AS I walk around the streets of Beirut, that verse from “The Sounds of Silence” keeps rattling around in my head: “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls, and tenement halls …”
here is a highly revealing graffiti war going on here pitting opponents of Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, and his Lebanese ally, the Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, on one side and their Lebanese and Syrian supporters on the other. Assad and Nasrallah have long called themselves “the resistance” to Israel, using that to build their legitimacy and to justify arming themselves against their own people. What is stunning to me is how much their masks have now been ripped off by their own people. It is written on the tenement walls around Beirut. The latest collection includes slogans like “The resistance is only resisting our freedom,” or Assad’s picture above the words “Step here” and “The one who kills his own people is a traitor.”
Both Assad and Nasrallah still have their sectarian followers, but outside of that shrinking circle they have lost the aura they cultivated from “resisting Israel.” Now both men stand naked before the Arab world for all to see — one using arms to “resist” the will of many Syrians and the other to “resist” the will of many Lebanese. Their people are no longer afraid to openly mock them.
Read the rest of the post at the New York Times.
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