Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is playing to enthusiastic crowds in Lebanon. Today he was at Bint Jbeil, a Hezbollah stronghold near the Israeli border that saw heavy fighting in the 2006 war. Iran finances Hezbollah and therefore more or less controls Lebanon. CNN’s account is chilling:
The crowd showed up hours before the speech. Men, women and children of all ages waved Iranian and Lebanese flags in Bint Jbeil’s elaborately decorated stadium. Fathers carried their young sons, and the bleachers were filled with Hezbollah boy scouts in sparkling clean uniforms. …
Hezbollah boy scouts? Do they pledge to do an evil deed every day?
The crowd roared as the Iranian president entered, nearly pushing through the barrier as security officials struggled to keep them back.
Ahmadinejad took advantage of his proximity to Israel to expound on one of his favorite themes:
The Iranian president, who regularly and bluntly delivers strong rhetoric against Israel and Zionism, said the “world must know the Zionists are to be gone” and the “people of Bint Jbeil have made the Zionists taste the bitter taste of defeat.”
He added that the lack of hope allowed Israel by the Lebanese means the “Zionists have no choice but to submit to the will of the people and to return to their first homes.”
By which, I take it, he means Germany and Poland, like Helen Thomas. That is the point of calling Israelis “Zionists;” it implies that they are people from somewhere else who, in the long view, are just passing through.
As the U.S. dithers, it’s just one more scene that feels like it is straight out of the 1930s.