Eye on the Middle East May/Jun 2011

There are 450 different theme parks, amusement parks, and water parks in the United States, according to the International Association of Amusement Parks. Disney, the largest and most recognized, has six of the top 10 parks in the entire world. Operators in China, India, Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong constantly seek to develop new top-flight amusement facilities that will capture people’s attention and their pocketbooks. But it’s doubtful any of them would have conceived of the latest multi-million dollar venture that marks its first full year in operation in May and makes life even more difficult for Israel. The park is called the Museum for Resistance Tourism. Many simply call it Jihad Theme Park, and more than 500,000 people have paid for the opportunity to see and experience it. Located on a remote mountaintop 37 miles from Beirut, Lebanon, in a small town called Mleeta, the park received little, if any, inspiration from either Disney or Six Flags. Opened by Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed Lebanese terrorist group, it has taken terrorism to a whole new level.

Last year both ABC’s Lara Setrakian and NBC’s Stephanie Gosk were sent to Lebanon to report on the place some call HezbollahLand. NBC’s Today Show host Matt Lauer interviewed Gosk, who gave viewers a firsthand tour. A tour guide named Rami walked Gosk and NBC’s camera crew around the theme park and explained the various displays.

As Rami walked along, viewers caught sight of a young Lebanese father and son taking in the sights. It was evident by the little boy’s giggles and smiles that he was thrilled to get a firsthand view of the crumpled Israeli tanks and exploded RPG-29 missiles. After Gosk finished her report, a near-speechless Matt Lauer appeared on camera looking visibly stunned at what he had just seen. He would be further surprised by the things not shown on camera, like the displays viewers were told used “upturned armored personnel carriers, piles of old army helmets and plastic dummy Hezbollah fighters in uniform creeping through the undergrowth carrying ammunition and rockets.” The theme park also displays actual weaponry, such as the Russian antitank missiles Hezbollah used during its 2006 war with Israel.

Various online sources report that guests testify to the pride and satisfaction they feel after their park experience. One visitor said, “When we come here we see the resistance and our brothers in Gaza and Nablus.” Plans are underway to enhance the experience by providing a five-star hotel, a campsite, swimming pool, and cable car. Hezbollah wants the park to be experienced by more people. That’s why it has hired a marketing expert to design a logo and produce an advertising campaign to define its “corporate identity.” It is already planning to expand to other locations in South Lebanon.

Make no mistake; the conditions in the Middle East change regularly and swiftly, as evidenced by Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, Libya, and Bahrain. Most, if not all, of these changes pose a major threat to the region’s stability and Israel’s security. In addition to the battles that involve guns, tanks, and missiles, Israel is faced with the daunting task of trying to overcome a propaganda war. Just another tool in the toolbox used to win the hearts and minds of citizens whose lives are controlled by hate-filled Islamic terrorists seeking to eliminate the Jewish state. Someone should tell them that Jehovah Sabaoth, the Lord of Hosts, will not let that happen.

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