PJM contributor Lisa Goldman's appearance on Israeli television's Channel 10 on Wednesday night wasn't your standard network news report. Her observations on the anniversary of the Israeli-Lebanese war took place on the balcony of a hotel room in Beirut, with the city as her backdrop -- a spot where Israeli citizens do not venture publicly.
While the specifics of her story on what life was like across the border a year after the war were not political in nature - similar to those in the Pajamas Media story filed above, the reaction to it in Lebanon was explosively so.
Less than an hour after the show was broadcasted - Al Manar, Hezbollah's TV's Channel's website, published a news item screaming bloody murder and attacking the government for permitting what they called "another Israeli breach into Lebanon on the eve of the war's anniversary".
They reported what Ms. Goldman, a dual Canadian-Israeli citizen said on Israeli television - similar to her reports for Pajamas Media, focusing naturally on the part where she displayed fear of entering the Hezbollah-controlled Dahiyeh neighborhood in Beirut, and how her friends and guides told her that the Hezbollah security apparatus would find out that she is Israeli by Googling her name, in which case she would risk kidnapped or worse.
They concluded their report with this paragraph:"The question is, is it hubris or a gamble from the Channel 10 reporter to enter Lebanon knowing that no one will intercept her or stop her, especially in that she spoke of friends of her in Lebanon that helped her and guided her and gave her advice. The more dangerous question is, if an Israeli reporter can walk around Beirut with her camera with such freedom, what's to stop the Israeli intelligence from entering from that open door and implement operation that the recent bombings in Lebanon could be a part of!"
According to Hezbollah's mouthpiece, Lisa Goldman's 5 minute report from Israel acted as evidence that the Israeli intelligence apparatus, and not the Syrian intelligence goons, are the guilty parties behind the recent bombings and instability in Lebanon.
Her visit was also, according to Hezbollah's ally Michel Aoun's Tayyar party's website, a damning security failure by the Lebanese government.
The Tayyar's website ran Al Manar's report word-for-word, but made sure to add their touch: They removed the part where Al Manar alluded that Israeli intelligence agents were behind the recent bombings, and at the end of the report, they added a direct attack on the Siniora government as their conclusion. They said: "there is another question that whoever is left of the Seniora team can answer: where is this reporter now, inside or outside of Israel? And is there an answer, or are they completely shameless?"
While the opposition's official reaction is a fantastic exercise of political opportunism, the reaction in the comments section of Al Manar's website is a great window into the mind of the average Hezbollah supporter in Lebanon and the Middle East at large, who view Lisa's trip as another example of the Israeli conspiracy to further oppress and humiliate Arabs.
Below are some chosen gems from the comments section, translated from Arabic to English, that I thought I should share:
"As long as there are traitors in Lebanon, don't be astonished (by Israelis entering Lebanon), even if it was Olmert himself"
"This is a very dangerous matter and a crossroad for the current government and parliament which should be dissolved and form a new government that is capable of protecting the Lebanese people. They should also start scrutinizing the Unifil troops for many of them are Jewish and some might be Israelis with dual citizenships."
"Where is the national security? Are they asleep at the borders and the airport?"
"They do this on the anniversary of the great victory? I would say that this is a message to Hezbollah!"
"And Siniora says 'don't accuse us of treason'!"
"I am a regular Lebanese citizen and I really feel shocked and amazed at this nauseating scene that aims to provoke us with the sponsorship of Siniora and his people.."
"Let's ask the authorities that gave her a visa. She naturally did not sneak in the country and had an official visa from the government and her accommodations is a great indication of who let her in the country and sponsored and protected her."
"Is the group in power trying to ruin the first anniversary of the divine victory for us by using those cheap tricks? Well, if they think they will succeed at that, they are greatly mistaken, because the victory and the anniversary will not be ruined, God willing"
And this last comment was in English, from someone who calls himself Ahmed Al Asmar and who resides in the US:
"This is the best example that Lebanon and the Lebanese are not secure when Lebanon has such government that does not care about the safety of its own people and allows such person that no matter what her main concerns is to serve its own country. Definitely she is a spy using a European passport to enter Lebanon and using journalism to cover their terrorist acts. Remember that all Israelis with citizenship in Israel have to serve in the army no matter where they live or have another citizenship. She is definitely a spy and Israeli terrorist with some spies to help her in her in Lebanon. Thank Allah Almighty that Hizbullah is awake and care about Lebanon and the Lebanese."
To think that the Channel 10 people simply thought it would be a cool journalistic feat to accomplish to send Lisa to report from Beirut.
And to think that Lisa, the proud recipient of a Brass Crescent award for sensitive blogging and dialogue between Muslims and non-Muslims has been transformed into a soldier, spy and a terrorist.
I love Lebanon!
Sandmonkey is a pseudonymous blogger living in Egypt, currently in hiatus