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"But, reverend father," said Candide, "there is horrible evil in this world."

"What signifies it," said the Dervish, "whether there be evil or good? When his highness sends a ship to Egypt, does he trouble his head whether the mice on board are at their ease or not?"

"What, then, must we do?" said Pangloss.

"Hold your tongue," answered the Dervish.

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19 May 2008

HizbAllah Symbology

I believe this to be an important analysis of the symbolism and meaning of HizbAllah. Alexis brings up some interesting points [1, 2, 3] about the symbology of HizbAllah / Hezbollah / Hizbullah at the Belmont Club. His or her points have not, as far as I know, been raised anywhere else.

The images of the HizbAllah flag appear to the right on the yellow field of the Hizb flag. Wikipedia lists the obvious features of the symbol.
Flag of Hezbollah. The bottom text means "The Islamic Resistance in Lebanon". The upper text means "Then surely the party of Allah are they that shall be triumphant". (Quran 5:56) The green text is the name of the group — with the first letter of "Allah" reaching up to grasp a Soviet AK-47.

Here is the first bombshell that Alexis launched concerning the Hizb flag.
Another part of Islam is post-apocalyptic. In this scenario, the reign of Mohammed and the Four Rightly Guided Caliphs was the golden age of Islam; Islam has declined ever since. This is a common view in Shi’ism. Sunnis have their own variant; Sayyid Qutb claimed that Islam hasn’t existed for several centuries; al-Qaeda laments the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

Restorationism comes from a post-apocalyptic view of time, which regards one’s religion as ruined, finished, gone. The Restorationist seeks to turn back the clock to a previous golden age and appeals to a keen sense of desperation, a sense that evil has almost entirely triumphed except for a small band of courageous revolutionaries who seek to restore an earthly paradise that actually never was.

Islamic Restorationism can be considered to be a religious form of Viagra; it’s intended for men who lack confidence in their own potency. I urge you to look carefully at the Hezbollah flag. On first glance, that assault rifle could be considered to be an expression of a man’s potency. The hand holding the assault rifle could be seen as an abstract head of a penis. But look to the left part of the “globe”; there is a break. This would appear to be reference to castration, to having one’s penis cut off. So, far from the Hezbollah assault rifle being an expression of a man’s potency, it is a substitute for a man’s potency; it essentially says that without an assault rifle, a man in Hezbollah is nothing. So of course Hezbollah will not disarm; it will not because it cannot. Its flag tells you that.

To those who know Middle Eastern history, Hezbollah’s apparent reference to phallic worship should not come as any surprise. It’s really sad. For a terrorist organization to appeal so blatantly to fears of castration illustrates just how frail supporters of terrorists can perceive themselves to be. Moreover, Hezbollah’s apparent phallic reference suggests that, far from being an Islamic organization at all, Hezbollah is attempting to pass off its counterfeit religion as the real thing.

Well that was a Freudian shock. The severed fist of HizbAllah resistance holds an AK-47 over a globe which may represent Earth or may represent the Moon. It looms over a branch with several leaves. The leafy branch resembles an olive branch to my eye. The AK-47 is also suspended over a book, shown in profile, which for any Muslim must mean the Koran. There is more on the Koran and the leafy branch later in this post. The AK-47 also looms above the green stylized words "Hizb Allah." The first letter of "Allah" forms the base of the phallic symbol and raised fist holding the AK-47, thus showing that Allah is subservient to HizbAllah's Jihad.

Alexis expounds on this point (I have deleted a sentence that Alexis admitted was in error).
Look at the gap. Why was the gap so necessary? One could argue that Hezbollah does not wish to sully the word “Allah” with a direct connection to an assault rifle. Yet, why would the rifle be above the word “Allah” and not below it? When one sees a shahada flag, once expects the sword to be underneath the shahada, not above it. There is a difference between a sword underlining the power of a sacred word and a sacred word underlining the power of a sword. [...] The hand on the rifle is on top of the word “Allah”, not below it; this shows God to be in service of the rifle, not the other way around.

The question of whether anything is on top of the word of God is a major issue among devout Muslims. (If you don’t believe me, you haven’t met any.) This issue is very important to many Muslims. It is regarded as disrespectful to place any other book on top of the Koran. If there is a copy of illuminated Koranic manuscripts at the bottom of a bookcase, a devout Muslim will feel uneasy about it and will try to get it placed at the top of the bookcase. To a devout Muslim, the word “Allah” is more important than any other word and the Koran is more important than any other book. There are reasons why rumors of flushed Korans get Muslims upset. So, given such a cultural circumstance, it is logical to question why Hezbollah puts the rifle above the word “Allah”, as if there were anything more important than the word "Allah".

Alexis also expounds on some of the other symbology in the device.
I also do not understand the reference to a branch with leaves; I’m not sure which plant it refers to. (For example, a palm reference in Semitic literature would have a very different meaning from an olive reference.) I also don’t understand the “accordion” reference either, although I strongly suspect this also has an important meaning attached to it. I confess that there is much to the symbolism of the “hezbollah” insignia that I do not understand. Wretchard may write about psychological warfare, yet I greatly doubt there has been any systematic analysis of the symbolic language used in Middle Eastern politics. I think the symbolic terrain of Arab culture is largely Terra Incognita for western academe.

I very much doubt that my analysis is written anywhere else. Symbolic communication, particularly cryptic symbolism, does not seem to be generally talked about outside of academic settings. Cryptic symbolism is central to any study of WWII resistance propaganda, though. For example, one popular favorite piece of Dutch wall propaganda was the number six and a quarter with a slash through it. In Dutch, this was “seis en kwart” (six and a quarter), a reference to the local Reichskommissar, Dr. Arthur Seyss-Inquart. Dutch people also wore orange flowers, symbolizing the exiled House of Orange. Likewise, the letter “Z” was used to protest the assassination of Gregoris Lambrakis and repression by the Greek junta. Cryptic language is difficult for repressive regimes to control.

I believe the "accordion" is actually the Koran. The leafy branch (olive leaves?) arising from the Koran combines the peace symbolism of the olive branch with a visual pun on the "suras," or verses of the Koran. "Suras" means "leaves" in Arabic. The leafy branch arising from the Koran is a representation of the verses or leaves of the Koran branching out and reaching out into the world. The leaves also reach toward the AK-47, underlining the Koranic justification for Hizb's idolatry of Jihad.

I hope this analysis of HizbAllah's symbolism has been useful and of interest to others besides myself.
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Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits.

                Matthew 7:15-16