TELOSscope: The Telos Press Blog

Cradle to Grave: Hezbollah Children

In the debates during and after the recent war in Lebanon, supporters of Hezbollah have tried to represent it as a deliverer of social welfare and not as a terrorist organization. Let us leave aside the question as to why a social welfare organization would be armed to the teeth and dwell for a moment in order to consider the claim itself and its theoretical/political implications. The utopia of the social welfare state has been phrased for a more than a century in terms of providing benefits to its client-citizens “from cradle to grave.” In other words, the whole life course would become an object of state administrative practices. This bureaucratic apparatus logically necessitates some level of intrusion by the state into the private sphere of family life: care-taking, starting with the cradle, means a politicization of the nursery, and so forth. Hence Hayek’s anxieties that even a modest social state would not stay modest for long and set out on a “road to serfdom.”

To talk about Hezbollah as only a welfare state is an apologistic misrepresentation, akin to discussing Hitler in terms of managing unemployment and building the Autobahn (the way the press praises Hezbollah for its Iran-bankrolled big-spending in the Lebanese reconstruction). Hezbollah is however like a “welfare state” in the Hayekian sense: leveraging its resources and political clout to extend a tyrannical control over the private sphere. This is nowhere more evident than in the fate of the Hezbollah children.

Hezbollah children Hezbollah children

The intrusion of Nazi ideology into nascent pan-Arabism in the 1930s in fact included the establishment of youth movements modeled on the Hitlerjugend, and the lynchpin in this connection was none other than Baldur von Schirach, the leader of the Nazi youth program. This sort of fascist politicization of youth therefore has a long history, but Hezbollah has taken it to new heights. Its message to the Lebanese is evidently this: the price for the social welfare benefits is sacrificing your children. The content of Hezbollah’s welfare state practice is to accelerate the itinerary from cradle to grave: straight from the cradle, into the grave.

Hitler youth

The Egyptian weekly Roz al-Yusuf published an article on August 18 by Mirfat al-Hakim on “Hezbollah’s Children Militia.” Some excerpts:

Hizbullah Recruits Children Barely 10 Years Old

“Hizbullah has recruited over 2,000 innocent children aged 10-15 to form armed militias. Before the recent war with Israel, these children appeared only in the annual Jerusalem Day celebrations, and were referred to as the ‘December 14 Units,’ but today they are called istishhadiyun [‘martyrs’] . . . ”

“Hizbullah has customarily recruited youths and children and trained them to fight from a very early age. These are children barely 10 years old, who wear camouflage uniforms, cover their faces with black [camouflage] paint, swear to wage jihad, and join the Mahdi Scouts [youth organization] . . .

“The children are selected by Hizbullah recruitment [officers] based on one criterion only: They must be willing to become martyrs.”

The Children Train to Become Martyrs

“The children are educated from an early age to become martyrs in their youth, like their fathers, and their training is carried out by the Mahdi Scouts youth organization. . . . [This organization], which is affiliated with Hizbullah, teaches the children the basic principles of Shi’ite ideology and of Hizbullah’s ideology. . . . The first lesson that the children are taught by Hizbullah is ‘The Disappearance of Israel,’ and it is always an important part of the [training] program. . . .

“The Mahdi Scouts organization was founded in Lebanon on May 5, 1985. . . . According to the organization’s website, the number of [scouts] who had undergone training by the end of 2004 was 1,491, and the number of scout groups which had joined [the organization] was 449, with a membership of 41,960. According to the organization’s most recent statistics, since 2004, 120 of its members have been ready to become martyrs.

“The organization’s goal is to train an exemplary generation of Muslims based on the [principle of] ‘the rule of the jurisprudent’ [a founding principle of the Islamic Revolution in Iran], and to prepare for the coming of the Imam Mahdi [the Shi’ite messiah]. Its members, including the children, undertake to obey their commanders, to bring honor to the [Muslim] nation, and to prepare themselves for helping the Mahdi [when he comes].”

(Source: The Middle East Media Research Institute, Special Dispatch Series – No. 1276, Sept. 1, 2006. Link.)

“A Nation With Child-Martyrs Will Be Victorious”

According to the article, Na’im Qasim, deputy to Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, said in an interview on Radio Canada: “A nation with child-martyrs will be victorious, no matter what difficulties lie in its path. Israel cannot conquer us or violate our territories, because we have martyr sons who will purge the land of the Zionist filth… This will be done through the blood of the martyrs, until we eventually achieve our goals.”

Roz al-Yusuf

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