Read through archived FRONTLINE/World
conversations around this story below, including responses
from the reporters.
Anna Segur ‚ New York, New York
I felt that the journalism of this story was more
characteristic of Fox news in that it was sensationalist-making
it seem like on any corner in Lebanon you could run
into a hijacker. I do not feel that it provided adequate
context for the Hezbollah movement's foundation and
continuation, particularly with respect to the history
of the Israeli army. The program lacked an explanation
of the brutality of the Israeli army tactics towards
civilians in Palestine and in Lebanon during the
occupation, as well as the resounding silence
of the international community towards the Isreali
army's continued human rights violations.
Reporter David Lewis responds:
I would have loved to have been given an hour to explain
all the background and history that would have placed Hezbollah
in context even more than I did. But the time available was
twenty minutes and I tried very hard to put as much context as I
could within those narrow parameters. I did say that 20,000
Lebanese died and that Israel's occupation was brutal. I also
showed more detail about Hezbollah's social and political programs
than has ever been shown on US television before.
As for the hijacker, it was something
that happened and was not made up. Lebanon is a strange place
and strange things happen.
Jim Monzer ‚ Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
I very much appreciated your devoting time to deal with
this very important subject. I did not appreciate your
taking conjecture, and misleading information and presenting
it as fact. One example: The bombing in Buenos Aires: At no
time has Hizbollah been found to have anything to do with
this -- CIA assertions to the contrary. Hizbollah has never
been involved in any terrorist attack. All their operations
have been confined to the theatre of war: Lebanon and northern
Israel. To the Lebanese who were invaded by Israel, who had
to endure foreign occupation for 20 years, and who had to
deal with close to 20,000 deaths at the hands of the
Israelis, Hizbollah is comparable to the French Resistance
against the Nazis and indeed to the Patriots who fought
in the American Revolution.
Reporter David Lewis responds:
I never mentioned Buenos Aires... And if you truly believe Hezbollah
has never been involved in a terrorist attack there's a used Pinto
I'd like to sell you! Seriously: Hezbollah may or may not have a
terrorist wing today. I don't know. They do have great popular
support which I made clear. I also spelled out very clearly the
Israeli invasion and the 20,000 that died at Israeli hands.
Daniel Consolatore, Washington, DC
Shame on you FRONTLINE/World. Your feature on Lebanon and
Hizb'ullah this week was terribly one-sided, and very disappointing.
Is even PBS infected with the American nationalist disease,
that treats and sees any Muslim as "the enemy?" The reporter
was positively antagonistic toward his subject and his
interviewees, dismissing their arguments as "propaganda," or
introducing their points in tones dripping with disdain:
"They *SAAAAAY* that ... " The reporter is clearly
intent on exposing any and every inconsistency.
What's inconsistent, and very disappointing is the way
PBS is little better than FOX News in focusing only on
one side. Where is the vaunted balance? Where is the
tough, hard-ball interview with Israeli government officials,
the side-glancing expose of the hypocrisy of American nationalism?
If you can criticize Starbucks, you can examine American
Orientalism and racism toward Muslims and Arabs. And you
can stop waving the flag in the face of the "green menace."
We count on PBS to see the humanity in everyone, and to show it.
Reporter David Lewis responds:
Well, Daniel, I have been soundly criticized for being a stooge
of Hezbollah propaganda and blind to their terror attacks on Israel
and support for suicide bombers... and I have also been attacked by
folks with views such as yours for being a stooge of Israelis and
the US government. So I must be doing something right if both
sides of this debate -- where this is almost no middle ground -- saw
something in the film to make them mad. I tried to show the good
and the bad of Hezbollah. Their past, their present and their
possible future. The viewers of this program who came to it
with no pre-conceived opinions will hopefully have learned
much more about this organization than they ever had before.
Anonymous - Boston, Massachusetts
Hezbollah is and always will be a terrorist organization.
Do not think for a moment they have a legitimate political
agenda. I remember the bombing of our troops as if it were
yesterday, and I challenge anyone to tell one of their
family memberts that Hezbollah is not a terrorist group.
Once the United States pressures Iran and Syria to stop
funding them you will see how they resort back to their
terrorist ways to fight for donations from the Saudi
charities that like to contribute to the most effective
jihad groups like al-Queda. Hezbollah will always be a
terrorist group as long as they continue to preach that all
Jews should be driven into the sea, and they will prove
to be the undoing of Lebanon and hopefully Syria. May our
soldiers never be forgotten.
Mark Anderson - New York, New York
It is quite unfortunate a show like frontline has successfully
managed to degrade itself to fox by broadcasting a low quality
and partial view on Hezbollah. The show not only not only
failed to tell a story comprehensively and objectively but
also portrayed a biased and sensational show with no depth
and critical analysis of these people and their believe.
Dick Moulding - Northampton, Massachusetts
You have to wonder if Hezbollah's Ministry of Silly
Marches realizes that not only are they marching to
the Monty Python theme, but also to John Phillips Sousa's
quintessentially American, 1893 "Liberty Bell March"!
Is this globalization, or what?
Sarine Makdessian - Montreal, Quebec, Canada
While I thoroughly enjoyed last night's Frontline/World
segment on the Hezbollah group (and abhor their very
existence in mainstream Lebanese society), I am, nonetheless,
let down by your portrayal of Lebanon. It seems that you
have portrayed that country to be just another Iran when
the truth could not be any further. An uninformed outsider
may come out of watching the program and possibly
forming truths that are not all enveloping and certainly not
representative of all Lebanese -- mainly Christians (be it
Maronite or otherwise) and Armenians. Taken with a grain of
salt, it was yet another wonderful PBS presentation.
Melanie Thomas ‚ Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Looking at this issue objectively, it is possible to draw
comparisons between Hezbollah and the IRA/Sinn Fein in
Ireland. Out of the terrorist organisation that was the
Irish Republican Army grew the political arm, Sinn Fein.
Ultimately, it was Sinn Fein who really held all of the
power. No amount of military hardware can influence like
rational politics, and it remains to be seen if this will
be the case in Lebanon.
John Hopkins ‚ Cambria Heights, New York
I came away with an appreciation of the fact that people
around the world have legitimate grievances. If they are
not answered groups like Hezbollah fill the void. It is also
important to know that the there is no one group that
represents all Muslims and the information on Hezbollah
helps clear up some of the confusion on the matter.
Anonymous - Katy, Texas
The Frontline piece gave a view of Hezbollah that is not seen
in the popular American media. It appears these are people
with a cause, and that violence has been the only way for
them to realize the independence of their peoples. Too bad
the U.S. has been unable to convince these peoples that it
is not just a lackey of Israel.
Walter Reed - Haleiva, Hawaii
I am saddened, once again, that American media is
so one-sided/dishonest in its depiction of the
Arab world. Jews, with British help, and later
American help, invaded Palestine in 1917 ... and
the Arabs who fight against this immoral invasion
you call "terrorists". These are poor people
without high tech weapons fighting for their
homeland like any invaded people would. You guys
are so one-sided it really makes me sick because
you perpetuate the fiction that the Zionists are
somehow right and the Arabs are somehow wrong.
Mitch Mitchell - Toledo, Ohio
It was a great piece that shed light on this
'terrorist' organization. They are and continue
to be a legitimate and crucial part of Lebanese
society. And by the way, linking them with bombings
in Argentina, just remember no one has been
arrested from the Hizballah organization in
connection with this. It is merely propaganda
put out by the United State of Israel.
Gerald Blankenship - Riverside, California
I am sorry to hear that there is a diminution
of the middle class in the newly revitalized
Beirut. The presence of a large underclass
just leads to more unrest and acts of desperation.
On the other hand, coverage of progress that
has been made and continues to be made at the
American University would contribute a hopeful
note to what might take place in a future Lebanon.