Saturday, August 26, 2006

About That Nasrallah Interview

Snap Judgments


"On August 17 we published a very interesting interview with Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah. A CounterPunch reader had found it on the Marxmail list, moderated by Louis Proyect, and passed it along to us. The interview was translated from Turkish, in which language it had appeared in the Turkish socialist daily, Evrensel, on August 12 and 13. We didn't publish the full interview, which had some sections on the war that had been somewhat overtaken by events. Of interest to us was the very radical timbre of Nasrallah's language and his remarks about the world struggle against imperialism.

The interview hadn't been up our website for long before it was the target of a rather blustering denunciation by As'ad AbuKhalil, on his Angry Arab website, claiming that this was clearly a forgery and was perhaps an interview with the Nasrallah kidnapped by Israelis in a raid on the hospital near Ba'albek. Around the same time a few readers forwarded to us a note to his list sent by Gilbert Achcar, the Paris-based writer on Middle Eastern politics, saying "the interview seemed quite bizarre for people familiar with the topic". Achcar said he'd contacted "a source in Beirut in close touch with Hezbollah" who "has confirmed to me that it is a forgery."

We established that the interview had indeed appeared in Evrensel, a serious newspaper, and Nasrallah's remarks had aroused some comment in the Turkish press, particularly because of his homage in the interview to the Turkish revolutionary Deniz Gezmis. CounterPuncher Ali Tonak in Beirut confirmed that the English translation from Turkish was good.

Of course there are always fakes floating around, but we weren't particularly impressed with the outburst on Angry Arab which seemed to verge on a sort of "proprietary" bark, almost as if he owned Nasrallah and resented trespass. There was even a whiff of orientalizing, about what a Shi'a leader should or should not be capable of saying. Our view is the Nasrallah is a very smart fellow, and knew perfectly well he was addressing a left Turkish audience."

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