Khamenei (left) and Khomeini (right)
Sayyid Yahya Rahim Safavi
Hassan Nasrallah giving a speech at the Al-Ma'aref
Hassan Nasrallah at a book stand at the 2006 fair
Back cover of a pamphlet titled ”Jihad”
The logo of the Lord of Martyrs Institute
c. The Imam al-Mahdi Institute
Baqiyyat Allah monthly,
The Dar al-Hadi Publishing offices in Beirut
Nurturing the personality cult of Khamenei (left) and Khomeini (right)
through books distributed by Hezbollah in Lebanon
"…Victory is the result of resistance [i.e., terrorism]. Resistance is a product of culture, and it is a culture unto itself” (Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah speaking at a fair organized by the Cultural Islamic Al-Ma’aref Association, affiliated with Hezbollah, May 2006).
"…Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah considers himself a soldier of Iran ‘s leader [Khamenei], and Hezbollah members follow the example of the brave men and women of Iran …” (Sayyid Yahya Rahim Safavi, the Iranian leader’s military advisor and former chief of the Revolutionary Guards, Iran’s Fars News Agency, November 16, 2008).
1. Lebanon is a unique example of Iran ‘s success in exporting the Islamic revolution through Hezbollah, an organization established by Iran with Syrian assistance in the summer of 1982. That success is reflected both in the establishment of Hezbollah’s extensive military infrastructure, with a proven track record of being able to hit Israel’s home front, and in the strengthening of Hezbollah’s political force on the internal Lebanese scene, to the point of being able to veto decisions made by the Lebanese government in the Doha Agreement (May 2008). On top of those political and military abilities, one must also consider the extensive social and cultural network established by Hezbollah, through which Iran deepens its long-term influence in Lebanon —mostly with the Shi’ite community, that country’s largest ethnic group.
2. More than just a tool to expand Iran ‘s influence, the ideological activity conducted by Hezbollah is meant to inculcate the Lebanese society with the concept of "society of resistance” —that is, a society entirely devoted to a long-term armed struggle against Israel , with Hezbollah at the forefront. That concept was introduced during a speech recently given by Hezbollah’s Deputy Secretary-General Sheikh Na’im Qassem, at a ceremony held by a Hezbollah organ responsible for commemorating the martyrs of the Faculty of Science in the University of Lebanon . That speech echoed the speech of an Iranian leader on the "culture of resistance” in Iran . 1
3. In his speech, Sheikh Na’im Qassem called for the establishment of a "society of resistance”, in which everybody lives their normal lives at school, at the university, at the factory, or at the store. However, "if someone is called to the front, they will do what is required of them and then go back to their daily lives”. He said that would turn Lebanon ‘s entire society into a "society of resistance”, which is concerned first and foremost with its duties and then with its daily life. Qassem further noted that it would help the society of resistance organize its arms, power, and abilities for the confrontation (with Israel ). Such a society would tighten the noose around Israel ‘s neck and defend the Lebanese country from outside pressure. As part of that concept, Hezbollah should obviously not be disarmed but rather incorporated into a "comprehensive defense strategy” of Lebanon (Al-Manar TV website, November 20, 2008 ).
Exporting the Islamic revolution in Iran through Hezbollah
4. Hezbollah, used by the Iranian regime as the main instrument of exporting the revolution to Lebanon , is also an effective means of spreading radical Shi’ite Islamic ideology. Iran and Hezbollah operate an extensive network of religious, educational, cultural, and social institutions among the Shi’ite community in Lebanon . It is coupled with Hezbollah’s media empire (which includes a satellite TV station, a radio station, websites, newspapers, libraries, and book publishing houses). All of those serve Hezbollah and the Iranian regime in the war for the hearts and minds of the Lebanese public, increasing their political and ideological influence among the Lebanese society in general and the Shi’ite community in particular. 2
5. The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center has recently re-examined the activity of Iran and Hezbollah’s societies and cultural centers operating in Lebanon as well as the contents of their publications. The results show once again that Hezbollah’s publications, which include Iranian literature in Arabic translation, are meant to spread Iranian ideology in Lebanon and to nurture the personality cult of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the instigator of the Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini. Those publications also inspire hatred against Israel , the US , and the West, encourage terrorism and violence against Israel ("resistance”), and commemorate Hezbollah’s shahids, turning them into role models for Lebanese teenagers viewed by Hezbollah as the next generation of its military operatives.
Societies and cultural centers operating in Lebanon on behalf of Iran and Hezbollah
6. Iran and Hezbollah have established in Lebanon an extensive network of educational, religious, and cultural institutions, which they predominantly use to shape the hearts and minds of the Shi’ite community in Lebanon . 3 Those institutions "import" to Lebanon the Iranian radical Shi’ite ideology the way it is, with Hezbollah’s role usually limited to that of a contractor, without making significant ideological contributions of its own. The establishment of that educational, cultural, and religious system, starting from the mid-1980s, was guided by Iran and its various proxies: the Revolutionary Guards, the cultural attaché’s offices in the Iranian embassies in Damascus and Beirut , as well as Iranian-based social institutions that have branches in Lebanon . Iran ‘s involvement also includes significant sums of money for the establishment and operation of that extensive network of culture institutions.
7. One of the most important associations operating in Lebanon is the Cultural Islamic Al-Ma’aref Association 4 (hereinafter: Al-Ma’aref Association). Founded in Lebanon in 1996, its aim is to spread Islam in accordance with Khomeini’s ideology and in accordance with the concept of the Islamic revolution in Iran, "filling a natural role in an inter-cultural dialogue or confrontation" (according to the association’s website). The association has dozens of cultural centers all of which act in the spirit of the Khomeinist ideology, including the Al-Nur Anti-Illiteracy Center and women’s culture centers. The association operates an extensive network of institutions and is connected with other culture centers in Lebanon that spread Khomeini’s teachings and ideology (see below).
8. Al-Ma’aref Association has its own publishing house. It holds international book fairs and is associated with other cultural centers involved in spreading Iranian radical Islam. The
9. association publishes Shi’ite Islamic ideological periodicals: Baqiyyat Allah, 5 Sada al-Wilaya ("The echo of responsibility to the House of Ali") and Dawhat al-Wilaya ("The dynasty of the house of Ali").
Al-Ma’aref Association’s Beirut book fair
10. In 2006 and 2007, international book fairs were held in Beirut by Al-Ma’aref Association. Taking part in those fairs were publishing houses from the Arab and Islamic world. The fair was not held in 2008, probably due to the lack of international interest in the fair held last year.
11. The May 2006 book fair was held in the Sheikh Abbas Moussawi (Sayyid al-Shuhada’) Hall in the neighborhood of Al-Dahiya, in the southern Shi’ite suburb of Beirut (Hezbollah’s stronghold). Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, who sponsored the fair, gave there a speech. He mentioned the anniversary of the IDF’s pullout from Lebanon ( May 23, 2000 ), saying that the victory was "a result of the resistance [i.e., terrorism]. Resistance is a product of culture, and it is a culture upon itself".
Following are some characteristics of cultural centers and publishing houses in Lebanon associated with and supported by Iran and Hezbollah, acting under the inspiration of the Shi’ite Islamic ideology of the Iranian regime:
a.The Imam Khomeini Culture Center : an institution with many branches in Lebanon , its main office is situated in the Shi’ite neighborhood of Harat Hreik (Hezbollah’s stronghold) in the southern suburb of Beirut . The center is involved in translating and disseminating Imam Khomeini’s ideological legacy, 6 nurturing the "culture of resistance" (i.e., culture of terrorism), and in perpetuating the personality cult of Imam Khomeini and his successor, Khamenei. The center organizes assemblies and symposiums on Khomeini’s philosophy.
The address of the Imam Khomeini Culture Center in the southern Beirut neighborhood of Harat Hreik as it appears on the back cover of a pamphlet titled "Jihad" (holy war), published in 2004 by the Imam Khomeini Culture Center )
b. Ma’had Sayyid al-Shuhada’ [Lord of Martyrs Institute]: 7 an institution which publishes Shi’ite religious books, dealing primarily with the martyrdom of Imam Hussein. Parts of those books are available on the Al-Ma’aref Association website. The institute organizes assemblies and conventions to promote Khomeinist ideology. Those conventions have been attended by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and other senior figures from that organization.
The logo of the Lord of Martyrs Institute
c. The Imam al-Mahdi Institute: established in 1990, it describes itself as an institution which publishes Islamic culture. It specializes in publishing and distributing Islamic Shi’ite literature based on Khomeinist ideology.
d. Markaz Baqiyyat Allah al-A’zam lil-Dirasat ( Baqiyyat Allah Study Center ): a publishing house of Shi’ite religious literature which promotes the publication of books about the Islamic revolution in Iran . In particular, it publishes the writings of Ayatollah Khomeini and Ali Khamenei.
The cover page of the October 2008 issue of the Baqiyyat Allah monthly,
one of Hezbollah’s most important periodicals
e. Dar al-Hadi Publishing: an important publishing house belonging to Hezbollah, even though it avoids formally associating itself with that organization. It publishes books about Hezbollah, religion, the legacy of Imam Khomeini, as well as anti-Israeli, anti-Zionist, and anti-Semitic incitement.
The Dar al-Hadi Publishing offices in Beirut
f. Imam al-Mahdi Publishing (Hezbollah’s youth movement): a publishing house specializing in books and pamphlets for children and teenagers, inculcating them with the values of radical Shi’ite Islam, hatred against Israel and the importance of jihad against it, as well as the personality cult of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
12. Following are examples of publications (books, pamphlets, and periodicals) published in Lebanon on the following topics:
a. The personality cult of Khomeini and Khamenei
b. The ideology of the Iranian regime
c. Jihad (holy war) according to Khomeini and Khamenei
d. Hezbollah’s martyrs as role models
e. Nurturing the values of terrorism (resistance)
f. Indoctrination of children and teenagers
g. Anti-Semitic literature
h. Anti-American literature
1 On November 15, 2008 , a memorial ceremony was held in Esfahan ; it was attended by Khamenei’s military advisor and former chief of the Revolutionary Guards, Sayyid Yahya Rahim Safavi. He said that the "resistance” and the self-respect of the Iranian people during the Iran-Iraq war made the threats of war cause the growth of the "resistance culture”. He also noted that "Nasrallah considers himself a soldier of Iran ‘s leader [Khamenei] and Hezbollah members follow the example of the brave men and women of Iran …” ( Fars News Agency, November 16).
2 For details, see: "Hezbollah as a case study of the battle for hearts and minds” (June 2007).
3 On the establishment of that system in Lebanon , see chapter on Hezbollah and building the new Islamic society in Shimon Shapira’s Hezbollah between Iran and Lebanon (Hebrew), Hakibbutz Hameuchad Publishers, Tel Aviv, 2000, pp. 134-171.
4 In Arabic: Jam’iyyat al-ma’aref al-islamiyya al-thaqafiyya. Al-Ma’aref means "general knowledge".
5 Baqiyyat Allah is a Quranic term that causes contention between Sunnis and Shi’ites. Sunnis believe that the term refers to everything left on Earth by Allah, and all the wealth he promised to his believers in the afterlife. In Shi’ite tradition, the term is another name for Imam al-Mahdi (the Vanished Imam), left by Allah to guide the believers. They believe that the verse containing the term motivates the believers to believe in the Mahdi. The term is commonly found in Shi’ite literature, and there are Shi’ite organizations and institutions that use the term as their name.
6 Iran also has an institution which publishes Imam Khomeini’s works, which distributes Imam Khomeini’s philosophical writings.
7 Sayyid Shuhada’ al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya is the alias of Sheikh Abbas Moussawi, the Hezbollah leader who died in an Israeli targeted killing in 1992. Originally, "Lord of the Martyrs" referred to Hussein bin Ali, who was killed in the Battle of Karbala in 680 A .D. and became the most prominent Shi’ite martyr.