The Lebanese Shia militant group Hezbollah, after decades of anti-Israel and anti-U.S. violence, has decided to try something new and open an amusement park. The million-dollar attraction, enticingly named “Museum for Resistance Tourism,” includes documentary videos, an aerial tramway, and a terrace called “The Abyss” that showcases remnants of Israeli tanks. Located on the Lebanese mountain town of Mleeta, the museum is meant to cement Hezbollah, which was founded only in the 1980s, into the ancient and storied Lebanese culture. ABC News’ Lara Setrakian visits the center that is sometimes called “HezbollahLand”:
Rami has a ready answer when asked if the museum advances terrorist propaganda.
“I believe it’s our right to have our own propaganda. The important thing is that this is the sincere and true propaganda.”
Despite its militant edge, the museum is part of an effort to soften Hezbollah’s image. It’s designed to be the centerpiece of a massive tourist development – dubbed “HezbollahLand” in the global press – capped with an aerial tramway offering scenic rides from Mleeta to an abandoned Israeli base on a nearby hill.
… That, analysts say, is where the museum fits into Hezbollah’s overarching strategy: fighting Israel in times of war, and in times of peace, investing in ways that seal a bond with its followers. Hezbollah runs hospitals and builds homes, partly under the umbrella of its “Construction Jihad” – hardening its constituents by giving them a social safety net and improving their quality of life.