the microphone on a stage flanked by banners bearing the faces of Iran’s two foremost religious authorities: Ayatollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Republic, and Ayatollah Khamenei, the current supreme leader.
To the left of Ayatollah Khomeini stood a twinkling Christmas tree, a gold star gilding its tip. Angel ornaments and miniature Santa hats nestled among its branches. Fake snow dusted fake pine needles.
The mufti, Ahmed Kabalan, went on to engage in some novel religious and political thinking: Christians and Muslims, he said, “are one family, against corruption, with social justice, against authority, against Israel, with the Lebanese Army and with the resistance.”
The proclamations from the stage were applause lines -- perhaps against the odds, given that the audience at the Iranian-sponsored event on Saturday consisted mostly of observant Shiites from the Hezbollah-dominated southern suburbs of Beirut. Occasionally, the crowd chanted praise for the Prophet Muhammad.
Even Hezbollah, the Shiite political movement and militia that the United States has branded a terrorist organization, has helped ring in the season.
The paper liked that line enough to adapt it for the headline for the tweet promoting the article: “Even Hezbollah, the Shiite political movement and militia that the United States has branded a terrorist organization, has helped ring in the season in previous years, importing a Santa to Beirut’s southern suburbs to distribute gifts.”
In previous years, it imported a Santa to Beirut’s southern suburbs to distribute gifts. On Saturday, Hezbollah representatives were on hand for the Iranian Christmas concert, an event also featureing handicrafts by Iranian artists, but the organization skipped Santa this year because of financial constraints.
These demonstrations of Christmas spirit seem intended, analysts said, to demonstrate Hezbollah’s inclusivity as a major political and military force in Lebanese society and to highlight its political alliances with Christian parties.
But just as it has for many secular Americans, the commercial appeal of Christmas has proved strong for many non-Christians here.
The Times has traditionally whitewashed Hezbollah (and especially the Palestinian-based anti-terror group Hamas) with blandishments that euphemize the group as a "military, political and social organization in Lebanon with strong ties to Iran." The paper has published entire articles that talk of Hezbollah without even mentioning the word terrorist, not even in the backhanded way that the paper’s Christmas Day article does.
The paper has even praised Hezbollah by likening a Hezbollah youth group trained in Jew-hate to the Boy Scouts. It has called Hezbollah terrorist leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah a “folk hero,” and has regularly noted "Hezbollah's reputation as an efficient grass-roots social service network.”