Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Hezbollah, Childhood: The Joys of the Hezbollah Children's Museum

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A Trip to the Hezbollah Children Museum

If culture is destiny, then happiness is not in the cards for today's children in Southern Lebanon.

Our Man in the Bay State, Boston Herald writer, Darren Garnick, has a revealing piece out, "The Hezbollah Children’s Museum — A Cross-Cultural Study". Revealing because it takes a look at one of the joys of childhood--and childhood lost.

As the parent of a boy equally enthralled by escalators and stegasauruses, I’ve never met a Children’s Museum that I didn’t like. I find these places to be especially friendly to candid photo-ops.

Garnick then lists--and includes some great pix of--his favorite child museums: THE MULTI-LEVEL GERBIL CAGE — BOSTON, MASS. (the picture at the top of this piece); THE GEAR WALL — DOVER, NEW HAMPSHIRE; and, THE HUMAN BODY MAZE — BANGOR, MAINE.

Which would all make for a great feature--but then he goes further.

"This might shock you: The fun-spirited, light-hearted tone of these exhibits is sorely lacking at the new Hezbollah Children’s Museum in South Lebanon."

Unless readers frequent blogs which specialize in the arcane world of Hezbollah-bilia, they'd be generally unaware that terrorist groups, such as Hezbollah, even dabble in Children's Museums. Who has the time--what with delis to blow up, journalists to behead and rockets to launch?

Darren quotes the International Herald Tribune’s Robert F. Worth.

"...Worth offers a vivid glimpse of “Hezbollah’s most ambitious multimedia exhibit to date,” a tourist attraction devoted to their all-time terrorist superstar, Imad Mughniyeh. "

Mughniyeh was believed to be responsible for:

* The 1983 suicide attacks on the U.S. Embassy and Marines barracks (241 dead) in Beirut,
* A 1985 hijacking of a TWA jet, which ended with the dumping of Navy diver Robert Stethem’s body on the tarmac,
* The kidnapping, torture and murder of a CIA bureau chief,
* The kidnapping and imprisonment of the Associated Press chief Mideast correspondent for six years,
* The bombings of the Israeli Embassy and the Jewish community center in Argentina,
* The 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, and many other heinous killings.

Mughniyeh met a suspicious end--he was blown up at a time and date not of his own choosing, taking only a car along with him (perhaps by the Israelis, who've denied it).

Darren then cuts to a "Rocky-Hezbollah" analogy before coming back to the carefree joys of Hezbollah childhood.

AUTHENTIC TERRORIST MEMORABILIA: “The children crowd forward around the glass case, eager for a glimpse of the martyr’s bloodstained clothes. His belt is here, and the shoes he died in, scarred with shrapnel. The battered desk where he planned military operations still has his box of pencils on it, his in-box, his cellphone.”

MILITARY LASER SHOWS: Presumably a bit more somber than the Pink Floyd “The Wall” show that used to sell out at the Boston Museum of Science, this light extravaganza illuminates Hezbollah weaponry waiting to be used on the hapless Zionists. The IHT cites “overflow crowds” that have been keeping the exhibit open past 1 a.m.

THE MARTYR’S HEAVEN EXPERIENCE: “In the darkened room, a figure representing a dead Hezbollah fighter lies on his back on a large sloping bank of white flowers. A sound of exploding bombs gives way to patriotic anthems as a screen shows a brilliant sunset and a coffin being carried through a dark forest. Later, a laser show illuminates the darkness. Other videos braid together images from the 2006 war, including some showing Mugniyah, along with scenes of Hezbollah soldiers training in the green hills of southern Lebanon.”

Who’s showing up to Martyr’s Heaven? “On a recent afternoon, busloads of schoolchildren were arriving to see the exhibit, with a group of Boy Scouts.”

MOCKING THE WEAK ISRAELI MILITARY: “A fake skeleton stands upright in a torn uniform and helmet beneath the legend, “The invincible Israeli soldier.” There are captured Israeli tanks jutting up from the ground at odd angles, their hatches burned and broken. As visitors crowd from one display to another, a soundtrack blares overhead, mixing the sounds of bombs and machine-gun fire with mournful operatic voices and warlike speeches.”

The piece finishes with a flourish: three Garnick thoughts, of which the third is below:

3. The line between self-confident and just plain stupid is a razor thin one. Historians say that Israeli cockiness after their 1967 rout led to a gross underestimation of the Arabs’ true fighting power. Not fearing the Egyptians and Syrians enough in 1973 led to lax Israeli leadership and half-assed preparedness (not enough historians use the term ‘half-assed’). Egypt’s 6 October victory bridge might seem like a joke, but for a while it looked like Israel was finished.

There's two updates, including a link to the LA Times blogs, which does a room-by-room breakdown of what exactly is in the Hezbollah Children's Museum.

German poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, published "Childhood" in 1902. It contained a collection of poems examining the "feelings of wonder and bafflement" and the child's efforts to "grapple with the puzzle of human existence."

Rilke's childhood--thankfully--did not include any trips to the Hezbollah Children's Museum.

by Mondoreb
images: Darren Garnick's Media Lab
Source: The Hezbollah Children’s Museum — A Cross-Cultural Study

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