JAFFA, Israel – Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian civil war has delivered a significant blow to the Lebanese militia’s popularity in the Arab world.
Pan-Arab adulation for Hezbollah culminated in the wake of its 2006 war with Israel, when it was hailed for its steadfast fighting and the heavy losses it inflicted on Israel which led, among other things, to the resignation of the Israeli defense minister and military chief.
But the deeper the Shi’ite militia got involved in fighting to save Syrian President Bashar Assad, the more it was accused of showing its true colors as a sectarian, Iran-controlled, Shiite organization.
Criticism of Hezbollah peaked last week due to the siege it has imposed on the 4,000 residents of the Syrian town of Medaya, near the Lebanese border. News of a humanitarian crisis unfolding in the town has emerged, leading to the creation of several Facebook campaigns featuring pictures of malnourished children. They started as an appeal for aid, but soon transformed into Hezbollah-bashing forums.
It is probably the first large-scale campaign against Hezbollah, saying its fighters “are even more ruthless than the Zionists.” It was also claimed that the organization has been nothing more than “the long arm of Shi’ite Iran that masqueraded as a resistance army fighting Israel.”
The hashtag #Nasralla_war_criminal has garnered thousands of followers, some of whom posted pictures of lush meals allegedly taken by Shi’ites to tease the starving Sunnis.
Sunni websites, some of which are supported by Saudi Arabia, have been at the forefront of the online onslaught against Hezbollah.
Hezbollah’s supporters denied any connection to the food photos, and said that the pictures of emaciated Sunnis were fabricated. One of them, they said, was of a beggar in Europe.