New York Times Salutes the Christmas Spirit of Hezbollah

Hezbollah fighters take an oath during a parade to continue the path of resistance towards
AP/Hussein Malla

In a bizarre article published on Christmas Eve, the New York Times saluted the murderous Iran-backed Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah for its wonderful Christmas spirit, applauding the group for helping to “ring in the season” and implying the United States has unfairly designated it as a foreign terrorist organization.

The opening passage of the Times article paints a remarkable picture:

The Iranian cultural attaché stepped up to the microphone on a stage flanked by banners bearing the faces of Iran’s two foremost religious authorities: Ayatollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Republic, and Ayatollah Khamenei, the current supreme leader.

To the left of Ayatollah Khomeini stood a twinkling Christmas tree, a gold star gilding its tip. Angel ornaments and miniature Santa hats nestled among its branches. Fake snow dusted fake pine needles.

“Today, we’re celebrating the birth of Christ,” the cultural attaché, Mohamed Mehdi Shari’tamdar, announced into the microphone, “and also the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.”

“Hallelujah!” boomed another speaker, Elias Hachem, reciting a poem he had written for the event. “Jesus the savior is born. The king of peace, the son of Mary. He frees the slaves. He heals. The angels protect him. The Bible and the Quran embrace.”

“We’re celebrating a rebel,” proclaimed a third speaker, the new mufti of the Shiite Muslims of Lebanon, the rebel in question being Jesus.

The mufti, Ahmed Kabalan, went on to engage in some novel religious and political thinking: Christians and Muslims, he said, “are one family, against corruption, with social justice, against authority, against Israel, with the Lebanese Army and with the resistance.”

New York Times writers Vivian Yee and Hwaida Saad seem vaguely aware that this is all about factional politics and media manipulation, not Hezbollah suddenly deciding to return all the presents it stole from Whoville because its heart grew three sizes. The delicate nature of Yuletide in that restless and often violent country is remarked upon.

Also, as the above passages indicate, Hezbollah is not interested in helping Christians have a merry Christmas. They want to appropriate the holiday for political purposes, obscenely comparing their extremist violence to the “rebel” attitude of Jesus and recruiting Christians as allies against Israel.

The key passage of the article lacks the appropriate cynicism, or even skepticism, about Hezbollah’s motives and reads as uncomfortably sympathetic to its point of view:

Even Hezbollah, the Shiite political movement and militia that the United States has branded a terrorist organization, has helped ring in the season.

In previous years, it imported a Santa to Beirut’s southern suburbs to distribute gifts. On Saturday, Hezbollah representatives were on hand for the Iranian Christmas concert, an event that also featured handicrafts by Iranian artists, but the organization skipped Santa this year because of financial constraints.

These demonstrations of Christmas spirit seem intended, analysts said, to demonstrate Hezbollah’s inclusivity as a major political and military force in Lebanese society and to highlight its political alliances with Christian parties.

The article does not dwell upon why the United States might have gone and “branded” those jolly old elves of Hezbollah a terrorist organization, or list any of the other nations which have done so, which seems like a very important bit of context to omit from the story. The terrorism brand was applied to Hezbollah in 1997 by a secretary of state the New York Times was generally very supportive of.

Hezbollah couldn’t afford to “import a Santa” this year? That’s odd because ever since former President Barack Obama lifted sanctions on Iran and left the ayatollahs flush with cash, they’ve been pumping some $700 million a year into Lebanese Hezbollah, increasing its financial support by over 200 percent. Whatever did Hezbollah do with all that money? Has the cost of Santa rentals increased dramatically over the past year? Are they spending vast sums of money digging tunnels under Israel because they think Santa Claus might be trapped in a cave down there?

Almost 30 paragraphs into the story, the Times got around to observing that Christmas is “by no means a universal part of the holiday calendar of observant Muslims, especially conservative ones, some of whom consider Christmas decorations and other rituals forbidden. The article went on to praise Shiites (the sect of Islam followed by Hezbollah and dominated by Iran) for being more inclusive and respectful of other cultures than Sunni Muslims.

Fox News captured some of the outraged responses to the NYT’s whitewash of Hezbollah:

Media Research Center vice president Dan Gainor wrote that the Times “does the bidding of murderous Hezbollah cowards.”

[…] “This is a new low,” geopolitical analyst Jason Buttrill tweeted. “Hezbollah was Al Qaeda before there was AQ. They were ISIS before there was ISIS. They kidnapped and murdered the CIA station chief in Beirut. Killed over 200 Marines that same year. And kidnapped journalists and pastors.”

Conservative Review reporter Jordan Schachtel wrote, “Oh just the New York Time trumpeting Hezbollah propaganda on Christmas.”

Matt Vespa at denounced the article as “troll bait” and “trash.”

“They imported a Santa. All sins are wiped clean, said by no one who is serious,” he snorted.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.